WHO’S scaRRedcat?

“A woman who knows how to live!”

Lakambini Sitoy’s description, enshrined in an old website now swallowed by the cosmic wastes, remains a favorite. My name is Inday Espina-Varona and I have lived well, if not always wisely, in 49 years spent on this earth.

A stranger once took my hand and led me back centuries while the clock ticked in a little café on Leon Guinto St. in Manila’s old Malate district. If he was right, my past lives rocked and rolled between mayhem and the kinder arts.

Concubine of an Egyptian chief of treasury, then of some fierce dessert patriarch, I supposedly plotted to either free slaves or ease their lives some. In another life, my friend-without-a-name said, I trained assassins in some South Asian land and then retired to teach ancient dances to women focused solely on their lovers’ erogenous zones. The Indian brave that I was traded in scalps for clay pots — and no, those pots didn’t contain bones.

I’m not about to deny these lives of derring-do, especially since they were shared free of charge by a man never seen again.

Mayhem and art do seem to be the themes of my life. At the moment art has the upper hand, at least in the hours off duty from journalism.

When not engaged with more than a hundred thousand Bayan Patrollers (citizen-journalist partners of ABS-CBN), or chasing after men who wage war and the women who clean up their mess, or trying to reason amid the clangor of partisan politics, music, travel, books, photography, theater, paintings and house plans of luxurious estates get my attention.

Then and now, I have always straddled worlds. I am an editor who needs to report and write. My heart is a little left of center, pretty much where it should be, but I believe in dialogue and try hard to see where others are coming from. I am a social activist who holds no truck with entitlement. I am, above all, a fair journalist, sometimes irreverent but always thoughtful.

And then and now, I have always maintained a sense of humor even during trying times; no, especially during trying times. After all, there’s always the next lifetime.

In more mundane terms, I am head of Bayan Mo iPatrol Mo (BMPM), ABS-CBN’s citizen journalism arm. I was editor/columnist of the Philippines Graphic, a national newsweekly magazine, and the national daily, Manila Times, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an international fellow (2005-2006) of the John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, winner of the Jaime V. Ongpin Award for Excellence in Journalism (investigative journalism, non-daily category) in 2007 and McLuhan Fellow.

Now you understand why I loved that man’s tales. 😦


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