SunStar Daily burst into the life of Cebuanos in 1982. Forty years on, what was just a local paper in Cebu has become the anchor offering of the Philippines’ first online source of national news, delivering information to a global audience on multiple platforms.
Here’s a quick look at its journey from provincial paper to multi-hyphenate information enterprise.
The first issue of SunStar Daily comes out on Nov. 25. The newspaper has its editorial and business offices at Borromeo Arcade on F. Ramos St., Cebu City. The name is styled with a period between “Sun” and “Star” (Sun.Star Daily).
To accommodate its printing equipment, SunStar Daily moves to Osmeña Blvd., where it stays for the next 11 years.
It runs on its front pages black and white photos that jolt readers. It trains its guns on local officials, playing up both their achievements and lapses.
Its ownership by Anos Fonacier, a Marcos crony, makes SunStar Daily a target of boycott by Corazon Aquino-Laban supporters. This does not deter SunStar from making a balanced and fair reporting of events.
The maiden issue of SunStar Weekend, a weekly magazine published as a Sunday supplement, comes out on Nov. 27.
SunStar Daily introduces web offset printing, a process that prints 16 pages per simultaneous run and cuts and folds every four-page printed sheet. The use of the Web machine calls for a one-color front page, so the flag is redesigned from red and black to all black on the paper’s sixth anniversary.
SunStar Daily renovates its offices and modernizes further by networking its computers.
SunStar Daily journalists adopt their own Code of Standards and Ethics. Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan swears them into abiding by the Code.
Three singers record SunStar Daily’s vibrant jingle, whose lyrics reflect the image of the paper. The newspaper “that is Number One, that is the Biggest” had its jingle composed by music critic Mel Libre, arranged by Elvis Somosot and sung by Midnight Sun Song Festival winner Eva Santos and two University of San Carlos choristers.
SunStar Daily moves to its current home, the three-story SunStar building on P. del Rosario and Don Pedro Cui Sts.
SunStar Daily spawns the first Visayan daily tabloid, SunStar Superbalita [Cebu], the seed for other Visayan tabloids of the same mold in Cagayan de Oro and Davao.
Through joint venture agreements with other regional papers in growth centers in the country, SunStar Publications Network is born. The pioneering effort in regional publishing groups 11 dailies, seven weeklies and three magazines with Cebu’s SunStar Daily as the flagship.
Jesus B. Garcia Jr., who founded SunStar Daily in 1982, launches the Mabuhay News Service to provide SunStar papers with news photos from the nation’s capital.
The newspaper adopts black and yellow as its official colors. SunStar Daily shifts from all-black to full-color printing.
The SunStar Outreach Foundation is established.
SunStar Daily becomes the first community newspaper in the Philippines to publish a website.
SunStar News Service is launched to offer computerized and online news, features, commentaries, as well as graphic services of the SunStar network to other media and non-media subscribers in the country and abroad.
SunStar pioneers the regular use of colored news photos on Page 1.
It also introduces Community Force, a subsection of the Life and Leisure section that focuses on exemplary individuals and organizations and their ventures to help the community.
SunStar gets a major facelift. For the first time, the paper is redesigned from cover to cover.
Two SunStar offices are established — SunStar Management Inc. (Sunman), to help meet the operational needs of members of the SunStar network, and SunStar Network Exchange (Sunnex), to enable network members to share editorial materials and resources.
SunStar Daily changes its name to SunStar Cebu.
The Special Pages team is formed. It produces Cyber Café for the techies, netizens and lovers of electronica; Flip, on what the young want and how they think; Kids ‘R Us, a window through which children could see the world; Light, for the faithful; Shopping Bag, on how shoppers could get value for their money; and Life and Leisure, which leads off the various features of the paper’s “soft” section.
The SunStar Cebu library installs a search engine, allowing computerized retrieval of digital files of text and photos.
On May 10, SunStar Publishing, through new media department Sunnex, launches its first website pooling together the most important stories from Cebu and the affiliate papers. This is done by converting the SunStar Cebu website into a network website, SunStar Network Online, at the same URL, www.sunstar.com.ph.
SunStar launches the 250-page The Cebu Yearbook, an informative and entertaining coffee-table book on the events, personalities and milestones of the year in Cebu. It is the brainchild of SunStar Publishing’s pioneering president Jesus B. Garcia Jr., who sees the need to build a substantive and definitive database on Cebu in the year 2000 and beyond.
SunStar Cebu produces “SunStar Bull’s Eye,” the 12-page, full-color official newspaper of all Advertising Congress delegates.
SunStar Publishing launches its redesigned SunStar website, boasting of a message board, where readers can post their comments on the latest issues of the day; a classified power ads section divided into five categories: transportation, real estate, general items, services and machinery; and a jobs section that lists job openings, provides tips to job seekers and accommodates advertisements.
SunStar Cebu starts storing its issues in portable digital files (PDF).
The SunStar network website sees a surge in visitor traffic from Cebu and abroad, making it the second most popular Philippine website.
SunStar Cebu journalists amend the Code of Standards and Ethics to include, among others, provisions on the protection of journalists from harassment and rules on the use of materials from the Internet.
The SunStar Economic Forum, an annual presentation and discussion of economic issues and business opportunities in Cebu, is launched.
SunStar Publishing launches the Super Nobela with the release of 14 titles. The romance novels written in Bisaya and printed on low-cost paperback mark a milestone in the development of Bisaya as a language.
The Citizen Journalists program is introduced. Citizen journalists can now report in text and photos and express their opinions on community issues to print forums of the two papers and to the web log “Citizen Journalist” (www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/cj).
