The greatest compliment I could ever receive | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

THE AUTHOR (fourth from left) at her graduation
THE AUTHOR (fourth from left) at her graduation
THE AUTHOR (fourth from left) at her graduation


It is my college graduation in the summer of 2012. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, editor in chief of the Inquirer, hands me onstage a plaque of recognition and my first Guyito doll for graduating an Inquirer scholar. “I look forward to seeing you at the Inquirer!” she tells me.


Before both of us realize it, see me she does. It is barely a year since my graduation and I am an editorial production assistant (EPA) who proofreads and lays out stories on the front page of the country’s most influential paper. I am introduced to her once again. “I remember you!” she says.


She starts calling me Sars—a nickname I hate because of the disease it’s associated with—and is the only one who can do so without me cringing. I joke that it’s because I’d lose my job if I deigned to correct her but, really, a part of me is beyond giddy that THE Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc has given me such a nickname.


I hear that name most often between 12 midnight and 4 a.m. I am a night owl, and prefer to work on my contributions to the paper’s sections and magazine late into the evening.


LJM is, too, and more often than not I am the only one left she can ask help from for various editorial tasks. Some are menial, like making sure an editor gets this message at 2 p.m. when I come to work. Others are more taxing, like searching through old books for certain Edsa photos or making sure transcripts of Janet Lim-Napoles’ infamous Inquirer interview are correctly styled. “I’ll leave that to you, OK? Just tell Joey (Nolasco),” she says.


In December 2013 I receive my first personalized Christmas message from LJM. She calls me unique in more ways than one and compliments my sense of style (she particularly loves a pair of purple Mary Janes; by loves, I mean really loves, because she asks where I bought them at least five times). In 2014 I receive another note, this time about my writing and my bright future in the company.


In those two years as an EPA, LJM was not only a boss but also a mentor, one who never failed to encourage me to continue writing my long-form articles and imbibe the history behind every issue put to bed.


Once, in between editions and deadlines, she calls me to her desk. When I approach, she takes my hands in hers and praises my article on Enzo Pastor in Sunday Inquirer Magazine. She says she loves the humanity in all my past articles, too—perhaps the greatest compliment I could ever receive from a woman known for placing importance in a story’s “human touch” above all else. “I can imagine it in Time magazine,” she adds. (Yes, I swear!)


I have many more stories from the newsroom with the Inquirer’s longest running

EIC, like how she came to possess the only hardbound copy of my thesis, or how we sometimes argued over captions and punctuation on the paper’s second edition. But these pale in comparison to the countless other stories she has lived and the lives she has touched.


The last words we exchange are about my current job at and my growing infrequent visits to the paper’s editorial department.


Memory is a fickle thing, but I believe our brief exchange some months ago at her desk ended with a “Good to see you!” on her part and an “I’ll drop by again soon!” on my end.


I never got to do that, and I fear I will always regret it. But there is no time for that now.


LJM, what a great honor it was to have worked alongside you since the start of my career. Know that those you’ve left behind in the newsroom will honor your distinct

voice in the journalism world. Your passing is only proof of the storied legacy we will always remember.


The author is a senior digital producer at’s NewsLab.