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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
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FROM THE INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: PRIDE AND HONOR


DECEMBER 24 -Other contestants comfort Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, top right, after she was incorrectly crowned Miss Universe at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Las Vegas. According to the pageant, a misreading led the announcer to read Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner before they took it away and gave it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, pictured on left. (AP Photo/John Locher) It was a welcome distraction from the political sparring of recent days. Practically all of Monday, Filipinos nationwide were riveted to an inadvertent telenovela that had pulchritude, pathos, and a pulse-racing twist that erupted into pandemonium marked by a victory whoop or a glass-shattering squeal, depending on one’s degree of obsession with beauty contests. It was Las Vegas glitz and glamour gone terribly wrong: Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey inexplicably misread his cue card, gave the title to Miss Colombia, and then apologized and announced that, in fact, it was Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach who should be crowned and officially named the most beautiful woman in the universe. Predictably, social media exploded with memes walloping Harvey for his inability to read and to spell (he later tweeted an apology to “Miss Philippians” and “Miss Columbia,” leaving out, netizens groused, Miss Corinthians, the Ephesians and the Ecclesiastes). Meanwhile, Instagram and Facebook shared photos and videos of Wurtzbach looking stunned after the corrected verdict, the gaggle of mean girls shooing her away when she tried to comfort Miss Colombia, Miss Germany mouthing off, Miss Australia defending Wurtzbach, and so on. P-Noy also gained much attention, having briefly dated the half-German beauty queen. Indeed, the brouhaha unreeled like a soap opera, training the spotlight on the never-say-die Wurtzbach whose colorful history (family breadwinner at 11, TV star, junior chef, writer and guest stylist of this paper’s Lifestyle section) and disciplined focus on winning the Miss U crown got her the gold, as it were. And oh, how everyone, or most everyone, loved it, relishing the clinching of a crown that had eluded the Philippines for these past 42 years—a virtual drought after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973. (Remember how, in July 1969, when the world witnessed the first man setting foot on the moon, Filipinos crowed that while the United States may have conquered the moon, this country ruled the universe!) In a country where many mothers secretly hope to raise a future “Miss Pilipins,” good looks are considered a gift from above, unmistakable permission to go forth, vivify and beautify—that one might ace beauty contests and uplift the family’s lot. Given such a subtext, it’s no wonder that this country is crazy about beauty queens, with community events culminating in a parade of beauties from toddlers to crones, with sashed contestants seriously sashaying onstage like they see it done on noontime shows and the yearly surfeit of international beauty pageants.READ MORE...

ALSO By Margaux Salcedo: Letty J Magsanoc - Mentor, mother, North Star


DECEMBER 27 -Philippine Daily Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. INQUIRER PHOTO
THERE WAS a full moon on Christmas Eve when Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc passed away. “Not since 1977 has a full moon dawned in the skies on Christmas,” Nasa reported. And there will not be another until 2034. I believe that full moon was out the night before Christmas because the Lord lit up the skies to welcome LJM to heaven. That and probably because in the Lord’s infinite wisdom, he knew that if the light to follow wasn’t bright enough, the forthright and indefatigable LJM would have opted to stay behind. “I passionately love life and I will be earthbound for the longest time,” she told Inquirer columnist and photographer (and good friend) Mandy Navasero two days before she died. Seven hats for LJM We will just take comfort in the fact that she was ready spiritually. “Maybe God chose not to prolong her sufferings,” Navasero mused. “Letty was a devoted Catholic. She attended Mass (at the Edsa Shrine) daily at noon and then walked one hour in their village. I gave her seven hats to protect her from the heat and she told me every day she was sporting a new hat during her walks.”  In fact, our last conversation was about prayer. Letty’s ‘bunso’  “I continue to pray for your dad’s continuing healing daily,” she texted in November. Two days later, I had “good” news for her. “Ma’am, thank you so much for your prayers and I have proof God has been listening. We are about to do radiation for my dad but the doctor recommended by our neuro onco is out of the country … so my dad’s case has fallen in the hands of a certain Dr. Marty Magsanoc, head of radiation oncology of St. Luke’s!”  Dr. Marty Magsanoc is her bunso (youngest son). God’s healing power “Praise the Lord! Your dad will be healed!” she rejoiced, as if my dad was a member of her family. “I also pray for the healing of all the patients of Dr. Marty.”  “May he be a true instrument of God’s healing power,” I replied. “I believe he is,” she concluded, confident in the capabilities of her son. So it was with great pain that I received the news only a month later that she … could no longer be healed. We were celebrating noche buena with my dad, whose healing she prayed for every day, when we received the news that she herself had gone. A second mother It is an unbearable loss, made worse by the fact that it was so abrupt, because she was an invaluable mentor to me, as she was to many at the Inquirer. A lot of us regard her as a second mother, weeping as we were orphaned on Christmas Eve.READ MORE...

ALSO: By Thelma Sioson San Juan - NEWSROOM TRIES TO COPE WITH THE LOSS OF ITS LEADER: A million thanks, LJM! 


