“A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone.” –Paul Valery
It’s good to see the erstwhile fractious Iloilo Press Club, now under the leadership of journalist and philanthropist Rommel Ynion, is united and no longer bedeviled by discord and identity crisis.
Much like the Golden Age of Athens, which spanned from 494 to 429 B.C. under Pericles, the oldest press club in Asian underwent its own “golden age” through the leadership of its main pillar, Daniel ‘Danny’ Fajardo, sometimes simply referred to as ‘DF.’
During press club elections in 1996, which garnered one of the highest turnout numbers in club history, Fajardo, founder and publisher of Panay News, won the presidency by beating Daily Informer publisher Bernie Miaque and GMA-7 manager Joey (Lopez) Melliza. The win signaled a renaissance for the organization.
It was during Fajardo’s presidency when a lot was acquired in Iloilo City’s Molo district and a three-story building was later built and financed by Ynion, who became Fajardo’s friend. I vividly recall that fleeting moment in 1996 when Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., Iloilo City Mayor Mansueto Malabor, among other city and provincial officials, attended the building’s groundbreaking ceremony, which had been delayed by City Hall politics and vacillations.
Fajardo led during a time when journalism was reduced to simple tautology – whatever Ilonggo journalists said, it was.
As Fajardo’s vice president in 1996 and 1997, I witnessed how the flamboyant publisher helped restore respect and admiration of national leaders for members of the Western Visayas’ fourth estate. The late Senator Blas Ople and former Senator Francisco ‘Kit’ Tatad, both intellectual behemoths, were among those tantalized by the talents of Iloilo journalists. If they did not come to Iloilo City to grace important media events as guest speakers, Ople and Tatad, et al, hosted the enterprising “Team Fajardo” in Manila and provided them with adequate “atay and batikolon (liver and intestines),” Fajardo’s most favorite semantics.
Former Senators Nikki Coseteng; Joey Lina; Teofisto Guingona, Jr.; Raul Roco; Leticia Ramos-Shahani; along with former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada were also impressed with Iloilo journalists. They marveled at how former press club Presidents Teddy Sumaray (who spoke like Anaxagoras) and Herbert Vego, along with Atty. Ernie Dayot, known as “Iloilo’s Socrates,” delivered questions.
The glory that was Ancient Greece, the grandeur of the Roman Empire, and the magnificence of the Iloilo Press Club under DF, a master orator like Pericles, whose speeches and elegies were recorded, and possibly interpreted, by Thucydides, celebrated the greatness of a democratic Athens at its peak.
I was with DF when he attended a big party at a hotel in Manila many years back, where he was asked to deliver an impromptu speech. He rose to the challenge and quoted Pericles.
“In doing good, again, we are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not by receiving favors. Now he who confers a favor is the firmer friend, because he would rather by kindness keep alive the memory of an obligation; but the recipient is colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting another’s generosity he will not be winning gratitude but only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit.”
University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, who was seated with us, was among those who stood up and shook DF’s hand with jarring astonishment.
Fajardo, who passed away at last Monday, September 10, at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City, hosted the radio program “Reklamo Publiko,” which aired live on Aksyon Radyo and Cable Star at the Hotel Del Rio for several years.
He was 72.
We will surely miss the one and only Pericles and father of our generation’s Iloilo Press Club, President DF!
Rest in Peace and ‘til we meet again, Praeses Dominus./WDJ