Angeles Observer

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014


THE "Observer," the voice of the Angeles University Foundation has just turned 20. I understand a homecoming party for the paper's former editors and staffers was held at the AUF. As a community weekly, the paper has nurtured and tutored aspiring – now renowned- journalists from the school.

Minerva Zamora Arceo, veteran newshen and former PR girl of Gov. Mark Lapid, is the industrious and able editor.

When I was the editor of the Observer (1997-2000) the weekly was the largest selling local publication in town. This is not my claim but the verifiable attestation of the downtown newsstand owners where the paper’s copies got sold out before the next issue. The reason for its wide readership was simply for the editor to call a spade a goddam shovel. A crook is a thief, and a bitch is a whore. This was taught in journalism school.

A newspaper’s circulation is only as good as the support it gets from its publisher. For as long as the editor enjoys unrestrained freedom and liberal confidence on matters of editorial policy (like I did with the man called EYA) the publication can soar like an eagle, growl the streets like a tiger, and makes its powerful presence felt in the community.

While the Observer’s editorship is contracted out on a yearly period, I was signed for three consecutive terms as against the normal one-year hiring of past editors. I enjoyed enormous support from Joy Daguio, the best layout artist that I know and office girl Emily, she with a whistle-bait figure. She snubbed the newsmen who flirted with her, then ran away with a married lover. It was delightful to see the highly efficient Ms. Cynthia Moneno at the AUF finance office at the month’s end or to lunch with Dr. Angeles and the lovely AUF medical director Amelia Villaraza MD. The two made a charming couple at the resto.

Then located at the Lazatin-Angeles Building on Sto. Rosario Street, the Observer had Raffy Angeles, man about town, as general manager.

Raffy would be appointed CIAC director years later. The owner-publisher was, and still is, Dr. Emmanuel Angeles, then the Arroyo administration’s wonder boy. He was my happy and satisfied boss until he fired me for cause.

Before our separation Dr. Angeles came to the office fuming mad. He unwrapped a small packet and threw its content on the table. It was a rusty high caliber bullet that he received by mail a day earlier.

“What did I do to deserve this?” he demanded to know.

Well, you are the publisher of the paper and direct orders to the staff, I said. I presume this death threat was provoked by our writers, he stressed.

I made a quick review of our past Observer issues. Photo coverage by lensman Jimmy Pingul and photo-journalist Chris Navarro on social, political, business, and civic events did not cause a death threat to my publisher.

News reports by Assistant Editor Arthur Cabigting and reporter Rey Navales did not consist acts of tandem riders out on a hit job.

Art’s routine was to write one news item. Then he spends the whole day calling girl friends and similar love prospects including his present wife, then City Councilor Vicky. Rey usually brought press releases from the Mabalacat mayor’s office and the town’s police station.

There was one Observer columnist (Lagablab) whose series of exposes on the shenanigans at the Mimosa Resort and Leisure Estate was hurting the Estate honcho. The writer was Tony Salenga, a hard-hitting, merciless, and fearless writer. His expose` led to a Malacanang crackdown on Antonio Gonzales and ultimately his business downfall.

A week after my publisher accosted me with the vintage bullet, he ordered the dropping of “Lagablab” from the publication. So my boss had identified his suspects who sent him a virtual death threat. Former military men-ass lickers to Gonzales of the Mimosa Resort, Salenga’s bete noir- were behind the terrorism.

As an editor committed to honest and fearless journalism, I could not and would not summarily dump crusading Salenga as columnist. My publisher exercised his right to drop me as editor thus ending my stint at the Angeles city’s largest selling weekly in that era.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 21, 2014.

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