Every morning, one of the first messages I would get on my Messenger would be from him.
Daily and without fail since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, he would send me a photo copy of my columns, both in Manila Bulletin and Tempo, for me to see.
With the strict implementation of ECQ, GCQ and whatnot, it had been hard for me to get a hold of the physical paper. Knowing that we both cherished print, being both old school, he took it upon himself to photograph each and every column of mine from his daily ration of 10 newspapers, then send them to me.
Ricky Lo, who passed on May 4 at 75, served as my link to the print media in these dark days of the Covid-19. It had been his original role, plus-plus, in my life ever since.
In the mid-70s, when I was starting a career as a journalist, he took me in as contributor to Expressweek magazine, where he handled the entertainment section. Week after week, he would assign me an actor or actress, director or producer to profile, and that extended stint with the Daily Express publication jumpstarted my journey into entertainment journalism.
The last week or so, the messages with pictures of my writing on them stopped coming.
I knew something was off when, day after day, after trying to reach him through his mobile or through messenger, no reply reverted. I soon left it at that, knowing how Ricky valued privacy in the very public environment he and I moved in.
Ricky was a staunch believer in the print media, standing by it, defending it, like a lovely narra tree in full bloom, an icon, although he was slowly transitioning to digital, having just launched his own You Tube channel.
A young journalist asked me what I thought had been Ricky’s secret in maintaining a solid career in entertainment writing for 50 years. How could he have gotten all those scoops from the biggest of stars?
I answered, it was probably in his gentle ways, he was soft spoken and friendly. It was easy for people to like him, then trust him with their secrets.
He was very skillful during interviews. He knew how to skin a cat that wouldn’t reveal itself, an expert in the choice of words while asking sensitive questions.
He would veil them in the guise of jokes. He used metaphor a lot in asking them.
Former Press Secretary Teodoro C. Benigno wrote in an introduction to one of Ricky’s books:
‘’What probably distinguishes Ricky Lo from his contemporaries is that he mixes his stuff with the versatility of the chief bartender at Chasen’s. This can be sipped like wine, savored like liqueur…
But, you never get drunk or soused…just a bit inebriated and tipsy and that’s great.
‘’Ricky eschewed vulgar and vapid journalism for vintage entertainment writing. This brought out his characters in their diverse moods, graces and tempers, with a style that was at once alive, pointed and picturesque. Very few journalists achieve this blend.’’
More than his career achievements, Ricky has left us, his colleagues and friends, a legacy that’s far more important than a hundred scoops and three books. It is his legacy in kindness and humility, the most important remembrance of all.