Desiree L. Balota

EVEN as garnishing and plating are not the essentials of a culinary masterpiece, they undoubtedly play a great role in the invitation and persuasion of the otherwise reserved diner to generously partake of the beautiful meal. Owing to the irresistible blend of color and arrangement green leaves, firm noodles, and perfectly cut meat plus charming beverage in a glass that has a slice of fruit gracefully sitting on its side, the diner is enticed to try what the charming dish has to offer.

The sweetness of presentation not only mirrors but also echoes a revelation of the joy and artistry of cooking. In the world where text is the staple ingredient, the choice of what it will declare or challenge, ask or command is a vital decision along with how the text will be arranged and decorated as it is used to convey the chosen message. As perfecting a recipe is a necessity to both beginning cook and master chef, defining the right formula that would define a column’s success is of importance to them who write columns in newspapers and magazines.

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Aiming to inform, persuade, instruct, or entertain, the columnist juggles thought and emotion with words that could most ably deliver the goods that are sound reason, firm conviction, or profound philosophy to an absentee and silent yet intent and responsive audience. With this in cautious and dedicated consideration, the columnist incorporates flavor and spice to secure an audience that is captivated and sustained and consequently attentive or maybe better yet converted into the faith that could move him or her spread the word around.

Inevitably charming and decidedly attention-grabbing and sustaining even without the garnish of delightful prose or verse openings is the topic of the hidden and the forbidden.

And since these subjects are not particularly novel, the choice of what to unveil or reveal is particularly crucial. The comments and reactions to columns that challenge the popular, powerful, and the perpetual, say columns the likes of Jaime Licauco’s and Danton Remoto’s display how a column can succeed in capturing a steady and attentive audience who are most likely to react to and share what they have read. With this, a following is defined and increased.

Making the unpopular, one that is hidden and forbidden, as the essential in the dish of exposition and how to do its presentation is enough to enough to stir emotions and challenge beliefs. The interest and the intrigue spawned by the topic itself and the writer who, with full confidence and conviction, decides to expose what has been veiled and shut for a long time will be looked into, and, in the process analyze the commonalities of structure and semantics that spell a gripping combination.

Broadcasting one’s thoughts on paper is like making known the hidden delicacies that seek the affirmation or recommendation or, at least, the attention of the diners who partake of the feast of flavors in the dish well-plated through the columnist’s servings of soups entrées of introductions, salads and viands of expositions, and fruits and icings of clinchers. When this delicacy passes the first of taste tests, then for sure, like any regular diner, the reader is left wanting for more as he or she prays for a platter perpetually full of the distinct and trademark dish that is the columnist’s consistent and subject and style.

When the combination is successful, no matter how uncommon or unpopular the topic is, like what well-prepared exotic dishes are to the taste of the conservative diner, the said topic will always find way in conversations whether actual or virtual, real or imagined. It is, though arguably, by this same token that the hidden and the forbidden attracts dedicated and dynamic following. After all, when a promise or even a suggestion of clarity and enlightenment is articulated as facts and finds that have never been put out or viewed the way they were before are laid on the table, a stir that births a voice loud enough to bring even the decidedly apathetic and the deliberately deaf to attention is in the offing.

And when this voice is assumed by personalities who have a way with words, the voice is not only loud but also drawingly smooth thereby making it all the more difficult to dismiss. And from this, we experience that we should not stop at taste tests.