AURORA METROPOLIS was born on June 10, 2010.
The very reason of Aurora‘s existence was to highlight the blogger’s views and stories based from his experiences as a member of LGBTIQ community. He was active in the LGBT rights advocate from 2008 to 2015 and Aurora is his outlet to make people understand the hearts and minds of Pinoy LGBTIQs. Aside from the advocacy, he’s using Aurora as his instrument to promote gender equality by writing literature such as poems, essays and short stories using the vernacular.
Aurora published its very first blog post on June 14, 2010 — a poem entitled “Isang Araw ng Panliligaw”.
Aside from LGBTIQ-related issues, Aurora also published various articles tackling different topics on Philippine history, popular culture, politics, religion and his favorite subject — Manila. These makes Aurora a go-to personal blog site for new, young bloggers in town. Some of its articles landed to WordPress Philippines’ top list based on readership and luckily, few of them caught the attention of the likes of mainstream radio and textbook publication.
Aurora’s most-read short story, “Loving My Gay Boss”, was chosen as the first gay-themed love story to be featured by “Mahiwagang Burnay”, a segment of the widely-popular FM radio program Tambalan aired via 90.7 Love Radio on February 27, 2017. While Aurora’s most-read commentary, “Ang Spratlys Ay Para Sa Pilipinas. Sana Maisip Ito Ng China” will be included in a Filipino textbook for Senior High School students published by C&E Publishing Inc.
In November 2015, Aurora changed its logo to present its vision for the site and for its readers over the years. It uses the kite with rainbow-colored tails as logo to tell everyone that whatever we call or identify ourselves, we will soar high despite strong winds of challenges and tragedies.
But months after the rebrand, Aurora became the vulnerable casualty of its blogger’s focus on a career that he promised to serve faithfully — the city government of Manila. Aurora remained semi-existent because of the 2016 and 2017 year-end posts, but for the past two years, it was almost half-dead due to inactivity.
To show the blogger’s commitment to keep the blog for himself and for Aurora’s readers, finally, after eight years, Aurora owned an official domain name. On June 27, 2018, the former WordPress domain name (aurorametropolis.wordpress.com) has transformed into aurorametropolis.blog.
(Aurora started making anniversary logo in 2013. Aurora’s 7th year was semi-inactive.)
Romel Leal Santiago or Lem realized that he has a skill in writing when he was in 5th grade. However, he never got a chance to be part of school organs in elementary or high school.
These setbacks almost made him forget his dream of becoming a campus journalist until his college encouraged its students to apply as a writer for the university paper. On July 2004, he passed the competitive writing examination and became part of Ang Pamantasan, the official student publication of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
He only had 2 years in AP but his short stint served as bedrock of his reputation as the paper’s patron for more than five years. He was the one who created and institutionalized the Filipino section that made him AP’s first Filipino editor in 2005. He was also given the chance to write as a columnist and he named his opinion space “Tambuli”, which he continues to write here at Aurora.
Since 2007, right after his stint as a campus journalist, he became AP’s consultant, trainer, layout artist and organizer for AP’s special activities, including its 30th anniversary celebration in December 2009 and head organizer of AP’s annual examination from 2009 to 2013.
Lem never stopped writing after AP. In fact, he created several blog sites in Multiply and Blogspot but he failed to maintain them because of laziness and frequent ‘writer’s block’. On the other hand, he used his writing ability to work as freelance and earn money from writing. He was also into event organizing while working as a BPO manager.
Upon quitting the BPO industry in 2010, he found more guts to write again using his own platform. From there, he took the last glimpse of hope to maintain a blog site which he called Aurora Metropolis.
Since Aurora’s inception, he served in different fields of expertise and did numerous duties to expand his experiences where Aurora will depend its stories. He became a youth leader, government volunteer coordinator, heritage and culture advocate, social media manager, advocacy development coordinator and local legislative staff.
Currently, Lem works for a small PR company and continues to dream for the better, not only of his beloved city of Manila but of his beloved country, as well.