LEONIE IS HOME – My tukayo, US-based Leonardo Galvez, The PUNCH’s US-correspondent and one-time staff member of The Punch and a former official of the Department of Education in Pangasinan since Tito Primicias was governor, came to The Punch office and treated us and some of the staff at Jana’s for lunch.
Leonie is again on vacation in Dagupan and whenever he is around, he fails not to drop by The Punch to bring back fond memories of yester years when he was still writing stories for the paper, scaling up the long stairs leading to the office and pounding the old, reliable Underwood typewriter that this paper used to have when the paper has not yet computerized.
To those who do not know Leonie, he left an indelible mark in Pangasinan journalism. He was already chasing stories for The Punch at a time when most of the today’s practitioners of the craft were not yet born.
He was the first newsman who drove a sleek red Volkswagen while covering the beat or visiting schools as he was also one time schools supervisor in Pangasinan. In earlier years, he used his Volks in distributing student’s current events digest that kept tab of current events locally and abroad for academic use.
He was among the first initiators of campus journalism in Pangasinan by organizing the yearly Secondary Schools Press Conference, now a regular event in the calendar of the Department of Education nationwide. Thanks to Leonie, he helped hone many journalists now manning the ramparts of many publications and media outfits hereabouts.
Leonie was my wife’s teacher at the Binmaley Catholic High School, who my wife said, impressed his students with his savvy for music and playing accordion not only inside the campus but in for social gatherings.
Leonie used to cover the education beat and the capitol for The Punch when Jun Velasco and I belonged to a rival paper, The Courier. We did not see each other often except in Dagupena Restaurant to recharge our energies.
He occasionally came home in the past but he confessed that this is the first time he’s here for the Christmas season, when Dagupan City is also celebrating its month-long fiesta in honor of St. John the Evangelist.
Admitting he is now 85 years old, actually four years older than former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., who just turned 81 last Dec. 26, Leonie still walks faster than most of us. He said he walks sprightly and fast whenever he strolls downtown LA in any kind of weather. He proved this when he invited us to have our dessert at his hotel, Star Plaza, about 100 meters away from the Punch.
In the U.S., Leonie runs a U.S. government-accredited day care school in California, which is something akin to his professional training in the Philippines. He owns a big house where he set up his operation and drives two cars. Once in a while, he writes letters to The Punch on current issues here.
His old buddies in Pangasinan journalism include Punch publisher-editor Ermin Garcia Jr., Rod Rivera, Rhee Hortaleza, Jun Velasco and us. He longs for these buddies.
His bosom friend with whom he will have a rendezvous in Manila before flying back to the U.S. is our Punch columnist Al Mendoza.
While walking to his hotel, he told me the Quintos Bridge appears different from what it was in the past. He asked me if this was retrofitted. No, I said, the old one was destroyed completely and replaced with a new and sturdier span to last for generations. His eyes turned to the left to take a glance at Magsaysay Bridge, which I explained, is a new one too. The old bridge collapsed in the 1990 earthquake.
He confessed he enjoys the ambiance of his hotel where he regularly stays whenever he comes home as it gives him an unobstructed view of the Pantal River, the Quintos Bridge and, of course, The Punch office, especially when the lights are on in the evening and the staff are busy with usual press work.
In the U.S, he regularly reads The Punch online to keep him abreast of what is happening here. For instance, he was amused to read about the suspension of the mayor and vice mayor of Asingan for one year for having their pictures in the town ambulance and the ouster of another mayor (in Pozorrubio) for allowing a mere employee to solemnize a marriage rite in his behalf. –Leonardo Micua
CELEBRATING JDV’s LIFE – It was my first time to set foot at Sampaguita Gardens, a celebrated film studio before and now known as the place where dreams are made, as venue of important life events like weddings and debuts are held there.
It was such a beautiful place, with lush garden, perfect for dreamers like me.
But what makes this venue even more meaningful is the outpouring of love by people close to the Man of the Hour, former five-time House Speaker Jose de Venecia, who came to celebrate life.
Manay Gina’s speech made me more inspired and believe that yes, there are people meant to stay forever in this world.
It’s still Christmas and New Year is few days ahead as this piece gets published. Off from politics, on to celebration of love for this most wonderful time of the year. So I’m sharing some parts of Manay Gina’s speech for her dearly beloved JDV, who turned 81 on Dec. 26. Here it is.
“In our marriage, Joe and I have been sharing many happy moments, we even embraced causes that were higher than ourselves, and also achieved many triumphs. Along the way, there were heartbreaking pains. But Joe and I survive, because we hold hands, in good times and bad.
I am proud to tell you that at present, we are experiencing another milestone, as our son, Christopher, pursues the same path that Joe took, in 1987, as Congressman of the 4th District of Pangasinan. I thank the Lord each day for the blessing this development has been, because as the son follows the footsteps of his father, our bond as a family becomes even stronger. “
Then she narrated her years of growing up running around in that very garden, hopping from one movie set to the next, in what was then the biggest dream factory, Sampaguita Pictures.
Sampaguita Pictures, for those who may not know, is owned by Manay Gina’s parents.
Manay Gina continued with her life story, until she met JDV, who made her as his leading lady.
Then, these words again that made me feel like a movie fan, eager to hear every inspiring word from the leading lady of a blockbuster movie whom I admire: “To many, Joe is a statesman and a global Filipino. But to me, he is the best leading man and the wisest mentor, who guides me to achieve my dreams.”
‘Babes, on your birthday, I pray that God will continue to grant us many more years together, because you are my one true treasure and my forever leading man.’
Now, from your fan in Dagupan, here’s from me: Happy birthday, JDV!—Eva Visperas