By Rebelander S. Basilan
As editor of The Republic Daily (later renamed The Republic News), the late Judge Remedios Jayme Fernandez wrote three columns every day in 30 minutes.
“She wrote very fast, although she was using only a typewriter at that time,” recalled Manuel, 72, the oldest of Fernandez’s four children.
Fernandez, Cebu’s first woman editor, edited the newspaper published by Dioscoro B. Lazaro for 16 years (for the Cuenco family), Manuel said. Aside from editing stories, she wrote the paper’s editorial and two columns: “Launching Pad” and “Today.”
Manuel, owner of Factory Direct Ventures—which manufactures furniture made of synthetic plastic—said his mother’s selection as editor of The Republic Daily did not come as a surprise, with her exceptional writing and ability to write fast.
Copies of The Republic Daily in the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos showed that Fernandez started serving as the paper’s editor on April 7, 1956.
Her selection as the first woman editor did not cause a stir in the newspaper community, recalled Manuel.
Fernandez graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law, where she and former president Ferdinand Marcos were classmates.
She started her writing career in Manila, where she worked for a fashion magazine, Manuel said. The family moved to Cebu in 1949 and about a year later, she started writing for The Republic (forerunner of The Republic Daily).
As a writer, Fernandez wrote fearlessly. Manuel said she wrote about rampant crimes like illegal gambling and received death threats. She was also known for writing critical pieces about former Cebu City mayor Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr.
While working for the paper, Fernandez also taught at Southwestern University, where she served as Dean of Women and Dean of the College of Law.
She also founded socio-civic organizations like the Cebu Garden Club and the Cebu Newspaper Women’s Organization.
When Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, the government closed down newspapers.
The Republic News reopened after Marcos lifted Martial Law, but Fernandez opted not to return to the paper. “She left the paper for good,” said Manuel, adding that his mother did not like the idea of her writing getting censored.
But Manuel said his mother edited a short-lived newspaper after leaving her post in The Republic News.
Fernandez worked in the judiciary in her 60s in Albay, Bicol. She died in 2001 at the age of 87.
(CJJ9 was published in hardcopy in September 2014.)