SunStar Davao alumni: Where are they now?

SUNSTAR Davao turned 24 on September 7, 2019.

As we recall its humble beginnings in 1995 from a daily newspaper then later on coming out with its own website and the Davao Yearbook and recently producing digital videos for marketing clients, Best of Davao, Artist in Focus and the Weekly Newsbits, here are few of the many former employees who made their mark in making the company where it is now.

Former editor-in-chief Stella A. Estremera, currently general manager of Mountain Haven Development, was already around as an editor since she was 22 when Ang Peryodiko Dabaw transitioned to Sun.Star Davao in 1995. Thus, she practically learned everything in adulthood in the company, citing strict mentors who embedded her in high morals and an aversion to corruption.

"The most valuable lesson? Sticking to your principles without unnecessarily insulting others. I valued the learning environment at Peryodiko, which I ensured would be carried on in Sun.Star," she said.

She continues to mentor the current staff, encouraging them to explore all their talents and capabilities just as she was allowed to run free with company's facilities and thus became the first and only editor who ran the pioneering desktop publishing programs, making Peryodiko the first in desktop publishing.

She still writes her regular column and contributes feature stories.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Charles Raymond A. Maxey's 18 years with Sun.Star Davao from being a City Hall beat reporter (since he joined Ang Peryodiko Dabaw in 1989) to becoming a sports reporter then sports editor and to business editor to news editor helped mold him to be a person for others and to do public service through his journalism.

"Working for the paper allowed me to meet so many people, people with different attitude and characteristics," Maxey said.

Meanwhile, Kriztja Marae G. Labrador was first an intern in 2013 and she eventually worked with Sun.Star Davao after graduating in 2014. She was promoted as an editor after her one-year stint as a reporter.

From covering general beat to justice beat, she later became a lifestyle editor.

"More than being on the front page, I always feel accomplished whenever I see how my stories have impacted others, touched lives and how my stories became a channel for little voices to be heard or places to be known," Labrador, who is currently assigned at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait under the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), said. She also served as Dole 11's information officer before her assignment abroad and contributes to the media company as a lifestyle columnist.

News Information Bureau (NIB) director Virgina "Gigie" Arcilla Agtay, for her part, introduced Sun.Star Davao's best journalism and newsroom practices to over 200 employees.

"Nothing compares to my more than a decade of work at Sun.Star Davao where I learned journalism hands on. The day-to-day grind was like learning a masteral and PHD degrees. It is with Sun.Star Davao where I learned, among other things, how to lead and create change in the communities. Sun.Star Davao is my second home and my journalism school," she said.

The NIB is an attached agency of the Presidential Communications Office and the Philippine News Agency (PNA) is one of the four major divisions in the bureau. The latter has 19 bureaus nationwide with 10 editors and 20 reporters at the central desk.

Presidential Photographers Division (PPD) chief John Quineth "King" Rodriguez, former Sun.Star Davao photojournalist, manages the workflow of the division, which produces official photo releases of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. He is also a close-in photographer of the President.

He said, "Since day one, Sun.Star Davao managed to strengthen my core on how to approach things professionally; how standards are being set properly; and to maintain a good attitude."

Rhealyn Pojas, who was with Sun.Star Davao for over two years after getting her AB Communication Studies diploma at the Mindanao State University Main Campus in 2015, is currently working as a journalist in the Republic of Palau since 2017 when she resigned.

"I always consider my experience at Sun.Star Davao as the strong foundation of my journalistic career. When faced with dilemma in my current job, I always look to the lessons I learned there to come up with a decisive action pertaining to handling the newsroom and other editorial matters. Aside from that, Sun.Star Davao also inspires me to always think outside of the box and to groom a newsroom that is innovative," she said, also lauding the current social media team for bringing the Best of Davao, which she helped launched when she was a lifestyle editor, to greater heights.

Pojas won the Globe Media Excellence Awards (GMEA) Reporter of the Year for Print award in 2016 and was also a finalist in the same award in 2017.


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