December 21, 2015 (5:45 AM)

3 min read


She is not just a painting inside the Atenews office or a symbol of a martyr journalist. The name Ate Beng is worth more than all the admirable labels that we ascribe to her. Ate Beng or Benjaline Hernandez, is what most journalists in Davao say as an ideal journalist, willing to step outside her comfort zone to become the voice of the voiceless and gagged.

Ate Beng ventured out of the comforts of the city life to become a human rights advocate. She conducted researches to document the militarization against the marginalized. She is also described by people who had worked with her as a good and resourceful leader, being one of most notable officers of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in Mindanao.

However, in the perspective of an ordinary citizen, how do we see Ate Beng? Is she just a name that is heard during November 23 or the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity?

It is a sad reality that after 14 years, Ate Beng seems to be just a fleeting memory to everyone. Her legacy is slowly fading that even her fellow journalists and Ateneans are not even familiar with her.

People ask why we write articles for her or why we commemorate her birthday and death anniversary. The answer is simple: it is a way of channelling what Ate Beng has contributed to us as a campus journalist and even as an Atenean. We want her to be an inspiration of how an Atenean can live out the values that our university has taught us, to become a “man and woman for others,” and not just see Ate Beng as the journalist who was accused of being an NPA member and was brutally killed in Arakan Valley.

I am inspired by how Ate Beng was able to live out the university values which helped shape her as a woman. She always had the heart to serve the Filipino people who are neglected and abused by the powerful.

Ate Beng inspired me, as a campus journalist and an Atenean, to at least have the bravery in being a writer. I learned that it is okay, necessary even, to go out of my comfort zone. Challenges might force me to compromise things like my time and even my comfortable lifestyle but the most important thing that I learned from the life of Ate Beng is to never give up on my beliefs and principles in favor of the comfort of other peoples.

A lot of people might judge and question you but always keep your beliefs and principles grounded as well your values as a human being, just like how Ate Beng kept her beliefs and principles up to her last breath.

Finding the “Beng Hernandez” within you doesn’t really require you to follow all that Ate Beng did for you to be called as a “man and woman for others.” Even simple deeds like respect and courtesy for our school guards or school personnel for example are a good start on how you can live up to that value and eventually be a person who has the heart to serve the people outside the corners of our university.

So if you are reading this article, try to spend some time to think. Try to know “Ate Beng” even more and ask yourself, “Where can I find the Beng Hernandez within me?”


About Katrina Guilonsod - Guilonsod

End the silence of the gagged!

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