Photo taken during the NEC and National Council courtesy meeting with then-General Santos Mayor Luwalhati Antonino sometime in 1995. Partly hidden was Cherry Clemente, then the Guild’s Committee for the Protection of Campus Journalist chairperson and later on, as secretary general.

Years ago, someone told me that Felix Randy P. Malayao is the “best president CEGP never had.” Maybe.

But for many, and most of us will agree, with or without the title, Randy is Randy. Randy was Randy. He touched many lives as he served, mentored, taught and loved us.

For me, his friend, comrade and brother (We called each other ‘tol), there are always good stories to tell about of what we’ve shared and nurtured for many years, especially when we were in the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) or Guild.

First, based on my recollection I met Randy at the staff house of CEGP in Silencio. I was new with the Guild in 1993 and became a member of the Media Bureau. Before meeting him, I heard many stories about Randy. He was known as the “tall, dark and handsome” Guilder and one of the organization’s “Crush ng Bayan”.

Totoo namang guwapo at malakas ang dating at charisma ni Randy. But we know he was more than that. He was very intelligent, articulate, principled, creative and very “culturatic”, known for his good voice in singing, a good dancer and passionate in making and directing impromptu presentations during various programs.

Randy almost became the Guild’s national president. Nalaman ko na noong 1993 Randy was the “official bet” of the CEGP National and its regional and provincial chapters as the next prexy. Ipagtataka pa ba iyon? He was a towering figure in the student movement then, who did not only organize the CEGP chapters in the Visayas but also of the League of Filipino Students (LFS).

They held the Guild’s National Congress in Boracay, Aklan. But during this time, the “split” and “debate” within the revolutionary Left were at its full swing. And since the Guild is a progressive organization of the open mass movement, it was not spared of the “Great Divide” of national organizations and its chapters.

Umaatikabo na ang debate at nagsimula na ang pakikipaghiwalay ng Metro Manila chapters or formations sa mother organizations nito. Nangyari ito sa mga national student organizations. Nagkakagulo na rin sa mga big schools na tinatawag.

But the national leadership of the Guild was ready. Knowing that some of the Metro-Manila Rizal publications will separate from the Guild and create another organization as counterpart of CEGP, it initiated a resolution making the MMR chapter under its direct supervision and leadership. As expected some MMR publications had protested. But the resolution was adopted by the CEGP National Congress (the highest decision-making body of the org) and eventually formed the CEGP Metro Manila-Rizal Council. However, that action of the NEC would later produce a scenario which was costly for the organization as it affected the Guild’s election of the National Executive Committee or NEC in 1993.

Randy was the only candidate for the Guild’s presidency. And according to the Guild’s Commission on Election’s rules and regulations Randy must get the minimum votes to win. Heto na ang comedy ng mga pangyayari. Akala ng mga taga-Comelec na ang ¾ votes of the publications in attendance ay mas maliit kaysa sa simple majority na 50% plus 1. Kaya they decided na ¾ votes ng pubs in attendance ang dapat na makuha. (Ang paliwanag ay sorry at bobo raw sila sa Math noong binabalikan na ito ng kwentuhang puno ng alaskahan at tawanan). May nagaganap na debate kaya inaasahan na marami ring naapektuhan. Hindi naabot ang boto para kay Randy para maging presidente ng Guild. At base sa Constitution and By-Laws ng Guild, in case of failure of elections, the current president, who was Teddy at that time, should have his hold-over leadership.

In 1994, I was elected national president of the Guild. This was when the National Council, the second highest policy-making body of the Guild, had decided to hold a special national congress to conduct elections and set the organization’s general program of action.

Randy played a big role in that successful congress. The “debate” and “split” within the revolutionary and progressive movements were still ensuing. It was there when editors of members-publications who wanted to reestablish the MMR chapter and create its own national organization of student publications held their last hurrah. I was the MMR Council Councilor for Organizing.

