He now belongs to the league of icons that never grow old. His picture will always remind us that he’s all that: irreverent, unorthodox, fashionable, incisive, humorous, and naughty.
To die at thirty five is duplicative of the great men who died before him. Dying at a little over three decades seems to be the benchmark of greatness. Jesus Christ died at the age of thirty three. And so did Jose Rizal. There were many before us who fell on the wayside standing and fighting for the abiding principles others belittle as insignificant and trivial. The cynics look at us with the unverbalized message drawn all over their faces that says “see, it doesn’t pay to be a hero”. Heroes are, right, dead and six feet under.
Why bother causing noise about corruption and irregularities? Isn’t it the job of some people who are precisely paid to run after the crooks? Why cross the hotshots who have legions of believers also who think that they are the best things that happen to them? Why espouse the corny and old fashioned “truth in reporting”, the pen is mightier that the sword, the truth shall set us free, the truth no matter how mangled or buried shall rise again? Who cares about these truisms? In a third world country, these alleged abiding principles don’t matter anymore. What is important are the basic needs that make us and our families secure and happy. Why be a hero? And a hero to whom? By acting like a hero, you have an agenda yourself, and so we’re told. Playing the role of a hero is an admisssion of being marginalized.
But that is the tragedy. The thought of security and the conventional is defied when one reaches the age of thirty. At thirty, one feels invincible, gung-ho, this world does not deserve me, “I have an idea and why don’t we try it”, “I have a mission,” and most importantly, “the thieves and the criminals will never run away with it”. We have seen the real heroes, and they have stood up before us, their sterling qualities revealed. Heroes have a philosophy, a way of life, an outlook, and an inscrutable smile. That is exactly what we found in Polly Pobeda. His philosophy was simple yet enduring:”the thief had to be exposed as I don’t want my children to learn that there is honor in stealing”, His way of life was simple yet enviable: “My motorcycle brings me to where I want to be”. His outlook was his conviction and his fashion (for sporting a long hair and a ubiquitous jacket) statement. His humor set him apart from ordinary mortals that we are.
NOSI BALASI – This was his morning program, by the way, that started at 6 am, Mondays thru Saturdays on DWTI(AM) and DWKI(FM). While riding his rickety motorcycle enroute to the radio station, Polly Pobeda was ambushed around 6am on May 17, 2003.
Before Nosi Balasi, he was an unassuming broadcaster promoting some herbal products and dishing out budding critical, yet humorous, commentaries on the side. He had the gift of gab, nose on the news, eyes on the latent, and ears on the sub rosa. People began to notice Polly Pobeda. Having noticed his talent, Mayor Tito Ojeda pulled him out from his lone ranger slot and placed him in tandem with James Magbuhos,himself a former mediaman and a former councilor of Pagbilao, Quezon in the now all-time hit program in Quezon Province, NOSI BALASI, a juxtapose play of the phrase Sino Ba Sila? and an original composition of rockstar Sampaguita. Thereafter, he was obscure no more. Polly and James became some sort of celebrities for bringing humor on the air in the early morning. Soon after, they were joined by Turing who supplied the daily “Quality!” blurbs that made the program even more hilarious. Everyone in Lucena from jeepney drivers to teachers to businessmen and even judges tuned in to NOsi BALASI.
The program has no writer. It is freewheeling. Polly Pobeda helmed its daily direction. He was undeniably a genius, an artist in disguise. Polly Pobeda discovered that expose and humor when mixed together are an explosive brew. The combination made people stop and listen as it was interesting.
The program made some people livid, especially the local leaders of Lucena and Quezon Province. When the station was renewing its annual license, it was denied for alleged non-compliance with some requirements which the station encountered for the first time after 16 years in operation.
Polly Pobeda’s celebrity status did not stop there. He was haled to Court for alleged libel. An RTC Judge filed complaint after complaint against him. The Fiscal’s Office of Lucena had never been as busy. As an artist, Polly was never bothered by those libel cases. He knew that it’s part of the perils of the trade.
Being killed is also a hazard in the profession and Polly was aware of it. Always he left ahead of us. The last time we saw him was during our hearing in the Indirect Contempt petition filed by the Mayor against him, among other respondents. He told us about the next scheduled hearing of his libel cases.
On May 17, 2003 two hours after he was mercilessly killed, we learned about it. In our book, Polly Pobeda is a hero.