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Farewell Ka Lito & Gus

Republika

BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Last Christmas, Alito L. Malinao penned his last weekly Fair Comment on local optics and international affairs on this page.


“In a highly competitive journalism field, you could get rewards you can’t get in other professions,” Professor Malinao told Pamantasan ng Maynila and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) students.


“‘What is news?’ was Lito’s famous words to students enrolled in his basic news writing class,” says Pulitzer prize winner Manny Mogato.


Finding no journalism reference materials for students, Ka Lito wrote the 383-page “Journalism for Filipinos,” forworded by Foreign Secretary Blas F. Ople., in 1991.


Mass communications schools used Ka Lito’s textbook, published in 16 editions.


“I was surprised to see in Alito’s book my article ‘Christmas without Mommy’ as an example of a great essay,” says PR Guru Charlie Agatep.


“Before he transferred to the Manila Times School of Journalism, he gave me a copy of his first journalism book,” says PUP professor Filemon Viduya.


Ka Lito grew up roaming Hagnaya shoreline village’s white sands in San Remigio, northern Cebu, Central Philippines. This third class municipality is named after Church of San Remigio in Florence, Italy.


Hagnaya or Diliman fern (Stenochlaena palustris) is more durable than rattan when submerged in sea water.


Ka Lito wished to revisit Hagnaya in 17-paragraph “And miles to go before I sleep” written before his 78th October birthday.


San Remigio has a 1500-era site where buried were bodies whose feet point to Tanon Straits separating Cebu and Negros islands, and iron age, food-filled pots shaped like a ship’s keel.


Ancients believed the spirit travels through the ocean to its final resting place.


Augusto “Gus” Villanueva, 83, “mentored future newspaper editors with leadership, work ethic and old school values of fairness, resiliency and loyalty.”


Gus was chief editor-publisher of leading ‘90s tabloid Peoples Journal, which he conceptualised six years after Times Journal opened in 1972.
He was the first Journal sports editor.


A product of Manila public schools, Gus was 17 when he covered the sports beat for the Manila Times in the prewar TVT (Times-Vanguardia-Taliba) building’s old wing’s third floor on narrow Florentino Torres street, between the Sta. Cruz fire station and Republic Supermarket.


It was the age of hot press, plates, boiling, poisonous lead, linotype machines, typewriters and electric fans. Fax machines and cellphones were yet to come.


Pitching in as a police reporter during a Divisoria fire coverage, a Manila fireman pushed Gus away less than 10 seconds before a burning wall collapsed.


“Those were the days when journalists really worked hard and tried to scoop each other. No press releases. We went out of our way to interview, get the story ahead of each other, and keep quiet.”


His Ph180 a month entry level pay in 1955 was raised to PHP1,200 as Daily Mirror co-sports editor in 1964. He stayed with the Times for 17 years until Martial Law closed all Philippine newspapers in September 1972.


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