Tito Rocks was how he was fondly called after working together on the publication. It started out during wet weather, when the swelling Balili river put out a dreadful pong into the dim rooms with nine of us head down occupied through the blast of music. At the outset we formed an operations team to segregate non-writer related duties, cleared six months in labour past due, widened the writer space in 12 pages, then to slate a cultural component, the Cordillera Style. Exclusive dealership had been revoked to enlarge distributor footprint outside La Trinidad and Baguio City; into the hinterlands of Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Abatan. Using all the help we could get, the publication started the bandwagon of acclaimed editors and columnists, so soon enough the newspaper got back on chart.
A first gift - Presence. The fact of presence or occurring was the first gift received. There was no need to chase around restaurants or message constantly or call. Tito Rocks was dutifully present and made his presence well felt. That by itself had the team of writers and columnist place the best foot forward, shoving aside individual differences to usher a mindful cohesion.
On occasion Tito Rocks held other meetings at Aspulan and hang out long hours with the team at the writers den. He consistently participated Friday press nights, reading each page and marking down misspelled words or questionable detail. We had little else the basic prehistoric company kit of two computers with reasonable Wi-Fi access, one printer, one phone and fax machine, a coffee maker and three audio recorders. But Tito Rocks never complained and took pride constituting a sense of belonging.
A second gift - Sense of belonging. Sense of belonging is crucial because any individual must belong to something that is greater than oneself. Sense of belonging cultivates positive feelings and good outcomes in life that one must foster a sense of belonging across a number of support systems. I note that Tito Rocks worried the team without belonging, when we needed to relax budgets thus revert to wages by way of contribution. While there is very little to profit in local advertising, the paper resorted to events to keep the team together and the community presence growing: A golf competition for the build of a church, Interschool debate at the Baguio Centermall Cinema, a Chess competition and rewards of a Book Sale.
For days not of press night, the food was very plain yet he would eat whatever was there. Lunch could be boiled corn or eggplant salad; and in good days there was pandesal, hotdogs and cheese. Over the duration when the extra vehicle broke down, Tito Rocks took up the chore of taking the team back into town after midnight Fridays, in-his-c-a-r. All of us squeezed in, as though it was some sort of glorious journey.
A third gift - Shared responsibility My observation is that the tribes are far more expressive of shared responsibility, for what is fundamentally understood as connectivity to kin. It is the expression of the shared-self in equal importance to sense of duty.
Earlier in the 1990s, the newspaper weekly was formed through the convictions of two brothers, once newspaper boys roaming the city. Now men with political ambitions, the paper espoused to shape collective expression. The company had undergone a rough evolution typical of small organisations, surviving a series of turnovers, low liquidity and debt, and transitions in structure from corporate to proprietorship and even once a foundation. This time Rocky was at the thought of putting out a weekly regional broadsheet released every Wednesdays.
A fourth gift - Dream big and hold tight to a vision While society might work to dismiss big dreams, there are colossal paybacks to them. Tito Rocks narrated over the ride home that he dreamed of being Governor in his younger years. It was something he strived towards growing up with half the time silently mastering every detail of the province and its people. Dreaming entails holding tight to a vision even when getting there could be tough with setbacks and failures. Anyone who has achieved big knows exactly the statement is true. Dream big and hold tight to a vision.
The Sunday issue aged an unwavering habit just as some sort of tradition. It recognised the family's participation in community in spite the many colourful tales and typical undertones in the media industry. Tradition was one favoured enquiry over lazy afternoons, which helped me construe indigenous and ritual. Tito Rocks took every opportunity to explain tradition. Through him I learned that the highest animal sacrifice was the monkey, followed by the cow.
A fifth gift - Tradition Indigenous per se has reference to the inhabitation in a particular place that has shaped traditional lifeway in the grapple with nature of what scientists recognise as research. Indigenous construes adaptations that rely on practical observations of the natural surroundings as an ethnoscience, enhanced by generations of learning through thoughtful story and demonstration. For which, one conforms modes of endurance and subsistence. Survival or extinction -constitutes the incontestable rudiments of traditional knowledge clearly in contrast conventional forms of competence, measured through objective tests of structured ideas of what a person should know.
It is thought that rituals enrich the soul despite its stark inconceivable humbling. Participated in common bond, it is an expression of oneness and shared-self that defines ethnicity and propagates tradition.
Life has blessed me with beautiful children and their children, a fortune of good friends, and many of the finest mentors. I feel the rain sadness in the passing of Tito Rocks and I dare not look into his face thus be overwhelmed with profound sorrow.