“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” J.K. Rowling
By Alex P. Vidal
Eduardo “Edddie” G. Laczi was already a household name in the 80’s and Ilonggos fell in love with his advocacy in his pro-poor “Ikaw Kabuhi Ko” program on Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) TV-12 where he was station manager during the Marcos era.
I had the opportunity to serve briefly the late very popular broadcast media personality not during his salad days in the now sequestered IBC TV-12, but during his stint at the Iloilo City Council in the early 90s.
It was then Vice Mayor Dr. Guillermo “Doc Guiling” dela Llana who “hired” me with a specific task to write speeches for the two city bigwigs very dear to him: Laczi and Atty. Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, now the incumbent vice mayor of Iloilo City.
I was initially hesitant to accept the job since it would mean a conflict of interest, being one of the founding officers of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps (ICHPC) in 1993. But after Doc Guiling explained the parameters of my tasks for the two aldermen, we inked the deal.
Because both Laczi and Espinosa III chaired powerful committees and needed to collaborate with Dela Llana on the legislative branch’s budget and appropriations, their hands were full. They were also active officers of private organizations engaged in charity works and community assistance–Laczi with the Lions Club and Espinosa III with the Rotary Club.
I ended up writing their speeches for these clubs, among their other private duties and functions, and helping their staff draft resolutions and ordinances.
Despite wearing two hats at the same time, I did not renege on my obligation as a journalist. When the Royal London Circus controversy erupted in 1993, I joined my fellow beat reporters in writing critical articles and lambasted the entire members of the city council — including Vice Mayor Dela Llana, Laczi and Espinosa.
We thought it was a moral obligation to inform the public that the city government did not benefit when the local legislature approved a resolution giving tax breaks for the globetrotting international performers who amassed gargantuan profits in entertaining the Ilonggos for several weeks at the vacant space of the Iloilo Diversion Road.
The furor created a whirlpool of disgust and disenchantment between media and city officials; and, for a while, seared their otherwise cordial relationship.
Instead of slamming the door on us, Laczi, a veteran broadcast TV journalist during the Marcos years, cautioned his colleagues, especially the impatient Councilor Rolando Dabao, “not to be onion-skinned as they are only doing their job.” In face of imminent embarrassment and public censure after being severely assailed in media, Laczi could afford to show a soft spot for his former peers in the industry that made him a public icon.
Aside from Laczi, four other incumbent city councilors at that time were also former members of the Fourth Estate: the late Suzanne Pastrana (Laczi’s subordinate in IBC 12), the late Melchor Nava, Dr. Perla S. Zulueta (Laczi’s partner in the IBC 12 newscast), and Restituto “Agent Kurantay” Jotis.
Laczi and former city legal chief, Atty. Jose Junio Jacela, who was also city councilor at that time, asked my publisher Marcos Villalon, their colleague in the Lions Club, to invite me as member before his three terms in the city council expired in 2001.
Our colleague, Florence “Enciang” Hibionada, who visited Laczi in the hospital in Connecticut, USA two weeks earlier, broke the news of Laczi’s demise in Facebook: “Rest In Peace Boss. EAGLELOVE SIGNING OFF. A phrase that once meant he is done for the day is back again, yet this time telling us he is really done.
“Eduardo G. Laczi, the only man I call ‘Boss’ has passed on. After about two years of cancer battle, word came today that Boss is ‘gone.’ Tomorrow this world is one less good man whose life has amazingly touched and reached out to countless others.
“All battles need not be won. Sometimes, like this time, it is more than enough to have put up a good fight. And so I share this few words to all who care to read, asking for prayers that in this most difficult and hurting of time, the entire Laczi family be comforted. That his wife, Tita Fatima and children Sal, Don, Ian and Nina find strength. That those who had wronged him particularly the time he served the Iloilo City Government be sorry, and find in their hearts and conscience to pray hardest for forgiveness.
“Boss has made me the journalist that I am now, or at least the good journalist in me. He knew I was going to love being one even before I realize I could be one. For that and all that he is in my life, I am forever grateful. Rest In Peace Boss.”
According to veteran radioman and now US-based Leo Dumagat, Laczi made his official “sign off” at around 1:45 in the afternoon New York time last Oct. 27. Farewell, sir Ed. I’ll write a speech for you again in heaven. Fly and soar high, the Eagle!