Learning from the mistakes and weaknesses in the Boracay national congress, we strategized and tacticised how to establish the new NEC. Every night we held meetings to know if we have the numbers. We did it by approaching member-publications and asked them who they thought have the potentials, sincerity and capabilities to lead the Guild. Randy, as the current Vice President for Visayas , would proudly report that we have mustered enough numbers in the island. Actually, solid daw ang buong Visayas.

The last night before the elections, Randy together with other NC members (the regional and provincial officers of the Guild) had suggested to me that they would be block voting to register our strength. But I politely told them not to do it and let the members-publications all around the country to individually register their choices and vote in the name of transparency and fair play.

We won! And those people who wanted to separate from the Guild walked out as I and the rest of the new NEC were taking our oath of office. Earlier, one of them even volunteered to become a member of the Comelec.

Leading a big national organization like CEGP is a herculean task. Members of student publications are known as the “brightest, most popular and the cream of the crop” of their respective universities and colleges. And to lead the org, one must command respect. And to get their respect, one must always study and warmly be with them in their struggles and provide what they needed. Kailangan din maimpressed mo sila at kung bakit silang “cream of the crop” ng kanilang mga pamantasan at kolehiyo ay dapat naming pamunuan. Natatandaan ko pa na noong nasa Cebu at nagbigay kami ng mga trainings at discussions ay may lumapit sa akin at sinabing bilib sila sa amin kung bakit nalalaman namin ang tungkol sa hot money, portfolio investment, GNP, GDP at iba gayong di naman kami Economics or Accountancy majors or students.

We, in the NEC believed that as leaders of the organization, we were not just officers who give trainings, discussing socio-political issues, leading them in our struggle for press freedom and genuine democracy but to set good examples to the National Council officers and member-publications. We were also their “colleagues” and “servants” words that would guide us until the end of our terms. Maliban sa pag-preside ng mga pulong, kami rin ang naghahanda ng kanilang pagkain at nagliligpit ng mga ito pagkatapos sa bawat pagpupulong kaya ganito rin ang ipinapamalas nila sa kanilang mga lokal na kongreso at meetings. As activists in the Guild, we must also practice “simpleng pamumuhay at puspusang pakikibaka”. Randy was always one of those in our ranks who would observe and practice this principle. He lived a proletarian life while being supported by many from all walks of life. He shared whatever he had. One story was when he gave half of the remaining money he had when a delegate from Northern Luzon could not go home after a press convention. He accordingly said “Hati tayo sa pera ko ha pero utang ito at sisingilin ko kayo kapag pumunta ako sa probinsya ninyo.” But of course, hindi na naningil pa si Randy. But as promised, pumunta siya sa probinsya ng mga Guilders.

During NC meetings, national conventions and student press congresses, we gave the finest rooms possible for delegates to comfortably stay while we the officers almost every time slept wherever spaces we could find. (Our budget were very tight and we wanted to avoid deficits.) I could remember during the National Convention in Silang, Cavite in 1997, I was sleeping with my malong when and I woke up hearing Guilders looking for me since they were leaving after our successful activity. Hiyang-hiya ako dahil natutulog ako sa stage kasama ang iba pang NEC officers at hindi nila alam na nandun ako. One of those who were looking for me was this beautiful Guilder, she became Miss Davao yata. Napilitan akong bumangon para harapin sila. Siyempre nagulat sila. Walang mumog at hindi ko alam kung ano ang aking itsura. Para akong natutunaw noon habang kausap sila.

During my first term, we appointed Randy as the Guild’s deputy secretary general. He was really outstanding in organizing. This was the reason as Tyrone Velez of Davao would narrate in his homage to Randy that he was appointed as the National Organizing Committee (NOC) chair to organize the 1995 National Press Convention. It was very successful. Maliban sa na-assessed naming problema at reklamo ng delegates tungkol sa “maalat na tubig” in the Samal island (the venue), there were no big issues. We were really laughing hard during the assessment. Nakantiyawan namin ng husto si Randy.

