Boss JSY with myself and my wife, Heidi, during our Hataw Christmas party three years ago. (Photo courtesy of Bong Son)
Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
— Benjamin Franklin
I will be devoting my column today to honor a dear friend who has been part of my family like a kindred spirit. But first, here’s a brief ‘sketch of Hataw publisher and businessman Jerry Sia Yap:
The publisher of the popular tabloid Hataw! Dyaryo ng Bayan, businessman Jerry Sia Yap was quite the entrepreneur during his heyday as a local importer and trader who is known initially in media circles as their supporter and sponsor in many efforts and projects aimed at enriching and uplifting the lives of the common newspaperman and other media practitioners.
It was when he took over the helm of his pet tabloid Hataw when he barged officially into the tumultuous world of journalism and right there and then he got into the profession like “a duck to water.”
He is originally from Tayabas, Quezon, and in relocating to Metro Manila, he was able to get formal education at the University of the East in the area known as the University Belt in the City of Manila. From there he delved into trading and importation by putting up his own companies while eyeing to eventually enter his passion to write and report the news by taking over his own newspaper and publishing house.
As Hataw’s publisher, he wrote a daily column (Bulabugin) which was likewise reprinted in three other tabloids—Police Files Tonite, X-Files, and Customs Chronicle. But more importantly that being a journalist and publisher, Yap founded the group known as ALAM (Alab ng Mamamahayag), where he was recognized as its founding national chairman, during the time he was president of the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) from 2010 to 2012. Prior to his presidency, he was a number one director of the NPC from 2004 to 2010 and the Club’s treasurer after he stepped down as its president in 2012.
I ACTUALLY met pareng Jerry in the flesh several decades ago but I have heard of him even way back because I distinctly remember two friends who had a heated argument over his membership in the National Press Club (of the Philippines). One was a true-blue journalist from the Manila Bulletin while the other was likewise a skilled columnist of the Daily Tribune.
The bone of contention between them was the fact that the latter was sponsoring pareng Jerry’s members with the NPC while the former argued he was not qualified to be one because he was more of a businessman rather than a media practitioner. That was settled, however, when my friend Jerry became the owner and publisher of Hataw.
At that time then, I didn’t know pareng Jerry from Adam so I just took his joining our ranks as members of the Fourth Estate with a grain of salt—never realizing that he would eventually be the closest friend and the most loyal from those rascals I met and drank with every Friday during the NPC’s exclusive Celebrity Night. I was appointed vice-chairman of the NPC’s entertainment committee by the committee’s chair Dennis Fetalino of People’s Journal.
And as time passed, I got to know about pareng Jerry—of his kind heart, his loyalty, and his uncanny way of giving the right advice at the right time.
Eventually, when I retired from the Journal Group of Publications, I joined pareng Joey Venancio in the newly established tabloid Police Files Tonite and later, when the tabloid was temporarily in dire straits after almost a decade of being one of the popular newspapers in the country, I likewise joined Hataw on the invitation of its executive editor Gloria Galumo. It was at this time that I really got to know the person who is Jerry Sia Yap. But let me cut this narration short because it would take probably several pages and several hours to properly describe him. Suffice it to say that he is someone I will not forget and will sorely miss until my dying day.
And as a final tribute to this jovial guy with a big heart, let me share this Irish prayer:
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes, we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.