By Ben Cal
Even as a young journalist more than three decades ago, Pulitzer Prize winner for 2018 Manny Mogato has been known by his peers as a resourceful and prolific writer whose only passion is to get the facts and write the news fair and square without fear.
Mogato is Reuters’ political and general news correspondent in Manila for the last 15 years.
Two colleagues of Mogato from Reuters who also won the Pulitzer Prize were Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall.
Manny as he is fondly called by fellow journalists, particularly members of the Defense Press Corps and Malacanang Press Corps, got his first break when he covered the historic People Power EDSA Revolution in 1986 as a budding reporter of the Manila Chronicle.
He did a good job that he found himself covering the defense and military beat, mostly reserved for season reporters at that time.
Nevertheless, Manny showed his skills in looking for scoop news and writing them diligently without fear or favor as he was sure of his facts and sources.
His bulky figure even as a young reporter and his other passion for food and sleep and loud snoring made him the cynosure of fellow journalists in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, the two most prominent military camps in Metro Manila.
Because of this, Manny was always the butt of the jokes, but he did not mine at all.
What makes it more laughable was that Manny joined the laughter.
Aside from being a prolific writer, Manny’s other asset is his humility that he has no foes, only friends – a rare breed indeed.
However, when it comes to food, he could not resist, and eats with gusto.
He may fall asleep from time to time, nevertheless, “Manny is only sleeping on alert,” as one journalist says, since Manny was never scooped in his coverage, but was the one writing the scoop from time to time, jolting his co-reporters in the beat.
Once, Manny and I were invited by then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos for a coverage in Zamboanga City sometime in 1990.
As our twin-engine F-27 plane was on its way to the City of Flower, Manny was sleeping and snoring when the pilot asked, “tatlo ba makina natin” (do we have three engines) that generated laughter among other passengers.
Those were the side stories worth remembering about Manny Magato, the third Filipino journalist who was one of the awardees of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for 2018 with his winning piece on the Philippines’ drug on war.
Humble as he is, Manny said that bagging the Pulitzer Prize was like “Finding the Holy Grail.”
Four other Filipinos who won the Pulitzer Prize were Gen. Carlos P. Romulo in 1942, Alex Tizon in 1997, Cheryl Diaz Meyers in 2004, and Jose Antonio Vargas in 2008.