Maybe somewhere in a humble abode, a frail Conrado de Quiros sits by his lonesome, reading today’s paper with the same sharp mind and the same passion for the nation he loves. Maybe during one of his habitual musings, despite his body’s lack of commitment, his mind wanders and sprawls letters in the air, slowly being turned into words and then sentences and then into an astonishing piece of commentary. Maybe the tradition of opinion writing was never lost to him, and being the son of a bitch that he is, only refuses to write so people will know that even the absence of words can cause frustration, regret, and interminable loss.
It’s sad to accept that my favorite columnist may not come back to grace the only local broadsheet I’ve loved, the only local broadsheet I may work for. My love affair with de Quiros’ works has haunted me since high school, and led me, with such frustration to be like him, to pursue a career in journalism. In my collection of fiction books, only his opinions were welcome to distort my fortress of fantasy and imagination. His was the only voice I respect, his was the initial depiction of reality I’ve learned to accept.
His was always a piece of poetry and prose, a mix of the good and the evil. De Quiros, with his high-and-mighty tone, would tear up the walls between the public and the regime, and build it back up again with hope and humor layered in its crevices. While he has been heavily criticized during the latter part of his career where he was accused of compromising his orientation and values for security, I remained loyal. Opinions are meant to be criticized and debated, but his style is unarguably, without doubt… beautiful. He was always dedicated to his craft.
I have not met the man, ever. By the time I knew people who know him, the only stories left for me was him being wheeled into rooms and places, of him lying in bed, of his slurred speech, of his body gradually failing him. I entered Philippine Daily Inquirer with hopes of bumping into him when he decides to get his paycheck or randomly visits colleagues. My dreams consist of getting invited to a drinking session with him where he would lambast the mongers of politics or cite his favorite books, which, from the looks of it, will never happen now.
In the tradition of men, where everything can be lost and forgotten, my hope remains steadfast that words are exception. His words, to be exact. Maybe, decades ago, when an aspiring columnist of clear sensibility and acerbic wit wrote his frustrations into the night with one cigarette in hand, it was also the goal he had in mind.
My hopes remain buoyed despite old age catching up with our beloved columnist, and in a few years, maybe he will be strong enough to lift a pen once more and continue his writing with the same depth and conviction.
In a room filled with stale opinions, his was a blast of fresh air.