Taps for Cesar
BAGUIO-based journalist Cesar Reyes died of COVID-19 complications at 8:35 A.M. Tuesday at the Baguio General Hospital.
Reyes, a long-time Baguio correspondent for People’s Journal and People’s Tonight, was 62.
According to Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club President Aldwin Quitasol, Reyes had been comatose since May 22. He was rushed that day to the Baguio General Hospital because of his extremely low oxygen count.
Tuesday morning, his heart stopped beating and expired minutes later.
He was still able to file his last story last May 18 before he reached out for help the next day in his Facebook wall.He had been having on-and-off fever for the past week.
According to the City Health Office, Reyes was confined at BGH on May 10. Which means that he was still filing even while confined.
Reyes was described by colleagues as amiable, quiet and dependable. He was the past president of the Cordillera PNP Press Corps and current director of BCBC.
Reyes was a photojournalist for People’s Journal in Manila before transferring to Baguio in the middle of 2000s.
Before that he worked in the Middle East.
He is the first Baguio journalist to die of COVID-19 complications.
The Baguio media being one of the most vigorous in the country, also makes it very vulnerable to COVID-19.
In fact, the cases of journalists in Baguio who have been infected with COVID-19 already exceed the fingers on both of your hands.
We already have the highest rate of COVID infection among journalists in other regions.
The UNICEF has provided journalists their own guidelines which starts with the mantra: “Let us remember the Mantra: Our responsibilities are to cover news and not to become the news. We should not contribute to further spreading the Coronavirus or COVID-19. We not only have a responsibility towards ourselves but also to our families and society in general.”
The others include handwashing, distant recording (If a government spokesperson, senior official or minister is giving a statement, agree among yourselves to record them from at least six feet away.)
Try to stand without huddling. Better still, convince dignitaries to conduct digital press conferences with questions from journalists taken up live. There are plenty of technological platforms available to make this happen, avoiding lapel mics, not leaving equipment on the floor, cleaning microphones and cleaning after work.
Some of the other guidelines are very hard for journalists to follow.
There are guidelines for public transport which include almost avoiding them. But how can we avoid public transport when our salaries make taking taxis almost prohibitive.
Cesar, for example, had a van but high gasoline prices made it impractical for him to use it all the time.
Guideline Number 12 says: Don’t report on an empty stomach. Take time out to snack on fruit. Maintain a healthy diet and do not skip meals no matter how pressing the assignment may be. Do not travel or work on an empty stomach.
But again journalists’ wages make it hard not to think of where to eat after a coverage. Since most coverages are now online, that means less free lunches for us.
Many still can’t afford mobile Internet and wifi.
In Cesar’s case, maybe his hospital confinement was too late. You have to take it from us, we usually have a Messiah complex. We serve too much, not complaining about our own health.
It has been said that Cesar had been coughing weeks before he decided to go to the hospital. Sometimes we take our health for granted thinking we are invincible.
We may be thinking we are exempted, but we may just be reminded too late that we too are just human.