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Macasaet, Jake

By Jullie Y. Daza

JAKE Macasaet, gone? Macasaet the business columnist, editor, publisher of Malaya-Business Insight? Jake the indestructible?

Alas, the angels have taken him from us, one more from a dwindling bunch of journalists whom Kit Tatad calls “our generation,” the last wave of practitioners who actually went to journalism school, actually practised journalism (as distinguished from “allied” fields such as p.r.), actually wrote what their byline said they wrote, actually believed that it was a vocation with its own rules, principles, and ethical, if not moral, standards.

Jake was so indestructible that even as his body was weakened by a dozen different ailments, he continued working from home, with Karen by his side. The last time I had lunch with him and Karen at his favorite restaurant, Century Seafood, it was Karen choosing the menu and Jake complaining that I was asking too many questions about cockfights because then he’d have to take me to his farm to meet his roosters.

If there’s anyone who can write Jake’s biography in an authentic voice, it’s Ellen Tordesillas, Ellen who “will never leave Jake,” not for all the newsprint in the world. Eons ago, when Ellen needed urgent medical attention, Jake came to the rescue, no ifs and buts. On another occasion, he kidded that helping the chronically ill was going to kill him first.

That’s Jake. A braggart with a short fuse but a soft spot for his people. The people he could not abide were “journalists acting as propagandists and vice versa” and “so-called writers who don’t know their grammar.” He could sound off, oh yes he did, as lustily as he recited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, or sweetly recalled fragments of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Jake and I, we go back a long way, all the way back to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, UST, where I threatened to throw him out of my class in newswriting if he did not drop out pronto and find another instructor to bedevil.

Then there was that incident at the Taipei airport where, as we waited for the flight back to Manila, a friend murmured to him, “Your shirt is inside-out.” I quickly distanced myself from Jake, by a mile! On another trip, Jake was asked by Immigration if he was in Guam for work or pleasure and he replied cockily, “If by work you mean am I here to cover Lucio Tan Day today, yes, I’m here to work.” He was detained for two hours until Mr. Lucio Tan bailed him out.

Jake, you may stop working now but please, behave.