My father, the late Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople, spoke highly of his boss and dear friend, Don Emilio Yap. From time to time, my father would go over to see the chairman of Manila Bulletin Corporation at his office in the PPL Building in Manila, partaking of the latter’s healthy lunch. A chain-smoker, Ka Blas lit cigarettes wherever and whenever he pleased, except when he was in front of Don Emilio. It was a sign of respect, a gesture of profound friendship that this stubborn, nicotine-addicted columnist chose to bestow upon his long-time boss and close personal friend.I, myself, have been the recipient of Don Emilio’s generosity. When I was accepted by the Kennedy School of Government as a mid-career student, my tuition fee came up short, thus jeopardizing my chances of getting in. It was Chairman Yap that completed the package, knowing how much it meant to my father to see me get in that prestigious school. This is why I will always be forever grateful to Mr. Yap and to his family, for making me his personal scholar.
When my father passed away, I thought the ties would end there, which would have been perfectly understandable. But that was not to be, as Mr. Yap invited me to take over my father’s column space in Panorama Magazine. It was an honor that to this very day makes me wistful for the kind of deep friendship that both men had. Again, I was witness and benefactor of said relationship.
When I had the opportunity to tag along with my father when he visited Don Yap, I observed how softly the boss spoke, and how congenial he was with everyone. He was quite proud of his awards and a gallery of photos showed an abundance of visitors from the political, diplomatic and governance spheres. Yet, his generosity extends all the way to charities of all kinds, to victims of calamities and natural disasters, and to causes he found truly wonderful.
He also had a good sense of humor. Our Christmas many years ago became particularly cheerful because Don Emilio sent us a tall, dancing mechanical Santa Claus! My father had so much fun showing it off to his grandkids. I remember Don Yap would also send over herbal candies when he heard my father was sick.Chairman Emilio Yap will always be remembered as that generous philanthropist/gentleman-publisher. For us in the Ople family, his passing is a source of grief as well as comfort. His many friends including my father would undoubtedly be waiting for him in the other side. Still, I really felt sad when I heard that he had passed on. Good guys like him are rare in the corporate world. Don Emilio believed in his newspaper, and all other publications under his care. It was not just a paper for economic and political convenience. This was the paper that he read from front page to the obituary section, and he cared for everything that it contained.
In that sense, we have lost a real newspaperman in Don Emilio Yap. I am optimistic that members of his family, some of whom trained directly under him, shall carry the torch of generosity and professionalism that the chairman was known, loved, and respected for.
Maraming, maraming salamat, Don Emilio. Paalam.
Panorama Link: Generosity personified