By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
From the beat: Gerry writes 30
Updated: Jan 2, 2022
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I have always associated this Dylan Thomas poem with my longtime friend and colleague Gerry Partido. I sometimes think he authored it. Gerry casually blurted it out when I consulted him on the title of an article I had just written. We were both editors at Marianas Variety then.
Gerry, or “Parts” as we fondly called him in the newsroom, was one of the most literate people I knew. Without any tinge of pomposity, he would slip literary references or cite authors into casual conversations. For Gerry, literature was a way of life.
He was an unapologetic bohemian, surrounded by books that packed his tiny apartment in Tamuning. They were his friendly companions during the months of Covid lockdown and reclusion.
Tasking myself to write his obituary was intimidating. Where do I even begin? I wasn’t sure I could do him justice.
I was stupefied when my friend Louella Losinio, Gerry’s longtime partner, called in the early morning of New Year’s Eve. Gerry is gone, she said, sobbing.
It was unexpected. He managed to call 911. No, he wasn’t going to give up that easy. There were more stories to write, more books to read.
When the first responders came, it was too late. Gerry, 56, had died from cardiac arrest. He tested positive for Covid-19, the treacherous enemy we are all trying to dodge and the story he had been covering for nearly two years.
A sad twist of fate, Gerry’s last byline appeared on a Covid story for the Pacific News Center, where he worked as a digital editor. One of Guam’s finest journalists, Gerry was married to this thankless profession until his last breath.
In the pseudo newsroom forcibly created by the pandemic, Gerry was the epitome of what work-from-home can achieve. He covered virtual press conferences and single-handedly produced the PNC digital edition on a daily basis, writing four to five stories with deadline-driven stamina. He called himself an “armchair journalist.” Yet, he took pride in scooping the rest of us. Whoever takes his place has a big shoe to fill.
Gerry studied journalism at the University of the Philippines, a state-run institution that produces the nation’s intellectuals and elected officials.
We both were part of the Philippines’ first generation of post-martial law reporters in the late 1980s, when the country was navigating its newfound freedom after emerging from Ferdinand Marcos’ 14 years of dark rule.
We were working for different publications, which at the time had newsrooms that pumped out the news with the ticky-tock-ticky-tock of old-fashioned typewriters.
Gerry was a business reporter for the Philippine Star. We met at the National Press Club, the hub for Manila’s news creatures who lingered through the night, rewarding ourselves with post-deadline drinks after turning in our last story for the day.
In 1992, Gerry moved to Guam to join his mother, the late Cory Partido, who was then an editor at the Pacific Daily News. Gerry worked for the Guam Tribune. In 1997, he worked as a Guam correspondent for the Marianas Variety-CNMI and became a full-time reporter-editor for Marianas Variety-Guam edition in 2003. He was the managing editor of the Guam Daily Post before joining PNC.
Gerry worked quietly, unperturbed by the noise in the newsroom and comforted by a stash of junk food in his desk drawers. He was a congenial man, who hardly got angry and hardly complained. But he minced no words during the rare times he spoke up against shenanigans.
Gerry was a free spirit with a Jack Kerouac sensibility. He was never attached to materialism. He was the kindest of souls who lived a life of substance, anchored on the printed word, music and the arts.
He wrote the weekly column “Island Stir” for Marianas Variety/Guam Daily Post, which examined local politics with a distinct voice, clarity and objectivity. His sharp mind and literary wealth would turn the most vapid subject into a provocative piece that would compel one to think.
Sadly, he wrote -30- too soon. But he had a life well-lived, a good story well-told on the road.
Now, go gentle into that good night, Gerry.