THE City of Baguio mourns the loss of a true outstanding citizen. Perhaps no one can deny that Naciso Racraquin Padilla whom we simply call Mang Nars was a true jack of all trade as he was practically seen all over the city in many events and functions as tourism promoter, scout executive, newsman, event innovator, city official and yes, as Santa Claus. He was also a broadcaster whom we often hear over the airwaves when we were younger.
There’s a saying that you haven’t really been to Baguio if you have not seen or encountered Nars Padilla, the action man of the National Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, the group that he represents whenever we have media related events in Baguio.
To many, he is a friend, teacher, scout master, conservationist, veteran journalist, councilor, master of ceremonies, family man and a true son of Baguio who dons the red suit during the yuletide season.
We look up to him as an elder as he was among the pioneering newsman who wrote about news and events of the city. Another elder, Hilarion Abe Pawid recalls in his SunStar column dated Feb. 12 2011, that the Baguio Correspondents Club (BCC) was born in l964 with Tito Carballo as first president. Its membership was limited to the print media and the original roster of membership included Nars Padilla of the Manila Chronicle among others like the late Ben Andaya, Augustus U. Saboy of the Philippine News Service, Gem Mamuyac of Manila Times; Geronimo Evangelista Sr. and Carballo of the Evening News.
They belong to the generation who punched typewriters to write stories and record their interviews on analog tape recorders. As a news photographer, they use negative films to capture their subjects and either they either develop it themselves or have it processed by a photo laboratory.
When Mang Nars contributes to the Philippine News Agency, I often see him going to the RCPI along Session Road and NMPC-PIA office at the old auditorium at Burnham Park to file his stories which was then re-encoded by telex operator Simeon Dilan so that it will be received by news desks in Manila.
My first encounter with him was perhaps during the seventies when as a school boy, I saw him with a mustache in shaggy hair riding his big 350cc motorcycle bike sporting an arm band likened to the Hell’s Angel riders of the hippie generation. My association with him became closer towards the mid-80s when I already joined the Baguio group of media as a rookie reporter then as information officer of the National Media Production Center before it finally became the Philippine Information Agency.
His daughter Mary Jane who was then with the City Government of Baguio as a tourism officer also became one of our contacts especially for our media group’s annual search for the city’s lucky summer visitors. I also recall the days when Mang Nars and members of his group, the National Correspondents and Broadcasters Club toured their chosen lucky foreign visitors with him as the driver, the master of ceremonies and the person blurting over a megaphone of the arrival of the special guests.
We heard his voice over the airwaves and read his articles with photos in the pages of national and local print publications.
Being in media is only one of his many personalities and I remember him as a fellow participant in a week long workshop on disaster response and management when he volunteered to prepare the backdrop of our graduation exercise. His creative skills in lettering and design is also evident in all of his undertakings that all he needed is a chalk and blackboard in the absence of white cloth and coloring pens.
In 1995 during the grand commemoration and 50th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War, Mang Nars was instrumental in assisting the Philippine Information Agency mount an exhibit at the Melvin Jones Grandstand and he displayed what we now know today as out-of-the-box thinking by not using a ribbon during an opening ceremony. Instead of using a scissor and a ribbon, he suggested cutting a vine with an ax which was followed and observed to be more meaningful.
I also heard stories from him about his stints as a city tourism director and as Gintong Alay Camp Director at the Teachers Camp Sports Complex. He also narrated a near-death scenario of the famed diminutive movie stuntman Weng-weng during one shooting in Baguio to which Mang Nars lent a hand.
I acceded to his invitation last October for a mass at the Shrine of the Brown Madonna located in Tuba on October last year without any premonition that was going to be my last encounter with him.
To Mang Nars, thank you for all the help you extended to my wife Helen who knocks on your door when she needed someone to consult with especially on media affairs.
Thank you for considering me and Helen for a special Kafagway Family Award and thank you for coming to my class room and granting the requests of my former students to interview you when I was still teaching in college. I knew that you are the perfect person that my students can learn from because I’ve also learned a lot from you.