Remembering LJM

On Christmas day I read from a friend's Facebook post that Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc has passed away. LJM, as she is commonly known in journalism circles, is the editor-in-chief behind the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).

I have first known about LJM from Philippine press history lessons in college. She is remembered as among the brave writers who dared to expose the lies behind the late dictator's rule. She also stood firm in the face of government corruption and political pressures from subsequent administrations, all in the name of a free press.

When no one else wanted to report about Ninoy Aquino's death and burial, they were at the forefront. LJM and other journalists turned a humble lifestyle magazine into democracy's lone defender.

When former President Erap Estrada called on the TV industry to boycott the Inquirer, she dug her heels in and continued churning stories about Erap's mansions and mistresses.

In a few months, we witnessed People Power anew. Just as she did in 1986, LJM contributed to social change through her brave stories in our generation.

I'm writing this as tribute and gratitude to one of Philippine Press's bedrocks. We enjoy press freedom and democracy today because of the contributions of people like LJM.

Though I have never met her, I am thankful for the journalism principles she espoused and developed. These have shaped my mass communication professors who,  in turn, shaped me, one way or another.

And though I have never professionally practiced journalism, I had been a part of PDI once as a college scholar and an intern. She had been my EIC for one full summer term.

I also felt indebted to LJM because of an article about her I read today. I have always wondered why PDI allowed me to pursue a different path after being their scholar for two years.

I was surprised that they never demanded the return service when I wrote them that I was no longer considering the newspaper after my graduation. They didn't even ask me to pay back even after I offered to return every peso from the scholarship.

I was even more surprised that they let me go when my simplistic reason was I felt that God was calling me to serve Him through Christian ministry. God and spirituality never sat well with many journalists in the Philippines so I thought my reason was unacceptable. But PDI respected it.

This has always been a mystery for me until I found out that LJM was spiritual herself. In a tribute article by PDI,  she was described as a woman who always went to mass daily, seeking God's peace in troubled times.

Now, I don't know how Biblical her view of God is or how much similar our faith convictions are, me being a Bible Christian. But this I know, she believed that there is a God, and I know this influenced PDI to never leave Him out of the newsroom.

I also remember that during our scholarship interview I disclosed that I was also considering going full time in Christian ministry. I didn't understand the comment of one panelist then who said something like, "Oh perhaps this one's going to be a missionary too!"

Maybe LJM's leadership made even the senior editors of Inquirer sensitive to faith issues. Another panelist even asked me to elaborate about my faith. I can't remember who he was now but I found out later that he, too, is a follower of Jesus.

These anecdotes may seem tangential, but I guess I just want to thank LJM for keeping God in the PDI newsroom. My ministry story could have gone a different path without this key element.

Of course I still believe in God's sovereignty. If He wills that I serve Him in the campus work, it will come to pass. But the road towards that reality became easier as He allowed all the pieces to fall into place-- and I believe these include LJM as PDI's EIC.

Her legacy in toppling down a dictator and unseating another corrupt president will be remembered by many. And in my own small story, I will remember LJM as among God's instruments in my journey towards serving Him full-time in the student ministry.
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  1. Very interesting. Didn't know about this before. Thanks, Pau!