Dancing with the editor in chief | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

THE AUTHOR with LJM at the 2009 editorial Christmas party. PHOTO BY FRAN KATIGBAK

My earliest memory of working under LJM was when I overheard her admonish someone for spelling Hong Kong as “Hongkong.” “Two words!” It was a couple of minutes before deadline and there was a hint of exasperation in her voice. Back then, when I was still with the Page One group, my prayer would always be that may I never (okay, rarely) flub in front of LJM, especially when spelling the simplest of words.

Back in 2009, after the Editorial Christmas party and all the raffle prizes had been given away, us young ’uns (and mga sawi sa raffle) were keeping ourselves entertained by having our own raffle draw. Armin was raffling off office furniture, positions, office spaces, crazy things and we were just laughing our asses off at the insane “prizes.”

LJM heard us, got her wallet and handed P5,000 to Armin to raffle off. After hearing we raffled off the money to five people instead of just one winner, she got a check for P10,000. There should only be one winner, she said. Of course everyone went crazy.

But I think it blew our minds even more when she gamely joined everyone dancing. Because really, how often do you get to party and get silly with the editor in chief, the newsroom’s well-respected, much feared but beloved big boss?

Ever fastidious when it comes to work, but ever generous and fun when it comes to play.

And ever sweet, too.

I must admit that her presence in the newsroom made me nervous. But, at the same time, it also made me feel secure.

It’s like having your mom around and you’re always on alert because you don’t want to annoy her but at the same time you’re relieved because you know everything is okay because she is there.

Paano na ngayon?

I’ve been reading the last part of Tarra’s story again and again and it tugs at the heartstrings greatly again and again: “She hesitated when asked what she considered her greatest contribution to the Inquirer: ‘I think just my enjoying the work. I think that’s it. I hope that I have infected the entire staff with that. That you enjoy your work because it’s contributing to the people… It’s so rewarding, like in the pork barrel scam, you get people to jail. You know, these things I cannot explain. It’s a privilege for me to be in a job like this. You can make a difference, you can make change.’”

And what a difference you’ve made, ma’am. Thank you. Good night.

The author is Junior Inquirer’s editorial assistant.