(Kontribusyon ni atticus)

Her glare is as famous as her hair style (or lack thereof). She can give you a dressing down if you interviewed her unprepared, just hoping to get a byline without real interest. She’d patiently give you answers explaining the process, if that’s what you’re after. She’s a teacher after all. She’d enjoy questions that would make her think. But if you’re just out to satisfy an editor waiting for your story at the desk, you’ll go home with your tail between your legs, and a one-liner you will have a hard time living down the rest of your life.

Aside from Haydee Yorac, the other who made me study the law and the issues of the day was Francis Garchitorena.

They’re both gone now.

As a snot-nosed, college dropout reporter, I covered Haydee during her stint as chief government negotiator with the rebel soldiers. I got a taste of her glare when I cornered her in the elevator to get a soundbite, along with my very worried cameraman. I didn’t know a stare can cause heat from head to foot. But after the glare, she answered a few questions, with an admonition to wait for her scheduled presscon next time. I guess she knew I was just out to make an honest living.

She was shaking hands with fugitive soldiers, and the headline pictures the following day had her with her mouth wide open, seemingly yelling at someone. She was yelling at us. “Tama na! Sobra nang photo opp ito. Tama na” (This is too much of a photo opp. Enough!) What was not shown was everyone laughing afterwards, even Haydee.

Her Comelec was one of the most credible. If she were the Comelec chief, you won’t have a “Hello Garci” tape, and there won’t be a “Hello Haydee” tape, either.

What made me admire her was her uncompromising love of country and the law. She lived a simple life and worked like hell to help out.

Haydee Yorac was a rare human being. She was a blessing you wish there were more of. We need more like her. She was a woman we all can be proud of. (I am tempted to compare her with the woman currently in Malacanang, but a rat should not be sharing space with Haydee)

Paalam, Ma’am Haydee.

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