Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Thank You, Baratillo.Net

.:Farewell, Juned:.

There was a time where the words "I'm a blogger" simply defined me, more than anything else. Through those formative years in my life, one name stood out as someone I always listened to, and always enjoyed the company of: Juned Sonido. He was, as many people have shared by now, the early blogosphere's version of Yoda.

I learned a lot, thanks to him. In fact, if I decided to write an 8List about the things I learned from him instead of this essay I'm now trying to put together, I'd have at least 5 lists to go around. But I'd be remiss if I didn't share a few memories from the man, so here are some of my favorites...

1. The first time I ever received a token from an event I attended as a blogger, I was beside myself in excitement. You have to understand, this was before people made a living out of blogging and social media. We were all hobbyists then, so being given a gift like I was felt like such a big deal at a time.

Juned looked at me, smiled, and reminded me to not "get too excited." And I realized right then and there that yes, I ran the risk of continuing to blog solely for these gift bags rather than because I loved to blog. It was a sobering wake-up call, and an eerie prediction of people who came in the future who were *all about the goodies.*

2. When he gave a talk about ethics for iBlog, oh wow. What a riot that was. In-jokes flew all over the place, and we had a whale of a time.

3. If it weren't for him and for Nina, I would have never known the joys of how to run a Binondo food tour.
And the memories are legion. I can't even begin to think about all the times we spent with each other, and the endless conversations we had, and the fact that I just sat there, under the learning tree, taking it all in.
The last time we met that wasn't by coincidence was in 2016, when he had me do a talk in his class. It was a great time, although I did notice how different he looked. But Juned was never one to tell us about his woes, and always focused on having engaging conversations that ran the gamut of the deepest, most ponderous topics, and the shallowest, most juvenile ones.

Here and there, I would run into him by pure chance. It's easy to take someone who felt so omnipresent for granted: it's not like he's ever gonna go away, is he? Is he?

Sadly, the answer to that, like for everyone else, is "yes. Eventually." And so we now say goodbye to a pioneer, a trailblazer, someone who was ahead of the curve long before blogging and social media and the very concept of an "influencer" were ever even things that roll off the tongue so naturally as they do in 2019. More than that, we say goodbye to a true friend. We've said goodbye to more than a few among our ranks over the years, and it never gets any easier or any less painful each time we have to.

Juned, thank you for your kindness, your time, and your friendship. Words cannot convey how much loss I feel right now, and my world feels that much poorer because of it. All I can hope is that wherever you are now, you are happy, eating all the lechon and hakaw you want. Save a space for us, because we'll be joining you there too, someday, in the great blogosphere in the sky.

We will miss you. Farewell, my friend and my mentor.