o.i.a.w.issue.2

The late Bert Pelayo (Filipino Reporter publisher and editor-in-chief).  (Photo by Troi Santos)


once.in.a.while


SOME people have helicopter parents which refer to those free-range cosseting parents who are always over their children’s shoulders.

In the same vein, I think I have a helicopter wife, but only when I am reading or writing my columns for the Filipino Reporter.

For example, I was reading my column in last week’s issue of the FR, when suddenly she hovered over my shoulder and made a passing comment.

“Dad, how come the scripts in your column are in big letters while everybody else is smaller?”

She told me pointing at my writing and comparing it to my neighboring columnist’s.

“Ha ha ha,” I chuckled.

“Oh, I didn’t notice it,” I replied.

“Can’t you see that? Look, they are bigger than the McDonalds advertisements,” she continued.

“Let me explain to you the inside workings of news publications,” I started lecturing while she was still standing behind my back.

“There are tools that publishers use in adjusting the sizes of the fonts of the manuscripts.”

“What did you just say — font? What is that?”

She asked without batting an eye.

I scratched my head for a simpler answer.

“Ah,” I sighed while scouring the newspaper spread for a better answer, “a font is something like a combination of typeface and other things like, size, pitch and spacing.”

“Look at me, young man,” she twisted my head so mine would be frontally facing her.

“Don’t be technical with me, all I am asking is why your column is in much bigger letters.”

“Why ask me?” I asked rather indignantly.

“Why not ask L.P. or the FR administrators, or our big boss Linda. They are the ones who called the shots.”

I didn’t wait for her to open her mouth again.

“I think I know why. Most of my readers are members of the AARP — the American Association of Retarded People.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s because they are the ones who usually use reading glasses. With bigger-sized letters, it means that even if they are legally blind, they can still read my writings even without glasses. An example is the Times New Roman 14 pt. font.”

“Oh, gee, never mind, here we go again,” she said in disgust and finally walked away.

The hovering helicopter sweetheart finally flew probably to another human helipad — leaving me alone in my thoughts — to ponder on what to write about for my next subject.

Speaking of news or column writing, there is something about my late friend and FR founder & publisher Bert Pelayo that only very few people in his circle knew.

What most people actually knew was that Pelayo was with The Manila Times as a star reporter right after his stint as editor-in-chief of FEU’s The Advocate.

On one occasion, during the early beginnings of the FR, he casually mentioned to us that he had a little known secret.

“I am Ted Valencia’s ghost writer,” he casually mentioned to us.

The late Ted Valencia he was referring to was Teodoro Valencia, the hard-hitting, most popular author of “Over a Cup of Coffee,” a must-read column for everyone in the Philippines, especially for politicians and local powerbrokers.

He was also the dean of Filipino journalists.

“When Mr. Valencia is sick or in vacation, he would ask me to take over,” he continued.

I was not surprised really, after all, he was a gifted writer who could write almost about anything even under the threat of an imposing deadline.

He was therefore the natural choice for The Times management to be sent to New York as its U.S. correspondent.

As a consequence of martial rule, The Times was sequestered, and the Filipino Reporter was founded and thus began its continuing voyage to this time and age.

In the midst of this morning’s quiet soliloquy, I was wondering aloud about what subject to write about for this week’s column.

For mere mortals like me, writing is sometimes thwarted by a deadly enemy — writer’s block.

Suddenly, I was jarred by the sound of the flapping rotors of a human helicopter.

“Sweetheart,” my beautiful wifey greeted me, “can you do me a favor?”

By instinct, when I hear that phrase I began to feel uneasy, or feel petrified, to put it mildly.

“What is it?” I asked her.

“The sanitation truck is coming in a moment and the garbage needs to be taken out right away.”

“Okay, okay, I will do it,” I assured her.

Five minutes turned to 10 minutes and I was still glued on my chair, and my fingers still pounding the keyboard.

I was hopelessly trying to fight off the deadly writer’s block.

Now Mrs. Wonderful is fiercely annoyed.

“Alberto,” she was calling me now in my birth name, which means I am very close to extinction.

I hurriedly stood up and ran outside to throw out the un-recycleables.

When I went back to my chair, all I could think of is that run-away garbage.

Now I need a ghost writer, please.

Thank you.

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