i don’t have grandparents anymore. i never met my maternal grandfather; he died even before my elder sister was born. i lost my maternal grandmother in 1994, my paternal grandmother in 2008, and my paternal grandfather just last year. losing them one by one made me value my interactions with old people and made me go “s/he is one cool lola/lolo i’d like to have” to those who i find amazing, inspiring or awesome in their own ways. i also noticed that i became too sensitive on matters involving the elders. there was this one time when i stopped following twitter friends who were joking about senate president juan ponce enrile still being alive. i wondered if they have ever lost a grandparent or if they still have one who they wish to keep for another year, and another, and another.
philippine daily inquirer publisher isagani m. yambot or sir y as i was used to addressing him, was one of those i have categorized under “one cool lolo i’d like to have” (illustrative example: he agreed to lip synch part of daft punk’s harder, better, faster, stronger for last year’s christmas video presentation of the editorial group. super cool, yes?). and just like how it was with my grandparents (and all the other people dear to me), it never occurred to me that he could die.
when i confirmed the news about sir y passing away last friday, i just found myself in tears. i was at bonchon chicken at greenbelt 1 for dinner with kim and i just couldn’t stop myself from crying; i felt eyes staring at me. maybe people thought kim and i were breaking up or something, heh. since then, i’ve been having crying spells whenever i remember sir y or hear someone mentions his name or read stories about him in the news or on facebook and twitter (okay, i’m even crying right now while typing this). i really felt like i lost another lolo. :”(
some memories of sir y:
i think this was my first photo with sir y. this was taken during our editorial christmas party in 2009. i’ve only been with the company for three months then so after this photo was taken i remember sir y asking me about my stint with the research department.
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i remember sir y for his jokes, his stock of nice words to say to everyone, his being soft spoken (even at the heat of an assessment when everybody else are shouting at each other) and his genuine concern to his fellow media people. i remember how it broke my heart seeing him cry during a candle lighting ceremony at the office for the 57 persons—at least 30 of whom were journalists—who were massacred in maguindanao.
he always has nice words to say even to me and i know he means them every time. there was also this one time when he saw me wearing hand gloves. he approached me and asked what happened to my hands. i could tell from his voice and facial expression that he was really concerned. sir, wala po ito. malamig lang po dun sa amin. he looked genuinely relieved after hearing this. ahhh… akala ko kung ano na e, he said.
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in june 2010, i got a “special assignment” to cover the rotary club of manila’s journalism awards. my first writing assignment as a researcher—what is kabado?! anyway, the inquirer won newspaper of the year and i went there with sir y. he made small talk during the ride to and from the event (e.g. you are from up diliman, right? are you enjoying your work at the research department?). when we arrived at the event, he introduced me to our table mates (who i later found out were judges and awardees) and pointed out the possible interviewees for my story. lunch was served and every once in a while he would tell me to eat more or at least have desserts.
after the event, he let me take care of the trophy and as a newbie i felt very proud holding on to it. here i was secretly taking a snapshot of the trophy during the ride back to the office. see how it’s a bit blurred because i don’t want to be caught by sir y being such an inquirer fan girl, haha. (oo na, dream company ko ito, okay?)
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sometime early this year, i chanced upon sir y aboard a company service car getting out of the parking lot around 2 a.m. i wondered if he usually goes home that late. that thought made me worry about his health because i know he already had a surgery last year. and then when i went to work at 10 a.m., i saw that he’s already in the office. another time, i think he still hasn’t gone home because he went to the research office that morning wearing an outfit from last night and then when he went back after a few minutes, he was wearing a different outfit already. i felt worried and at the same time inspired because it just shows how much he loves and enjoys his job.
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my favorite remembrance from sir y is this piece of paper.
that’s another thing that i like about sir y—he commends your work. being told you are doing a good job once in a while is healthy; and hearing it from the publisher himself is really something to cherish, right?
sir y also always says thank you even though it’s for simply sending him a copy of the day’s stock quotations or reading to him over the phone a passage in spanish. you would think that as a publisher, you would have to attend to his requests first but he says otherwise. he would say “second priority lang ito” while handing out a print out or a piece of paper with his handwriting. i have a set of post-it notes that i specifically use to label sir y’s request. now, what to do with them? </3
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the last request i got from sir y was something about the charges against former armed forces of the philippines comptroller carlos garcia. the last compilation i did for him was of basic yoga poses. he said he needed it in preparation for his operation on feb. 21.
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last night, sir y appeared in my dream. he was at the editorial office wearing a white and blue jacket i’m sure i’ve seen him wearing before. i was a mere spectator in the dream. he was joking with someone from the office but i saw only him. he was saying in between laughs, “sabi ko, ang takot ko baka mauna ako dun sa isa e!” i don’t know who he was referring to. “ayun, naunahan ko nga.” even joking about his death in my dreams.
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just this morning, i got three phone calls but there was only silence on the other end whenever i picked up. i know it was just a coincidence but i usually get calls from sir y around the same time. he would tell me he’s still not in the office and he would instruct me to just leave his requests on his desk or pigeonhole, or to call him back at this number or send him an sms to this number.
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i am set to go to sir y’s wake later on thursday. and i am conditioning myself to bring out that tough stance i have mastered not too long ago. i failed at this just earlier at the superdesk meeting. the editors were talking about sir y and i was able to stop myself from crying until one of them asked if i wanted to share something about sir y. and all i was able to say was “sir, naiiyak po ako e.” and then i walked away.
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days before sir y’s operation, he called out to me from the editorial office. he seemed to be in a hurry. he handed me an edit of sir amando doronilla’s column “pakibigay mo ito kay tin-tin. thank you, thank you.” i just realized that these were his last words to me—thank you. and i was not able to reply.
sir y, if you can hear me, you are most welcome po. it was such an honor to have worked with you for two and a half years. thank you for trusting my research skills. you will always be remembered.
p.s. if you ever meet my grandparents there, i hope you would have something nice to say about me, hihi.