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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 23, 2019
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OPINIONS

Max, the compleat journalist

Ninfa Leonardia

Do you think the way some senators – and I – think? What we are all thinking is that the “administration” – read that anyway you want – appointed her a drug czar because it wants her to make a great boo-boo and prove that their Big Boss is right in calling her “scatterbrained” with “knee-jerk impulses”. Beg your pardon, but the lady seems more sober than most of you a lot of times. And if the purpose of making her drug czar was really intended to let her make a fool of herself, she might just surprise you all! Of course you know by now we are talking about Vice President Leni Robredo.

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People were shocked to hear the report about the 8-year-old boy who shot his father dead. The news item noted that the man had been maltreating his son, and perhaps the last time he did it was the last straw for the boy. And how come the lad knew how to handle guns? The same reports said that he was the one who taught the boy how to use it. So, in the lingo of the soothsayers, “He was hoisted by his own petard”.

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That should make parents who still impose physical punishment on their children that times have changed now as far as family relationships are concerned. The young people are more aware of their rights, especially if they know that the punishment given them is not fair. Well, killings within the family are not limited to this generation – remember how the Bible focused on the killing of Abel by his own brother Cain?

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Meanwhile, how do you think the President of the United States is feeling right now with the sword of impeachment hanging over his head? Donald Trump may brazen it out with the media, but it does look as if those calling for his head – figuratively, of course – are really serious. It all sounds like gossip, with the President scheming with the officials of another country to look for dirt against a potential rival in politics. Well, everybody knows that politics is a dirty game, but to those involved, it is an incurable disease that often also muddles the minds of those who are in it.

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Tomorrow, November 24 will be the death anniversary of one of the country’s most admired and respected journalists. To his fellow members of the profession, Maximo “Max” Soliven was an icon, someone whose writing skills were incomparable, and whose integrity was unquestioned. To us, who were then his juniors, he was a model, not just for his writing talent, but also for his friendliness and helpfulness. No wonder his untimely death that fatal November day in Japan was mourned by both his readers and his peers.

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But I do not write about Max just as a reader or a fan of his “By the Way” column in the Philippine Star. After I came to know him during one of those journalism events in Manila, he always remembered to let me know when he was coming to Bacolod, so we could meet. He was very solicituous over the then struggling DAILY STAR that he considered an offspring of their own Star. He also had many friends in Bacolod, mostly his old classmates at the Ateneo, among whom was the late Rolly de la Rama in whose residence he was always a much welcomed guest.

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I was stunned when I heard the news that Max had died in Japan while he was getting ready to come home. I lost, not only a colleague, but a model, who was also very down-to-earth. Several times, I asked him to come to Bacolod to be a resource person at the Negros Press Club seminars we sponsored, and he never failed. But when I would meet him at the airport, the first thing he would say was “Don’t forget my ticket ha, don’t forget you are dealing with an ilocano”.

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He never failed to mesmerize our seminar participants, not only with his knowledge about journalism. He also never failed to emphasize the importance of ethics, and responsible journalism. But he refused to be given an honorarium, and mocked me by asking how much money the press club had to be able to afford him. After that I never asked him again, but he still came when I would call him in behalf of other organizations. No offense meant to present-day journalists, but me, I do not know yet of anyone who can take his place.*

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