Time to grieve, time to celebrate

Like most party animals, the Daily Tribune staff certainly knows how to party. But they also know how to grieve. On two separate occasions over the last weekend, they did both.

Thursday last week, the paper’s personnel from editors to layout artists to administrative staff including those working the press, came in full force to send off colleague Joseph Cortes, our opinion editor and fellow columnist who passed away last week.

It was a solemn occasion highlighted by a Mass and necrological service for the departed. Those whose lives have at one time or another been touched by Joseph offered eulogies including the paper’s husband and wife tandem of Willie and Chingbee Fernandez.

Newsroom staffers felt Joseph’s loss more as he was a fixture in the editorial section, being the first person, you’ll see upon entering the room. His demise came at a time when the staff was still grieving over the death of one of the layout artists, Aurora Bulan, who perished in a vehicular accident while coming from, ironically, another wake early this year.

Double whammies such as those may have been enough to dampen the spirit of the Tribune staff. But grieving their hearts may be, they still found time to set them aside last Monday for another occasion that calls for a celebration. It was the birthday of this paper’s president Willie Fernandez.

Like most of the parties that the Tribune staff celebrate, it was a joyous occasion worth remembering with most of Mr. Fernandez’s close buddies in attendance including former Cabinet secretaries Martin Andanar and Alfonso Cusi. Together with his friends and employees, Mr. Fernandez bore the brunt of the ribbing on his red-letter day, spiced up by anecdotes on his famous temper and kind-heartedness.

Coming only days apart from Joseph’s wake, the occasion proved to be a rejuvenating balm for most of the Tribune staff, particularly as the birthday joust had, for its theme a fiesta atmosphere, which for all intent and purposes, was meant to soothe wounded hearts.

Food flowed freely and like previous occasions that called for celebration — from anniversaries to Christmas parties — everyone had a grand time and was game for whatever.

Even Joseph, who was already hard-pressed to keep up with his thrice-a-week dialysis before his demise, seemed to have looked forward to these occasions. He knows fully well that they are the only times when various departments try to outdo each other either in costume or singing and dancing contests.

On one occasion, while some newsroom staff was singing to the tune of the office karaoke, Joseph, normally quiet and working silently at his desk, suddenly quipped,” O, magpraktis na kayo nang maigi. May parating nang Halloween at Christmas parties. Kailangan manalo uli tayo, (Go ahead, practice some more. Halloween and Christmas parties are just around the corner).”

Winners of these contests are usually rewarded with handsome prizes by the generous owners, making them something to look forward to by the staff, Joseph included.

Although he was not one to actively go for the prizes himself due to his condition, Joseph’s reminder spoke well of his fighting spirit, the same fervor he showed as he soldiered on despite his condition.

Don’t worry bro. We’ll carry your gentle reminder in our hearts as we go for the plum.

Whatever it is that the editorial section will face in the coming occasions, rest assured that we’ll be there fighting. And yes, celebrating.

No more grieving, promise.

E-mail: mannyangeles27@gmail.com

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