The SunStar Mobile Assistant is launched to allow readers to subscribe to news from Cebu or Davao, give feedback on what they read in the news, and send complaints and answers to SunStar’s forums by using their cell phones. Instructions are available at SS HELP after sending to 2871 for Globe and 216 for Smart.
SunStar Cebu acquires a new printing machine that is fully computerized with remote inking.
On its 25th anniversary, SunStar Cebu launches its e-paper.
SunStar launches Log On, a bi-monthly magazine on information technology.
SunStar ventures into video productions and launches its YouTube channel @SunStarPhilippines to provide content from the provinces to a global audience. In 2022, the channel has 46,800 subscribers.
In January, SunStar becomes the first in Cebu to broadcast live via the internet, through sunstar.com.ph, the Sinulog Grand Parade from the grandstand of the Cebu City Sports Center, kickstarting its live streaming innovations.
In May, SunStar Cebu opens a Twitter account that amasses 334,400 followers by 2022.
For its 15th anniversary in October, SunStar Superbalita Cebu launches the storybook “Matod Pa sa Lola ni Noy Kulas” to preserve Cebu’s tales and traditions. The 11-story compilation of selected Cebuano folklore is done in partnership with Smart Communications and the Central Visayas Studies Center of the University of the Philippines Cebu.
In March, SunStar publisher Jesus B. Garcia Jr. and SunStar Cebu and Superbalita Cebu editor-in-chief Pachico A. Seares hand over the reins to SunStar Publishing Inc. president and general manager Julius G. Neri Jr., SunStar Management president Gina G. Atienza, and new editors-in-chief Isolde D. Amante (SunStar Cebu) and Michelle P. So (Superbalita Cebu).
In October, the bi-monthly SunStar Bisdak Magasin rolls off the press as a paean to the Visayan language and a way to celebrate a shared identity.
SunStar Cebu opens a Facebook account on Jan. 26, 2011, gaining 2.15 million followers by 2022.
As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, SunStar organizes its first Jobs Fair in June and then hosts the first SunStar Football Cup on Nov. 17 and 18, with some players from the Philippine Azkals as special guests.
The official SunStar Cebu company song is released with the line: “It sets the lead, keeps the pace; it informs, it entertains.” Songwriters are SunStar soft pages writer Luis A. Quibranza III, SunStar columnist and page editor Lorenzo “Insoy” Niñal, and SunStar Superbalita entertainment editor Troy Ciar. Jude Gitamondoc and sound engineer and arranger Jad Bantug of 1032 Studios help turn the melody into a track arranged with instruments and vocals worthy of radio play. Jad performs the musical instruments needed, and the first Sinulog Idol Jacqueline Bual Chang and Cebu Pop Music Festival best interpreter Daryl Leong provide the vocals.
Following a test broadcast named “SunStar webcast” on July 5, SunStar formally launches the noontime webcast “SunStar Pilipinas” on Nov. 5, providing reports from communities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Aired over www.sunstar.com.ph, the webcast is the first among media companies in Cebu.
SunStar airs its first live stream of its election coverage via its YouTube channel, feeding news from two remote areas in Cebu City.
SunStar Cebu joins Instagram in September.
SunStar launches the mobile app My Sun.Star that allows users to personalize the content that they get through the app based on their preferences. A daily summary of the news around the country is also available through the app’s News Bits section, while services like Properties, Jobs, Lotto and Obituaries are just a thumb click away.
SunStar Web TV’s YouTube Channel is created. It carries SunStar’s newscasts and other interesting stories about the communities it covers.
SunStar undergoes a full redesign to allow for bigger photos, shorter text and more graphic elements on the newspaper page. SunStar is now styled without the period between “Sun” and “Star.”
In October, SunStar adopts a digital editorial workflow and content management system, as well as a new website design, to move faster into automated production and digitized content and multi-platform publishing.
SunStar begins the weekday Cebuano-language webcast “NewsBits” aired over Facebook.
Ma. Lourdes “Nini” Cabaero becomes editor-in-chief of SunStar Cebu, taking the reins from Isolde Amante in September.
ViveCast is launched. For Generation Z, by Generation Z, ViveCast is a digital movement that connects communities and sub-cultures through lifestyle content and human experience.
Expanding further in the digital space, SunStar launches website shows covering love advice – “Handos-Bira” and “Tambagi Ko, Noy Kulas,” sports –“Sports Ta Bai,” personalities and brand conversations – “Quick Talk.”
SunStar begins the English-language webcast “NewsBits Tonight” (renamed SunStar Tonight on Nov. 25, 2020).
It live streams interviews through “Tell it to SunStar,” now a web show after years of being the name for offline interviews with political figures who came to the SunStar Cebu office.
SunStar develops the SunStar Best of Cebu app to make its dining and lifestyle guide accessible on mobile devices.
Nini Cabaero hands over the top duties in the newsroom to Michelle So, who leads SunStar Cebu as executive editor from Jan. 1, while concurrently serving as Superbalita Cebu editor-in-chief.
On Michelle So’s retirement, Cherry Ann Lim becomes SunStar Cebu’s fourth editor-in-chief on Nov. 1, while Roger Vallena takes the reins as Superbalita Cebu editor-in-chief.
SunStar Cebu launches its TikTok channel to provide showbiz and sports news, trivia and fast facts about events, celebrities and places. By 2022, it has 142,500 followers and 3.3 million likes.
SunStar live streams the May presidential elections with live reports from reporters in Cebu and Manila and situation reports from Davao and Bacolod.
On Aug. 26, Superbalita Cebu launches the “Kumusta Kap” weekly web show that discusses pressing issues in barangays.