(Writer’s note: This brief history of my life is part of the book I started writing after I celebrated my Diamond Year (75 years), but decided not to forego the story in order not to cause resentment to the families left behind by the characters I named. I could have also insulted the memories of personalities and co-workers who brought our “secrets”, while enjoying life outside of our homes, to their graves. And likewise, to those who are still living whose names I’ve also mentioned in the book and also part of our adventures and misadventures then, must also be protected).
“…..THIS is my life. Today, tomorrow, love will come and find me. But that’s what I was born to be. This is me, this is me…” as the voice of American Dame Shirley Bassey vibrates in the air.
My life story may not be one that will get even a glimpse to many or given much time to dramatize in the then ABS-CBN famous television series “MMK” of drama actress-tv host Charo Santos, but my life has become a model for my family and for the other lives I have touched then and maybe until today.
Born to a poor family from Pasay City that most often escaped three meals a day, around 20 years later, I moved away from the hardships of leaving my birthplace and decided to find opportunities for myself in Davao City with only one goal in mind – not to let my future children suffer the life and sacrifices I underwent just to succeed in life.
With the help of the late Josefina C. San Pedro, who was also from Pasay City and later became my ninang sa kasal, I was employed as a janitor in the Mindanao Times editorial office at P800 a month. This was while I was finishing high school at night at RMC.
I took up AB political science in the Mindanao Colleges after finishing my secondary education in five years.
At 27, while still in high school, I married Virginia Mercado Milan, a teacher from Balamban, Cebu to whom I have five children, all professionals now in their respective field. Unfortunately, my wife died on Nov. 9, 2014. I never remarried.
Called “Jack of all trades,” I worked in various capacities as a janitor, ads solicitor, reporter covering the police beat. Until one day my biggest opportunity knocked on my lowly various positions when the late TIMES founder Atty. Guillermo Echevarria Torres asked me to take over the management and as editor in chief of the paper after the late EIC Atty. Cesar “Chuck” Nunez left and became city secretary of then Mayor Elias B Lopez.
The rest of the editorial staff had also resigned after Nunez – the late manager Josie C. San Pedro who joined the Philippine Information Agency; late city editor Pete R. Lavina to Department of Tourism; and editor Jess G. Dureza who became representative of the city’s first district and now back in the paper as Publisher.
Being left alone, the lowly janitor of the paper became an instant manager, reporter, managing editor and EIC all rolled into one, and for almost 10 years I held to the various positions until young generation of journalists now led by Ms. Amy Cabusao took over. This was also when I was promoted general manager of the corporation and up to my retirement in January 2000.
I’m also the project manager in putting up the first printing press of the University of Mindanao that printed the Mindanao Times.
Of my dedicated service to the company, UM President Dr. Guillermo P. Torres Jr. wrote “In behalf of the majority of stockholders of the Mindanao Times Corporation, allow me to express its sincerest appreciation and gratitude for the services you have rendered for the past 41 years (63 years up to this day). You are considered as one of the pillars of this newspaper as well as the newspaper industry in Davao City together with the other great Timesmen, such as Chuck Nunez and Dodong Loyola.” (Loyola, our prolific columnist, was first elected congressman of the undivided Davao del Sur then-LDT).
I also served in the government as an elected barangay official of Barangay I-A in the early years of martial law.
On April 20, 2019, I got my Green Card (Permanent Resident) but decided to give-up the rights and benefits American citizens are enjoying for a simple reason: “There’s no place like home” for an old man like me.
To this day and soon to be 83 by January 17, 2024, I’m still with the paper as column writer.
For a man like the Timesman, love for family and loyalty for the job are inevitably the measure of a man.
“…This is my life. And I don’t give a damn for lost emotions. I’ve such a lot of love, I’ve got to give. Let me live. Let me live…..” the music playing.
(Although I didn’t finish writing the memoir that Boss Willie suggested me to write and promised to shoulder the publication cost and circulation, nonetheless, other portions of my life history have already been read publicly in my previous columns and articles in this paper-LDT).
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