IT IS PROVIDENTIAL that my eldest brother Juan told me to enrol in typing and stenography when I was in fourth year high school. Otherwise, I would not be an agri journalist today. Yes, I am not kidding. I would not be an agri editor and writer that I have been in the past many years if I didn’t heed him.
How come? Well, my instructor happened to be a writer and he once showed me an article with his byline. I liked what I saw. I mean his byline in print and I was challenged. I told myself: Someday I will also have my own byline in print. From then on, to see my byline in print became my obsession.
NO MASSCOM COURSE IN U.P. – When I was ready to go to college, I went to the University of the Philippines in Diliman to pursue a Journalism course. However, to my great dismay, I found that there was no Journalism course offered. Anyway, I enrolled in Foreign Service, at the same time trying to learn some of the writing tricks from the Writer’s Digest that I bought from a stall selling old magazines from the US.
I finished my Foreign Service course in 1959 and in 1965, I passed the government exams for Cultural Attache. At that time I was already editor of the Farms & Gardens Magazine and agriculture editor of the Manila Chronicle.
KIKO’S OFFER INGORED – When the result of the civil service exams for Cultural Attache was published in our newspaper and my name was there, our Foreign Affairs reporter, Francisco de Leon, approached me and said: “Zac choose the foreign assignment you’d like and I will take care of that with Secretary Mauro Mendez.”
I was sure, Kiko de Leon was capable of doing what he said. But I just smiled and simply dismissed his suggestion. I was young, a bachelor, covering the least glamorous beat that no other reporter wanted. Why then did I not consider Kiko’s offer?
SEXY STARS AS DANCING PARTNERS – What was the most compelling reason? I was immensely enjoying the Saturday dancing parties held right at Chronicle Building. Tuding Guinto, our Entertainment editor, brought some of the sexiest movie stars as our dancing partners,
WORK SKED – Of course, I also liked the work schedule of an agri journalist and editor. I did not have to stay in the office from 8 to 5 as long as I can finish what I am supposed to accomplish.
GREATLY PLEASED WITH MY CHOICE – Thinking about my decision to stick to writing about Agriculture, I am thankful for what I chose. Had I become a diplomat, I would have long retired by now and nobody knows what could have happened to me. Today, at 83, I still love writing about farming and gardening, and I also enjoy growing my favorite exotic fruit trees, savouring their luscious fruits.