IN MY book, there are two remarkable figures in Pampanga journalism. The first, Bong Lacson, author of four books, is alive. The second, Don Armando P. Baluyut is dead. He was the founder of the Voice, training ground of local pen pushers and trouble makers.
I will first bring back recollections of the latter whose birthday falls today February l. I met Baluyut in 1969; since then my world has not been the same while helping him put out his weekly.
In due time, I would be tackling Lacson, a frustrated priest to be who could have made a fighting bishop, nay, a superior prelate with the potentials of a Cardinal Richilieu.
Bong, of course, is the stormy petrel writing in "Punto." He is the essential rebel, heavily influenced by the iconic Che Guevarra. He has the temperament of a PL0 freedom fighter, adopting in fact, the Arab keffiyeh as his trade mark headdress when he was in love or in a bad mood, mostly the latter.
The following is culled from my notes as a starting newsman in the late 60s.
Apart from the war between the Beatles (rebels) and the Monkees (para military), there is another deadly conflict that rages without publicity in Central Luzon. It is a protracted power struggle between two press lords, both exiles to, but not natives of, Angeles City.
The combatants have been waging relentless guerrilla warfare against each other, strife complete with assassinations (character), ambuscades (of legal notices and ads), direct encounters (inside business firms) and recruiting (rosters and combat support).
The area of conflict involves unsettled disputes and bitter rivalry in professional operations, dragging along, in various severe encounters, personality incompatibility. Each contestant, in past and present showdowns, wanted to assert personal supremacy over the other, including superiority of verbal firepower and service support by local newsmen.
The antagonists are my chief, Don Armando P. Baluyut, publisher of the Voice and Don Tomas San Pedro, owner-editor of "Luzon Courier", on the other.
While no casualties among supporters have been reported, the combatants are locked in struggle over advertising revenues as well as questions as to who between them has stronger credentials or better performance, for instance, in the number of American shoes each contestant has acquired. The protagonists have thus developed a balding scalp (Don Armando) and graying hair (Don Tomas).
Like the Monkees and the Beatles, the two are not on speaking terms with each other. Their power struggle has lately been aggravated by the fickle and unsteady support furnished by service and combat support, which could compose of the following:
Silvestre Songco of the Times-Mirror; his compadre, and rival, the ubiquitous Lino Sanchez, Sr. of the Pampanga Tribune, Times-Mirror-Taliba; Boots Maglaqui of the Herald; firebrand (Carl) Max Sangil of Daily Star; Mar Pangilinan of the Chronicle; Fred Roxas of PNS, the enterprising Lino Sanchez, Jr. of Mirror Magazine and the Nepo mart; Rolly Lingat of DZAB radio and the Voice, businessman Lito Suarez, Querubin Fernandez of the VOICE and Pedro Sangil of dzAB.
I do not know which side the OLIVAS Boys are on, but if I know Tatang Beting Songco, I am sure he will not give aid and comfort to the "Courier" because the former receives Holy Communion every Sunday and recites devoutly his novenas every day, while the Courier is a devout Protestant and a regular layman preacher at the Methodist church on Lourdes Northwest in Angeles. Besides, "Father" Songco prefers the "Te Deum" to San Pedro's "Rock of Ages," a Methodist hymn.
Tony Torres, mediator of the Pampanga newsmen with generals and Olivas spokesman, knows about this running feud as does his able counterpart at the Clark Air Base, Ric Tuazon. Tony and Ric by the way are as indispensable to Central Luzon as the I PC Zone and the 13th Air Force are to this country.
Even as the Beatles and the Monkees pursue each other beyond the boundaries of Pampanga; the Voice and the Courier carry their running fight outside their respective places of publication.
For instance, the Courier is known to be circulated inside Clark Field, a tactical move that could gain American readership and possible patronage and PX items for the paper's owner. If the Courier has gained the respect of the Americans, it is very unfair if the Voice was not accorded the same privilege. So the Voice started sending copies not only to the Air Base Info Office, to the 13th Air Force commander, but also to Ambassador Williams at the US Embassy.