DECEMBER  27 -PRICELESS MOMENT In a bold spontaneous move, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc exchanges pleasantries with President Aquino and US President Barack Obama during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation welcome reception dinner in November at SM Mall of Asia Arena. Mr. Aquino reminds Obama that Magsanoc was one of the heroes of the Edsa Revolution. THELMA SIOSON SAN JUAN
  THIS is our saddest Christmas, and each day is spent trying to hold back tears as we work in the newsroom. The men, most of them anyway, try to be stoic. The women, most of them, give each other a tight hug now and then, bury their head on the other one’s shoulder and break into sobs. This is the hardened newsroom that, as they say, eats death threats for breakfast. My problem is—I still can’t fully cry. Not yet. It’s as if, if I did it would be surrendering to the reality that our esteemed editor in chief, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc—LJM to us and Letty to some—is gone for good. It was about 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve when I got a text from a friend asking if it was true that Letty “had passed away.” Is this a bad joke, I replied. But the texter asked me to find out anyway. I called Letty’s house and her kasambahay, in a tearful voice, told me to call Letty’s daughter, Kara, instead; she was at St. Luke’s. St. Luke’s? We didn’t even know LJM was in the hospital. I called Joey (Nolasco, our managing editor), who had just gotten home after putting the paper to bed early that evening. Right away, he said no, “cannot be.”  Joey decided we text Sandy (Prieto-Romualdez, or SPR, our president and CEO). Minutes later, SPR called. I heard cries, not words. And that was how the Inquirer got its news on Christmas Eve. LJM passed away late in the afternoon of that day at St. Luke’s Global City, surrounded by her beloved family—husband Carlitos, only daughter Kara, and sons Nikko and Marty. She suffered cardiac arrest. As late as Tuesday, she was still giving marching orders to some of us. She told me, on the phone, to make sure our story on Pia (Wurtzbach, the new Miss Universe) was given a personal angle, because Pia was, as she put it, “ours” (Wurtzbach is a contributor/stylist/model of Lifestyle’s toBeYou). She was her usual self-ultrapossessive of the news, passionate about the story, except that, I noticed, her voice was weak. I asked her when she thought she would be in the office. She had wanted to be at work the week before the New Year, because that was her turn (the newsdesk is divided into New Year and Christmas teams, so that they can take turns taking the holidays off), but her back still hurt. Almost as second thought—not primary thought, because to us Letty was invincible—I asked, you’re still in pain? She said yes, adding it seemed this took time to heal. Age, she said. Perhaps it would take six months before her back fracture could heal; it’s just a slowing down of healing because of mature age, she said. We would visit you, I told her. “Yes, I would like that,” she said. “Now.”  I took “now” to be a figure of speech, given our hectic schedule. Looking back, I now realize she meant really “now.”  I and the girls never got to visit her that Tuesday or the day after because we were advancing deadlines for Christmas. Backbreaking pain Letty had been suffering from, according to her, “backbreaking pain,” and had been on sick leave for about two weeks. During that time, in a text message, she said, an X-ray showed “lumbar 1 and 2 fracture in my spinal column. Because my injury of two years ago acted up, X-ray shows there’s now a tear in my bone.”  She wasn’t feeling well enough to attend the Inquirer’s 30th anniversary celebration on Dec. 9, and looked at it with spiritual resignation. Her text to me read, “You know nothing would have stopped me from celebrating this milestone with you all. There must be a reason why the Lord believes otherwise. As my mother always says, even the falling of a leaf…”  Control of her health As she did the newsroom, Letty had an almost obstinate control of her health, tempered only by her strong spirituality, even as she was seeing doctors. We learned that even as she was forced by family to go to the hospital last week, she agreed only on the condition that she would be back home to fix the family noche buena. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Michael Ubac - Ramos pays tribute to an ‘icon of Edsa’


DECEMBER 27 -WITH former President Fidel V. Ramos and Eggie Apostol
“AN ICON of (the) Edsa” People Power Revolution. This was how former President Fidel V. Ramos, himself an icon of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, described the legacy of Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, who passed away on Christmas Eve. In a surprise visit to the Inquirer editorial office Saturday, Ramos hand-carried mementos and a letter of condolence to Magsanoc’s bereaved family. “May you receive consolation from the fact that she not only lived a full and meaningful life, but also did her more substantial share in the service of God, country and people,” Ramos said in the letter. In an interview, Ramos re called his close but below the radar engagement with Magsanoc, who, along with former Inquirer columnists Belinda Olivares-Cunanan and Ninez Cacho-Olivares, currently the publisher and editor in chief of The Tribune, fought the Marcos dictatorship through the power of the pen. Magsanoc became editor in chief in 1991, after she was personally handpicked by Eggie Apostol of the Inquirer to take the helm of the paper that she had founded in 1985 as part of the “mosquito press,” publications highly critical of the Marcos regime.The Mr. & Ms. Special Edition was one such paper, where Apostol and Magsanoc worked together, shortly before the Edsa Revolution in 1986 that brought the Marcos conjugal dictatorship to its knees. “During martial law, [Magsanoc was among the] three [women] who were all in the media [and] who were very aggressive against the government,” Ramos recalled. His clandestine but sustained engagement with the three “very aggressive and brave women” occurred from 1983 to 1986 following the assassination of opposition Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the father of President Aquino, Ramos said. The three courageous women were his bodyguards, he said in jest. At the time, Ramos was chief of the Philippine Constabulary and acting chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. ‘Deep Throat’  “I was their contact because I was the guy they could approach, and we would meet at various places [including] my church, the Cosmopolitan (Methodist) Church on Taft Avenue” in Manila, recalled Ramos, a Protestant. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Candy Quimpo Gourlay - She taught me writing is never about the writer


