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‘Muchas gracias’ to the admirable LJM!

/ 12:14 AM January 22, 2016

I was shocked to hear the news that Inquirer editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc died on Christmas Eve. This was confirmed by the article titled “Keeper of the Edsa flame” (Inquirer, 12/26/15). I did not know Letty personally, but from what I heard about how she dealt with the people around her, she must have been compassionate, kind and very understanding. I admired her very much for keeping a low profile.

It was two o’clock in the afternoon sometime in the third week of August 2007 when I was roused from my siesta by a young man knocking at the gate of our residence in Daet, Camarines Norte. When I opened the gate, he introduced himself as Juan Escandor Jr. of the Inquirer and said he was there to interview me. As he entered the gate I heard him telling someone on his cell phone: “Madam I am now inside the compound of Mr. Peteza.” I surmised he was talking to his editor in chief.

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In the interview, Escandor asked me when I started writing. I told him that my first “letter to the editor” was published in 1946 in the Philippines Free Press, when I was still a student of Partido High School (now Partido State University) in Goa, Camarines Sur. This was followed by more letters in the 1950s. In 1957, an article on sitaw (string beans) saw print in the Agricultural and Industrial Life magazine. Publication of my articles and letters went on until 1972 when the Philippines Free Press was ordered closed by Ferdinand E. Marcos.

But when I was teaching macroeconomics and introduction to business at a college in Daet, a teacher of expository writing borrowed my clippings of published letters and articles; unfortunately, he forgot to return the entire collection to me.

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I was surprised to see a story on me, from that interview, in the Inquirer issue of Sept. 4, 2007. Talk on the publication of that story “spread like wildfire” in the province and it gave me some sort of “fame” in many places in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, particularly in my and my wife Trining’s hometowns, which was a humbling experience.

From then on, I would be invited to speak at gatherings, and having attended a seminar on the principles of journalism, conducted by the defunct Department of Local Government in the 1970s, I would also be invited to give a bird’s eye view of news writing. Of course, I maintained my column Gem of Thoughts, which started in 1954 in the Bicol Post, a local paper with province-wide circulation until today.

When I first attended the Supreme Council Meeting held at the Veterans Center, Taguig City, in May 2011 and my name was announced as the district commander of Camarines Norte Veterans District, almost everybody seated in front of me turned around presumably to see in person this particular World War II veteran whose name has become rather familiar because of his published letters in the Inquirer.

To the family of Madame Letty, (may her soul rest in peace), please accept my condolences. For publishing my letters and featuring me in the Inquirer, a favor I will cherish until time shall be no more, muchas gracias!

—GODOFREDO O. PETEZA SR., Daet, Camarines Norte

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