Every week, my challenge is to find a theme that my target audience can relate to. I go for the high involvement of my readers when they read my column. I choose themes with a sense of originality.
One of the disciplines in writing for the Lifestyle Section “S” is something I learned from my 40 years of writing commercials during my advertising career. It’s audience targeting or reader profiling. You just don’t write for everyone. You write for individuals your page intends to capture.
Once you’ve got your audience defined, then you write with him/her in mind. You know their ages, sexes, needs, wants and aspirations in the eco-class where they belong. There’s got to be intimacy between you and them.
The editor of this page has a clear guide. Be sexy, stimulating, sage and talk wisdom. My readers are in the middle-age group (age 50-80 and up), men and women who can deal with ideas that reflect their past and present experiences. They have more leisure time to contemplate life in their mature years.
I gravitate toward topics that are drawn from my experiences in life.
I’m familiar with the horrors and heroism of World War II, the Hukbalahap communist rebellion plus two more, the Korean and Vietnam wars, where our soldiers fought and died to preserve the democracy of our Allied nations.
War is an emotional topic for men and women who witness deaths, cruelty and devastation.
There are thousands in our elder generations who will read gripping memories of wars.
I’ve written a couple of war vignettes in a very experiential style. I’ve gotten emotional feedback.
I’ve gone biographical and dealt with family values and close relationships with my grandmother, parents, uncles, my wife, my daughters and sons.
My narratives on my family touch on homey heroism, family virtues, their sadness and their triumphs. Their rites of passage never fail to touch readers.
I’ve written counsels on family matters, mostly dealing with Filipino family values to keep family ties strong, uplifting and enjoyable. Can’t go wrong here. Parents still welcome the clichés of an admirable family life.
Nostalgia is a great topic for Lifestyle “S” readers (age 70-80). I’ve written a few romanticized instances of the less frenetic, traffic- and pollution-free decades of the ’50s and ’60s.
A lot of my readers like the intimacy of my style. I got the best compliment from a woman in San Pablo City. “Minyong!” she said, “When I’m reading your stories, it’s as if you’re talking right in front of me.”
My readers e-mailed me to express gratitude for reminiscing about their life in their boogie woogie and cha-cha-cha years.
The contrast between life today and life 60 years ago makes one yearn for a peaceful and simpler life.
Nostalgia-writing can be virtuous, humorous, or baduy, but still heartwarming and wholesome.
I’m fortunate to have a book on the history of my hometown, Majayjay, Laguna. It’s a compilation of historical and political documents covering 400 years. I’m fascinated with the age of colonization that reached our archipelagic land, pacified by Spanish conquistadors sailing the winds in their galleon ships.
I tried to bring to life our ancient ancestors in flesh and blood, our datu chief, and our farmer warriors who settled at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. They fought the forces of conquistador Juan de Salcedo, who came with their musketry, swordsmanship and drumbeats to intimidate our bolo-wielding warrior ancestors.
During the Spanish occupation, our society changed from tribal village to township society, with the Church at the center of town surrounded by the town administrator’s office.
Most of the conflicts between the town folk and the Spanish government arose from the use of forced labor in building churches, roads and bridges.
The controversies in the recently passed Birth Control Law (RH) challenged me to write about the Church’s teachings on the use of contraceptives, both technical and medical, preventing human life.
For my anti-RH essays, I got vitriolic and ugly e-mail from atheists. I was called nasty names and vilified, together with the usual Church-bashing hyperbole. But I enjoy thinking that Church-bashers are part of my audience and that they are entitled to their godless madness. I roll with the punches.
Writing about my Catholic faith is the most inspirational contemplative and transcendent exercise that uplifts my spirit. After having acquired wisdom and insight on the ultimate ends of human life, elder people take to Christianity like ducks to water. They can enter the world of moral imagination, mysteries and miracles. They can intuit their immortality.
The raw materials are awesome. The New Testament, the Catechism and the Sacraments of the Catholic Church offer the most fantastic and stimulating incarnation not only of our temporal life, but more so our interior life.
I am amazed at the incredible empowerment granted by Jesus Christ to a group of lowly fishermen led by Peter and the Apostles to establish, build, organize and manage the living continuity of Christ’s salvific mission on earth. To delve deeply into Catholicism, I have a library of books written by brilliant theologians, outstanding Catholic essayists, literary geniuses and, of course, the Papal encyclicals.
Our 2,000 years of history are a veritable history of civilization, governance, the sciences and arts for the refinement of human life.
My writings on Catholicism flummoxed nonbelievers, relativists and anthropocentric individuals. I’ve been labeled a “monsignor” and told to leave religious writing to priests.
My friend, the late Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ, disagrees. Fr. Reuter argues that lay people writing on Catholicism project the power of realism and praxis of a believer’s spiritual benefits.
To humor myself, I write about the shallowness and bad grammar of our politicians.
And to make your mouth water, I write about Binondo comfort food and regional dishes that taste out of this world!
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