Goodbye, Julia Campbell – Redux

julia-campbell.JPG

Or, The Journalist Who Became The Story

This is a horror story thrice told.

One: Ms Julia was murdered in my country, the Philippines, which she had learned to love.

Two: Today, 28 May 2007, I found that I have lost the original of the article in this blog – only the title remains (April 18): ‘Goodbye, Julia Campbell (Peace Corps)’ and the subtitle in my head. I may have deleted the post by mistake, I’m not sure. When I searched and searched in my hard disk as well as my external hard drive, I couldn’t find even my draft. I always save my drafts; I always have another copy somewhere, courtesy of Windows Briefcase. No draft, no copy. The only explanation I have is that I have been copying out files from the hard disk to the external hard drive, and formatting the hard disk and copying back files to the hard disk and who knows what happened? Viruses and all. How many times? I lost count. I also lost much of the files of my daughter Neenah in the process. We all make mistakes – and sometimes it’s murder.

Three: Resuscitation is an option. I know I created a Google Alert for ‘the journalist who became the story’ (my original subtitle). I remember Google Alert linking me to one website, and that’s how I learned that it had reprinted that article in full, with credit. But when I looked this morning, I couldn’t find the Google Alert in my GMail archive. When I did a Google Web Search for that reprint of my Julia Campbell article, I got zilch, nada. So, where’s my Julia Campbell? Gone to flowers, everyone.

And now I wish to reproduce the flowers I gave Ms Julia 3 days after her body was found in an ugly shallow grave in Battad, Banaue, amidst the beautiful rice terraces of Ifugao Province in northern Luzon, Philippines (Oliver Teves, AP, 18 April, foxnews.com). That was the day we Filipinos discovered what she has been to us: a damsel in our distress. Ecological distress, educational distress.

I didn’t want my story of Ms Julia Campbell with only the title remaining and the body missing! So I decided to write up this one. How can I go back to the pages I visited when I was writing my original story of her? I decided to give Google Web History a test of its own medicine. So, what can I say after using it? I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Ms Julia came from Fairfax, Virginia and lived in New York City. She had worked as a journalist for New York Times, People, Fox News, ABC News, Court TV and Star magazine. In the Philippines, she taught English at the Divine Word College in Legaspi City. Before that, she taught at a public school in Donsol, Sorsogon. She came to the Philippines in March 2005. Before going back to New York, she visited the famous Banaue rice terraces; she went hiking alone (AP, 17 April, iht.com). Mistake. Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said she ‘contributed greatly to the lives of Filipino citizens.’ No mistake.

Regnard Kreisler C Raquedan (webstandards.raquedan.com) pointed me to Ms Julia’s blog juliainthephilippines.blogspot.com. She began blogging the month after she arrived, April 2005. She wrote as the visible part of her Profile: ‘At the age of 38, I decided to step out of the rat race of New York, join the Peace Corps and board a plane for Manila.’ She dedicated her blog ‘Julia In The Philippines’ thus:

Mabuhay! (Welcome). Those of you who could not be convinced to follow me into the Peace Corps, this is for you! Welcome to my new adventure in the Philippines!

She saw life in the raw in the village and wrote in her very first blog on 26 April (my excerpts):

The hardest part is to walk away and not do something.

It feels insane to have a discussion about eating more vegetables when an 8-year-old girl is dying down the street. But perhaps it will do some good.

Some say the Filipinos don’t expect much from us and are just happy to talk to us. I don’t buy it.

You can feel the passion of Ms Julia in her new-found role as Volunteer, and her passion for life. In her 24 October blog entry, she wrote:

Last week, I left (Donsol) for good and moved to Legaspi. … I can already tell city life will be different. … I will have access to the Internet, malls and the movies! Who could ask for more?

Of her transfer from Donsol to Legaspi, she wrote:

My regrets are that I leave behind a really great project – the marine ecology center – and good friends and counterparts I’ve made in Donsol.

She had this library project she called ‘A Book And A Buck‘ for which she collected more than 500 titles (Manila, 18 April, peacecorps.gov). She helped launch an ecology awareness campaign and initiated that eco center in Donsol.

Her aunt, Ann Knight, described her thus: ‘Very adventuresome, very interesting, loving, giving person who loved a good story.’

This is the story of the journalist who became the story.

Alex Magno (gmanews.tv) pointed me to Mr Page, a close friend, who writes in her blog (18 April, pagegoespc.blogspot.com):

Julia was a damn good cook. I would invite myself over for dinner on a regular basis, partially because I’m lazy and didn’t want to go through the motions of learning to cook, but mostly because she made a mean ginataan (a dish prepared in fresh coconut milk).

Mr Page sums up Ms Julia’s life beautifully in his post ‘Impermanence’ in a few words (and with the image shown here):

Nothing is permanent. Sorrow comes from attachment to things assumed to be permanent (people, ideas etc). There is no why in this instance. Her life was not ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ ‘virtuous’ or ‘evil.’ She was.

She was here. We forgot to love her as much as she loved us. We remember to love only when it’s too late.

Copyright 28 May 2007 by Frank A Hilario
Researched for, written, organized-reorganized & formatted via Microsoft Word 2003.

 

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