Joseph Cortes, silent worker

In the Christian Bible, Joseph, the recognized father of Jesus, did not say a word. One of the feasts in the Catholic Church is that of “silent” Saint Joseph the Worker, who cared for and watched over the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

“Silent worker” defined Joseph Cortes, Daily Tribune opinion editor whose death on 4 October at age 53 came quietly as the day’s hottest stories trickled in.

Cortes, like his holy namesake, didn’t say a word while buried at work day in and out.

But when he spoke, the newsroom lightened up over his remarks — one-liners that often dripped with wit and sarcasm.

Cortes was a lifestyle writer who loved good food, good music, good movies, good places — and wrote about these subjects in a simple style.

In a piece titled “Dining solo” in his column Galaero, Cortes wrote: “The past two years might have put a damper on my resto hopping, but I just changed format. This time I went online, ordering from all these places I had no plans of going to. I took advantage of delivery services. So, from my office desk, I was able to try all these outlets offering chicken rice, Korean fried chicken, sandwiches, and spring rolls. I was also able to try all kinds of sugar-free desserts, although they were quite expensive.

“Dining solo isn’t that tragic. I find that I enjoy eating alone because it allows me to focus solely on the food. Afterward, I can drag my friends to the place so that they can also try what I found delicious.
“Works out all the time.”

His Tribune colleagues recalled the calm and collected Cortes.

“Joseph the quiet worker. He judiciously edited the works of op-Ed writers of this paper and put together stories about preparing for the future in the weekly UN Sustainable Development Goals section,” Tribune Spaces editor Francine M. Marquez, said.

“Yet, for all the long hours he spent ensuring copies are clean, fact-checked, and not bound to get into trouble with the law, Joseph found time to look for joyful things in his life. His column Galaero became an outlet for his penchant for seeking out unique finds in the chaos of the city.

“He knew where to find the best dimsum in Binondo, or the best hole-in-the-wall joints for a dead-drunk kind of spree.”

Tribune Lifestyle reporter Andrea Andres recounted: “I was a first-year student at Colegio de San Juan de Letran when I first met Sir Joseph Cortes as a professor in Principles in News Writing.

“I can vividly remember how he edited and criticized our work with his bright red pen… Although he cracks jokes to get rid of the tension in class, he took us seriously.”

Another Tribune Lifestyle reporter and Letran alumna, Raye Sanchez, said: “He had a calm and kind demeanor. One time, the class played a card game — still related to journalism.”

Marquez continued: “At one point, I said I was into John Cage and, just like that, he made me listen to Cage performing with a gamelan. I was blown away. Joseph understood my excitement. Joseph was always generous, not just with music but also with food — he’d break a cracker if you told him you’re hungry. Sometimes, his quietude would be broken when he joined in the editorial room banter, cracking a witty remark to temper the daily grind.

“Joseph, you’ll be sorely missed. Blissful travels to our dear Galaero.”

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