DECEMBER 27 -SHININGMOMENT “LJM was always pleased with my success,” says Gourlay (right). OVER lunch on Christmas Day with my family, I thought to raise a drink to my former editor, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, or LJM, as everyone fondly called her. Before we clinked glasses, I attempted to tell my children who Letty was and why she was so important to me. But my simple summing up caused a flood of memories—and tears—that made my every word shrivel and lose their meaning. How could I sum up how Letty made me the writer and person that I am? The story I told over Christmas lunch must have sounded exciting and extraordinary to my children, brought up in first-world England, never knowing what it’s like to live without choice. Did they get that this was more a coming of age than an adventure? I told them how I met Letty as a student, interviewing her for a thesis on press freedom that I was writing with my best buddies, Frankie Joaquin and Vicky Suba. How Letty invited us to work for her when we graduated, giving Frankie and me our first jobs (Vicky became a film actress). How I had been so thrilled to work with Letty, having long been a fan of her column in Panorama magazine, which she also edited. How I had been shocked when she was fired for writing a piece critical of the Marcoses. How I cut my teeth as a fledgling reporter working for Letty on a magazine dedicated to exposing the evils of the Marcos regime. (Letty always corrected me: “You don’t work ‘for’ me, Candy, you work ‘with’ me.”) Sheltered The person I was before I began to work with Letty was not much to shout about. I was one of legions of middle-class Filipinos living on the edge of deprivation, with a parent determined to work abroad, of course. And, yes, I’m ashamed to say, sheltered, with no awareness of life apart from home, school, family, friends. Ninoy Aquino? Who’s that? I was a fairly good writer with a fervent aspiration to become a novelist. But words are nothing without meaning and understanding. And one thing was for sure: I knew nothing. My first weeks under Letty’s tutelage were made excruciating by my ignorance and arrogance about my abilities. But here was where luck played a part. Of all the editors of all the magazines in all the cities in the world, I got Letty. She edited with a green ballpoint pen. I never really did ask her why. But it was comforting. I was fresh out of school and used to teachers bloodying my essays with red poison pens that declared me a failure. Green ink was friendly, companionable and told me once more, “You work with me” not “You work for me.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL: Pride and honor


Other contestants comfort Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, top right, after she was incorrectly crowned Miss Universe at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Las Vegas. According to the pageant, a misreading led the announcer to read Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner before they took it away and gave it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, pictured on left. (AP Photo/John Locher)

MANILA, DECEMBER 28, 2015 (INQUIRER) @inquirerdotnet December 24th, 2015 - It was a welcome distraction from the political sparring of recent days. Practically all of Monday, Filipinos nationwide were riveted to an inadvertent telenovela that had pulchritude, pathos, and a pulse-racing twist that erupted into pandemonium marked by a victory whoop or a glass-shattering squeal, depending on one’s degree of obsession with beauty contests.

It was Las Vegas glitz and glamour gone terribly wrong: Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey inexplicably misread his cue card, gave the title to Miss Colombia, and then apologized and announced that, in fact, it was Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach who should be crowned and officially named the most beautiful woman in the universe.

Predictably, social media exploded with memes walloping Harvey for his inability to read and to spell (he later tweeted an apology to “Miss Philippians” and “Miss Columbia,” leaving out, netizens groused, Miss Corinthians, the Ephesians and the Ecclesiastes). Meanwhile, Instagram and Facebook shared photos and videos of Wurtzbach looking stunned after the corrected verdict, the gaggle of mean girls shooing her away when she tried to comfort Miss Colombia, Miss Germany mouthing off, Miss Australia defending Wurtzbach, and so on. P-Noy also gained much attention, having briefly dated the half-German beauty queen.

Indeed, the brouhaha unreeled like a soap opera, training the spotlight on the never-say-die Wurtzbach whose colorful history (family breadwinner at 11, TV star, junior chef, writer and guest stylist of this paper’s Lifestyle section) and disciplined focus on winning the Miss U crown got her the gold, as it were. And oh, how everyone, or most everyone, loved it, relishing the clinching of a crown that had eluded the Philippines for these past 42 years—a virtual drought after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973. (Remember how, in July 1969, when the world witnessed the first man setting foot on the moon, Filipinos crowed that while the United States may have conquered the moon, this country ruled the universe!)

In a country where many mothers secretly hope to raise a future “Miss Pilipins,” good looks are considered a gift from above, unmistakable permission to go forth, vivify and beautify—that one might ace beauty contests and uplift the family’s lot. Given such a subtext, it’s no wonder that this country is crazy about beauty queens, with community events culminating in a parade of beauties from toddlers to crones, with sashed contestants seriously sashaying onstage like they see it done on noontime shows and the yearly surfeit of international beauty pageants.

READ MORE...

Many Filipinos proudly point to the genetic mix that the Spanish and American colonial eras and, lately, the intermarriage of overseas Filipino workers with foreigners, have produced—the deep-set eyes, the fair skin, the aquiline nose, the height, and the exotic, often difficult to spell, surnames of their progeny. And they like to keep score, giddy over the harvest of international beauty titles—at least four this year alone: Miss Globe Ann Lorraine Colis, Miss Earth Angelia Gabrena Ong, Miss Intercontinental (first runner-up) and Continental Queen of Asia and the Pacific Christi Lynn McGarry, and Miss Universe Wurtzbach.

As a Miss U executive gleefully explained after the Colombia-Philippines spectacle: “There’s nothing bigger and crazier in pageantry than Colombian and Filipino fans. They are the most outspoken and craziest fans ever, so this is great press.”

