President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday paid his respects to the late Philippine Daily Inquirer publisher Isagani M. Yambot Sr. as members of the local media world led by Inquirer president Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, paid tribute to the departed veteran journalist at Arlington Memorial Chapels in Quezon City.
Mr. Aquino stood alone beside the brown casket, apparently in prayer, before taking a seat beside Yambot’s wife Mildred to convey his condolence to the family. He and Mrs. Yambot talked for several minutes.
The President was accompanied by his security aides and Rey Marfil, assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office. Mr. Aquino stayed at the wake, held at Felicidad Chapel on the ground floor of Arlington, for about 20 minutes.
Besides Romualdez, among those at the wake were Inquirer chairperson Marixi Prieto and editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc.
‘We love you’
Magsanoc thanked Mr. Aquino for taking time to condole with Yambot’s family, noting that it was a Sunday, normally the President’s day-off from work. He said he had not been having a day-off lately.
Speaking to Yambot’s family and friends, Romualdez vowed that the Inquirer would complete the second Inquirer stylebook that Yambot was working on before he passed away on Friday.
“We love you and we miss you already,” Romualdez said of Yambot.
Before the President arrived at past 5 p.m., a group from the University of the Philippines sang the Filipino version of the song “The Prayer.”
Yambot, also a trustee of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), a nationwide organization mostly of newspaper journalists, underwent angioplasty last year and his condition improved.
Angioplasty is a procedure to widen blood vessels around the heart which have become blocked with cholesterol-laden plaque deposits.
Yambot, however, started becoming ill two weeks ago and had a quadruple heart bypass on February 21. He died 10 days after the operation.
Yambot’s other colleagues in the media world mourned his death.
“Gani, we will miss you. Miss the wry rumor. Miss those poems. Miss how you never shirked from showing emotions when colleagues fell in the line of duty,” said Inday Espina-Varona, head of ABS-CBN’s Bayan Mo Ipatrol Mo.
“Most of all, I will miss the intellectual honesty that forced all of us to confront ourselves, our profession’s weakness, even as we sought ways to serve the nation better,” she added.
Varona also said that in one media gathering, “Gani emphatically stressed that it was high time employers of journalists were brought into the discourse because no profession could treat its workers so badly and expect high ethical and professional standards. Godspeed, Gani.”
Press freedom fighter Nonoy Espina, Interaksyon.com editor, described Yambot as “truly one of the pillars in the unfinished struggle for press freedom in the Philippines. We will carry on.”
Hollywood columnist Janet Nepales wrote: “So sad with the passing away of a good friend and mentor, Gani Yambot, editor-journalist and PDI publisher … While I was a journalism student at UST, Gani would always graciously come to my invitations for him to speak to the journalism students … he was then editor of The Times Journal where I would eventually work later … he has touched our lives and made a difference to the world! Rest.”
Gerry Plaza of Yahoo! Philippines said: “He was the gentlest, kindest person you’ll ever meet who’d never fail to brighten up your otherwise gloomy, troubled day with his wisdom and, yes, his always assuring smile. Goodbye sir Gani. We’ll miss you,”
“Mild-mannered, always pleasant, friendly and professional,” was how Mario Hernando, weekend editor at Malaya, described Yambot.
“He was the antithesis to the old-style terror desk editors who made every reporter’s life hell, those cranky old fogeys who believed that getting the news and putting the paper to bed could only be effective under a martinet or an army drill sergeant. Gani proved that the newsroom need not be run by a yelling, cursing roughneck,” Hernando wrote.
Prayers for Gani
More messages from other journalists and media groups were posted on social networking sites:
“Condolences to the family and colleagues of Mr. Isagani Yambot … He is a big loss to the industry.”—Bulatlat.com
“Glad to have met you, Mr. Yambot.”—Sandra Aguinaldo
“Condolence to the family of Isagani Yambot … He will be missed.”—Carlos H. Conde
“He will surely be missed but his spirit lives on in the work we do to ensure editorial policies are closely followed. We are very grateful for all of his contributions and we applaud his passion and commitment to his work. We request that you join us in prayer for the eternal repose of his soul.”—Guyito Kalabaw
Not all the tributes came from Yambot’s media colleagues.
Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin “FM” Romualdez said: “Isagani Yambot was a pillar of Philippine journalism. As publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he did a well-balanced act. As a mediaman, he shunned the power and influence of the pen. He humbly dedicated himself to delivering factual yet unbiased news to the readers.” With a report from INQUIRER.net