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Luis, I’m listening!

A short tribute to Luis Katigbak from his technology tech support


My relationship with Luis Katigbak was one that was kept mostly at arm’s length. That is, an arm away from the computer screen. My time with Luis was professional at most, dappled with the brevity that would make me want to record all our conversations about the publishing industry, about writing, and about being a starving writer with a need to satiate gadget lust. I read his byline in the early 2000s, as we were both contributing to a magazine known as The Reviewer, which was then acquired by the Inquirer Group. We met again in 2006—he, launching BURN Magazine with Kristine Fonacier and Zach Lucero, and me right across the room working on Mobile Philippines. By default, as the guy who handled the magazine’s blog and reviewed gadgets for a living, I’d be (one of) his go-to tech support and technology consultant.

His first phone was an Alcatel. In fact, for some reason, he went back to an Alcatel in 2011. He was a dual-sim phone kind of guy and if not for the BlackBerry’s price point, he would have gone for it because he preferred the tiny, physical QWERTY keyboard for writing. There was that exception in 2010 when I sold him on the idea of the Sony Ericsson Walkman phone, which he bought—and broke a few months later. At that time, he’s owned four phones in 10 years, so he couldn’t live with the idea of replacing a phone so soon. It was during these times of frantic emails (the emails had the subject “FONE FREAKOUT”) that I felt a huge amount of pressure to help this guy—immediately because, I quote, “I’m kind of going nuts as I suddenly realized I do half of my work on the phone (well, maybe a third).”And little selfish me would think, “I really need to help this guy because if I don’t, I won’t have anything new from him to read.”

DEAR DISTANCE Luis Katigbak will be remembered as a lover of words, books, and cats, but most of all, he will be remembered as a great friend. (Facebook/Luis Katigbak)

DEAR DISTANCE Luis Katigbak will be remembered as a lover of words, books, and cats, but most of all, he will be remembered as a great friend. (Facebook/Luis Katigbak)

Luis left a watermark of his prolific progression of his writing from 2006 to 2012 when he would leave comments on my blog. He would always sign off as “Luis K” but had a progression of email addresses and websites starting with his stint at Pulse, then for the longest time on his Blogspot blog ‘Songs in the City,’ a brief flirtation with Tumblr, and then the Esquire website. I never hung out with Luis outside work (except maybe for that one time we snuck out to eat Sango rice burgers in 2006 at Mile Long) so his digital footprint was the only progression I ever noticed, at least in the earlier days when social media was still the frontier.

The last time I heard from Luis (apart from liking posts on our Facebook walls) was when he left a comment on my blog in 2012. By then we had parted ways at UNO Magazine and he was already with Esquire. At that time I was downloading Diablo III for the PC and this, I quote, is what he had to say:




Luis Katigbak was a columnist of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle’s I section. His column “The King of Nothing To Do” enjoyed a huge following.

A four-time Palanca awardee, Philippine Graphic prize awardee, and recipient of the Young Artist’s Grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Luis published three critically acclaimed books: Happy Endings, The King of Nothing to Do, and Dear Distance. The first two books were nominated for the National Book Awards.

He died last April 20. He was 41.