With the kind of precision I could set my watch to, at approximately 4 p.m. every Tuesday afternoon, you would send me a text that reads, “How’s your article coming along?”
Since mid-2008, I was writing this little column at the recommendation of some heavy-hitters at this newspaper: the late Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc (who got in touch with me through her daughter, Kara) and (former Entertainment editor) Emmie Velarde who, for my first years of writing Backstory, took the greatest care of me.
Perhaps it was in fear of her that I made most of my deadlines, no matter where I happened to be. When she announced her retirement, I felt lost at sea. That is, until you, who steered my course and righted my ship. And until your very last night on this earth, that’s exactly what you did.
Our discussions via text message would vary from story suggestions—I’ve drawn so many blanks, and it was only after bantering with you that I’d find some inspiration—to informally chatting about the goings-on in the entertainment industry: the plays currently running, the indie movies you loved, Superstar Nora Aunor not being included on the National Artists list this year, to your getting ready for trips and doing your laundry.
What will forever remain with me though, despite the seeming lack of nuance in text messages, is the joy with which you came at life. Every time I’d see you, you had an infectious smile on your face, whether the conversation was hushed, serious or goofy.
You seemed to always be on your way to some other place, but didn’t seem too rushed to not have time for even a quick hello to connect. The passion with which you adored this industry and its stars (you’re also an avowed Sharonian) was beyond palpable in the articles you wrote for the paper, or in the messages you’d send for only the eyes of their recipients.
Truly, the only thing I wish to say right now is thank you.
Thank you for the reminders to beat my deadlines, and the concern with which you’d ask if I even had an article to submit. Thank you for trusting me with the space I’d been given. And most of all, thank you for your friendship and kindness.
Because of your unwavering faith that I could do this, I’ll do my best to keep at it. There is still more writing to do. And perhaps because of folks like you, Letty and Emmie for pushing me, I’ll keep trying to make you proud.
And now, you’re free to see all the movies you want, attend those numerous international film festivals to root for our country’s submissions, and stand beside the show biz queens that you adored, and who adored you right back.
Thank you, Bayani San Diego Jr., for everything. The glint in your eye and the goodness of your heart will sorely be missed. I shall never forget you.
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