"Raissa," Karen Davila said, "were you surprised, nagulat ka ba sa resulta (ng eleksyon)?"
That's how my 15 minutes as an election analyst started.
After thousands of hours conducting interviews in all sorts of places – including the garage of one politician who didn’t want me stepping inside his house – it was my turn to be interviewed. In a cavernous television studio. On live cam. In Tagalog.
I'm used to conducting interviews at my own pace.
So when someone in ABS-CBN Channel 2 phoned and asked me if I could be interviewed on election night for their Halalan live coverage, I took some time to say yes. First of all, it was going to be in Tagalog: not that I don’t know my own language. but I’ve found out that when I absorb information in English, it seems to stay in that speech in my brain. Extracting it and converting it to Tagalog requires digging a new neural pathway.
Second, I didn’t know what questions would be asked. Which I suppose is karma. Those I interview never know what I intend to ask them. :)
Anyway late on election night I was inside one of ABS-CBN’s make-up rooms — a very informal place with lots of pictures of celebrities taped along the wall. The make-up artist took one look at my hair and said I dried it wrongly. I suggested that perhaps she could wet it again and start over.
Ces Drilon popped in. She did her own make-up. We chatted a while. It was my first time to see her outside a coverage. Then who would walk in but the new Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima. Ces introduced me to him. If he had not been in uniform I would not have figured him to be the police chief because he had a very cheerful smile.
I'm sorry, but the reporter's instinct in me made me follow where he was going – to a separate dressing room. I asked him about the police standoff around Senator Bong Revilla's house while a makeup artist applied a bit of powder on his face and he waited for his turn on camera. He said the armed men were not regular NBI men but confidential agents who had no authority to carry firearms during the elections.
While I was talking with the national police chief, I recalled how my male colleagues in the foreign press would brag about following their sources to the men's room. I always thought that an unfair advantage over female reporters. Now I'd like my male colleagues to top this.