DISCLOSURE: The author is a fellow of Yasmin in various journalism trainings, among them investigative reporting workshops of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
They have also been together during critical coverages, like the defection of former police officer Joel Geollegue to the underground New People’s Army.
They remain to be friends.
Yasmin Pascual-Dormido used to sell guavas as a kid growing up in the seaside village of Tangub.
Her father, a veterinarian, also loved to plant trees, among them guavas.
“Lots of it,” she says.
She would sell the fruits to teachers, classmates and neighbors.
On her way home from school, she will pass by what used to be a mansuryahan, where fishing boats or purse seiners used to unload their catch and buy an atado or a small pile of fish that she would cook at home.
They did not grow up rich, she says, but her father taught them to love culture – read literary classics, listen to classical music, and speak American English.
Even at home.
“We used to have an English day during which we spoke only in English,” Yasmin recalls in between sips of berry-infused tea at the No Sugar Daddy Cafe.
It was a Saturday and Yasmin was dressed like she was going to Sunday Mass – a dark blue ribbed shirt over a floral skirt, her curly locks dyed blonde, red lipstick lighlty applied.
“Butang ta gamay lang ah (let’s put on a little),” she says before the cameras rolled.
Yasmin is now pushing 50, more than 20 years into a career as a broadcast journalist at ABS-CBN’s Bacolod affiliate, part of a second generation of recruits since it reopened in 1988 post the Marcos dictatorship.
Unlike her more glamorous national counterparts who mainly work behind the desk and who deliver the news with vanity and angel lights, Yasmin was born in the newsroom and was raised on the field.
Gory news? Poverty? Insurgency? Conflict?
Yasmin covered it all.
No small feat for a woman in a macho industry where newbie reporters are sometimes told by their semi-lunatic superiors to measure the depth of wounds on a dead body.
With a ballpen.
Yasmin might not have measured wounds but she did have her share of macho shit in the local media, including admirers among male reporters whose steady gaze at her when she was fresh out of college at 19 bordered on the leering.
But these blues are nothing compared to the recent one after the Philippine Congress rejected the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, effectively rendering thousands of employess jobless.
Yasmin was one of them.
It could have been a catastrophic event for anyone made of lesser stuff.
Like the bomb in Hiroshima. Or the asteroid for dinosaurs. Or Jae-yoon splashed with acid for K-pop fans.
But Yasmin is none of that.
A juvenile asthmatic whose allergy can be triggered by something as simple as temperature change, Yasmin has since finished a lot of half-marathons and marathons – the full 21-kilometer ones.
Being retrenched from her first and only career was the lowest point of her life, she admits but she never dwelt on it.
“No, never thought of it,” she says, her brows furrowing a bit.
“You just have to be thankful, list down the good things in your life.”
A gratitude list.
“Look at you,” she motions to me, “if you ended your life there would have been no DNX.”
Yasmin, like the aliens in Arrival, does not talk linear. She goes back in time to the difficult moments, the happy ones, failures, accomplishments to make sense of her life and to move on.
Like a string theorist who believes in parallel universes, Yasmin believes the past echoes into the present and arcs into the future.
“What if I did not study well in elementary school? What if I did not become a scholar in college? What if I did not become an ABS-CBN reporter?” she muses.
A lot of things have happened to her, some bad, mostly good.
Despite the bad ones, Yasmin persists.
She leans back into the cafe sofa and sweeps her right hand.
“And yet we are still here.”
Watch the full interview of DNX Executive Editor Julius D. Mariveles with Yasmim on YouTube to know more.