Just as I was readying to immerse myself in a grateful, peaceful sleep a couple of hours ago, I received a very bad news. Mr. Isagani Yambot, publisher of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, died of a heart attack tonight. Hew was 77.
Seventy-Seven Years Seem Too Short
Everybody acknowledges the fact that you already contributed a lot to the betterment of Philippine journalism, but seventy-seven years still seem a tad too short for me (and, I bet, for hundreds of other people who knew you). We believe you could still do a lot for the field you love!
But I guess, like what this bitter nugget of wisdom says, all good things have to come to an end. You may be gone now, sir, but you will never be forgotten. All your efforts to hoist up the quality of print journalism, all the commendable attributes of a committed public servant that you exuded, all your visions for the media-practitioners-in-training and the other young crops that you strongly believe will grow tall and strong if they build their own sunny spots in their chosen career paths…these will forever live.
I’ll say a little prayer for the eternal repose of your soul, sir.
One of the Said Young Crops
Remembering Some ‘Sir Gani’ Moments
I can’t say I know Mr. Yambot very well, but I was given a chance to glimpse a side of him that I wouldn’t thought he had if we didn’t reconnect with him after the seminars, tours, and talks he spearheaded for our whole college journalism class.
He was our main interviewee for our thesis last year, which zeroed in on PDI’s layout. Our journalism professor/thesis adviser gave us Sir Yambot’s cellphone number, saying that the latter could help us communicate with the graphic artist of PDI. But since everyone else in the lay-outing department was busy at that time, Sir Yambot said we could interview him instead. Which is so kind of him, because we’re aware that his schedule is a little tight, too.
We only asked for an interview, but he still managed to squeeze in a mini-lesson (twenty-minute crash course?) about PDI’s front page layout design. He’s very much like our journalism professor: if you want to learn something, he’ll do all he can to give you the appropriate lesson session. He’ll want you to really learn.
The above photo is a scan of a page from our thesis, taken during the said mini-lesson/interview. I can still remember this moment, how he laughed out loud after realizing he used permanent marker on that white board! He couldn’t erase the red line he’s rubbing with his thumb! :’)
And speaking of laughing…Sir Yambot’s got an endless supply of sense of humor. I can attest to that! Below is a part of the transcript of the interview.
The transcript is peppered with a lot of hilarious moments, but this one’s my favorite. Debbie and I were pretty exhausted and sleepless the previous nights, and laughing was a little stress-reliever. For some reason, I never forgot that senior citizen jape.
I don’t know how he knew it
and I don’t care if it’s worth mentioning or not, but after the interview, he sort of guessed I’m a scholar and he asked for my name. I didn’t know if he remembered it though, because I rarely saw and interacted with him in my short stay at PDI after graduation. Be that as it may, I can still say that he’s been in some way connected to my being a developing...pseudo-journalist. Or journalist-in-training, if you’ll call it that at that time.
Anyway, for young people like me, I’ll say all the knowledge he’d instilled in every mind he’d encountered will forever blossom…and that way, I’m confident that he will always be remembered. :)
Statement from the Palace
In a statement, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte described Yambot as a “calm, cheerful presence not only in the newsroom and boardroom of his paper, but in every gathering of note among journalists and between media, civil society, and government.”
Valte noted that Yambot “was one of the links with the pre-martial law press who mentored a new generation of journalists to understand just how much a free press matters.” “The loss of his presence will be felt deeply by a nation that knows all a newsman can ask for, in the end, is this simple epitaph: he wrote it, as he saw it, with honest words and with his only master, the truth,” Valte concluded.