Interviewing Romy P. Borje

It’s been said that no people on earth are more fearful and anxious than the members of the press, when they are written about.

Think about why doctors are known to be impossible patients and why pilots panic when they’re the passengers.

Journalists spend their lifetime exacting information from people. When the tables are turned, they could be petrified.

Not Mr. Borje.  He knows everybody, goes everywhere and misses nothing — even after dark.

In his 50 years of reporting, he has described scenes and people most popular to us.

His easy, humane reporting has taken him to places and heights far removed from his younger colleagues.

He is a lovable, gentle teddy-bear humorist and  columnist, when he hosts a program, much more a man of wit and words than fists.

At a certain age he is still in perpetual motion — he sings, dances, emcees, edits, makes speeches and jokes.

His favorite mantra is: “One must open men’s eyes, not tear them out;  never hurt other people’s feelings.”

He doesn’t draw blood, he doesn’t assail. He analyzed, reflected, appreciated, mentored, hosted and advised during our interview.

He simply jumped around, as most of us do when asked open – ended questions. For the sake of clarity, we sometimes deem it necessary to put more order into the answers — careful not to destroy the beauty and color of the language.

How many ways can you measure a word? He could defend a decision in a dialogue with Socrates.

The word zest came to mind.  I asked him: “Sir, I notice you’re always sitting, is it because you can’t think on your feet?  He replied: “It is always hard for me to stand up…under the weight, of all that I know.”

He is prideful with his promiscuous dialogs, insidious juxtapositions and pre-emptive obfuscations. He deploys words like smithereens, apostates, exemplar and lapidary.

Freighted with ignorance, I paused to quarrel or to smile at how he assembles a paragraph in his windblown pages.

He is disappointed by political, noisy and chaotic lives and troublemaking back home.  “I can understand the occasional necessity to execute the pork barrel people, but never  to hurt their feelings…that is why it is necessary constantly to scribble,” he said.  This is his dreamy optimism.

“Mr. Borje, what makes a good interviewer?,”  I asked.

“[He/she] must be naturally curious, persistent; [he/she] must love asking questions and listen intently,”  he replied.

“Can these qualities be acquired?,” I continued.

“ It comes with the territory. An expert prepares a list of questions  but must know when to shift gears.  A reporter has little idea of how his expertly prepared questions will be answered. Politeness and civility work better than hostility…the adversarial approach may be good  for the soul, but bad for the story.”

His advice:  “Journalists should be free to ask the questions they like, in the way they like.”

OnTuesday evening, in a brilliant event attended by colleagues, friends and admirers in the Fil-Am community, Senator Leland Lee awarded Mr. Borje in recognition of his 50 years of service to the community and his excellence in journalism.

In a sit-down dinner hosted by flamboyant Atty. Alma Luna Reyes at the Huntington Harbor Yacht Club, Maestro Robert Shroder of the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) and internationally-renowned Hollywood singer Adam Jona performed and changed the evening’s complexion — amid the blinding lights (for total effect) by The Philippine Press Photographers (PPP-USA).

After his acceptance speech (culminated with a song) I ran to the podium and I gave him a great hug and a maiden peck. His glasses came down a bit on his nose.

I think I may have embarrassed Mr. Borje. But I’m so glad, I did it!

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