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Remembering my friend Jovy.

A cover story in Hawaii's Filipino Chronicle this month celebrates the life of Jovy Rodas Zimmerman, former society editor of the Manila Times during the fifties and early 60's. Jovy passed away at 93 last August in Honolulu where she had been a long-time resident. She left two children and grandchildren and her husband Carl, Honolulu Star Bulletin's news editor and former Manila Bureau chief of Associated Press.

We became close friends while I was in Honolulu for five years during the early 70's, and of course was privy to her thoughts and reactions to the dark period of the Marcos regime, as well as her invaluable contribution to the Filipino community in Hawaii. Both she and Dr. Belinda Aquino, who wrote about her remembrance of Jovy and Martial Law, were then the most outspoken among the Filipino residents of Honolulu during those times. Lyndy writes: "Jovy demonstrated a lot of courage. Carl often said that fearlessness was her signature trait. She was not afraid to fight for what she believed in and found it compelling to deal with these issues." Lyndy, who fled the country because of similar sentiments, was professor of Political Science and Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii as well as founding director of the Center for Philippine Studies. She recalls Jovy's political activism and her outspoken resistance against Marcos, and cites as well recollections by friends like former Manila resident Ethel Alikpala Ward, who taught English as a Second Language and Rose Churma, former president of the Filipino Community Center. Ward recalls canvassing door-to-door to register eligible voters in a Filipino community with Jovy while Churma recalls collaborating with Jovy on two anthologies for the Filipino Association of University Women projects - "From Mabuhay to Aloha," essays on Filipino-Americans, and a volume of literary works by Filipino youth. Over the years, the FAUW which Jovy founded, continued to promote Filipino culture and education especially for new immigrants to Hawaii.

Carl notes that perhaps Jovy's most significant contribution was her work in setting up the Filipino exhibit at the Hawaii museum of Art together with its former director, George Ellis - advising and nagging him to make it happen. She contributed many art pieces to the gallery - perhaps more than any other Filipino. There are no comparable exhibits of art anywhere in the US and maybe in the world, according to Carl. It was also Jovy who used her persuasive skills in convincing the Museum to sponsor Pasko, an annual cultural event devoted to Filipino culture and arts. It was so successful that they had to find a larger space to accommodate visitors, and it lasted for over a decade.

Our staff at the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communciation also helped Jovy in putting together "Hawaii' Filipino Americans," a collection of essays, poetry, and plays, her "personals offering to the Philippine Centennial Celebration and the 9th anniversary of the Filipino community in Hawaii." In my eulogy, I described Jovy as one of those remarkable individuals - a connoisseur of art, music, and food, and one who was "elegant" in the true sense of the word. She would have been a worthy ambassador, even with her unique brand of candor.

She was a frequent Manila visitor during the 90's when she would have reunions with friends that included Carmen Guerero Nakpil (who launched one of Jovy's books), Nita Berthelsen, Sixto Roxas, Pepe Abueva, the Laya brothers, and the late Nati Nuguid and Mary Tagle. While in Manila, she would often ask me to take her to forums and similar activities dealing with politics and other hot and controversial issues of the day. An intellectual who straddled between the social sciences (politics, futuristics and peace) and culture and the arts, she lived a truly charmed and fulfilled life. She never sought recognition for all the incredibly significant contribution she had made in furthering better understanding of our culture and history. Thus, I was pleased when Hawaii Filipino Chronicle' s publishers Chona and Charlie Sonido thought of giving her the recognition that she deserves.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:1U9HI
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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