Mon J’s ‘coin’ | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

Mon J’s ‘coin’

My uncle Ramy (Ramon T. Jimenez), commenting on the success his son Monet (Mon J. to the outside world) was meeting in the advertising world, recalls that even as a fine arts student, his “junior” tried to get his hands on as many komiks and local showbiz magazines as he could. “It got so bad that I was even suspecting he was gay,” Tito Ramy said with a chuckle. It turns out, though, that this predilection for so-called “bakya” or mass-oriented reading material was Mon’s way of preparing for a career in advertising and marketing. And what a sterling career it was!

Mon often disparaged himself as a “mere storyteller.” But telling stories, he often recounted, was what advertising, communicating, was all about. In a profile of his late wife Abby, the writer mentioned that while Abby was a whiz at organizing, marshalling facts and strategies, managing the many details of a campaign, Mon was more “guru”-like, leading his teams in meetings that would often turn philosophical. If Abby had mastery of the minutiae, Mon preferred to dwell on the “big picture.”

Indeed, as former finance secretary (in the P-Noy Cabinet) Cesar Purisima wrote in his post on Mon: he “always told everyone — his colleagues and staffers alike — that when we communicate, we ought to only throw one coin. Without one, the message does not get across; any more and the message gets lost. ‘What’s the coin today?’ became his catchphrase.”

Once, invited to consult with a group of peace advocates seeking how to “sell” the Bangsamoro government before the plebiscite, he cut the meeting short with a succinct “Here’s the message you get through to everyone. That a vote for yes is a vote for peace.” You couldn’t get any simpler than that!

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Having made his “coin” in advertising, Mon in his later years spent much of his and Abby’s time consulting with politicians and political parties, but only those with whom they shared a common vision, a common sense of decency.

We, his cousins, knew that he had been consulting in the run-up to the 2010 elections, a suspicion confirmed when Noynoy Aquino suddenly showed up at the close of our annual Flores de Mayo observance. So none of us were all that surprised when Mon eventually was invited to join the P-Noy Cabinet to head the tourism portfolio.

But for my cousin Letty Jimenez Magsanoc and myself, the matter of disclosing our relationship with a member of the Cabinet became an issue. I early on disclosed the family relationship, but for delicadeza, much as I chafed at the restrictions, I avoided even mentioning Mon in my column.

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Except for one instance. My brother Fr. Boboy Jimenez, SVD, was constrained to step in on the case of a group of indigenous student tourists visiting from Taiwan during typhoon season. Their flight to the north had been canceled, and Cebu Pacific had left them to their own devices to make it to Laoag for the encounter with counterparts in the Cordillera. I wrote about our frustrations with the student delegation although at one point I was sorely tempted to call Mon and ask for help. We eventually got them on a bus to Laoag and I wrote about the experience. Days later, Father Boboy told me that in reaction, unasked, Mon had called the local Department of Tourism office and instructed the staff to look after the delegation and show them the sights.

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That was the kind of official — and family member — Mon was. Low-key, no fuss, no grandstanding, and acutely sensitive.

In family gatherings, he was quite the wit, the raconteur, making no attempt to be the center of attention. But when one came to him for advice, as his nephews and nieces attest, he gave generously of his time and intellect.

In later years, he and Abby built their “retreat” in Alfonso, Cavite, naming it “Lily Flor” after their mothers. The garden, said Mon, was Abby’s particular delight, roving around it on a Segway when her legs gave way. It was here, in their sanctuary, where Mon suffered heart failure after months of treatment for his condition. We are all, especially his nine siblings and their spouses, saddened by his passing, but find solace in the thought that he is finally reunited with the woman he loves.

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TAGS: At Large, Mon Jimenez, ramon jimenez jr, Rina Jimenez-David

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