My Mentor

(ISINULAT ko ang kolum na ito noong Oktubre 2007 para sa isang lokal na pahayagan sa Davao City, kung saan ako nag-“self-exile” ng tatlong taon. Muli kong binisita ang artikulong ito nang malaman ko nitong nakaraang Lunes na pumanaw na pala ang aking ama-amahan sa industriya.

Hayaan ninyong ibahagi ko ito sa inyo.)

The last time I had a face-to-face chat with Mr. Joe Pavia was years ago. That’s why I was so happy to see him again last Sunday.  Mr. Pavia is a mentor and a father figure to me.

A decade ago, I was very fortunate to be invited to be a part of a group of editors that will act as the core group of a new newspaper project. The newspaper was the SunStar Manila and the one on top is Mr. Pavia himself.

Even before that, the name of Mr. Pavia is known to me and to most journalists in Manila and especially in different regions of the country. He was responsible for the formation of the Philippine News Agency, modernizing and systematizing its operations.

Before Martial Law was declared in 1972, he was the news editor of Philippine Herald, the only major pre-martial law newspaper that was never revived.

As a newspaperman, Mr. Pavia’s record was impeccable. He is feared by many but respected by all.

What was amazing was that even though he was the top gun in the PNA during the Marcos regime, he was never accused of being a Marcos boy. His reputation was not all affected by his service to the government.

Anyway, the SunStar Manila, after months of struggle, was able to reach the newsstands. But most of the members of the group of editors, including myself, had already left by then.

But the SunStar Manila was able to see the day, albeit with different set of people and an editorial direction that was totally different from what we envisioned.

I walked away with many lessons in my head. Those many meetings and orientation sessions with Mr. Pavia have a lot to do with how I look at my profession today. His passion for journalism definitely rubbed off on me.

But since I felt I had to do something else in Davao City, time and distance separated us. Then came the seminar-workshop in Davao City.

“I really need to talk to you,” Mr. Pavia told me, almost in whispers. “I have this project in mind.”

I wasn’t surprised. That’s the Mr. Pavia I know, always thinking of something new, always innovating, ready to venture and try out new ideas in journalism.

We had a two-hour-long “chat” about how his newspaper, Mabuhay, could be of relevance to students and the public. During these exchanges of ideas, I was reoriented to what journalism is all about. How media practitioners should value excellence, truth and accuracy.

Mr. Pavia left for Manila last night. Probably, it would take months before we can get together again for a little “chat.” But I’m looking forward to it this early.

It’s always nice to learn (or relearn) something every now and then. Fort Nicolas

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