A few months before I married Edizza in 1999, I met Joy, a Cerge Remonde relative and former dyLA secretary. “Niingon to si Cerge nga masuko siya kun dili nimo siya himoong ninong sa kasal,” she said. Actually, we had considered him as our wedding sponsor even without the reminder. But that was typical Cerge,
Cerge wasn’t in Malacañang yet at that time but he was busy with his work and other activities that went with his being a popular broadcaster and media leader. Besides, the wedding date, Dec. 18, was too close to his birthday, Dec. 21. So while we didn’t expect him to be there at the wedding, we listed him as one of the sponsors nevertheless.
Indeed, we didn’t see Cerge’s shadow during the ceremony, but I was surprised when he did pass by at the reception that was held at the back of the church in Sitio Laray, Barangay San Roque, Talisay. He was smiling when he shook our hands. “Tan-awa, di ba niari gyod ko,” he said, obviously proud of what he did. Again typical Cerge,
I first met Cerge when I decided to go back to society’s mainstream after months of “rehabilitation” in the early ‘90s. I was in need of work but was an undergrad. I had worked part-time in dyLA before and had trained at the then Broadcast Production and Training Center. I thought I had a chance of landing a job if I applied in that radio station.
DyLA then could be described as a Cerge Remonde-Leo Lastimosa organization. Cerge was the manager and popular radio commentator while Leo was the news director and popular broadcast journalist. Both were intimidating to a work applicant like me. Besides, Cerge had gained a reputation as leader of the anti-communist movement.
When I went to the radio station, I therefore made sure I brought with me a note from a military official vouching for my “rehab.” Cerge read the note then referred me to Leo. I actually expected the cold treatment. Fortunately, Leo was more accommodating and recommended that I start work immediately. That jump-started my media career.
I didn’t know that it was the waning weeks of the Cerge-Leo partnership. Just when I was transferred from desk work to the field as City Hall beat reporter in 1991, Leo would be “pirated” by dyRF, leaving Cerge to scramble in looking for a replacement. And weeks after I was designated as news director, Cerge himself left to join politics.
That also marked the beginning of the end of my stint in dyLA. Cerge ran for the congressional post in Cebu City’s north district against the formidable Raul del Mar in 1992. That meant an OIC had to take over as station manager. When Cerge lost his bid, he was not allowed to go back to his dyLA job but was instead assigned to Manila.
Meanwhile, the OIC initiated changes that tended to scuttle dyLA’s reputation as news and public affairs station. Threats of retrenchment followed. I stood by the reporters and vowed to resign if any one of them was fired. When Cerge visited Cebu, he told us to stay put because he was finding ways to return as station manager. But things came to a head fast. I was eventually forced to quit.
When Cerge stood as sponsor in my wedding, memories of my foray into broadcast journalism were receding. I also met him only in rare instances. The linkage would continue to weaken, especially during his stint in Malacañang. But that did not mean my appreciation of him had been scuttled. Reports of his passing yesterday therefore saddened me. May he rest in peace.
(This came out in my January 20, 2010 “Candid Thoughts” column in Sun.Star Cebu)