While in the United States, beauty pageants are “kind of like fun,” and in other countries, a cattle show best relegated to the Dark Ages, in yet other countries such as Colombia and the Philippines, they are “huge” and “massive.” And life-changing, too, even just to viewers who think of every Filipino beauty queen’s triumph as their own.

It’s entertainment, it’s pageantry, it’s a distraction from perennial problems. It’s also national pride and personal honor, a veritable part of Filipino identity, and, as Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez-David writes, “a chance to celebrate the best of who we are, even if they be impossibly tall, lithe, polished specimens of a standard of beauty far beyond the reach of the majority.”

Now, if only we were as focused, as single-minded, as emotionally and physically invested in confronting the burning issues afflicting our country—plunder, corruption, neocolonialism, poverty, people getting away with murder …


LJM: Mentor, mother, North Star By: Margaux Salcedo @inquirerdotnet Columnist 01:08 AM December 27th, 2015


Philippine Daily Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. INQUIRER PHOTO

THERE WAS a full moon on Christmas Eve when Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc passed away.

“Not since 1977 has a full moon dawned in the skies on Christmas,” Nasa reported. And there will not be another until 2034.

I believe that full moon was out the night before Christmas because the Lord lit up the skies to welcome LJM to heaven.

That and probably because in the Lord’s infinite wisdom, he knew that if the light to follow wasn’t bright enough, the forthright and indefatigable LJM would have opted to stay behind.

“I passionately love life and I will be earthbound for the longest time,” she told Inquirer columnist and photographer (and good friend) Mandy Navasero two days before she died.

Seven hats for LJM

We will just take comfort in the fact that she was ready spiritually.

“Maybe God chose not to prolong her sufferings,” Navasero mused. “Letty was a devoted Catholic. She attended Mass (at the Edsa Shrine) daily at noon and then walked one hour in their village. I gave her seven hats to protect her from the heat and she told me every day she was sporting a new hat during her walks.”

In fact, our last conversation was about prayer.

Letty’s ‘bunso’

“I continue to pray for your dad’s continuing healing daily,” she texted in November.

Two days later, I had “good” news for her.

“Ma’am, thank you so much for your prayers and I have proof God has been listening. We are about to do radiation for my dad but the doctor recommended by our neuro onco is out of the country … so my dad’s case has fallen in the hands of a certain Dr. Marty Magsanoc, head of radiation oncology of St. Luke’s!”

Dr. Marty Magsanoc is her bunso (youngest son).

God’s healing power

“Praise the Lord! Your dad will be healed!” she rejoiced, as if my dad was a member of her family. “I also pray for the healing of all the patients of Dr. Marty.”

“May he be a true instrument of God’s healing power,” I replied. “I believe he is,” she concluded, confident in the capabilities of her son.

So it was with great pain that I received the news only a month later that she … could no longer be healed. We were celebrating noche buena with my dad, whose healing she prayed for every day, when we received the news that she herself had gone.

A second mother

It is an unbearable loss, made worse by the fact that it was so abrupt, because she was an invaluable mentor to me, as she was to many at the Inquirer. A lot of us regard her as a second mother, weeping as we were orphaned on Christmas Eve.

READ MORE...

“The last time I felt like this was when my mother died,” Chelo Banal-Formoso, my first editor at the Inquirer, wrote on her Facebook wall.

“Hoping to be up and about before Christmas Day. Love you, guys,” Letty texted. Formoso texted back, “Pagaling ka (Get well), Let. That’s what’s important.”

But God had other plans, and now I can’t stop the tears, Formoso said.

A lot of us owe our careers to her. I, for one, wouldn’t ever have become a food writer if not for LJM.

“We don’t have an opening in Opinion,” she told me when I applied after graduating from law school. “What about food? Can you write about food?” Then she set me off on a totally unexpected path that turned out to be a wonderful, delicious journey.

PDI’s Yoda

As Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Yoda, she nurtured both Jedis and Padawans. No writer was small enough to nurture.

Until last month, she herself would give me tips on new restaurants to visit or quiz me on the dining scene to keep me on my toes.

When I started writing for the (now defunct) Sunday Inquirer Magazine, it was also her idea to give a budget so that I could eat at restaurants unannounced and have the bravado to critique even established restaurants.

Wisdom with wit

By writing from the perspective of a regular diner, Menu in the Sunday Inquirer in time became a noted reliable source for honest reviews.

I have happily been a food writer for 11 years now. I owe this life to LJM.

A sentiment I share with most if not all writers at the Inquirer: It was an honor and a privilege to work for her. And a delight because she imparted her wisdom with wit. And because she was always supportive. And loving. And genuine. And just ubercool.

Our North Star

On Christmas Eve, I surmise as LJM breathed her last, the sermon at our church was about the North Star and how it led the Wise Men to Christ’s manger. The North Star can sometimes be found in people, our pastor said. Notice how some have an aura so strong and bright that they guide you and bring out the best in you, leading you to Christ.

That was Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc for a lot of us: mentor, mother, North Star.

Thank you for being our North Star, LJM. Your spirit will shine bright with us, in us, inspiring us and guiding us always. You will live forever in our hearts.


NEWSROOM TRIES TO COPE WITH THE LOSS OF ITS LEADER: A million thanks, LJM  SHARES: 10 VIEW COMMENTS By: Thelma Sioson San Juan @inquirerdotnet Lifestyle Editor 12:04 AM December 27th, 2015


PRICELESS MOMENT In a bold spontaneous move, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc exchanges pleasantries with President Aquino and US President Barack Obama during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation welcome reception dinner in November at SM Mall of Asia Arena. Mr. Aquino reminds Obama that Magsanoc was one of the heroes of the Edsa Revolution. THELMA SIOSON SAN JUAN

THIS is our saddest Christmas, and each day is spent trying to hold back tears as we work in the newsroom.

