Remembering Bobby Joseph, a friend for all seasons

Published June 19, 2022, 5:38 PM

by Deedee Siytangco

How do you brand Robert Lim Joseph, put him in a box, label him, or simply describe him?

In media, tourism, and civic circles, they all know him as a stalwart friend, mentor, supporter, source of news, great family man, and generous supporter.  

Bobby Joseph with Bob Zozobrado

Bobby has gone to his heavenly abode to frolic with the angels and make sure the stars are shining brightly every evening. His friends want to pay tribute to him in the best way, they know how… share “their” Bobby Joseph in their own words.

Bobby Joeph with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno

Let’s hear it from his friends.

He was an icon in the tourism industry. But in our weekly Bulong Pulungan forum, we regarded him as our own member, not just a member, but a dear, dear friend. We’d often egg Bobby on for whispers in the travel and tourism realm we could chew on for our columns. But gentleman that he was, Bobby would just shrug his shoulders, his sealed lips just breaking into a smile. That was how you knew you could safely open up to Bobby and so, that was how you just naturally embraced him as a true friend. No thanks to the Covid-19 and the subsequent quarantines, we could not hold our Bulungan Pulungan anymore, so we so missed our friends like Bobby. Little did we know, sadly, we would miss him forever. Bobby passed on last Sunday, June 12, Independence Day. Freedom Day, too, for Bobby, freedom from all the cares of this, our temporal world. With tears, we set you free Bobby. —Chai Santiago      

“Both busy trying to carve names for ourselves, we lost track of each other’s career path. It was only when we were both retired that we would see each other more often. Our industry has lost a dedicated crusader and a committed mentor. I have lost a good friend, but I take comfort in his, finally, being free from pain. He will now be resting in the bosom of our Lord. —Bob Zozobrado

If anyone could be called a survivor, that would be Bobby Joseph. A diagnosis of cancer 20 years ago set him down the road to rediscover his faith, his inner strength, the enduring love of his family and friends, and even the fortitude to endure the mysterious death of a son of his in the US. I knew him mainly through our “Bulong Pulungan,” of which he was a stalwart, albeit an outspoken observer of matters to do with travel, tourism, and civic matters. I do remember him as a restaurateur after he invited our “Bulong” group to a Makati restaurant he owned. It served mainly Middle Eastern cuisine, while he reminisced proudly about his family’s roots in Lebanon, I think. A towering figure in his chosen field, he will be remembered with admiration and fondness, especially by us ladies of “Bulong” who will miss him terribly. —Rina David

Bobby, to kith and kin, was a visionary, a man beyond his time. The status quo was never his comfort zone.  A tourism guru with a zest for new trends, he was a hit with the new kids on the block as he would not cease sharing his passion for travel. Service was second skin to him much as outpouring of generosity was the Bobby everyone knew. For more than 20 years, enduring a lingering illness was never apparent in the kind of outlook and aura he shared with everyone whose lives he touched. Rest well Bobby. You will never be forgotten. —Frank Evaristo

Each time I had new ideas to share, Bobby would immediately support them, ike when I first brought the concept to Sen. Villar for a bill to highlight farm tourism. After the enactment of the bill, Bobby proceeded to start Paraiso Farm with Tony Meloto to showcase how the farm could transform the lives of communities. After my trip to Portugal to speak about faith tourism, Bobby called and said it was time to encourage the church, the church goers, and the local government units to look inward and push faith-based tourism. “Why not, we are the only Catholic country in Asia?” Later we brought in two pilgrimage tours through AAP Lakbay. Bobby was restless for new projects, new activities, new topics, new causes. He was time-conscious for obvious reasons. In 2018, the ISST board appointed him vice chair. He deserved it. He was always there to provide marketing, planning, moral, and financial support. Between us there was respect. Bobby loves ecotourism and spearheaded the Manila Bay cleanup. He often said that people given a lease in life should begin a new chapter, one close to Mama Mary and one that “gives rather than receives.” His wife Ida told me during his wake that outside of the family, I was the last to speak to him. He said, “basta tourism gising ako!” And when he heard who the new tourism secretary was, he gave that “Bobby smile” and he said he was ready to sleep. —Mina T. Gabor

         You did it Bobby! Mabuhay!”