I lost, just almost like through the passing of the night, two colleagues at the Manila Bulletin last month, both succumbing to the dreaded virus. Their demise was unforeseen and initially met withdisbelief, but eventually accepted and it served also as a reminder to all of us how interim our life in this world can be. I have been acquainted with them for barely a year but their warmth and genteel character have left lasting impressions on me. I am dedicating this article in their memory.
The first colleague is Dr. Crispulo Icban, popularly called “Jun,” our publisher and editor-in-chief. Even before I met him in our board, the reputation of this “giant” in Philippine journalism already preceded him. He was EIC for 18 years and that long length of time indicates how immensely he had contributed to the editorials of the daily issues. He had masteral degrees on journalism in American universities and had other illustrious achievements, not only as a journalist but also as a mentor, capped by his being press secretary. It is no wonder then that accolades were bestowed on him from various sectors andofficials upon news of his death.
The other colleague is Francis Gaw, a co-director in our board. Similarly, before I met him in our board, I was already familiar with his background, courtesy of my wife who was his classmate at the Ateneo Law School. My wife described him as quiet and unassuming, but friendly, simple, bright andscholarly. Francis said that we have something in common, since both of us have only one child, a son. I joked in return that my family is bigger since my son is already married and I have two grandsons. In the case of Francis, what adds more sadness is that his wife, Rosalinda Yap Gaw, died three weeks before from the same virus.
My friendship with these two colleagues developed in the course of our monthly board meetings. Jun always came well ahead of time and he will sit quietly in his place while waiting for the quorum to be complete. He always sat beside me so we conversed from time to time. Francis, who sat across me at the table, usually arrived just in time. Our board meetings started with prayers followed by lunch, usually hosted by the very gracious Madam Gina de Venecia, also a board director. We looked forward to her “paksiw na bangus” with choice belly cuts from Pangasinan and her very tender oxtail kare-kare, enhanced by home-made bagoong. Jun, Francis and I would fall in line at the buffet table,t ogether with the other prominent members of our board, namely, Chairman Basilio, Dr. Emil and Benjie Yap, and Vice Chairmen Hilario G. Davide, Jr., former Chief Justice, and Secretary and former SenatorAlberto G. Romulo.
There was light banter in the course of the meals and at coffee time, the meetings formally began Jun and Francis were always true and consistent with their character – courteous, attentive, cooperative and quietly effective. Most important to me, there was always the air of professionalismand integrity in their presence. After the last action is taken by the board, the session is adjourned. Junand Francis would quietly exit from the scene, just like the quiet manner they have now left us. Jun and Francis, we will miss you fine gentlemen at the board. We will continue to pray for your eternal repose and also for that of Francis’ wife, Linda.
The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is [email protected]