I had finished writing my column for this issue on September 14, 2021. But that won’t come out, as I’ve decided to write another one. On September 15, I received an email from SunStar Cebu executive editor Michele So that reads, “It is with regret that we are indefinitely suspending “Free Verse” effective after September 19.” The pandemic has hit terribly hard everyone, including the print industry and SunStar was not exempt. This outing is, therefore, my swan song.
When I was a teenager, it was my ambition to be a writer. My father, Angel Jr. wrote a column for a local publication, while my elder siblings were editors in their school organs. To follow their footsteps, I joined the editorial staff of the Light of Lapulapu, the publication of the Abellana National School. As Martial Law prohibited student publications, it was only during the mid-80s that I got my break in Al Alinsug’s “Visayan Herald,” an anti-Marcos daily. From there on, I had a cartoon strip at the Freeman and later a music column for SunStar in the late 80s. I transitioned my music column in Cebu Daily News in the late 90s.
In 1990, columnist Manuel Satorre left SunStar to edit a newspaper for Norberto Quisumbing. I was surprised to get an invitation from Pacheco “Cheking” Seares to fill the space. I started with a weekly column, Free Verse, modelled after the one-liners of Joe Guevarra and Juanito Jabat. I added a short-lived Jose Logarta-inspired “Canto Voice.” I ventured into tackling serious issues in “Seriously Now” that became “Free Verse” when my one-liners column was discontinued more than a year ago. What a journey it has been–for more than 30 years.
I must thank SunStar for allowing me to write on whatever topic that I thought was worthwhile including politics, religion, music, film, sports, science, world events, economy and the pandemic. It was an honor to write side-by-side with luminaries of the past including Wilfredo Veloso, Godofredo Roperos, Cerge Remonde, Leonardo Chiu and Juan L. Mercado; and present-day opinion makers Frank Malilong, Bobby Nalzaro, Elias L. Espinoza, Publio J. Briones III, Bong O. Wenceslao, Nini Cabaero and Melanie T. Lim, among others.
When I left for New Zealand in 2005, I thought that it was the end of my writing days in the Philippines; but SunStar allowed me to continue. From outside the country, I gained new perspective that I siphoned through my writings. I emailed my column the day prior to publication.
To keep my writings relevant through the years, daily I read news and interesting articles in local, national and international publications; distinguished fake news from genuine ones; valued truth and accuracy; and typed my thoughts in Word format like I was talking to the reader.
So what is next? In her email, Michelle So wrote that the publication will transition to digital publishing which is the way of the future. I do hope for its success. I still hope to be part of SunStar’s future. But if that will not happen, you should still be able to find me in social media and digital publications I edit.
Goodbye, for now.