This delightful shriek rang across the lobby as the extraordinary woman excitedly rushed to greet an equally extraordinary friend.
The greeter was former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The object of her felicitation: Augusto B. Villanueva.
Mrs. Marcos was about to attend a political event at a posh hotel when she spotted Villanueva who was then hosting an affair. Barring bodyguards and a busy sked, the First Lady didn’t let the opportunity pass to greet the highly revered editor.
Sir Gus, as he is fondly called in the media industry, is a sports icon. He has master knowledge of all the rules, players, tourneys lost and won, and statistics of every game known to man.
As a budding sportswriter, Sir Gus was once asked by a senior editor to write about bowling. He didn’t know anything about kegling but he blurted ,’Yes sir!” with the full confidence of a seasoned reporter.
Next scene: Sir Gus was poring all over the books about tenpin bowling in the library. His subsequent article was a masterpiece and his mentors were impressed. Soon, he was covering all national and international competitions. Plus numerous Olympic games.
Sir Gus began his stellar career as a sportswriter in 1955 at 17 under then Manila Times sports editor Ricky Llanos. He became sports editor of the Times Journal in 1972.
He was also among the founding brains of People’s Journal and People’s Tonight which he and distinguished colleagues established in 1978 and 1979, respectively.
He was president of the Philippine Sportswriters Association in the late 70s and introduced the weekly PSA Forum. For creating an impact with his leadership, Sir Gus was honored by PSA with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sir Gus is a living legend. His reputation for generosity, rigid work discipline and lofty ethics precede him.
Never has he spent a day outside the office. Almost all his working life had been devoted to closing papers, writing stories and being a Good Samaritan to friends and strangers in need.
It is his unique way of pitching in to make a chaotic world tolerable and more comfortable.
Sir Gus is not just a ladies’ man. He is everybody’s man. All people from all walks of life salute him as the quintessential editor-in-chief. These include past and present mayors, congressmen, showbiz personalities even presidents. Most notable among them are former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Mayor Isko Moreno.
The name Augusto is of Spanish origin meaning "majestic, venerable", strong virtues which definitely describe Sir Gus. Stones pelted at him go wasted. He leads with the gentle wisdom of a sage but with the firm hand of a determined, just ruler.
As editor-in-chief, mentor, boss, doting dad to Doc Armando Villanueva and Peachy, Antoinette and Edward, as well as granddad to Doby and Gel, Sir Gus is truly in a league of his own.
On your birthday today, Sir Gus, may you continue to serve as a shining example of goodness and truth to others. May you keep spreading smiles with your trademark charm and puns. And may you carry on leading by example, that true happiness lies in unconditionally loving your work, yourself and the people around you.
Stet, Sir Gus.
Just let the unconditional kindness of your soul and brimming love for peace stand. Remain to be the Sir Gus everybody loves and highly respects. And the world will continue to be a better place.