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Roy Acosta, hidden hero of Philippine journalism

/ 05:00 AM August 09, 2017

The journalist Rosauro “Roy” Acosta, who passed away on Aug. 4 at age 75, was a competent, hard-working newsman who tackled his job with utmost dedication. He was tireless and zealous both out in the news field and in the editorial room.

He was my first editor. He took me in straight from college in 1965 as a rookie reporter with the dzHP news station. It was a bold, blind gamble.

The announcement of his death caught many by surprise.

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Roy Acosta rose to become managing editor of the Inquirer (1987-91), before moving on as editor of Business Mirror, which he would lead to bag back-to-back business paper of the year awards.

“It’s terrible, I never thought he was sick,” said veteran sports editor Ding Marcelo, who left the Manila Bulletin earlier in the year after a lengthy sterling stint. Both Roy and Ding were regular after-work habitués of the Peter Lee Hong Kong Tea House on Mabini Street. Peter Lee was himself a big Roy Acosta fan.

An Inquirer report on Sunday said Roy expired at the Philippine Heart Center after a lingering illness. His loving wife Carmelita said Roy had been in the ICU, where he struggled against pulmonary complications for nearly two weeks. She said Roy had quit smoking in 1988.

A guy most appalled was the premier artist Danilo Dalena, who broke the news of Roy’s passing to this reporter on Sunday. Dalena knew Roy from the old UST days at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. We all used to sip cheap iced ginebra-and-coke, dreaming in the dimly lit backroom of a quaint sari-sari store owned by the well-loved Batangueña grandma Aleng Mameng, together with other aspirant artists, student writers and napkin poets. Roy, an ex-seminarian from Ilocos, published full-hearted love poems (to Carmelita) in the Blue Quill, the Philets college organ. He adored T.S. Eliot, James Agee, and devoured the tales of W. Somerset Maugham, counting as his favorite Moon and Sixpence, a fictional biography of the artist Paul Gauguin.

Anyway, if Roy Acosta’s name would not ring a bell among most readers, it’s because the man had always preferred to function, raw and true, behind the scenes. It won’t be an exaggeration to say he had also helped the Inquirer through some trying periods.

Roy joined dzHP in 1964, as news writer, reporter and announcer. He worked with the likes of Joe Cantada, Jose Mari Velez, Harry Gasser, Milt Alingod, Ronnie Nathanielsz and Edward Tipton, under the great Dick Taylor.

Roy got his first foreign assignment when he was sent to cover the stint of the Philcag engineering forces in Vietnam, under former President Fidel Ramos, in 1965.

He was a recipient of many awards, and had many invaluable contributions to the cause of Philippine journalism. But in my memory, what stands out is his angry unbending stance in 1987, when he threatened to resign from the National Press Club board after the NPC was surreptitiously commissioned by Malacañang to be an arm of the national election count for the presidential polls that pitted Ferdinand Marcos against Corazon Aquino.

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Roy gallantly asked other board members, including this reporter, to protest, stand up against the impending cheating menace. He was successful. The NPC’s under-the-table pact with Malacañang was rescinded.

It was a heroic act that had never been told before. Roy had one last wish: No teary eulogies, no fancy farewells. Hum him a rainy Sinatra tune, if you may.

Rest in well-deserved peace, Lakay.

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TAGS: Rosauro “Roy” Acosta, Sports
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