The men, most of them anyway, try to be stoic. The women, most of them, give each other a tight hug now and then, bury their head on the other one’s shoulder and break into sobs.

This is the hardened newsroom that, as they say, eats death threats for breakfast.

My problem is—I still can’t fully cry. Not yet.

It’s as if, if I did it would be surrendering to the reality that our esteemed editor in chief, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc—LJM to us and Letty to some—is gone for good.

It was about 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve when I got a text from a friend asking if it was true that Letty “had passed away.” Is this a bad joke, I replied. But the texter asked me to find out anyway.

I called Letty’s house and her kasambahay, in a tearful voice, told me to call Letty’s daughter, Kara, instead; she was at St. Luke’s.

St. Luke’s? We didn’t even know LJM was in the hospital.

I called Joey (Nolasco, our managing editor), who had just gotten home after putting the paper to bed early that evening. Right away, he said no, “cannot be.”

Joey decided we text Sandy (Prieto-Romualdez, or SPR, our president and CEO).

Minutes later, SPR called. I heard cries, not words.

And that was how the Inquirer got its news on Christmas Eve.

LJM passed away late in the afternoon of that day at St. Luke’s Global City, surrounded by her beloved family—husband Carlitos, only daughter Kara, and sons Nikko and Marty. She suffered cardiac arrest.

As late as Tuesday, she was still giving marching orders to some of us. She told me, on the phone, to make sure our story on Pia (Wurtzbach, the new Miss Universe) was given a personal angle, because Pia was, as she put it, “ours” (Wurtzbach is a contributor/stylist/model of Lifestyle’s toBeYou). She was her usual self-ultrapossessive of the news, passionate about the story, except that, I noticed, her voice was weak.

I asked her when she thought she would be in the office. She had wanted to be at work the week before the New Year, because that was her turn (the newsdesk is divided into New Year and Christmas teams, so that they can take turns taking the holidays off), but her back still hurt.

Almost as second thought—not primary thought, because to us Letty was invincible—I asked, you’re still in pain? She said yes, adding it seemed this took time to heal. Age, she said. Perhaps it would take six months before her back fracture could heal; it’s just a slowing down of healing because of mature age, she said.

We would visit you, I told her. “Yes, I would like that,” she said. “Now.”

I took “now” to be a figure of speech, given our hectic schedule. Looking back, I now realize she meant really “now.”

I and the girls never got to visit her that Tuesday or the day after because we were advancing deadlines for Christmas.

Backbreaking pain

Letty had been suffering from, according to her, “backbreaking pain,” and had been on sick leave for about two weeks. During that time, in a text message, she said, an X-ray showed “lumbar 1 and 2 fracture in my spinal column. Because my injury of two years ago acted up, X-ray shows there’s now a tear in my bone.”

She wasn’t feeling well enough to attend the Inquirer’s 30th anniversary celebration on Dec. 9, and looked at it with spiritual resignation. Her text to me read, “You know nothing would have stopped me from celebrating this milestone with you all. There must be a reason why the Lord believes otherwise. As my mother always says, even the falling of a leaf…”

Control of her health

As she did the newsroom, Letty had an almost obstinate control of her health, tempered only by her strong spirituality, even as she was seeing doctors. We learned that even as she was forced by family to go to the hospital last week, she agreed only on the condition that she would be back home to fix the family noche buena.

READ MORE...

Hard as we try and talk, we can never fathom the grief and loss her husband and children are suffering.

What matters to us now is, even as she remained oblivious to her increasing frailty and, as it turned out, her failing health—she never let on; she would try hard to stick to the midnight (literally midnight) curfew imposed on her by her family, but would break it now and then and stay in the office way after midnight—what matters to us is, she willed herself to live, the same way she willed herself and her staff to achieve unthinkable feats.

Letty made the Inquirer do the impossible: unseat a President, run an exposé on the pork barrel scam that put behind bars the powers-that-be, relentlessly run stories that impacted the candidacy of a presidential aspirant. The list goes on and on.

The story that is LJM isn’t finished yet.

We now have an onrush of memories of incredible moments.

Apec feat

One of the last incredible feats she put me up to was during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) welcome reception dinner at SM Mall of Asia Arena on Nov. 18. After the Apec economic leaders had taken their seats around the table at the center of the vast venue, led by President Aquino and US President Barack Obama, Letty turned to me and said casually, “I want to observe P-Noy and Obama interact. I want to stand behind them.”

Just an impulse, I told myself. Ignore.

Not ignore. She was repeating it way into the main course. I had to find a way to walk her to P-Noy and Obama, and from behind, to whisper to P-Noy that Letty was behind them.

That produced the memorable shot of LJM between P-Noy and Obama, with P-Noy telling Obama, “You remember her?” and Obama saying, “Yes, from the Edsa Revolution.”

As the eyes around the hall bored through us, I overheard Letty telling Obama that she had his books and asking if he could sign them. That was the second time she did that.

Autograph sought

(The first time she asked him to autograph his book for her was during the state dinner for Obama when she casually walked up to him at the end of dinner.)

“Of course,” Obama said, “I will be staying here until the 20th. Have them brought to my aide in the hotel.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—Potus was giving this woman his schedule. Unable to control my shaking knees, I walked back to my table and wanted to bury my head in the tablecloth, in embarrassment.

