Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Tita's home

Getting assigned to write obituaries is figuratively and literally a dead beat.

Dead men tell no tales, but somebody has to tell a tale or two about the one who passed away.

Bearing the bad news is not a pleasant thing to do – and multiply the feeling a million times over when you have a personal connection to the subject.

It’s the end of Ramadan and the Muslim world is celebrating Eid. But here I am with my team, labouring in our bunker so that those waking up after a night of booze will have something to read on a lazy Thursday morning.

It was almost 7pm and I’ve just finished producing my assigned page.

I lingered at the sport sections – reading and forwarding post-mortem reports of the winner-take-all match between my alma mater, the San Beda Red Lions and the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers – as I browsed at various news site while waiting for my next assignment.

Landing on the Inquirer’s site, I skimmed through the news stories.

I usually skip the Metrobriefs section, but at that moment, something, somewhere just pushed me to click on it.

I was dumb-struck on reading the headline:

Marietta “Tita” Giron, 67

The story goes:

“Journalist Marietta “Tita” Giron, who used to write a consumer column for
the Inquirer, passed away Tuesday at the age of 67.

“She wrote for the defunct Manila Chronicle before joining the
Inquirer. Giron, who also wrote for several magazines, was a staunch advocate of
environmental protection and consumer rights. She was a member of several
organizations like the Philippine Environmental Journalists, Inc., Philippine
Agriculture Journalists and Philippine Orchid Society.

“Giron is survived by son Joey, daughter-in-law Gie, granddaughter Nikki
and sisters Elena and Corazon.

“Her husband, Eric, who was also a journalist, died on Aug. 31.

“Giron’s body lies in Chapel 1, Funeraria Paz, Araneta Avenue, Quezon City
where she will be cremated on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.”


‘Tita’ Tita was a friend from way back.

I first met her in a staff party at the defunct Manila Chronicle where she used to write for Thelma San Juan’s section and I was a rookie correspondent in the late Caloy Santos's turf.

We’d bump into each other during news conferences and events organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions. Media relations people would seat us together as we carry the same press credentials.

I’d still see Tita when I moved to First Asia Venture Capital where I was assigned to oversee the editorial department of its subsidiary, Basic Publishing, which produces Parents Magazine and Agriscope.

Tita was a “fixture” at Parents under Nini Yarte. She wrote a consumer and environment column. I later asked her to spice up Agriscope by writing a column on gardening.

Tita and the late agriculture journalist Thor S. Orig were the “stars” in my stable. The three of us would later had a photo op with President Ramos as co-awardees of the Binhi Agriculture Journalism Awards.

I managed to maintain warm relations with both Tita and Thor even after I left First Asia.

Being dyed-in-the-wool journos, we speak, breathe, and walk the same language – but Tita was more on the fine side.

Tita was there to support me when I tried dipping my hands in National Press Club politics.

Being a Giron, Tita commands respect and influence among the lifetimers. She endorsed me – a virtual unknown -- to some of her friends. But the NPC was not for me.

Tita and I would continue finding ourselves treading the “DevComm” path.

We’d join trips and events organized by DOST – the most memorable of which was a nuclear energy convention where waiters thought we were mad scientists out to duplicate a Hiroshima.

A few months after landing in Dubai, I dropped Linda Bolido an email asking her why Tita’s column is no longer coming out in the Inquirer. She then told me the sad news that Tita suffered a stroke and had to stop writing.

Her son Joey later sent me an email telling me that her mom’s fine and was happy to know that I tried to keep in touch.

Several months back, I tried sending Joey a mail to ask about his mom, but the message bounced.

Tita probably knew that she has a place in my heart.

Knowing that I was incommunicado, she made me click the Inquirer’s Metrobriefs entry to tell me that she’s on her way home.

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