TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014
Prayers, note of thanks for those who left INQUIRER FOUNDING COCHAIR BETTY
Go-Belmonte resigned from the INQUIRER on May 24, 1986. Founding board member Max Soliven resigned days later, on May 28, 1986.
Art Borjal, who was a columnist of the INand another board member, wrote his last column for the INQUIRER on June 15, 1986. In July 1986, Go-Belmonte, Soliven and Borjal founded the Philippine Star with SoQUIRER
liven as lead columnist and publisher. The INQUIRER staff was reorganized on Feb. 3, 1987, when the INQUIRER board of directors asked Beltran to relinquish his post as editor in chief, but to continue as daily columnist and member of the board. The board appointed Federico Pascual as editor in chief.
Beltran wrote his last column, “Straight from the Shoulder,” on Feb. 2. His name last appeared on the staff box on Feb. 26, 1987. Go-Belmonte died of cancer in January 1994. She was president of The Philippine Star at the time of her death. Beltran died of a heart attack on Sept. 6, 1994.
Soliven died of cardiac and respiratory arrest in November 2006. He was 77. At the time of his death, Soliven was publisher and chair of the board of The Philippine Star, People Asia magazine and Mabuhay, the inflight magazine of Philippine Airlines. He was also chair of the OB Montessori Center.
Present at the creation over ‘tapsilog’ From page 3
Tita Eggie wasn’t convinced. She was worried that the newsboys would not be able to sell it on the streets. “They would say ‘In-queerer! In-querrer!’” she said, mimicking street kids running around holding up the paper. “It’s going to be queerer and queerer.” Her idea was “JAJA”, a takeoff from the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All movement that had been born from the assassination. It was clear and concise, she argued, it was associated with the words “justice” and “Aquino” and a movement growing in popularity. Most important of all, it was easy for newsboys to say. Somehow, as she again mimicked a newsboy strutting about in her living room, with an imaginary newspaper repeating “JAJA! JAJA!” Tita Eggie finally paused and said, “OK, Philippine Inquirer.” Second point: content. Outside the 360 degree trial coverage, Philippine Inquirer had to have some other content to give it some added flavor. Here, using deeply disguised pseudonyms, the waning journalistic legacies crushed by martial law years were revived: Louie Beltran, Art Borjal, Max Soliven.
NPA’s hitlist Society columnist Maurice Arcache and photographer partner Alex Van Hagen provided their social scene coverage in the hopes of pulling in some business from Manila’s high society. Some of us cringed at this section at first, feeling it had nothing of substance to offer this type of publication. But we changed our minds when Fe pointed out it was, in fact, a very clear and graphic hit list for the New People’s Army’s assassination teams called Sparrow Units. Ah, a broader market. To balance it off, Mr. & Ms. Magazine editor Doris Nuyda was tasked to collate all press releases from the Malacañang news desk and compiled it in a special section called “The Week with the President” and a small subsection on Imelda’s press releases called “…and Mrs. Marcos”. They were practically unedited and provided a buffer for the more controversial material on the Aquino assassination trial coverage. And that went on nearly a year. And as the trial was about to wrap up and my story about what a sham it was from the start was about to go to press, Marcos again provided the impetus for Tita Eggie’s vision: he announced in a live satellite interview with American broadcast journalist Ted Koppel over ABC News that he would declare a snap presidential election, if only to prove that he still had the mandate of the people. Seeing that all the daily newspapers were Marcos controlled, she saw the need to equalize the snap election coverage. Thus, there we were, over tapsilog, shooting the sea breeze over the new Philippine Daily Inquirer. We would need to put together a bigger staff—news desk, reporters … the works. Those who were writing under pseudonyms would be called to the light and lead the paper. Recruitment, however, must be done with one steep and specific condition: work may last only two months. It was simple, really. Marcos could just close us down on a whim. That was the best case scenario. Worst case? Well, as the story goes (and this was a scene in that Edsa-inspired movie with Gary Busey called “A Dangerous Life”) all Marcos opposition was supposed to be shipped off to a concentration camp in Caballo Island (where the Philippine Military contingent to Liberia was quarantined for 21 days due to the Ebola virus). Tita Eggie—as seen in the movie—was number one on that list for arrest: Apostol, Eugenia D. And, no, it wasn’t in alphabetical order. But we didn’t know that then, as we discussed the new daily. She wanted me to take charge of covering the Marcos campaign and Malacañang. If I were as experienced then as I am now (I’m in my 50s) I would have said: “Are you nuts?” That was like being thrown in the lion’s den like Daniel. But I was in my 20s and felt indestructible, raring for some action.—Betty Go-Belmonte.
APOSTOL wanted to call her vision of a newspaper “Jaja.” The next few days were a frenzy of setting up facilities. Tita Eggie and I visited Betty Go-Belmonte for discussions and inspection for the use of their offices and printing facilities in 13th street corner Railroad in Port Area, Manila. Using Tita Eggie’s trusty Nissan pickup truck (converted like a station wagon), we would go to furniture shops along Buendia in Pasay City to buy chairs and tables, the cheaper the better. Secondhand typewriters were acquired, although as some sort of a favor for me she also bought a couple of Apple II clones from a supplier who looked like Mr. Magoo with thick glasses and a nerdy grin, since she was so into “the wave of the future.” Max Soliven, who was named publisher, arrived from Hong Kong and handed me a pair of ICOM VHF walkie-talkies to aid my Marcos coverage. I did not know what to do with them because they were just simple radio sets that worked if the line of sight was clear, no repeater system that will allow broad coverage. Hide behind a wall and the guy at the other end could not hear you. Besides, they did not come with battery packs. And so it finally came out. Dec. 9, 1985, Volume 1, Number 1. Headline: “It’s CoryDoy,” the story written by Belinda Olivarez Cunanan confirming the unification of the Marcos opposition, with Ninoy Aquino’s widow Cory picking up from the popular, mass-based call and Salvador Laurel, long time opposition politician, taking a back seat for unity. (Hmmm, sounds familiar.) Along these early days Max Soliven almost became the earliest casualty of Tita Eggie’s management style. He had caused a delay in the production of the newspaper by making it wait until his column was done. He was, after all, the publisher. She would not have any of it and so he threatened to pack up and leave. Tita Eggie raised an eyebrow. “Nobody is indispensible,” she said. The next day Max came to the office with a bag of siopao, which he handed over as a “peace offering” (his words) to Tita Eggie. She smiled her little smile, and as she turned around and passed me, handing me the siopao bag to share with the staff. That was that. Thus, it came to pass that the honor of being the earliest unemployment casualty went to one reporter who, assigned to the Manila International Airport, could not get beyond the departure ramp because he could not get accredited. Not having any stories and complaining about his lack of access to boot, the reporter found himself at the receiving end of the INQUIRER’s first editor in chief Louie Beltran’s first management decision: “You’re fired!” Later a quick succession of events—a sham election, a failed coup attempt, and a people’s revolt—put an end to Marcos’ plan for our Caballo island vacation. The staff of 40 or so reporters, editors and administrators suddenly found themselves with some measure of job security.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.