I knew what Letty could be after—a quote (what an eavesdropper), an observation, anything that could make the Inquirer’s banner tomorrow different from all the rest. Did she get it?

Last coverage/party

Come to think of it now, perhaps she didn’t care that night if she did. She walked back to our table truly happy. “He actually remembered me,” she said, gleeful like a girl.

I realize now how much LJM—this dragon woman who was supposed to be jaded already after about 40 years in journalism—truly enjoyed that evening’s coverage, as if it wasn’t just a coverage, but a social outing as well.

A woman who never allowed her photograph to be published in her paper, if she could help it (“We are not the news, we cover the news”), she was asking me that night to take her picture. She wanted, she said, to show it to Pepito Albert who made her kimono-like gray top (she was an Auggie Cordero woman, the designer having made her bridal gown, but she didn’t want to bother Auggie this time) and to show perhaps to her family.

I’m now glad I did. That was Letty’s last coverage/party.

Following the story with an angle that was only the Inquirer’s—whether it was a trivial social moment with Obama and

P-Noy or the pork barrel scam, LJM was doing that—fearlessly.

It was as if she didn’t care if she got in harm’s way. If she did, the passion to get the story was bigger than the fear.

She had the spunk and guts but was never in your face about it. Joey loves to quote how Letty had summed up the Inquirer’s task—“Fighting for freedom, with fun.”

Power

She didn’t have to brandish power. One late night, when the remaining staff around the table suggested she write or publish her memoirs, she asked nonchalantly, why, what for? Because, we said, of the many historical moments you were in and your power. She said, if you have power, you don’t need to brandish it … or something to that effect.

She understood power, but she also understood friendships. And interestingly, neither the sense of power nor the pull of friendship could distract her from the pursuit of a story. We have been a witness to some friendships she had lost on account of Inquirer stories.

With elan

She can do an exposé on friends—with elan.

We were having dinner with Vice President Jejomar Binay that night at Coconut Palace. The Vice President had laid out a sumptuous spread, ostensibly to mark my birthday.

Letty was seated beside Binay. At the end of dinner, she turned to him and, in a courteous tone, said, “Mr. Vice President, we just like to inform you that we are running a series on allegations of corruption.”

And she asked the Vice President if his spokesperson would be tasked to answer questions. Binay just said yes.

Spiritual fortitude

Even seasoned journalists are amazed at how well Letty could straddle adversarial role and friendships. If it pained her, she managed the experience well.

This must be because she had a trait not every journalist has—spiritual fortitude. Not only was she pious (she went to Mass every day), she also drew strength from her faith in God and devotion to the Virgin Mary.

In the 1990s, when she and I faced an office problem and I couldn’t stop myself from talking about it, she just said, “Come with me.”

I didn’t know where she was going to take me. She took me to the noon Mass at the Edsa Shrine. That quieted me down.

That wouldn’t be the last time I would join her at noon Mass at Edsa Shrine or at Meralco Theater. It was a ritual we would continue even after I had moved to ABS-CBN Publishing.

She was spiritual and religious. Suffering from pain in the last few weeks, she told me how she got to wearing the St. Benedict medal, as I had told her to. “But pray for me some more,” she would tell me.

LJM stories

This week, the Inquirer continues to run stories and anecdotes from the staff that speak not only of interesting encounters with LJM. The reader will note how these stories have a common thread, aside from LJM’s journalistic expertise.

These stories will speak of LJM’s compassion, which, looking back, I felt grew and grew the closer she was to dying.

You would be hard put to find a staff member in the newsroom whom she did not help—on a personal level, whether it was on a love problem or job or whatever.

At the end of her life, Letty enjoyed the gift of seeing and forgiving a person’s weakness.

In a moment of our grief, a friend shared a thought—Letty had given so much already, to the country and to everyone else. Should we ask for more from those who have given much already? Our prayers should be one of thanks for her life.

Thank you, LJM.


By Michael Ubac: Ramos pays tribute to an ‘icon of Edsa’ SHARES: 2 VIEW COMMENTS By: Michael Lim Ubac @inquirerdotnet Chief, News Day Desk 12:43 AM December 27th, 2015


WITH former President Fidel V. Ramos and Eggie Apostol

“AN ICON of (the) Edsa” People Power Revolution.

This was how former President Fidel V. Ramos, himself an icon of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, described the legacy of Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, who passed away on Christmas Eve.

In a surprise visit to the Inquirer editorial office Saturday, Ramos hand-carried mementos and a letter of condolence to Magsanoc’s bereaved family.

“May you receive consolation from the fact that she not only lived a full and meaningful life, but also did her more substantial share in the service of God, country and people,” Ramos said in the letter.

In an interview, Ramos re called his close but below the radar engagement with Magsanoc, who, along with former Inquirer columnists Belinda Olivares-Cunanan and Ninez Cacho-Olivares, currently the publisher and editor in chief of The Tribune, fought the Marcos dictatorship through the power of the pen.


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Magsanoc became editor in chief in 1991, after she was personally handpicked by Eggie Apostol of the Inquirer to take the helm of the paper that she had founded in 1985 as part of the “mosquito press,” publications highly critical of the Marcos regime.

The Mr. & Ms. Special Edition was one such paper, where Apostol and Magsanoc worked together, shortly before the Edsa Revolution in 1986 that brought the Marcos conjugal dictatorship to its knees.

