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Sunday Lifestyle

A man with genuine class

MANO-A-MANO - Adel Tamano -

This April marked the passing of Angelo Castro Jr., or ACJ, one of the icons of the broadcasting industry and a man most viewers will remember as one of the hosts of ANC’s The World Tonight

Unfortunately, because of my being new to ANC (I joined ANC only in June 2011), I didn’t have a chance to work with ACJ. However, for those of us in the broadcasting industry, ACJ has left a great legacy of what a broadcaster ought to be. Simply put, ACJ’s intelligence, objectivity, and, for want of a better word, his utter “class” have been — and will forever remain — the gold standard that all broadcasters should aspire for.

But what is class? Even beyond the realm of media, the idea of having real class is important; particularly in an age when the norms of conduct and behavior are changing so rapidly, we need to be reminded of the true meaning of the term. So in order to get to the heart of the term, let’s take a hint from Socrates and start by asking what it isn’t.

It isn’t money. Although the terms “first class” or “business class” might mistakenly imply that having a certain lifestyle, with the refinements and luxuries that having money can afford, is what class is all about. But, as we have seen from many of the nouveau riche, having money doesn’t make you classy and in fact can even accentuate a person’s trashiness and rudeness. Clearly, there are many rich people without class. Having real class can never be tied to how much a person has in his bank account. In fact, there are many people who aren’t rich, in the literal sense, but because of their dignity and character they have real class.

It isn’t your family name. Some people equate class with genealogy and lineage. However, class is not something that can be inherited via the strands from your parents’ DNA. Again, some people belonging to the so-called “best” families are the most uncouth, rude, and un-classy folk that you will ever meet. Perhaps coming from a rich or powerful family can even undermine a person’s development into a human being with class because the scions from prominent families don’t have to learn important values like discipline, hard work and respect for others. Having everything handed to you on a silver platter is not always a good thing.

It isn’t where you’ve gone to school. Definitely, going to a good school can go a long way in inculcating a person with sound values, which are the hallmarks of having true class, but, in and of itself, it isn’t enough. Again, some of the most crass, abusive and impertinent people can come from the top universities in Manila and elsewhere.

It isn’t how good you look. I do believe that having class imbues a person with real beauty and dignity. A person with class carries himself well and presents the very best of himself to the world. But this doesn’t mean that an attractive person will necessarily have class. As a matter of fact, some of the most boorish and trashy people can also be the most beautiful.

So what is class? This may seem like a copout but defining it is extremely difficult and may in fact undermine its true essence. Because class is something that might be too important — and maybe all too rare — to bottle up in one phrase. Let’s instead illustrate it and flesh it out.

Class is being a gentleman or gentlewoman. Ironically, class is diametrically opposed to looking down — or up — at social classes. Because a gentleman, like the law itself, treats everyone equally, regardless of station, power, race, religion or creed. Thus, a person with class acts in the same respectful and dignified way when dealing with the president of the Philippines as he would with a simple laborer. You can’t be a person with class when you speak tactfully to CEOs and people with power and influence but shout at your maids and drivers. 

Class is about having the highest standards. This is the hallmark of true class. Because the concept of class is at odds with the idea of mediocrity. Being a person with class necessarily requires soaring above the norm. This is how you can discern if a person has this trait or not. Someone who has it will naturally excel and strive for the very highest of standards in whatever profession or vocation that person is in. He may not always achieve success but definitely a person with class will strive to be the best in any field of endeavor he finds himself in. And even in those times that he doesn’t succeed, he’ll show class by losing like a gentleman.

Class is having power, intelligence, or money and not showing it off. The most powerful and intelligent people with class will often be the most quiet and unassuming. They are secure and so don’t have to keep calling attention to themselves. They never say, “Don’t you know who I am?” Because if they have to ask that question, then obviously they aren’t as important as they think you are. Anyway, one of the characteristics of real class is having genuine humility, and inner confidence, which is why people with class don’t have to show off.

Finally, I only really know ACJ from his work as a broadcaster and from what I’ve heard from colleagues. From what I’ve seen and gathered, he truly was a man that embodied all the elements of the word “class” As a journalist he was extremely intelligent, fair, disciplined and, many have said, a true professional and a perfectionist. Sadly, ACJ’s passing will mark the end of an era of gentlemanly reporting. And, for those of us in the broadcasting industry, the best way that we can honor his memory is to aspire to live up to the tradition of class that he left behind.

ACJ ANGELO CASTRO JR. ISN MDASH PEOPLE PERSON THIS APRIL WORLD TONIGHT
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