When journalists who cover other beats attend motoring events, they find it amusing how we motoring journalists are like one big barkada. Wait till they see us drink, I always think. The bonds we have were formed over countless luncheons, out of town drives, foreign trips and motoring activities together. It also helps that for the most part, the people are a cool and fun-loving bunch. That’s why it’s especially sad when one of our band of brothers leaves us for good.
Kookie Ramirez wasn't one of the nicest motoring journalists around, he was one of the nicest people I knew. When I'd bump into him in events, he always had a warm smile and an earnest handshake ready to greet me. He was always a gentleman, and he carried himself as such.
In all the time I've known him, I never remember him talking about idle gossip or talking bad about someone else. He was always talking about cars or racing, the two passions that consumed him. Of the latter, he was always ready to share his considerable knowledge. He was probably the best racing instructor I knew. He always explained in a patient and methodical manner, always emphasizing safety and the basics over everything else. I must have listened to him explain the ideal driving position several times over the course of several events he organized, but it never got tiring.
I remember the first time I met him during a Ford Escape driving activity to Baguio. At that time I also met a certain motoring editor of The Manila Times (see photo above). During a lunch stop in Pangasinan I was seated across him, and because I was an eager rookie motoring journalist on my first driving event, I told him what I thought of the Ford Escape's power and handling. He mostly concurred with my observations, and the knowledge that my views were shared by a racing pro gave me reassurance that I was doing okay in my first event.
I'm not close to Kookie, but over the years our paths would cross not only during press conferences and launch events, I would also get to work with him editorially. This means he would be involved in our features, the most memorable being the Ferrari–Puma event we published January of this year. As our readers know, we gave five lucky guys Puma apparel and several laps around the Subic International Raceway in a Ferrari 575M, driven by Kookie himself.
Even though Kookie was a member of another motoring magazine, his non-partisanship impressed me. It showed that he really just wanted to share his racing knowledge to people, regardless of what publication is covering it.
Life goes on, and we will miss Kookie's presence in our future activities. But he left us with many good memories, plenty of them behind the wheel. These special memories are always what we will remember him by.
Godspeed Kookie. Say hello to Tito Poch for us.