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Farewell to the committed and fearless

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Bare Eye

Farewell to the committed and fearless

DID YOU know that Kuya Ave died at 7 a.m. today?

This text message reached me Monday last week.

This is being repeated here all for the golden reason that Kuya Ave is no ordinary Ave.

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Ave Perez Jacob, a legend among peers in Pilipino literature, passed away June 8 at National Kidney Center where he had been confined for over a month. He was 78.

A prolific Bulakeño, Ave had regularly garnered major literary awards.

His younger sister, Presentacion, who kept watch over her Kuya in the hospital, has listed some of Jacob’s works. Novels: Sibol sa Guho, Lagablab sa Utak ni Damian Rosa, Sa Kuko ng Liwanag. He has an anthology of prize-winning. short stories, Ang Pagdating ni Elias Plaridel at Iba Pang Piling Mga Kuwento, that included the celebrated “Guardia,” a Palanca Award winner.

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A committed journalist, he edited the militant newspaper Bagwis, which championed the cause of the working class.

He wrote a scathing regular column, “Men at Work” for Tempo during the tabloid’s fledgling first six months.

He also did a unique well-followed gaming column, “Walang Pikunan ‘Pre” for Sports Flash.

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A hard-nosed stoic who was often described as a Lenin look-alike, he was a feared street-fighter in his younger years

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He lived and worked alone in a rented tree-shrouded room in Roxas District, Quezon City.

Last time I was with him, at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), where he was teaching, he was in the process of mounting a major work centering on what he called hidden controversies in Philippine history.

He was often at the forefront of union strikes, mainly those under Kilusang Mayo Uno.

A comrade of the celebrated labor leader Ka Bert Olalia, Jacob was a protégé of National Artist for Literature Ka Amado Hernandez.

He will be interred at Forest Hills Memorial Homes in Biñan, Laguna, tomorrow.

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Among those last to see him was fellow nationalist writer Rogelio Ordoñez of Cavite, who did a farewell poem for Jacob. We quote a few lines:

“No more will I pay you a visit/ on your last moments of heroic struggle/ I know on a day this rainy June/ you’ll leave the defiant bloody struggle/ you’ve embraced against the exploitative working class/ no more will I pay you a visit.”

Paalam, bayaning kaibigan.

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