“During martial law, [Magsanoc was among the] three [women] who were all in the media [and] who were very aggressive against the government,” Ramos recalled.

His clandestine but sustained engagement with the three “very aggressive and brave women” occurred from 1983 to 1986 following the assassination of opposition Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the father of President Aquino, Ramos said.

The three courageous women were his bodyguards, he said in jest.

At the time, Ramos was chief of the Philippine Constabulary and acting chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

‘Deep Throat’

“I was their contact because I was the guy they could approach, and we would meet at various places [including] my church, the Cosmopolitan (Methodist) Church on Taft Avenue” in Manila, recalled Ramos, a Protestant.

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Inadvertently, the former PC chief admitted to being Magsanoc’s “Deep Throat” in the Marcos establishment during those heady days.

Asked what sort of information he had given to Magsanoc, Ramos said: “[That would be] based on [her] questions.”

He did not elaborate.

“[Magsanoc] was part of that group sympathetic to Cory Aquino when [Ninoy] was assassinated,” Ramos said, referring to the widow of the slain senator who was catapulted to the presidency in 1986.

Cory Aquino would later endorse the presidential candidacy of Ramos in 1992. Ramos’ sister, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, ran on the Cory Aquino ticket in the 1987 senatorial race.

Magsanoc’s legacy included the freedom of information (FOI) bill, Ramos said.


THE FACE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY The transformation of Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino from “plain housewife” newly arrived from Boston (photo at right) started on Aug. 21, 1983, the assassination of her husband Ninoy Aquino, the political nemesis of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The contagion of Ninoy’s courage spread throughout the nation. And “Tita Cory” speaking at rally after indignation rally, this one (above) on Ninoy’s birthday on Nov. 30, led to a clamor for her to run against Marcos in a “snap election.” The rest is her history as an icon of democracy and of nonviolent revolution. Photo illustration by Lynett Villariba Philippine Daily Inquirer 06:04 AM October 26th, 2012

“It is more than press freedom because freedom of information encompasses the citizenry to which [it is an entitlement]… press freedom is a human right,” Ramos said, quickly adding, “Letty is an icon of Edsa.”

Once passed, the FOI bill would allow greater public access to public documents, enhancing accountability and transparency in how the government works.

The measure was approved by the Senate in March 2014, but remains languishing in the administration-controlled House of Representatives despite President Aquino’s vow to prioritize the bill’s passage during his presidential campaign in 2010.

Ramos, who was seated during the Inquirer interview at the newsroom’s iconic round table next to Magsanoc’s working desk, declined to sit on the late editor’s chair when asked by the paper’s photographer for a shot.

“You might employ me! I’m only good as assistant janitor,” he said.

The former President noted Magsanoc’s deep “network of sources” during martial law. “I was one of them,” he said, adding that it was the family of Magsanoc that he had closer ties with.

Magsanoc’s father, the late Col. Nicanor Jimenez, was a guerrilla in Bataan during the Japanese occupation and a fighter in the Korean War in the early 1950s. He later became Philippine ambassador to Korea.

Jimenez, Ramos said, was secretary of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, from 1951 to 1955, about the same time that Ramos’ uncle, Col. Simeon Marcos-Valdez, was AFP comptroller.

Another common friend of Jimenez and Valdez was Col. Carmelo Barbero.

“The six Valdez daughters are my first cousins, and their childhood friends are the children of Nick Jimenez,” Ramos said.

The three colonels, who belong to the University of the Philippines’ Vanguards Batch of 1936, were “all Bataan veterans and very heroic figures in our armed forces,” said Ramos, who was then a lieutenant.

Ramos and his three superiors were part of the 7,500-strong Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, which helped the United Nations’ contingent fight the communists in the Korean War (1950-1953).

Preservation of democracy

Magsanoc had immense contributions to the nation’s long fight for the restoration and later the preservation of democracy, Ramos said.

Under the present administration, Magsanoc and the late Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot also lent their voices to the growing public demand for the passage of the FOI bill in Congress, he said, adding that he is also supportive of the bill.

Ramos noted that it had been 30 years since “a million of us Filipinos gathered at Edsa in February 1986 to defend our democracy and freedom, and by so doing, bloodlessly ejected an abusive and plunderous dictatorial regime.”

He added: “But beyond that, do we really try to remember why that transcendent, God-inspired event happened? And do the younger ones, particularly those born after 1986, who make up a large percentage of our population today (and many of whom are now parents themselves), even understand why the Edsa People Power Revolution took place?” Ramos asked, as if to underscore how the task of nation-building continues, as Magsanoc had so passionately advocated through her lifelong engagement with press freedom.


By Candy Quimpo Gourlay: She taught me writing is never about the writer By: Candy Quimpo Gourlay @inquirerdotnet Contributor 12:32 AM December 27th, 2015


SHININGMOMENT “LJM was always pleased with my success,” says Gourlay (right).

OVER lunch on Christmas Day with my family, I thought to raise a drink to my former editor, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, or LJM, as everyone fondly called her. Before we clinked glasses, I attempted to tell my children who Letty was and why she was so important to me. But my simple summing up caused a flood of memories—and tears—that made my every word shrivel and lose their meaning.

How could I sum up how Letty made me the writer and person that I am? The story I told over Christmas lunch must have sounded exciting and extraordinary to my children, brought up in first-world England, never knowing what it’s like to live without choice. Did they get that this was more a coming of age than an adventure?

I told them how I met Letty as a student, interviewing her for a thesis on press freedom that I was writing with my best buddies, Frankie Joaquin and Vicky Suba.

