By Erma M. Cuizon

COLUMN UNCOMMON

Born in Carcar, a heritage city of Cebu province, the late Regional Trial Court Judge Peary G. Aleonar learned the musical arts of the piano, the violin, also of creative drawing in his early years as a 16-year-old Carcaranon in 1942. He then grew up to learn more of the other aspects of community living and became a concerned citizen who would speak for others through media. He finished a civil engineering course in 1949 and became an engineering college dean, then passed the bar in 1961 and became a practicing lawyer. A member of the Board of the Cebu City Integrated Bar of the Philippines, he was appointed RTC judge in 1983.

An artist, engineer, teacher, Aleonar was most of all a journalist who spoke for his community through publishing tasks and a regular writing of columns as guest writer, with the help of his publisher brother, Cesar Aleonar, who put up the Cebu Advocate which Peary edited. Having been one of the leading media workers in the region, the editor-columnist became president of the Association of Cebu Journalists.

His column in The Freeman in the 1970s was entitled “The Questionnaire,” the first of its kind which spoke of community problems by asking questions that hopefully helped readers to have a voice, like most readers pitching in with answers to the questions.

The column was in the life of the reader’s morning from April 11, 1970 to Sept. 23, 1972. It carried topics of issues local and international, from press freedom to world view of peace issues, to stories of Lion’s and Rotarian’s projects, to women’s dresses.

Of press freedom, he wrote, “What do some people want? For newspaper reporters to toe the line, to report only what they want to be reported although what they want might not be what has happened? Do some people only want the newspapers to praise them? If not, then why do some people reduce themselves to the level of their violent nature when a newspaper exercises its freedom to report the news?”

And he would twit co-journalists for a sense of wit in the face of serious issues. “Today is Sunday and newsmen will meet at a fellowship somewhere—and isn’t this a fine occasion as any for newsmen gathered to review and renew their dedication for press freedom, perhaps fine also for them to recite what Benjamin Franklin once said, that ‘those who will give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety (or an extra meal?) deserve neither liberty nor safety’ or to recall Jose Rizal’s ‘there are no tyrants where there are no slaves’?”

In his regular writing, P. G. Aleonar said, “Be productive every day.”

(CJJ9 was published in hardcopy in September 2014.)