My father Emmanuel “Anol” Mongaya, age 61, passed away on July 8, 2022, at 12:08 a.m. He had been in a coma for two days after suffering a serious stroke, which was his third in three years, amidst a longstanding battle with a lingering heart disease.
Anol, born on December 18, 1960, was the eldest son of the late Eleodoro “Doroy” Mongaya Sr., editor-in-chief of Cebu Daily Times in the 1970s, and Fortunata “Mom Nats” Mongaya. Anol was a loving husband to Doris; father to Karlo Mikhail, Andre Sandino, Alya Simone, Natasha Nicole, and Azalea Gabrielle; and grandfather to Giap Aleksandra. Anol is remembered by his Mongaya siblings as the trusty eldest brother who was always ready to listen and extend help to a family member in need. He never passed up an opportunity to grace the big family gatherings at the ancestral home in B. Rodriguez that always feature lechon.
Along with stalwarts of the anti-dictatorship movement in Cebu like Fr. Rudy Romano, Anol helped organize the Coalition Against People’s Persecution (CAPP) and the Nagkahiusang Sugbo Alang sa Demokrasya (NASUD) which were the precursor to the local chapter of progressive activist network Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). He subsequently worked with the social action office of the Redemptorist in Cebu.
But as the country moved on from the “years of living dangerously” after the fall of the dictatorship, Anol decided to become a journalist, following in the footsteps of his father. After his stint as correspondent and reporter for different press agencies up to the early 1990s, Anol would settle down to work for Sun.Star Daily Cebu. In 1994, he became managing editor of the popular Cebuano-language newspaper Superbalita. When he availed early retirement two decades later, he had helped build the paper to become the widest circulated daily in the southern Philippines.
My father’s colleagues reminisces about his work as a journalist in a recent issue of Cebu-based magazine Cebu Journalism and Journalists. One of his achievements is his being one of the pioneers of a journalism that attained real mass appeal, embodied the sensibility of the Cebuano, and spoke the language of the streets. Papa used to bring me to the Superbalita newsroom as a kid and even then I already saw that journalism was his life’s vocation to which he devoted his time and effort.
In the year 2000, Anol co-founded with his wife Doris the public relations firm PRWorks Inc. With his retirement in 2010, he shifted full-time to work with the firm even as he continued writing regular columns for local dailies. His enthusiasm for blogging, online communities, and digital media made it a persistent challenge for him to think of ways to maximize these new technologies for political, media, and marketing campaigns.
Papa was a friend to many in his long journey as a veteran journalist and champion of press freedom, public relations practitioner, active online community netizen, and anti-dictatorship activist. Until the very end, he was in the thick of things with his political and media projects.
On hindsight, the kind of life he led as a journalist and public relations practitioner also took a toll on the family as the drive for exclusive scoops and beating deadlines meant less time for us. Still it was Papa’s passion to be in the thick of things in search of news stories, his dedication to impart facts about historical events as they happened that influenced me to dabble in some writing and to take an interest in Philippine history, culture and media studies.
Rest in Peace now, Papa. We will always miss you.