Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sweet 60 birthday tribute to Jingjing with the smiling face

It was through the assignments given by Chato Garcellano, then travel editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer, that I got a chance to reconnect with Jingjing Romero. During the time Chato was travel ed, she'd send me off to media familiarization tours of Boracay, Palawan, Laguna, Batangas, with Jingjing as organizer and contact person.

Jingjing always impressed me with her warm, as against cold, professionalism. These tours were so efficiently organized. Not a minute was wasted. Not only did one get the main story with enough spillover materials for sidebars and private diary entries, one also got enough space and time to catch one's breath. Brava, Jingjing and her Stratos staff!
Jingjing Romero and a posse of media in Laguna: she is somewhere on the second row wearing a red blouse and a wide-brimmed hat.

What's more and what's better, Jingjing has a big heart, bigger than her fair, moon-shaped face that hasn't been visited by a frown or the lines and spots of age since the time I met her.

She showed this facet of herself many times in my life when some writers and I in Baguio City were reviving the Baguio Writers Group. One of our projects was a fund-raising jazz concert for a cause (e.g., the treatment and recovery of Napoleon Javier, a founding member of the Group who suffered and survived a major stroke, the holding of writing workshops for the city's young writers and also for retirees who'd like to leave a legacy, etc.).

Through her private donation along with those of other donors, the Baguio Writers Group, now under Luchie Maranan, has continued its mission of sharing writing expertise and opportunities with others.

When she's in the city up north, she calls and asks me to join her group for lunch or supper, even if I feel awkward because I'm not really a part of Baguio media in the sense of being a permanent resident there. When we part, she never fails to hand over a small gift, a bar of chocolate, an umbrella at one time (very useful during the monsoon months). This thoughtfulness I appreciate--it sets her leagues above other public relations practitioners (it's a profession, I agree, and a good one), but those others can appear user-friendly, sometimes.

For as long as you're connected to a major, even a minor, media outlet, they flit by you as though you're close and intimate and even loosely sign their notes, "With love." Jingjing is above insincerities like that. After all, mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang plastic ngayon!

When music aficionado Pablo Tariman and I, as his assistant, embarked on the classical music education series billed as Intimate Concerts at Kiss the Cook Gourmet Restaurant, Jingjing was there with her gang called "Six and the City." Their presence at the initial concert of pianist Oliver Salonga helped to raise funds for the halfway house maintained for Aeta schoolchildren in Barangay Bayan-bayanan, Dinalupihan, Bataan, a project of former Audit Commissioner Evelyn San Buenaventura.

We saw Jingjing again, her son and another group at another intimate concert fund-raiser at the same venue, this time for the legal fees and other needs of Pablo's son-in-law, political prisoner Ericson Acosta, who was thrown in a Samar jail with trumped-up charges.

Another occasion, a recent one, when Jingjing responded to an SOS was when I referred film director Martin Masadao, also of Baguio City, to her. He and I asked her if she could request Seair to provide two seats for an under-aged member of the cast of Anac Ti Pating and a guardian, his lola, for a flight to and from Davao City.

This was in November of 2012 when the Sineng Pambansa awarding ceremonies were held in the southern city. Jingjing moved quickly to grant the request, and the boy, Raynon Ladia, went on to win the Best Actor trophy  and the film, the Grand Jury Prize.

When a gift is freely given, the returns are plentiful.

I predict that Jingjing's 60th year in this world and the additional grace years that will follow will be a time of great harvest not only in terms of material wealth (Who wants that alone? Not the Jingjing I know, I'm certain of that). Only someone like her whose faith in God is unwavering and who infects others with this faith deserves a period of grace such as this one tonight.

Thank you, Jingjing, for being a blessing to others.

--Babeth Lolarga

This piece serves as the blogger's testimonial to Ms. Elena "Jingjing" Romero of Stratos Inc. who is celebrating her 60th birthday tonight somewhere in Filinvest 2, Quezon City.

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