IT was my first week as a reporter of the defunct Today newspaper when I got introduced to a chief executive who either thought journalists covering her event should walk away with cash or that slipping money to reporters ensures the story gets published.
But the CEO was stupid enough to ask the reporter sign a cash voucher, a proof he or she was greased.
Joseph Ramos, then a staff of a press relations firm handling the CEO's firm, got the hot end of the rod when my editor-in-chief, that time Jose M. Galang Jr., sent a letter by facsimile to Joseph's boss protesting the CEO's egregious behavior.
That was how Joseph and I became friends.
He was very apologetic and I can't help but sympathize with somebody who exuded such sincerity.
I still have a copy of my editor's letter but the incident crops up only as a laughing matter when Joseph and I chanced upon each other, especially at Pasay B of Makati Shangri-la Hotel.
Joseph was really affected by that incident but can't do anything about it since the company of that CEO remained their client up until he left the PR agency years ago.
Last month, a colleague of him told me Joseph put up an Internet cafe and focused on raising his kids. And his farm in Facebook, most of his friends in the industry may say.
The last time Joseph and I met was when I covered the same CEO's annual awarding event.
But she has stopped the practice of making reporters sign a receipt. At least, her staff neither asked me to sign a paper in exchange for something or give me anything aside from press materials.
As professional as he was, Joseph didn't take it against me for reporting the incident to my editor and for my editor's letter.
He even tried to appease me by treating me and Cathy Llanes to an open-air bar grill in Mandaluyong where I think he acquired the hepatitis strain.
I told him many times that night to lay off on the inihaw na pusit but the conversation was so animated we forgot how extra-rubbery the pulutan was.
The bright side of that illness was he was able to stop smoking and drinking beer, things most male PR I know do as part of their work.
But Joseph is different; he's a unique breed of PR man.
From out of the blue, he would call to pitch a story or event. But never did he press me for having failed to attend such event or for not seeing the story published.
He remained a Sancho Panza to the Don Quixotes of the media: ever reliable but one of the good people to journey with in this world gone mad.
Farewell, good sir, and good night.