Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on September 13, 2006

Her contributions will endure

Yesterday, MediaG8way president & CEO Delia C. Gutierrez was laid to rest. Her internment marked the end of a profoundly sad six days following her death one week ago today. While the circumstances of her death are not completely clear, what we know is that Delia died alone in her Makati office. We also know that her passing marks the end of an important chapter in Philippine publishing, and the beginning of a new one for those who will carry on after her.

There are several things that stand out about Delia as I rethink our long association. The first is how well-known she was. It may seem natural that a publishing executive be well-known. But her visibility was in many ways unique, or so it seems to me. Unique because so many of her associations seemed to last throughout her lifetime. Filipinos in general nurture enduring relationships, but Delia seemed to take the notion of a community of friends to a new level.

This was apparent during her wake, which featured a steady stream of classmates, from Bontoc in Mountain province, where she was born and grew up, to fellow writers and editors of the University of the East student paper, The Dawn, where Delia was features editor. According to her husband, Ibarra C. Gutierrez, Jr., who goes by the nickname Bombing, The Dawn had a higher circulation than many mainstream broadsheets at the time, and that early association with journalism helped define Delia’s life.

The classmates were just the advance party. As word spread that Delia’s accomplished life had been suddenly and tragically cut short, the crowds grew. In the evenings, the wake seemed to resemble that of a popular politician, or a celebrity. And that was fitting in many ways, because Delia was a popular politician, and she was a well-known celebrity.

As a private-sector politician, she rallied supporters to her various entrepreneurial projects, mostly a series of journalistic undertakings with Bombing and friends. Ultimately they found their groove in 1989, setting up WordSmith, Inc. (WSI) with other business editors, where they began publishing PC Digest. In 1990, WSI became the affiliate of International Data Group, and began publishing PC World and Computerworld. The company name subsequently evolved to WS Publishing Corporation.

Close to a decade and a half later, Delia and Bombing bought out their partners and once again renamed the company, this time to MediaG8way. Today the company publishes Computerworld, PC World, IT Resource, Stuff, and Enterprise. Recently, Computerworld was transformed into a thick monthly publication meant to provide in-depth reporting. The company’s various websites provide updates of breaking news.

As a celebrity, Delia was an emblem for publishing success and the role of women in the executive suite. Her sales and promotional skills were critical to the success of the ventures she undertook, one in which I was involved. In the late 80s and early 90s, I asked Delia to help out with advertising sales for The Asian Manager, a magazine I was responsible for at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). As a result of her success, The Asian Manager developed into a world-class glossy magazine read all over Asia at the time.

Delia also conceived many a glittery evening event, presiding over a series of sought-after awards, including one for websites, another recognizing accomplished women in the IT sector, and one of the latest, an award for business process outsourcing pioneers. Delia and Bombing’s partnership in business made MediaG8way a dominant industry force, and their partnership in life made them one of the happiest couples I’ve ever known.

My first association with Delia was informal. When I landed in the Philippines in the early 80s for my first extended stay, I happened to find Delia and Bombing my neighbors in a residential area just off West Avenue. When I went to work for AIM, initially responsible for media relations, the relationship took on a new dimension as I regularly trooped to the leading business paper of the time, BusinessDay, where they both worked, to plead with Bombing to consider my news releases for a story.

The friendship and working relationship established back then has endured for 25 years. Whatever we seemed to find ourselves doing, we seemed to find some way to do it, even indirectly, together. But mostly the relationship has been one characterized by a deep friendship that weathered many tough but rewarding years. And over those years Delia and Bombing have been a constant fixture in my life.

As long as I have been in the Philippines, there has been Delia and Bombing. It is still inconceivable that she is gone. But the memory of her many contributions to publishing and technology will endure, I believe, just as our friendship has, and will.

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