Goodbye, Jo

Columns should have a personal touch and as columns go, this is as personal as I could get. I wrote this on Jan. 4, 2010 and have had revised a lot of times. But, somehow, I never found the courage to publish it.

Here's the piece, in its final revision done in August.

Goodbye to a friend

THIS is a piece I wrote last Jan. 4 and revised 15 times already. I guess, it’s time this sees print.
As a journalist, you get to meet all kinds of sources. Some lie point-blank, while some tell the half-truth only when it suits them. There are sources who use you and sources who want you to use others.

But sometimes, when you’re lucky, you meet a good one.

Joan was that somebody.

I doubt if the community she served can even place a face behind that name but she was the reason the Visayas championships was so successful.

She was also the reason flag football got much media mileage back then (and you thought it was because of your skills?). She asked me for a favor, her friend was organizing an event in Cebu. So, despite how poorly sportswriters were treated by flag football organizers, I covered the event. After that, I ignored flag football, and so did the rest.

And like all hard workers, she kept to the sidelines. Oh, how she worked hard to make her event so successful.

Even when her boss threw her to a motel.

“You’re staying at what!?” I told her when she mentioned the place.

She said it explained everything. The taxi driver from the airport, when she mentioned her destination, eyed her funnily, and asked, “Ikaw lang ma’am or may susunduin tayo?”

She was on tears when she arrived at the venue. So I told her to pack her bags and transfer to a real hotel that doesn’t charge every three hours.

But the move had to wait. She realized the local organizers neglected to cordon off the area, so off she went to a hardware store and bought rolls of wire.

While people were kicking each other senseless, she silently toiled behind the scene, struggling to put four lines of wires to hold off the crowd, and bundling them every five meters or so.

“Why are you doing that?” I asked.

“Eh, sino pa ba ang gagawa nito?” she said.

I looked around. There were the masters, sitting pretty. There were macho guys pretending to be important at the organizers table, while occasionally glaring at people who’d get in their view.

And there was this woman, a small one, barely 5’ tall, breaking her back to roll four lines of wire, so they’ll have they’re space. (After that incident, I stopped believing them when they say, “We work really hard to promote our sport.” Coverage of that sport, died, too).

The event was successful, and of course, she wasn’t credited for it. Heck, the only time I saw local organizers talk to her was when they had something to complain. Spoiled brats, I thought.

She finally got to leave the motel that night for a more respectable place. We had a few beers and talked about the people we worked.

I told her how some organizers could be so thick-faced, opportunistic and downright greedy.

She told me how sportswriters could be so brazen, lazy and very, very greedy. “You always ask for help, kahit pera, and we give it. But when we ask for help, you still expect us to pay you? Kapal naman nyo! Di na nga kayo nagacover, taga rewrite na lang kayo ng PRs, tapos dami nyo pang demands? Magtrabaho naman kayo!”

Oh we had fun dissing reporters and organizers that night.

We met again a year later but she was no longer in the sports business. She was moving on, she said, for the sake of her two kids she was raising alone.

Four years after we met, we got to chat, then she went offline all of the sudden. An hour later, she said she was rushing home. She said she bled a lot and fainted.

A few weeks later, she told me she had cancer. That was the last time we communicated.
I got an e-mail from her in early 2009, she was asking for help. She was swallowing her pride, she said, all she wanted was to live for her kids. She needed help.

And, like others who really deserve it, she never got it.

I didn’t reply, too. Why? I can’t put it in print. I thought of forwarding her e-mail to the community she served, but decided not to. They weren’t much of a help when she was here, so why bother?

I learned last Jan. 4 that she died last year, on the eve of her birthday. She would have been 34.

Good bye, Jo. May you find that security that you longed.


Tito said…
May she rest in peace!

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