Spotlight on Armando Baluyut

SunStar Sangil
SunStar Sangil

This is a story wanting to be told and retold. The narrative is about town beat policeman who became newspaper publisher, radio commentator and a poet laureate. This is about mostly about Armando P. Baluyut.

These were the years when there were no fax machines, celfones, iPads and laptops yet. Correspondents of national dailies placed long distance calls to their newsrooms and it takes long hours before you can get connected. I belong to the second generation of reporters from Pampanga. My contemporaries were the late Ram Mercado, Marcelino Pangilinan, Rolando Lingat, Ely Julian, Lito Pangilinan, Rizal Policarpio, Joe Reyes, Johnny Gallo, And except for Lino Sanchez Jr. and Abner San Pedro who are now in their early eighties remain standing but no longe active. (The third generation reporters the likes of Bong Lacson, Tonette Orejas, Perry Pangan, Lincoln Baluyut, Noel Tulabut, Marns Dagumboy, Cha Cayabyab and few more others are still very active. There were those in their generation who went ahead to the great beyond, the likes of Sonny Lopez and Ody Fabian.

Now I want to tell the story of the first generation reporters of Pampanga. They should have been alive today they will be amazed on the stride made in local journalism. My favorite among them wasn’t even my brother Greg who started as a reporter of the defunct Manila Chronicle in 1949 with Monching Mitra and Art Sampang as colleagues. My favorite was Armando P. Baluyut aka Arpiba father of Lincoln. Apong Mandong was a former policeman from Bacolor town. He resigned as a copper and started publishing the newsweekly The Voice with no staff except for Lincoln and of course with some help from me and Ram. The publication saw its birth in 1955. Initially, the newsweekly was a tiring one man job with him as editor-publisher, proof reader, advertising and circulation manager altogether. The life blood of the paper were the judicial notices which he shared with Luzon Courier which was published by the late Tomas San Pedro.

Apong Mandong never really had an easy life. He was a beat policeman in the early years in Guagua town until he shifted his interest in publishing. He wrote prose and poetry mostly in the dialect. As a matter of fact he won a P3,000 prize money for a short story contest in 1981. In the literary circle he was known as Arpiba. Apong Mandong wasn’t rich but he was such a very generous ‘boss’. Every time I do paging and editing the Voice with Ram Mercado we were always treated local delicacies which he bought inside those stores inside the Bacolor public market. He would even brought extra for us to take home.

In those years, the most popular newspapermen in Pampanga were Silvestre Songco, Lino Sanchez Sr. , Tomas San Pedro, Macario Fabian, Hector Soto, Marcelino Pangilinan, Butch Maglaqui and my brother Greg. Newsmen based in Camp Olivas were the more popular and influential considering their proximity to and their state of rubbing elbows with the military top brass. It was also in those years when the Philippine Constabulary had four zones and Camp Olivas was the headquarter of the 1st PC Zone. The there were only few constabulary generals in the whole organization? Notable among those assigned in Camp Olivas were Generals Lucas Cauton, Rafael Ileto, Felizardo Tanabe, EmilioZerrudo, Tomas Diaz and Romeo Gatan among others

The local publishers like Apong Mandong and Tatang Tom had the unusual knack of knowing where to get financial support/advertising. Their invited columnists were the one espousing causes and undertaking individual crusades. In my case I was not contented being a correspondent of a national newspaper and one of Apong Mandong’s columnists. In between newspapering, I engaged myself in other ventures and became a radio commentator of the two radio stations in Angeles City, the Puyat owned DZAB and the DZYA, owned by the late Boss Danding Cojuangco.

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