The Long View
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:12:00 07/12/2010
The time has come to bid my readers farewell. I have accepted the President’s invitation to become a member of his communications team. My specific functions will focus on strategic planning in terms of messaging (including market research and polling), as well as editorial aspects of official communications, which in turn ranges from editorial guidelines and policies in general, to the Official Gazette in particular (bringing it from the 20th to the 21st Century), to corporate identity and institutional memory.
In the coming days, you will be reading more about this in the news section of this paper, so let me put forward a valedictory of sorts for this space.
This column began with an invitation from Eugenia Apostol to meet her at her residence; at the time I was a columnist for Today newspaper (on my 10th year of column and editorial-writing), and was serving as the head of the presidential museum. All the big guns of the Inquirer were there, from the editor in chief, Letty Magsanoc, to the publisher, Isagani Yambot, and my soon-to-be boss, Jorge Aruta. All were extremely warm, and soon enough, I received an invitation to join this paper.
This column began in February 2004; I started off as a contributing editor and was subsequently given the responsibility to head the Speakers’ Bureau. From the very start, management was supportive of my other engagements, whether in terms of continuing my work at the Philippines Free Press, or becoming the host of ANC’s “The Explainer,” or even serving as a lecturer at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
Together with my colleague John Nery, INQUIRER.net also gave us the opportunity to set up a blog, which we experimented with as a means to flesh out our columns, as well as tackle other issues in between deadlines. Just a few months ago, as the Inquirer Group began preparing to enter the field of radio broadcasting, I received an invitation to host a radio show, “Quezon’s Avenue,” which began shortly after the May 10 elections.
It’s been six years of learning, and the learning never stopped: but now it’s time to try something else.
I have been fortunate in having the best mentors anyone could ask for when it comes to writing or broadcasting: Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. who was my boss for a whole decade, his brother Enrique Locsin who has been every bit as kind in the Philippines Free Press; my bosses and colleagues in ANC, from Maria Ressa to Glenda Gloria and my producer, Twink Macaraig.
The Inquirer, for its part, has been a true family to me, concerned about every aspect of every employee’s wellbeing. The benefits of its employees are in many ways the gold standard for the industry because of the cooperation between labor and management; the paper’s president, Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, has been a true servant-leader, one who consults and doesn’t decree. There are those whose names, like Tintin, Tess and Emman—who, day in and day out, made sure we met our deadlines, who informed us of events, even took on the task of coordinating messages and invitations—only surface in these pages when it’s time to say farewell: but then, that only shows how so much that’s good, tireless and decent in this paper takes place behind the scenes.
I cannot speak highly enough of my editor, Jorge Aruta, not only because he’s been my boss, but because of the kind of boss he’s been: considerate, and with what I can only say is one of the lightest—yet deftest—touches as an editor. For better or worse, I can say you’ve gotten to read more of what I want to say, in the style and manner I want, thanks to him. He was always willing to introduce innovations into the otherwise cut-and-dried format of the opinion column: such as the introduction of pictures, or various column styles. He has been a democratic editor, as the often fierce clash of opinions within these pages can attest.
All my professional life in media has been spent in the Opinion Section: it essentially requires the writer to take a stand on every pressing issue of the day and to proceed from day to day explaining to the reader why the issues are issues: but only you, the reader, can judge whether I have managed to provide an informed opinion, regardless of whether or not you agree with me sometimes, all the time, or never. I’d had the privilege of being recognized for column-writing back in 1994; I am grateful that my efforts in this space were recognized by the Rotary Club of Manila’s Journalism Awards, with the Opinion Writer of the Year award for 2005.
Since the EDSA Revolution, this newspaper has been the journal of record for the life and times of what the INQUIRER editorialists always remind us is our “ongoing democratic project.” The issues of the day are debated in these opinion pages; and it is the supreme achievement of any opinion writer to join the ranks of the columnists of this paper.
So it is with the heaviest of heavy hearts that I bid this space farewell; it is a consolation, of course, to say that duty calls; but then, this column was a duty, too, and one that every columnist—and every reader, I hope—knows to be as important, and even more important, than any temporary designation or assignment in any other field of endeavor. Therefore I cannot say I am relinquishing this space to answer a higher calling; it is only a different one.
I have tried to illuminate, to explain, to understand and be understood; I have tried to entertain, to illustrate and to share the anger and joy, the indignation and optimism, that marks the beating of our collective, public, pulse. To those I have hurt, my apologies; to those who have shared my opinions, my thanks; to all my readers, my deepest gratitude for sharing your thoughts and time.