But Madam Mary says DF genuinely wants to give his children a chance. “There are times when some people are trying to make arrangements with him, but he would say that it’s the children whom they should talk to.” She says she doesn’t have a problem with his children taking control and believes that DF will still be “with and for Panay News through and through.”
She says her support to Daniel II is “all-out,” especially to the latter’s plans that veer away from, even attempt to completely overhaul, the paper’s traditional operations. “Daniel II implements plans in consultation with his siblings and the family as well, so all-out [support] ako d’yan.”
Madam Mary strongly believes that her son can pull off his planned innovations, which include the further improvement of the Editorial Department. “The Editorial should definitely be the one carrying the name of the paper,” she says.
She hopes the editors and reporters would focus more on civic journalism, on “stories of the underdogs, the small-time people … ’yong mga hindi pa naririnig (those whom we haven’t heard about yet).” This desire gives an impression that Madam Mary did not become part of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Press Institute, the national organization of newspapers, by mere chance: Civic journalism is the Institute’s thrust.
This, she says, along with “just doing factual reporting,” will help Panay News dodge libel cases, which the paper has courted over the years with its “adversarial” brand of journalism, as what DF would call it.
“I don’t like that,” Madam Mary says of any one-sided and personality-centered reporting that make their way to Panay News’ pages. “Whatever comes now, it will all depend on you (the editors) and whoever is in Editorial.” When the “adversarial” style is replaced, “mawawalan tayo ng (we can get rid of) libel cases.”
DF takes pride in surviving the libel cases he faced. All the way, Madam Mary was there for him. At first, she was worried. But she fondly recalls someone telling her, “Mary, hayaan mo na si Danny, alam na niya ang ginagawa niya (Mary, just let Danny be, he knows what he’s doing).” And she laughs again, more heartily this time.
She is the Fajardos’ hearth — particularly for DF — especially when the family faces challenges. “A mother would always put her children first,” she says in Hiligaynon, giving a hint on how she handled things when the family was settling on who PN’s lead manager should be. “I have shed enough tears. But now I am comfortable and happy [with how things are]. I was there the whole time to show my support [to all of them], and I think DF has seen that. He would always turn to me. It’s me whom he is most comfortable with.”
Her motherly concern extending to the paper’s journalists, Madam Mary also enthuses about having a “new breed” of Editorial staffers. “Not necessarily younger, but they should be tested journalists,” she says.
As to what keeps her busy now, Madam Mary says, jokingly albeit with a tinge of seriousness, “I’m busy … sleeping.” And there goes the hearty laugh again. She goes on to tell me about her recent trip with DF in Manila and how they do about in their other house in Cavite, and bonding with her grandchildren and her siblings-in-law.
Madam Mary never thought about what kind of life they would have had without Panay News but hints that she may have focused on religious work. “Kon wala ang Panay News? I don’t know. But I have always been a Jehovah’s Witness, and I will do what a Jehovah’s Witness does: spreading the good news that Jehovah is God.”
Asked how she and DF would want to be remembered, she did not hesitate. “DF wants to be remembered as the Lapsus King,” she says. “Ako, I don’t want people to remember me, because I’m just a speck of dust among so many. What I dream is my God will remember me.” And she smiles, wide, making her eyes squint./PN