IT is funny what you remember in the end.
You laughed, you smiled whenever you talked about him.
He always comes to the room with a ready smile you’d think he just heard the latest joke in leading comedy bar.
But that’s OK because my good friend Arman Armero, who passed away last Monday, February 22, was always a funny man.
There was never a dull moment with him.
His favorite niece Danielle Day Estrada once remarked that they were all still laughing a few days after hearing one of Arman’s newest jokes.
Arman was my friend since our college days back in the roaring 80s. We were in our early 20s when we first saw each other at Lyceum of the Philippines where we both took up journalism.
We shared all kinds of good times growing up. We spent long hours together writing and editing and layouting in the school paper, The Lyceum, and learning the ropes of the trade together.
We were also together for the Lyceum Journalism Society (LJS) and College Editors Guild of the Philippines(CEGP)
Remembering the good times is always pleasant and Arman and I always had fun talking about them ever since.
Arman was a freelance voice-over talent in several radio stations when I sweet-talked him into joining me as a sportswriter for People’s Tonight.
The year was 1991 and Manila was getting ready to host the Southeast Asian Games. Although he was a literary editor during college, Arman can really write as well as he can sing.
Arman produced some of the best sportswriting for People’s Tonight, writing about basketball, chess, golf, tennis and even motorsports.
As assistant sports editor, he also greatly helped in the development of former People’s Tonight sportswriters Gerry Ramos, Rey Joble, Toto Causing, Elmer Manuel, Randy Caluag, Ferdz de los Santos, Perry Legaspi and Vanessa Rillo.
His column, Second Stringer, also appeared on the pages of the leading afternoon newspaper of the Journal Group.
Next to sportswriting, Arman also loved to sing and we both spent long and lovely evenings in the company of some of the most beautiful people in some of the most interesting places in Manila after dark.
One of his favorites, “After the Lovin” by Engelbert Humperdinck, reminds him of a girl we both used to know during college. Together with another college friend Rudy Brul, we devoted hours talking about her over cups of Mister Donut coffee along Recto Ave.
We also always had a good laugh whenever Arman would jostle against the late Willie Abalos and Danny Simon for the opportunity to sing on stage.
Chess is another pastime for Arman and he played hundreds of games with former People’s Tonight chief of reporters Abner Galino and deskman Zaldy de Layola every night in our Port Area office.
Sportswriting, singing and chess are the three things that would always remind us about Arman.
A few years years ago, Arman had a heart attack. He told friends he was walking on a busy street in Makati when he suddenly felt a shortness of breath. He walked straight to the hospital for confinement. And like in most times, he recovered and went back to work as a sportswriter for the Manila Standard under another friend, Riera Mallari
He spent the next three years as one of the leading officials of the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS), which he helped establish. He led the opening prayers for our “Usapang Sports” every Thursday morning at the National Press Club and continued to be a regular even when we shifted to the online platform when the pandemic struck.
And a few days before Christmas, Arman called me and asked me to meet with him at McDonald’s North Olympus. He said he wanted to see me and talk about a few things. Nothing really important but the conversation lasted almost two hours.
It was always like that between us. It is always like that between good friends.
On the morning of February 22, I received the sad news.
Arman is dead.
The sportswriting community is instantly a poorer place.
NOTES — Arman was laid to rest at the Forest Park in Bagumbong, Caloocan City at 3 p.m. last Saturday, Feb. 27. He is survived his wife Cherry and only son Aaron Cham, mother Nena, and siblings Adamar, Ernesto, Emily and Wilhelmina.
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