Dear Kuya Lauro,
I had just arrived in Manila from a short trip to Mindanao when I received my editor’s message about your untimely death caused by heart attack. It was the first message I received upon turning my mobile phone on.
My first thought was that you would have probably wanted to come with us…had you learned that we were going to the MILF camp in Maguindanao. The next was that I just saw you smiling last week.
I couldn’t really remember but I bet you had asked me about when we’ll be going back to Samar.
It was an indeed unforgettable trip for us. Our road trip to Samar and Leyte last November was like no other. It was an opportunity to learn about what our brothers in Eastern Visayas experienced during the onslaught of Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” what they were going through after the tragedy, and what we could do to help them. It was perhaps one of the most difficult coverages I had been through, especially since I was just a new reporter then. But you made things easier for us.
You not only drove us to our destination but also made the trip worthwhile. You made us laugh during an otherwise depressing week. You made sure we had something to eat and were comfortable in our sleep.
When we found ourselves stranded in Guiuan with no place to go, your presence of mind and goodwill towards others saved us. Everywhere you went you made friends or found old friends who freely offered assistance. You even introduced me to other reporters, making sure I was never left out.
I only had the opportunity to work with you once, during that fateful trip to Visayas, but I understood what you meant when you said that a driver and a reporter needed to work well together. You were not just a driver to us, but also a guide and a reliable partner that served as our extra eyes and ears. You had your feet on the ground and a good nose for news.
I am sure you will be missed badly by those you have worked with. I pray that your family remains strong amid such trying times.
Bon voyage, Kuya Lauro. Wherever you are, I hope you are at peace. Remember us as you embark on your final road trip. We will miss your friendly banter and welcoming smile.
Mang Lauro worked as a driver for Radyo Inquirer 990AM / dzIQ