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Facebook and bylines of bygone days

/ 11:22 PM February 19, 2012

SACRAMENTO—Internet-savvy? Not me. My computer is basically my typewriter. But count me among the pre-war babies and baby boomers swallowed by the social media called Facebook when it ate the world.

Among my Facebook friends is Mike Genovea Sr. Mike, now a resident of San Bernardino, California, not only outranks me in age. His foundation as a journalist is far more rock solid than mine. He was already a sports editor and two-time president of the Philippine Sportswriters Association while I was a high school freshman dreaming to be a scribe.

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Mike’s Facebook proficiency is unknown. I myself still have to overcome the anxiety of writing on someone’s wall and poking or tagging a friend’s pictures. Nevertheless we, the forever young in growing numbers, are discovering what millions of Generations Y and Z members already know: Facebook can be a compelling, even addictive way to communicate and remember.

Mr. Genovea, who went on to become a palace reporter and media chief of the House of Representatives, recently swapped war stories with me. We inevitably exchanged notes on our fellow soldiers who survived the trenches or now meet deadlines for the Editor in Chief in the Sky.

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It was marvelous to hear him tick off the names of guys on his watch at the old Manila Chronicle sports section—Andy del Rosario, Alex Allan, Ernie Gonzales, to name a few. Ernie is the veteran sports editor and currently senior sports deskman and troubleshooter for this paper. Alex who went on to other beats is retired. Mr Genovea informed me that Mr. Del Rosario, a former Philippine ambassador to Poland and Hungary is back to newspapering and writes a column for the Manila Standard Today.

On the occasion of the PSA’s big night on March 3 to honor the past year’s top athletes, Mike with an assist from me, could not help but remember the fallen PSA greats whose kinship we shared while writing about sports as the ultimate metaphor for life.

Tony Siddayao, Vic Villafranca, Rudy Navarro, Bert Cuevas, Roger Flores, Virgilio Manuel, Larry Galvez, Tito Tagle. You don’t see their bylines anymore because these sports writing masters, once pillars of the oldest media group in the islands have returned home to their Creator.

Mike and I cornered the market for nostalgia as we Facebook-chatted about these guys. He agreed when I said these PSA greats are not as philosophical as Morrie Schwartz,—former scribe turned best-selling author Mitch Albom’s subject in his book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

But like Morrie who turned his last days with Albom into a class in living and dying, these comrades were friends and mentors to the last.

I beat Mike to the keyboard to stress that Tony and company shared a mission: teach students while they are young and flailing in the dark. They gave the class sound advice to steer its way through a fast-paced profession and imparted something even more profound—how to live life to the fullest.

Younger sportswriters have hardly heard of these teachers. They are gone, but their classes are still growing—they are teaching more than ever through the editors, scribes and others they have molded.

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“Death ends a life, not a relationship,” Albom noted in his book.

Mr. Genovea and I couldn’t agree more.

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TAGS: Alex Allan, Ernie Gonzales, Facebook, PSA
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