Goodbye E.O. Fuentes

I would have said move on Sir E.O. because I know he wanted his death to be poetic and not melancholy. He was known among the circle of Davao writers as simply E.O. He was my mentor and later on became my friend and confidante.

I had the chance to work with Sir E.O. when I was taken in by Publisher/Writer Willie Rola to edit his business magazine "Dimensions". I was still in college then but he believed in me and trusted me with running the editorial content of his magazine but of course, with the help of our editorial consultant E.O. Fuentes.

He was already an old man then but he was very vibrant and full of life. And he was very unselfish, taking it upon him to mentor me. He always considered me his protege and taught me a lot of things about feature writing. It was my first stint in professional writing (unless you count the once in a blue moon writing experiences I had with then Peryodiko Dabaw and another magazine owned by an advertising man).

I was placed in the company of "wolves", so to speak as they were all experienced writers around me--Sir E.O. and Willie Rola. Thus, I had no choice but to learn and to make the best of whatever writing talent I had.

One of the first criticisms, er---lessons Sir E.O taught me was to make sure that my features ended smoothly. "Do not let your article end abruptly," he would coach me. But no matter how I tried, he kept on pestering me for hours no end that I should make sure my ending was beautiful and that it will always be remembered by my readers.

My experience with Dimensions Magazine was all worth the pain of having to wake up early to cover the Geothermal Plant in Mt. Apo and to stay up late to make sure those articles were written following Sir E.O.'s guidelines. I cannot anymore remember the hundreds of feature stories I wrote for Dimensions, most of them passed the Eagle's eye of Sir. E.O. after several rewrites.

We parted ways since I was taken in by another mentor, Ms. Marietta Siongco of Mindanao Daily Mirror to take care of Mirror's business news. Business news was a never-heard genre then since what was popular in the Davao media was political news. But Sir. E.O. was never far behind and he would always beep me (ha!ha! no SMS messages then) or all me up at Mirror so we an have lunch or just a light snack.

I have always looked forward to those "dates" then since Sir. E.O. always treated me and still critiqued even my news articles. He encouraged me to do more business features at a time when a major reporter of a local tabloid laughed at my article about the business of making salt. She was ignorant about business writing then as she was only exposed to political news. Sir E.O. gave me the courage to move on and to ignore her remarks. And thanks to him, I moved on and left my own mark in the growth of Davao City's business reporting niche no matter how trivial that may be.

He went on to encourage me to write more business features when I was hired by BusinessWorld to be their correspondent for Mindanao. As usual, he did not stop critiquing my work but at the same time there were always words of wisdom behind his criticisms. He also asked me to be part of the FIDI book which he edited.

I haven't had a date with Sir E.O. for quite sometime after I became busy with law school and moved on to another career. However, we always talked on the phone and during those times he would always drop a word or two about maintaining the spontaneity of my stories.

Sir E.O. was a gifted man. He was very kind and his words of wisdom will always be with me.

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