By RUDY D. LIPORADA
Please don’t mind my title. It is not what you think it is. Well, it also means euphoric but far from being sensual. The word just came to mind several days later after I learned about the passing of a writing colleague, Domecio Cimatu, who we endearingly call DomC.
Apart from our being both staffers of the defunct Baguio City Gold Ore, a tabloid size weekly, DomC and I are fraternity brothers and were both in the soccer team of the University of the Philippines – Baguio. We were in the campus together during the Age of Aquarius, psychedelics, and raging of the First Quarter Storm of Philippine youth activism.
Nonetheless, we were of different majors, so, apart from our fraternity activities and athletic games, we did not really gel that much until we entered the local journalistic world, years after our campus days. He was already with the Gold Ore when Heminio Bautista, publisher of the defunct Baguio Tourist Magazine, where I was managing editor, recommended me to Rey Salvosa, publisher of the Gold Ore. Mr. Bautista became the manager of the Baguio Water District and had to fold his Magazine.
So, it was that I was again with DomC with Jose ‘Peppot’ Ilagan as our managing editor. The rest of the staff included Jaime Laking, Andrew Jularbal, Gerry Evangelista (another fraternity brother), and my cousin, George Perry. To me, the staff was a bunch of dedicated warriors out to unleash its mettle as a fourth estate of Baguio City to save the citizens from anomalies of the city government and other inimical sectors. Together with other members of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC), who were also our drinking and basketball partners, we were critical of anything we deemed anomalous against the citizens. We wrote about them. For this, we had our share of being intimidated, harassed, and endangered. Nonetheless, we had press power.
I recall how people, especially politicians would be acting differently, when reporters, specially with cameras would be present during gatherings. I had my share of being accorded the courtesy for, during those days, I had my camera lugged on my shoulder whenever I leave the house. We, who then have the ability to manipulate speed and apertures, focus, and could click, have camera power.
Looking back, that period to me was exhilarating and experience setting. We were far from Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the New York Times who had a Deep Throat and caused the resignation of a US president. Nonetheless, the excitement of chasing a story, finding who to interview, and interviewing and photographing people and incidents deepened in me the journalistic journey which was a far cry from my past writing endeavors.
Though I could write English, thanks to teachers like Manny Salenga and Eddie Ferrer and I was inspired by Mr. Reyes, who, in the seminary had a scrap book of his writings in the Free Press, I would find out later that grammatically correct English is not necessarily journalistic writing. One could be grammatically correct but not necessarily exciting. To be redundant, one can write correct English but be boring.
Moreover, as far as I can remember, I got involved in ‘press’ writing starting with a mimeographed media when I was in second year in the seminary. I would graduate in high school as associate editor of our school organ, The Echo; and as associate editor of the Outcrop of UP Baguio. Those were easy time of writing. I did not have to rush my articles.
Unlike in being a staff writer of the Gold Ore. Although we were just weekly, we had to rush the paper to meet the deadlines on Fridays while the printing press people wait to roll so the paper would hit the streets early Saturday morning. We were not yet on the digital era and though faster than the letterpress slug typesetting with the offset printing, we still had to type the stories in Remingtons. After Peppot makes the markings as to what fonts to be used, the typesetter had to set the articles in IBM ball settings. Then there is the paste ups of negatives from the offset camera. Etc.
But that is just the foreplay before the ‘orgasmic’ part. When we had to fill empty spaces, we had to prolong stories, do rewrites, or write somethings from the air for fillers. Led by Peppot, each one of us would be made, translated for masturbate, ‘salsal’ the typewriter. “Salsalem ditta nga istorya” (masturbate that story) was the common phrase among us filling the office with the rat-tat-tat of racing typewriters. It was like having that euphoric feeling when you ‘creek’ out the paper from the typewriter when you are done and Peppot approves the piece for typesetting.
Often, it would be Saturday dawn when we would be done. We would leave the office, with the printing presses still humming with what we have masturbated on for the week.
I would thank the Gold Ore and the staff apart from my other influences for the experiences that truly inked my veins. I would go on to be a teacher in feature writing and photojournalism in Evelyn Hone College in Zambia, Africa for four years.
I thank Asian Journal – San Diego for giving me the opportunity to still practice my wordsmithing.
And I thank DomC for jarring my mind to recollect our Gold Ore days. Glad that you are at rest, Bro.#