Iloilo Press Club loses ‘Pericles’

“A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone.”

-Paul Valery

NEW YORK CITY – It’s good that the erstwhile fractious Iloilo Press Club (IPC), now under the leadership of Rommel Ynion, is united and not anymore bedeviled by discord and identity crisis.

IPC, the oldest press club in Asia, was ushered into the Golden Age during the leadership of its main pillar, Daniel “Danny or DF” Fajardo, just like the Golden Age of Athens during the Age of Pericles (494-429 B.C.).

The IPC election in 1996, one of the most well-attended elections in the club’s history, catapulted Fajardo, founder and publisher of Panay News, into the presidency where he beat Daily Informer publisher Bernie Miaque and GMA-7 manager Joey (Lopez) Melliza.

It also signaled the club’s Renaissance; from then on, IPC never turned its back.

It was during Fajardo’s presidency that IPC acquired the lot in Molo district, where the three-storey building was built later and financed by Ynion, a journalist and philanthropist, who became Fajardo’s friend.

I vividly recalled that fleeting moment in 1996 when Iloilo Governor Art Defensor, Iloilo City Mayor Mansueto Malabor, among other city and provincial officials, attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the building construction, which was delayed by politics and vacillations of City Hall politicians after Malabor.

 

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Fajardo led the IPC at the time when journalism was reduced to a simple tautology: It was whatever Ilonggo journalists said it was. “We let our work speak for itself,” Maxwell King, the former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has said.

Or, when pressed, we take it as a given that we work in the public interest.

As Fajardo’s vice president for two consecutive years (1996-1997), I witnessed how the flamboyant publisher helped restore the respect and admiration of national leaders to members of the Fourth Estate in Western Visayas.

The late Senator Blas Ople and former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, both intellectual behemoths way back during the Marcos years, were among those who were tantalized by the talents of Iloilo journalists.

If they did not come to Iloilo City to grace some important media events as guest speakers, Ople and Tatad, et al hosted the enterprising Team Fajardo in Manila and provided them with adequate “atay and batikolon” (liver and intestines) Fajardo’s most favorite semantics.

 

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Former Senators Nikki Coseteng, Joey Lina, Tito Guingona, Raul Roco, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada, now Manila mayor, among other national figures, were so impressed by the way Iloilo journalists led by the late Teddy Sumaray (who spoke like Anaxagoras), and Herbert Vego, both former IPC presidents; and Atty. Ernie Dayot, known as “Iloilo’s Socrates”, delivered their questions.

The glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome; the magnificence that was IPC under DF, himself a master orator like Pericles, whose speeches and elegies, recorded and possibly interpreted by Thucydides, celebrated the greatness of a democratic Athens at its peak.

I was with DF when we attended a big party in a Manila hotel many years ago where he was asked at random to deliver an impromtu speech.

Although unprepared, DF rose to the challenge and belted the following line by Pericles:

“In doing good, again, we are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not by receiving favors. Now he who confers a favor is the firmer friend, because he would rather by kindness keep alive the memory of an obligation; but the recipient is colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting another’s generosity he will not be winning gratitude but only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit.”

University of the East (UE) College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, who was seated with us in one table, was among those who stood up and shook DF’s hand with a jarring astonishment.

Fajardo, who passed away on September 10, 2018 at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City in the Philippines at 72, hosted the radio program “Reklamo Publiko” aired “live” simultaneously over Aksyon Radyo and Cable Star at the Hotel Del Rion for several years.

We will surely miss the one and only Pericles and father of the Iloilo Press Club in our generation, President DF!

Rest in Peace and ‘til we meet again, Praeses Dominus.

 

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