Before the pandemic, a typical motoring event had usually been a grand affair with plenty of people, an abundance of food, and lots of merrymaking. It was a very lively environment, to say the least. As an introvert, I easily got exhausted from it. But every now and then, someone somehow managed to inject some energy into me and made me loosen up a bit. I’m talking about Earl Manalansan, Autocar Philippines’ managing editor who died this week from COVID-19.
I first met Earl in one of the very first events I attended after starting my career in motoring journalism. But it wasn’t until a trip to China a few months later where I would really get to know him. I learned that we had both studied at Lourdes School of Quezon City with him being 19 years my senior. That sort of became a source of pride for us. From then on, it became natural for me to strike random conversations with him—and join in on his favorite hobby during media gatherings (selfies).
Ah, yes. Earl’s mandatory selfies. He would casually walk up to you, whip out his phone, and hit that shutter button. In fact, Earl did this at every single event that his selfies became credible “proof” of one’s attendance. If you were missing in his photos, you were absent. Even during the pandemic when we were reduced to pixelated faces on Zoom meetings, he would take screenshots of the attendees and post these on his Facebook wall.
Those selfies (and screenshots) are what we remember Earl most for. During physical and virtual meetings, he always had a really big smile on his face. So much so that it was almost a crime to not look amused or funny in one of his shots. Sadly, the same virus that is forcing everyone to be socially distant right now is what ultimately cut his life short. But at least he now has a wider field of view from up there—perfect for taking his signature selfies.