‘Letty, you’re not popular pala!’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022



Do you remember me calling you late one night in 2001, blurting on the phone before you could even say hello—“Letty, you’re not popular pala!”


I said I was watching the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on TV, and the contestant was asked who among these women journalists—Julie Daza,  Letty Magsanoc  or Domini Torrevillas—was the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The contestant, with supreme confidence, answered, “Domini Torrevillas!”


Wasn’t that a hoot, we said, and how we giggled at the faux pas!


Then you turned serious and told me that you’ve actually been looking for me. Perplexed, I asked why. You said PDI was starting the tabloid Inquirer Libre and you wanted me to write an advice column there— in Filipino, no less!


Then it was my turn to laugh, and you said you were not joking. Remember how I lost my tongue for a second at the shock of that pleasant surprise?


We didn’t hear much from each other over the years, except for a short phone call here and there. One of them was when you called from out of the blue to tell me that my daughter Cinnamon had submitted a piece for “Youngblood,” which you thought was quite moving and  personal.


You said you were concerned that I’d get upset if it saw print. Without asking what it was about, all I could say to you was “Print it—as long as her grammar is correct.”


You were putting my feelings on the front burner, as a mother, and as a friend, you made sure I wouldn’t have a heart attack when I read it.


Inveterate journalist


We’d meet occasionally at some ladies’ lunch and sidle up to each other to touch base on the latest in our lives. You never ceased to be that inveterate journalist even at those casual get-togethers. You were always looking for that interesting nugget, however fleeting or casual, that had gravitas enough to see print.


Many would call it gossip. But aren’t our history books a mere compilation of the most juicy gossip of governments and societies from years yonder? I’ve had the pleasure of writing some articles for you in Panorama in that milieu.


We were able to eyeball each other only once in a very blue moon, and it was a downer when I didn’t see you during the PDI anniversary party at the Marriott Hotel last December. I started to text you a short “Where are you?!” missive, but didn’t press send because I wanted to add in it a crazy joke.


But, as in all parties, friends were stopping by the table to say hello, and slowly the cell phone with my incomplete text to you slid back inside the bag. But all through that night, and the days following the PDI party, the wish to reach out to you throbbed and felt like a pesky hangnail in my head. I promised I’d do it after the holidays when everything has calmed down.


Then, suddenly, shockingly— you were no more! Gone. And that damn text that I’ve procrastinated sending all through those days will forever remain unsent. I, whose mantra has been “Life is too short,” didn’t think it applied to you!


I don’t remember you being dramatic or giving yourself any importance in our newspaper community. But you mattered, Letty, like it or not. You were a heavyweight in this crowd of many lightweights. You would have given yourself a big thumbs-up or even a vigorous pat on the shoulder for a job well done, had you seen the embarrassment of riches that were poured on you.


Poured is probably too weak a word to describe it. Deluged? The unimaginable surge of admiration and respect that came your way could have floored you or made you hide, knowing how you were not a fan of accolades. But what am I saying? You’ve probably witnessed them all happening from your vantage point in the firmament!


And to that TV contestant who didn’t know you then—he’s probably way too embarrassed and feels like an imbecile now, for sure.


See you when I see you! And, thanks, Letty, for the memories!

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