‘Seeing Red’ with LJM in the ’80s
IN 1987, when I was pursuing a writing course at UP, I happened to come across an article written by Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc published in one of our textbooks. The title was “Seeing Red.”
It impressed me so much that I wanted to meet her in person, but our paths never crossed, despite the fact that LJM was the sister of one of my closest friends at Sampaguita Pictures, Inday Badiday.
The title of the textbook was “Reading Into Writing 2 (English for Academic Purposes)” and the author was Prof. Concepcion Dadufalza.
It took almost a decade for my cherished dream to write for the Saturday Special section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer finally materialized, with the help of my former high school classmate, Isagani Yambot. He advised me to bring my first article directly to LJM’s office, so he could introduce us to each other.
The appointment was made with LJM’s secretary, who assured us both that her boss would be available at a certain time in the afternoon, although she wasn’t sure about Mr. Yambot’s being there also, because he was always on assignment elsewhere.
Forewarned that I would be on my own, I told Gani not to worry, because I could take care of myself. But, I entered LJM’s inner office with cold feet when finally summoned after the last visitor had left.
I started to introduce myself, but stammered when her hand reached out for the manuscript that I was holding, while her eyes were focused on her own paperwork that littered her desk.
“You don’t have to introduce yourself, Lynn,” she told me.
Glancing at the first page of my manuscript, she pointed out that there may have to be a change in the title, to make it less formal. I nodded. She looked pleased. “So, you really are an Americanita!” (My article’s original title was “A Childhood Memory”).
“Yes, Ma’am,” I answered. “My father, Joseph Strait, had to hide us five children from the Japanese as we moved from place to place in Manila and Masbate. I was the eldest child, barely 8 years old. My mother died in 1944, but the rest of us survived the war. It’s all in my diary.”
She looked at me more closely, with interest. “So, you keep a diary. That’s interesting.” Then, she shifted through the pile of manuscripts on her table and pulled out a folder from underneath. “But there’s something I want you to do for me first.
“I would like you to read the papers inside this folder, which are entries in a beauty contest, and choose which one qualifies to be in first place, second and third. That will help me a lot. You can read them here, and then put a mark on each one you choose.” She was still holding my manuscript, as she stood up. “I’ll take care of this.”
She waved it slightly in my direction, smiled goodbye, and was gone to join some people who had gathered at her door to fetch her.
That’s my memory of Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, whom I will never forget. By the way, my article came out a week later on Oct. 14, 1995 under the title, “Hooked on the big screen” by Lena Strait Pareja—subscripted with her “Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from the author’s memoirs entitled, ‘In the Name of the Mother.’”