Huling national activity rin ni Randy ang National Convention sa Samal Island, Davao noong 1995. Sa kaniyang pamamaalam sa amin, marami ang humagulgol habang kinakanta ang “Walang Hanggang Paalam” ni Joey Ayala. One of our favorite songs at laging inaalay na kanta sa papapaalis na lider ng organisasyon. Of course bilang alay niya sa amin, kinanta naman niya ang “ You’ve Got To Do More Than That” ang kaniyang “signature song” bilang salamin ng kaniyang pandaigdigang pakikipagkaisa sa lahat ng nagdarahop, inaapi ngunit lumalabang mamamayan ng mundo. Sinserong panawagan din itong kumilos at hindi magkasya bilang “tagapagmasid” or ‘chroniclers of history”. Ngunit paalala rin sa aming mga Guilders sa aming motto na “To write is already to choose” at gumawa ng hakbang para sa ibayo pang paglilingkod at pagsasakripisyo.

After I996, I terribly missed Jaz Lumang, Randy, Raymund B Villanueva, Bencyrus Gerona Ellorin, Vince Borneo and other NC members. Matagal din kaming nagsama na nagpalakas at nagpalawak sa Guild sa ilalim ng pamumuno namin. Sa totoo lang, NC meetings pa lang sa panahon namin ay parang pambansang kongreso na sa dami ng delegado.

The highlight of my second term was the drafting of the Guild’s summing-up. May pagsisikap na noon pang 1994 para sa paglalagom o summing up. But it was not an easy process. Intense but principled debates and discussions were present during meetings. As one of the Guild’s officers, who I respected so much, would at one meeting quip, “ Naassessed na i-aassess pa.”

In summing-up, we persevered to know the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, to draw lessons from them and to guide our future. In doing so, we conducted criticism and self-criticism and thus exposed us, how painful they may be, to our organizational and individual shortcomings and mistakes. But it also gave us the chance to improve our style of work, rectify our errors to grow and further advance.

But how Randy contributed to this summing-up even if he was not active in the Guild anymore after 1995 was this story which until now give me goosebumps.

It was in 1997, the last National Council Meeting of the Guild before my term would expire. It was held near Ultra in Pasay City. I was tasked to write the Guild’s summing-up from 1931 to 1998. This was now known as the CEGP’s History, published in Kartilya, the Guild’s political journal.

While I was in my room reviewing the documents, Randy suddenly appeared. I was so happy seeing him and hugged him tightly. It was surreal. Weeks before I dreamt of this scene. The same look of the room, Randy’s smile when he entered and even the clothes he wore that day. It was de javu. Was it because I terribly missed Randy and the gang?

After some pleasantries, I told Randy about the summing-up and I already wrote some drafts to be presented to the NC members. He read it and we discussed the drafts intently. He agreed with the main points and recommended some to improve the paper, including the lessons to be drawn from the Guild’s long and rich history.

After this, he said ”Kumusta?” He knew that my second term as president was nearly ending. “Hinihintay ka na namin doon. Kilala ka nila at nadagdagan pa interes nila dahil kinukuwento kita lagi.” What Randy was telling me were our comrades in the Ilocos Sur-Cordillera region. After the Guild, he started organizing peasants in the countryside. He was convincing me to join him since I’m a full-blooded Ilocano since my mother and father both originated from Ilocos Sur. I told him I would seriously think about it. Later on after my term, I instead joined the militant labor movement to his delight and congratulated me with my decision.

Paalam Randy! You will be surely and sorely missed. Nagpupugay ako sa iyo bilang kapatid, kasama, kaibigan, Guilder at kapwa nagnanais ng kapayapaan, katarungan, kaunlaran at ganap na kalayaan sa ating lipunan. Magpapatuloy kami sa anumang paraan para sa mga mamamahayag, masa at bayan. Maraming salamat at walang katapusang pagsaludo. ###

Written by Prestoline Suyat, CEGP National President, 1994. Originally posted on his Facebook account.

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