Issue of March 10, 2019
Mt. Province

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N. Padilla, journalist, civic leader, dies at 87
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

FAREWELL -- Veteran journalist and civic leader Narcisco Padilla passed away on March 5 at age 87. -- Ompong Tan

Baguio City is mourning the loss of veteran journalist-cum-public servant Narciso “Nars” Padilla, an institutional figure in the city’s civic and tourism activities, which is just one of the many hats he had worn in his lifetime. He was 87.

Padilla will also be sorely missed in the city streets in December, where he roamed around dressed as Santa Claus giving treats and joy to children during the yuletide as part of the Silahis ng Pasko, one of the longest running city events he initiated and endeavored to sustain up to last Christmas, although “Baguio’s Santa” was already not feeling well.

He succumbed to a lingering illness on March 5 and was survived by wife Soledad and his children.

Padilla was a sportswriter, photographer, event organizer, sports and tourism promoter, and one-term city councilor from 1992 to 1995. He was a reporter of DZWT in the ‘70s. He was writing a regular column for SunStar Baguio for years until his passing.

He was serving as the Baguio tourism officer also in the early ‘70s when he started the Silahis ng Pasko, a multi-event month-long festivity for December where thousands of children participate in the Mardi Gras every Dec. 1.

Among those he mentored as a scoutmaster is Business Mirror and Rappler correspondent Mauricio Victa, who recalled Padilla as a Boy Scouts of the Philippines scout master who proudly wore the uniform and the values of a true Boy Scout during BSP events. He said Padilla kept scout memorabilia of his long service together with his clippings of his news and photo coverage starting from the Marcos era.

Victa also said that Padilla still used the typewriter in writing his articles and frequently sent him to the photo shop to have his films developed as he preferred using film over the DSLR camera.

Baguio sportswriter Pigeon Lobien, one of those who have been working with Padilla in the early years, said the Silahis ng Pasko is behind the annual searches for the Lucky Christmas and New Year babies, and dedication of a day for the physically challenged, balikbayans, senior citizens, and athletes.

He also initiated the special Olympics where persons with disabilities competed in various sport events such as running, basketball and chess.

Lobien said Padilla, as city councilor, was responsible for putting up busts of Baguio’s builders like Daniel Burnham at Burnham Park, Lyman Kennon at the view deck along Kennon Road, Justice George Malcolm at Malcolm Square People’s Park.

He was also behind the completion of the Brown Madonna Shrine at Km. 6, Asin Road, Tuba, Benguet which serves to commemorate the EDSA Revolution and a meditation area.

Padilla was also behind the annual Kafagway Sports Awards and the Blessed Association of Retired Persons Kafagway Journalism Leadership Awards, which recognize excellence in sports and journalism.

In a story prepared by broadcaster Edong Carta, the PTV Baguio recalled its last interview of Padilla in February 2017 as a tribute to the departed veteran colleague.

Padilla was featured reliving his experiences as a media man, passion for public service, and promoting the City of Baguio and the achievements of its residents.

“What we’re doing as a public service is for the growth and development (of our city) and we never expect anything in return. What I was hoping for is God will put me in the right place, that for me is the end of my quest in life,” Padilla said during that interview.

Padilla also served as president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club and later founded and became president for life of the National Correspondents Club of Baguio.

Early January, Padilla was rushed to the hospital due to fatigue from the month-long Silahis festivity and stayed for several days, although restless from lack of activity, according to his youngest child, Fritz, who is staying with his parents together with his own family.

His remains were brought for public viewing at City Hall on March 7 and cremated on March 8.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan extended the city’s sympathies to Padilla’s family and recognized his contributions to the city’s media community and in helping to shape the city’s tourism landscape.

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