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Ka Elmo’s fire

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SCIENCE CITY of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija—His craft spans the ages.

He became a newspaperman in 1962 when lovers everywhere sighed to Bobby Vinton’s “Roses are Red,” when everyone shook with Chubby Checker and the Twist.

He remains a newspaperman today, in the age of Jessica Sanchez, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Gangnam style.

Meet Anselmo S. Roque, former grade school teacher, radio announcer, college professor, dean, university spokesperson, and without a doubt a “periodista” till the end.

Ka Elmo to friends and colleagues, Roque embarked on his journalistic journey 51 years ago when he became a reporter for the Central Luzon Post in Cabanatuan City. In 1965, he came to a fork in the road that took him to the Manila Times, where he sold himself to the hometown news editor and got hired as provincial correspondent outright.

Without fail, the multiawarded Roque has reported on news and sports that matter since—for the last 27 years as the Inquirer man in Nueva Ecija and environs.

I owe Ka Elmo because he played a key role in my joining the Times in mid-1972. With management opting to hire in-house, he granted my future editor’s request for me to share the Nueva Ecija beat for a while.

After a few dispatches, I was stamped a “Timesman,” enabling then new sports editor Tony Siddayao to take me in officially as the third man on his staff a few months before Martial Law shuttered the newspaper.

At 74, the man on the job longest as countryside correspondent for a national daily is the life of the party. I drove here to observe at the recent Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau meeting and workshop at the Central Luzon State University, and saw Anselmo S. Roque, Ph.D. unplugged.

Ka Elmo uncorked his one-liners during the training session with editors from Manila and a surprise visit by Muñoz Mayor Ester Lazaro. At the evening fellowship, he flashed his Fred Astaire moves while dancing with two bureau ladies.

Earning a masters and doctorate, Ka Elmo helped make CLSU a premier university. He retired recently from the state-run school where he’d been a professor, associate dean of the college of education and director of public affairs.

He put in a total of 39 years in government service, including what he calls an “ulcer-inducing” stint as grade school teacher and a “heaven sent” gig as announcer for then province-wide school radio dzCI.

He’s now able to devote more time to the Inquirer, but his passion these days is teaching young minds how to write for newspapers. “It’s for the future of our profession,” he said.

Ka Elmo also has found another mission: Turn the carabao from a “beast of burden to a beast of fortune.”

With the genus vanishing from pastures, Ka Elmo tells me he is chronicling how the neighboring Philippine Carabao Center here works to save and crossbreed the declining swamp carabao with the imported riverine kind for high-grade milk and meat.

***

Heartfelt condolences to the family of Inquirer columnist Manolo Iñigo. An astute elder of the close-knit sportswriting community, he was 75 when he passed on last Saturday. A mild-mannered chum and an unyielding editor, “Doc” will be missed. Farewell, big brother.


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