Patricio Diaz’s last words: “I am dying! I feel better.”

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 August) – “I  am dying! I feel better.”

Those were the last words that esteemed journalist Patricio “Pat” Diaz uttered on his hospital bed before he passed away at 6:20 p.m. Thursday.

Maria Margarita Diaz, a daughter who is working with the Oblates of Notre Dame-run Hesed Foundation, Inc. revealed her father’s last words.

According to her, he was stating it –with an exclamation point— as if he was declaring a fact.

“The journalist in him. (That’s) true to his character. Ganon ang Papa namin (That’s how our Papa was),” Maria Margarita said in a text message.

Maria Margarita learned of the late journalist’s last words from her sister, Maria Lourdes Johanson, who was with their father during his last moments.

Maria Lourdes is the eldest of Diaz and her wife Lucila’s nine children.

Maria Margarita said their father’s wake will be held at the Cosmopolitan Memorial Chapels.

The interment is set on September 7, she added.

Two of the books written by Patricio P. Diaz. BONG SARMIENTO

Maria Margarita said the cause of their father’s death was acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack in layman’s term.

Rommel Rebollido, an executive at the Brigada Group of Companies, described Diaz, his former teacher and mentor then in Cotabato City, as “an exemplar.”

“He influenced not just my being a journalist, but how I appreciate things…He showed (to) me that to be a respected journalist, one must know how to put a line between friendship and the call of the profession,” said Rebollido, who is now based here.

“His words that reverberated to me is “be critical without necessarily being adversarial,” he added.

Diaz, an award-winning journalist who chronicled the Bangsamoro struggle in Mindanao for seven decades, passed away Thursday evening, four days after he turned 93.

Diaz was rushed to the St. Elizabeth Hospital on August 25, his birthday, and was admitted at the intensive care unit until he expired.

Sympathies poured for the family of Diaz, who until his death wrote the opinion column “Comment” for MindaNews since its founding in 2001.

Diaz was an expert in the Bangsamoro peace process and the struggle of the Moro people. He authored five books, including “To Tripoli and Back” (1995) and “What Ails Muslim Autonomy?” (1998).

The three others — “Understanding Mindanao Conflict” (2003), “The 2010 GRP-MILF Peace Drafts: With Comments and Analysis (2010, co-authored with Mindanao historian Rudy Buhay Rodil) and “Troubled Odyssey” (2011)—were published by MindaNews, where he also wrote the “Mind da News” opinion column.

Diaz taught English at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City while writing for The Mindanao Cross, the oldest running Catholic weekly newspaper in Mindanao founded in 1948. He eventually became the paper’s editor in chief for over two decades.

He edited and published Mindanao Kris from 1989 to 1996.

A son of Ilonggo migrants, Diaz was honored by the Titus Brandsma Awards in 2002 with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.”

He was also the recipient of the 1st Agong Award from the Mindanao Media Forum in 2010.

Diaz spent a large part of his productive life in Cotabato City before returning here with his family in 1996, where his parents migrated in 1940 from Iloilo. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)