By Lyra P. Villafana
I used to edit a two-volume publication on legal costs. Referred to by practising lawyers in Australia, it was one of the most difficult to understand among all the products in my department’s list.
The first time I spoke to the author, she asked: “Are you legally qualified?”
“No,” I said. “I have a bachelor degree in Communication and my background is publishing, not law.”
“I can’t imagine how you can edit this kind of publication.”
Notwithstanding my lack of formal legal education, I forged a productive relationship with the author. I gave her all the support she needed to be able to perform well as an author. In return, she delivered her manuscript on time, picked up the phone and talked to subscribers when I asked her to, and helped me with my product research. The question about the law degree never came up again.
All these years that I’ve worked in legal publishing in Australia, my education in the Philippines has served me in good stead. My training at the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business has helped me develop commercial acumen, a skill that is becoming valuable among editors these days.
Editors are not just wordsmiths anymore. Rather, we are the commercial owners responsible for the profit and loss of our publications. Even when I was editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine in Manila, I looked at the title in terms of market wants and needs. I managed the editorial process so we could go to press on time—the earlier we could supply the magazine to distributors, the more money we would make on newsstand sales.
I’ve reaped dividends too from my UP Communication degree.
The ability to read and analyze difficult text? My grasp of grammar and punctuation? The confidence to believe that I can learn and engage in meaningful discourse? UP nurtured me in all of these.
There are many other overseas Filipinos like me who have established themselves in their chosen careers. Nurses. Engineers. Accountants. IT professionals. The two things we all have in common: the fortitude to finish our studies and the tenacity to get every job done.