How Letty invited us to work for her when we graduated, giving Frankie and me our first jobs (Vicky became a film actress). How I had been so thrilled to work with Letty, having long been a fan of her column in Panorama magazine, which she also edited. How I had been shocked when she was fired for writing a piece critical of the Marcoses. How I cut my teeth as a fledgling reporter working for Letty on a magazine dedicated to exposing the evils of the Marcos regime. (Letty always corrected me: “You don’t work ‘for’ me, Candy, you work ‘with’ me.”)

Sheltered

The person I was before I began to work with Letty was not much to shout about. I was one of legions of middle-class Filipinos living on the edge of deprivation, with a parent determined to work abroad, of course. And, yes, I’m ashamed to say, sheltered, with no awareness of life apart from home, school, family, friends. Ninoy Aquino? Who’s that?

I was a fairly good writer with a fervent aspiration to become a novelist. But words are nothing without meaning and understanding. And one thing was for sure: I knew nothing. My first weeks under Letty’s tutelage were made excruciating by my ignorance and arrogance about my abilities.

But here was where luck played a part. Of all the editors of all the magazines in all the cities in the world, I got Letty. She edited with a green ballpoint pen. I never really did ask her why. But it was comforting. I was fresh out of school and used to teachers bloodying my essays with red poison pens that declared me a failure. Green ink was friendly, companionable and told me once more, “You work with me” not “You work for me.”

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Green ink doesn’t feel as accusing as red ink. Where red ink would say: “You’re wrong, what a terrible writer you are!” Letty’s green ink told me: “Let’s take this to the next level.”

Later, I accepted the public’s compliments, “I especially loved that line you wrote…”

“Thank you,” I responded generously to fans, even though the words were not mine, but Letty’s.

When people asked what I did, I said: “I am a journalist.” Not a reporter. Not a writer. A journalist. I took pride in my work, even though the context of my reportage, the “so what” of my stories all came from Letty.

But I learned. So much.

Pretty writing is useless without meaning. Fresh out of university I could turn a phrase like the best of them. But what did I really mean? It was Letty who interrogated my writing and forced me to think. It was Letty who sent me off to the far corners of the Philippines to bear witness to unfolding events. It was Letty who made me realize that there are many versions of the truth and that you had to shed everything you knew previously to learn how to see it.

Opposition press

The best journalism, we are often told, is objective. But how could I be objective if I wrote for the opposition press? When I expressed this misgiving, Letty just laughed in her throaty, two-maybe-three-pack-a-day, smoker’s laugh. “Nobody can be objective,” she told me. “It’s just not possible. But you must be balanced.” Which means knowing how to ask hard questions even when you agree with the other person’s point of view. Which means resisting the urge to be uncritical of someone you agree with. Which means not being afraid to be wrong.

I was not surprised, when Letty became editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to see that its slogan was: “Balanced news, fearless views.”

Balanced—that was the minimum requirement for anyone working with Letty. And fearless? Well, that was just the way things were with her.

Libel was always a risk—a libel suit was an easy way for someone in the administration to keep Letty at bay and protect his or her own. At the magazine, we pored over headlines and blurbs. How do we get the truth out there without getting slapped with yet another libel case? The answer: question marks. A question was not a statement of fact. How I marveled when Letty converted a potentially vexing headline into an innocent question by changing punctuation. Genius.

Recently, I met another journalist who worked with Letty on a story that invited death threats galore from slighted and guilty parties. “She took me by the hand,” the journalist said. “She led me where I needed to go. And she stayed with me. She wasn’t going to leave me on my own.”

Poking fun

When you were there, on the day, to witness Letty doing something courageous— say, poking fun at some unconscionable thing that Imelda Marcos had done, or saying things the way they really were and not accepting the safe, easy, convenient, escapist, let-things-be route—you were never aware of the fearlessness or even the danger of the moment. All you knew was what Letty always made clear: It was imperative to tell this story. Some stories just had to be told. Should the consequences stop you from telling it?

Today, I live in faraway England. I have also left journalism to fulfill my dream of writing novels for children. My novel, “Tall Story” had been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. My second book, “Shine,” had been nominated for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. My two books have won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe. Whenever I come home to launch my books, I’m surprised at how pleased Letty was with my success. But she always took issue when I call myself a former journalist. “You will always be a journalist,” she said, “because you cannot help wanting to tell the story.” And though I no longer write articles for newspapers and magazines, I know she is right.

I live in a different world now. And yet what I learned from Letty is deeply embedded in everything I write.

Balanced reporting

Letty taught me that simple punctuation can transform meaning, that writing is never about the writer (“We are not the story!”), that while there is no such thing as a totally objective reporter, there is such a thing as balanced reporting.

She taught me that humor can lift the mood while deepening meaning, that every word counts and that there are stories everywhere if you know how to look.

She showed me that yes, it is possible to effect change but only if you were willing to do your part and do not shirk from asking difficult questions.

She made me a better writer and a better person, and I will miss her forever.

(Editor’s Note: Candy Gourlay nee Quimpo started her writing career in 1984 as a staff writer for Mr. & Ms. Special Edition, which was published by Eggie Duran-Apostol and edited by LJM. She became associate editor of the Special Edition in 1986 and was one of the first staff writers of the Inquirer when it was first published as a weekly. She now lives in London with her family. Her award-winning books for young adults are published by Penguin Random House in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the Philippines, her books are published by Anvil. www.candygourlay.com )


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