Benny and Obama
Baguio’s multi-awarded journalist Frank Cimatu is pitching in this tribute to his long-time neighbor, the late Atty. Benedicto Carantes. Cimatu is the editor of Baguio Chronicle).
Every Thursday at the private road of New Lucban, Baguio City, the whole neighborhood would start hearing the clacking of a typewriter at noon.
Those in the know knew it was the deadline for manong Benny’s column in Baguio Midland Courier.
It was a short burst of typographic gunfire, maybe an hour at most.
I was thinking then, wow, manong Benny could type his column so fast.
It was only about five years ago when I realized it was manang Minda who was typing (and editing) it.
I haven’t asked the editors of the Courier if someone dared edit manong Benny’s columns. But of course, his wife Minda had all the rights to do it. She was, after all, a college English teacher in Saint Louis University.
Then manang Minda suffered from cancer about five years ago and the typing stopped.
When manang Minda died, manong Benny, who retired as the lawyer of Benguet Electric Cooperative, had decided to spend most of his days outside his house and just at the parking lot.
He placed a table and did all of his stuff there. He brought out his TV and if you’re lucky, he would call you for lunch. But mostly he would just sit there and read his pocketbooks and listen to classical music.
On Thursdays, he would bring out his yellow legal pad and write his column. He would start in the morning after reading his newspapers and then on till lunch.
He would ask his driver to bring his column to Midland.
He never missed a deadline just like his former editor, the late Cecile Afable.
His Opposite Connection column was always there for about 50 years.
I have not written on a yellow pad but I think I have about five pads somewhere in the house.
Domc, my late brother, wrote on a yellow legal pad and occasionally on a pink legal pad.
But the yellow legal pad that the Americans used was different from what we have in the Philippines. Theirs are shorter and more yellow.
I remembered Nestor U. Torre also writing on a yellow pad in his lonely glass cage at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. For someone who practically wrote a fourth of all the entertainment news in the paper at that time, that meant a lot of yellow legal pads.
Torre died last year of Covid-19 complications.
As it turned out, a lot of people still wrote on yellow pads.
It was in the 1800s when someone in Massachusetts decided to do something about the scrap paper pieces called sortings and turned them into small notepads. It became a success but still, no one knew why they chose yellow and why it stayed that way.
Some said that black ink on yellow provided the strongest visual impact. Also, because yellow stimulates mental activity.
Former United States President Barrack Obama wrote his recent book, The Promised Land, by hand using a yellow legal pad.
Other members of the Yellow Pad Club were Truman Capote, Maya Angelou, and Elmore Leonard.
Manong Benny read Leonard and probably learned about his writing habit.
His sons gifted him with an iPad but manong Benny never used to write his columns. He used it to have Zoom with his grandchild. So endearing to see him in his last days making funny faces at the iPad.
Technology indeed caught up with manong Benny but the thinking still had to be done by hand.