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Veteran journalist Conrado de Quiros dies at 72

By NICK GARCIA Published Nov 07, 2023 8:45 am Updated Nov 07, 2023 7:04 pm

Veteran journalist and columnist Conrado de Quiros has passed away, his family announced on the evening of Nov. 6. He was 72.

“With profound sadness, we announce the passing of our brother, Conrado S. de Quiros,” his brother Paul De Quiros wrote in a Facebook post. “He will be greatly missed by our loving family and friends.”

“Conrad will remain in our hearts forever. Rock on in heaven, Choy,” he added.

De Quiros' daughter, in another post, said his wake will take place at the Loyola Memorial Chapels in Commonwealth, QC starting Nov. 8 at noon until Nov. 10.

"We’d like to invite his Ateneo classmates and Bicolano friends to join us tomorrow night (Nov. 8 and his media industry friends on Thursday night Nov 9," she wrote.

De Quiros was born on May 27, 1951.

He wrote the column “There’s the Rub” for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He started the column in the now-defunct Philippine Daily Globe in November 1987 before bringing it over to PDI in July 1991.

The columnist also wrote several books like Flowers from the Rubble: Essays on Life, Death and Remembering (1990), Dance of the Dunces (1991), Dead Aim: How Marcos Ambushed Philippine Democracy (1997), and Tongues on Fire (2007).

De Quiros is known to show his acerbic wit in his iconic column. During the State of the Nation Address of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2005, he said the “true” state of the nation is “a simple one,” a “case of good and bad, right and wrong, crime and punishment.”

He proceeded to fill his piece with “Hello Garci…,” in reference to the political scandal in which Arroyo allegedly rigged the 2004 national elections in her favor. An audio recording of her calling then-Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano made the rounds.

In his 2004 column, with the unorthodox, lengthy title “A list of the things this country may look forward to over the next six years, from 2004 to 2010, under the administration of President Fernando Poe Jr. and Vice President Noli de Castro,” De Quiros "wrote" an even more unorthodox commentary: He left the entire space blank à la Jose Garcia Villa’s The Emperor’s New Sonnet.

In a more solemn 2009 piece titled “Writer ka lang pala,” De Quiros reflected on how the job isn’t exactly as inferior as it seems, contrary to popular belief.

He wrote: "It is writers who routinely get to be charged with saying and not doing, of talking and not acting. It is writers who routinely get to be told: That’s all very fine, but when will you act?" he wrote. "It is the most astonishing thing because writing is acting. That is why we call it 'the act of writing,' because it is an act. And like physically ministering to the sick, it is a vital act. It is spiritually ministering to the sick, an act that is fraught with meaning, an act that is laden with consequence. When you write, you either cure or you do not. When you write, the world either lives or dies."


Tributes poured in for De Quiros on social media.

Ruben Carranza, an international human rights lawyer, called De Quiros “the influencer who deepened the thinking of everyone who read him, long before most influencers emerged and made influencing shallow.”

Glenda Gloria, co-founder and executive editor of Rappler, remembered the “rage and disquiet” De Quiros caused “when writing truth to power.”

“There will never be another one like you, Conrad,” Gloria said, adding he loved pinakbet and how her late husband, photojournalist Melvyn Calderon, brought him one during a visit. “Happy jamming up there, you two.”

Former senator Kiko Pangilinan said it’s an “honor and a privilege to have been a friend to an awe-inspiring, warrior journalist.”

“When you were stricken by ill health and ceased to write your columns, I would often say to myself, during crisis situations engulfing the nation,” Pangilinan said, “how I wish you were still healthy and strong and churning out your columns and incisive, hard-hitting commentary.”

He noted how De Quiros, “[a]midst the darkness that covered us as a nation and a people,” served as a torchbearer who “lit up the path and showed us the way forward.”

Sociology professor Walden Bello remembered De Quiros as someone “who always wrote the truth.”

Filmmaker Joey Reyes said De Quiros “wrote with laser-sharp precision, unafraid and unequivocal in his intentions and resolutions.”

“He shall not only be missed for his writings but for the strength of his person and his dignity as a man of letters,” Reyes said. “Thank you for the gift of your language and the integrity of your thoughts, Sir.”

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include excerpts of De Quiros's works and the tributes for him.)