What prompted me to submit my essay to a newspaper?

At first it was because a friend incessantly prodded me to try going to the editor of any local newspaper and submit any of my work. She said that I am good, that I can touch people with my stories, that they can relate, that if it is rejected, it will just be a bruised ego but if it is accepted, blah blah blah. “Just try Neng”,was what she said.

And then I thought of the "inspiring comments" posted on my blog.  

Somehow the prodding and these comments, gave me the courage and the confidence.  Yeah, I thought what the heck, it will just be my ego, and if I submit it online, then the editor can’t laugh on my face; nothing to be afraid of then.  

I checked Philippine Daily Inquirer's lovelife column's rules, and it says;

The essay should be at least 2,000 characters long.
Essays should be submitted as a Word document attached to the email.
Subject should be written as: “Love. Life: (Title of essay).”

In your contribution, please indicate name, age, occupation, address,  
contact number and (though this is optional) social media accounts.
Include a short description of yourself at the end of your essay.     

And that's what I did.   

Mustering all the courage that I could get from within me, I sent my "A Love That Survived," It tells of the story of my friend Julie, how her steadfast commitment to her faith and tremendous love for her family kept her marriage intact. 

I did not tell anyone about it except Julie, the heroine of my story; neither my husband nor my children knew I submitted an essay. I know my piece was good but I was not sure if it was good enough for publication.  

The day after I submitted it, my computer was open the whole 24 hours. Well, I wanted to be sure I won’t miss the big moment. When 3 months passed with no reply from the editor, I succumbed to my earlier belief; I may be good to a certain level but not good enough for a local paper.

Well, I have readied myself for that so the pain isn’t really that painful at all.  

But when on the eve of Christmas I received this; 

       Dear Ms. Zaldivar, 
       The essay you submitted will come out on December 25, 2015.

Christmas day? Oh my God, it will be published on Christmas day! what a gift.

I cannot explain now how I felt then, was I simply happy and excited? No, I think I was exultant then, triumphantly happy. I made it! I made it!, cries my inner self.

I made it past my prime as I was already 65 then. 

I waited for the online paper to come out and I mean really waited. I was in front of my computer since about 10 in the evening of December 24, watching the clock for the midnight to come. Eureka! At exactly 12:01 I saw it, I saw my piece on the online publication of  

So that’s it ... that is how it feels to have your piece published, albeit just online. 

At around 6 a.m., I logged in again to see if my piece was still there, I wanted to make sure it wasn't a dream and if  the editor didn't changed his mind and had it removed at the last minute;  but lo and behold, my piece was still there.

         Screen grab of the first page. Picture added by the newspaper

“If only happy endings are forever.”

The day is almost over. I am waiting for a call.

The silence of the afternoon brought me back to long ago, when my children were small, when the house was so noisy, when we were always busy in the kitchen, when household chores were aplenty.

How time flies

I contemplated if I should wake up my husband or hold my excitement and wait for him to wake up; I opted to wait. 

When my husband of more than 40 yrs. woke up, I said:” did I ever tell you that I submitted a piece to this newspaper?” and he said “No”, and that’s it; nothing else follows, not even a “what about it?”, he then took his bath and we have our breakfast. So much for thinking that it is a big deal to have a paper published,

My husband’s nonchalant attitude didn’t dampen my now almost as high as a mountain excitement. Unable to contain it anymore, I sent my children and my friends, the message that my piece is on, under their lovelife section. I immediately got a deluge of congratulations; only when my husband saw the congratulations on FB did he found out that it is quite a feat and he congratulated me. 

That was a Christmas day that will forever be posted on my book of happy memories, but it will also be posted on my book of sad memories… Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, the editor of inquirer, the sister of Inday Badiday, the daughter of former ambassador to Korea, Nicanor Jimenez, the editor in chief of Inquirer, died that day too; I was not able to give her my thanks for opening up a portal for newbie writers, young and old alike. 

Ms. Magsanoc wrote articles critical of the martial law government of Marcos. It is only understandable why I look up to her; I was one of the millions who went to Edsa on that fateful day of February 25, 1986. 

My 2nd submission ….

Having more courage now, I wrote the inquirer editor asking how to submit  to the HIGH BLOOD section of their paper edition. High Blood is Inquirer's section for seniors views / opinions, etc., this is how it went;

Monday January 18, 2016, I sent an email to Inquirer that says something like this;

      How do I submit an essay on the High Blood section of the Daily Inquirer?   
      What are the requirements (fonts, no. of words, etc.)
Tuesday, January 19, 2016, I received this;
      Good morning Ms. Zaldivar,

      Thank you for your interest in “High Blood”.  You may submit your 
      article (at least  2 pages, double space) 
      at with subject: High Blood contribution.

      Looking forward to your essay and happy writing.

And so on the Tuesday, I did what was to be done to one of my piece: "Coping with Retirement", then emailed it as instructed. 

Thursday, January 21, I received this;

      Dear Ms. Zaldivar, 
     Your article has been forwarded to the Opinion editor,

Of course, this doesn’t mean my piece was accepted, nevertheless, this keep me excited again.

Monday, January 24, I received this;

      Dear Ms. Zaldvivar

      Your article will be published tomorrow, Jan. 25, on Page A15 
      of the Inquirer’s .

When I received the news that my piece will come out on such date and on such page, I emailed my children and my friends first; this time, my husband was the last to know.

When the day arrived, I told my husband to buy the printed paper and to buy 2 if he could spot my name on page A15. Only then did he know that I submitted a piece again. 

When he came back with 2 newspapers, there was a smile on his face; my name is indeed on the page A15, top left side, alongside Ramon J. Farolan's "China warns Pinoys", and Chris Patten's " Britain's Watershed year":

                                  As it appeared in print

"IT’S KIND of weird when you have the feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go, especially if you are already in your 60s and have raised four children.

But that’s exactly how I felt a couple of years ago: I didn’t know what to do with the remaining years of my life. Call it depression, retirement blues or whatever, but I do remember staring blankly at the ceiling of our bedroom every morning, upon waking up, wondering what to do in the next eight hours of the day unfolding."

Two submissions and two acceptances, quite a feat for an oldie huh? 

But wait. It is not all roses. I submitted another piece last March 2016 but until now, I have yet to receive a reply. I presume it was not accepted because when I read it again, I found about 3 paragraphs that are out of tone. Well, lesson learned; always re-read and re-read your piece before submitting. Microsoft word can help you edit your work for spelling, syntax and sometimes for grammar too, but tone it cannot.  Sometimes you can only spot your errors after so many times of reading and re-reading and re-reading.

Why am I writing this? It is because I know that there are many of you out there who is like me, who has no experience, who does not know where to submit their works, etc. etc. but who wants to write and who wants to see their work in print. I hope my piece can help you in some way.