Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Julius Fortuna, comrade in arms, is now in heaven

Most distressing news---my friend and comrade, Julius Fortuna, columnist of Manila Times, died at 9 in the morning today. This is most distressing to me since I consider Julius one of my closest friends. My friend, Nick Ferrer, formerly of Philippine Star, texted me at 10:30 this morning. Reportedly, he died due to a heart attack. As of this writing, he is at the Capitol Medical Center along Quezon Avenue.

We last met two weeks ago. The last time we talked, he was complaining of his heart condition. He asked me if I know someone who wants to buy his Toyota Landcruiser. He needs it for his second angioplasty. I did my best but no one seems to warm up to the idea.

For those who do not know him, Julius Fortuna is a former political detainee. In GR No. L-49473, Julius was one among those jailed during the Marcos regime, along with Jose Luneta, Hermie Garcia, and Fernando Tayag. Julius was an active social reformer who wants to see a New Philippines. He suffered for more than 10 years before being released by the Cory government.

Julius is a prolific writer. While he also served government corporations (he was formerly a board director of PNOC), he did so without compromising his political principles. Since 1998, we helped each other fight the establishment.

He's a well respected journalist. He organizes the regular Kapihan sa Sulo, where we usually meet. Last week, there was no Kapihan. He did'nt text me to go to greenhills for our regular Sunday meetings. I was so busy with my job and my family that sometimes, I was'nt able to go to these meetings.

Yet, the times I did go, I cherish those times I spent with Manong Julius. He's a rich repository of History. And what's good about all of our conversations, I learn so many things from him.

When he celebrated his birthday last year, I was there. He was jolly. What's good about Julius is he enjoys the company of his true friends.

While we were at the funeral of another colleague, who was also a good friend of Ding Gagelonia, he said that " bok, una una lang yan." I felt fear. No, Manong, that eulogy of yours will never ever be with us. No. Marami pa tayong taong pagsasamahan. Marami pa tayong bundok na lalakbayin. Marami pa tayong dapat baguhin.

Manong, you who gave me a precious gift from your beloved Romblon, take care. Dun na kayo sa langit maghuhuntahan nina manong Max, Ka Doro, Ka Alejandro Roces, Ka Jose Diokno, tata Noel Cab, tata JoCap and manong Philip Tan.

Manong, I'll pray for you. I'll miss you po.