VETERAN journalist and Manila Bulletin and Tempo columnist Floro L. Mercene died Aug. 7 in Los Angeles, California of heart failure. He was 93.
Mercene, author and historian, belonged to the generation of Fourth Estate gentlemen who were generous with advice, guidance, and sources especially with young reporters.
He began his career covering Pasay City as a reporter for the Philippine News Service, the forerunner of today’s Philippine News Agency. His beat included the old Balagbag Airport, meeting and interviewing visiting Hollywood stars such as William Holden, John Wayne, Ingrid Bergman, and celebrities like future US President Richard Nixon.
He was spokesman for the Department of Tourism until 1986, and was with the group covering the US state visit of President Ferdinand E.Marcos in September 1982.
After 1986, he found the time and opportunity to fulfill his dream of writing a book on the first Filipino communities in the Western Hemisphere. He spent the next decade travelling, researching, and interviewing descendants of the first settlers.
Finally, he was ready with the manuscript for the book about the Filipino migration to Mexico and the Americas in the 16th century, during the 250 years of the Galleon Trade.
Published in 2007 by The University of the Philippines Press, “Manila Men in the New World” is a scholarly account of one of the least known aspects of Philippine and American history.
In the book’s foreword, the National Historical Institute’s Serafin D. Quiason describes the work as “a significant contribution to Philippine Studies.” (SOL VANZI)