The path I took when I embarked on a career in media didn’t go straight to SunStar Cebu, where I retired a few months ago after a little more than two decades of service. It began in dyLA, then had one stop in The Freeman before reaching SunStar. I set foot again yesterday in the offices of The Freeman for the celebration of its 100 years of existence.
I joined dyLA after months of staying in the headquarters of an intelligence unit based in Camp Lapulapu in Lahug. I had wanted to go back to the mainstream of society and since I once worked part-time in dyLA before I went underground, the radio station was my first bet. But dyLA was in transition and in tumult--and I loved writing, not talking.
I went to then dyLA station manager Cerge Remonde’s office carrying with me a handwritten endorsement from a military officer, who cleared me of any connection with the armed rebellion. Remonde was once active in the anti-communist movement. He, and to a certain extent then dyLA news director Leo Lastimosa, gave me the needed break in media.
But Lastimosa later transferred to dyRF and then to the then newly established dyAB while Remonde later ran for a congressional seat in Cebu City’s north district against Raul del Mar. When he lost, he was assigned to the Associated Labor Unions office in Manila. And then I got into a conflict with his replacement, Emil Fortuna.
So to The Freeman I went, reconnecting with my first love, the print medium. The paper itself was in transition, with the then editor-in-chief, Juanito Jabat, later pushed upstairs (as publisher} and replaced by Noel Pangilinan, former editor of the University of the Philippines Diliman paper, the Philippine Collegian. The Freeman was where I would grow as a journalist. My next stop, SunStar Cebu, was where I matured.
When The Freeman celebrated the 99th year of its existence, I noted in a Facebook post that I had fond memories of my stint in the paper--both in work and in my love life.
My participation in the struggle years before made sure I wouldn’t graduate in college. I was a young bachelor when I roamed the mountains, balancing political work with personal concerns, like forging relationships with the opposite sex. It was a difficult balancing act in the midst of the intensification of the struggle and the personal eventually got sacrificed.
I was an older bachelor when I was in The Freeman, a couple of years removed from two arrests and two incarcerations, the last time a relatively lengthy one. That was when I told myself never to forget personal concerns anymore and vowed I would be a married man before the turn of the millennium. It was in The Freeman where I met my now wife Edizza, and while we wed only after I transferred to SunStar, I still was able to fulfill my vow. We married in 1999.
I have other fond memories of the old Freeman: the male-dominated cramped newsroom in the old building, the transition from typewriters to computers, Mr. Jabat, Jerry Tundag, Beverly Lomosad, Abe Licayan, Glen Basubas, and many other personalities. Happy 100th!