“To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper…”
The Catanduanes Tribune marks its 40th year in community journalism today, March 3, 2021.
What it has undergone in the past four decades can probably be enough for two or three books. But the untimely demise of its founding publisher, Fredeswindo T. Gianan Sr., in May 2000 seals forever in his memory a large part of the Tribune’s history.
It is claimed that, with a sizeable loan from the kingpin of Catanduanes politics, Congressman Jose M. Alberto, the former Catanduanes Collegian editor-in-chief began putting out the paper with its first issue on Feb. 11, 1981, shortly after then President Ferdinand Marcos lifted Martial Law.
The declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972 had put an end to the growing circulation of the Tribune in the early 70’s, with Gianan’s love for the newspaper business lying dormant for nine years.
When the first issue came out, there was no stopping the former Court of First Instance interpreter, with the grateful public catapulting him to a seat in the board of directors of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. and later to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
It was not all success and fame, however, as onion-skinned politicians filed several libel cases against the publisher, including a particularly vengeful one who used the police to raid the family farm, seize old lumber and later sued Gianan, his wife and the current publisher for illegal logging.
While the cases were later dismissed, nothing can recompense the Tribune family for the troubles it brought, especially when several incidents of harassments occurred, from threatening phone calls to actual physical harm.
In those days, they had make the news articles on the two manual typewriters, with columnists Benny Bagadiong, Joel Panti, Jex Lucero or Samuel Besa pecking on the keys in turn from Friday to Saturday morning.
With all packed in an envelope, the Tribune materials – typed articles and photos – were brought to the Virac port to be send through a Naga-bound passenger or to Cabcab in San Andres.
By Wednesday noon, it was time to pick up the 1,000 copies in two bound packages from either ports and brought back to the Gianan family residence where more than 40 newsboys waited.
For two decades, this became a weekly routine. The newsboys grew older and were replaced by others, with one of them becoming country vice president of an international satellite communications company.
When the internet age began and changed the world, this familiar routine changed, too. Added was the responsibility of putting the articles into the website.
Newsboys started dwindling as the public schools began taking away their free time. Today, only three regular street sellers of the newspaper remain, with the rest of the copies distributed to distributors in the 11 towns.
In 2008, the Tribune borrowed funds for a major investment for its future.
It put up its own printing press and now has enough paper and ink in stock and even its own power source, ensuring that the paper came out during the lockdown months and after super typhoons.
What has not changed is the time allotted for its editor, writers and columnists: Monday to Friday to find the news and the weekend to put it on paper or, shall we say, the digital file.
Week after week, they strive to gather information or enough inspiration to write incisive or entertaining columns, enduring the frequent headaches and occasional shortfall in funds.
For the Tribune’s writers, there is nothing more satisfying than its articles and opinion pieces informing and enlightening the community such that it would be better guided in their day-to-day lives.
One week to do the job, for 52 weeks, is all we need for now, with the hope that the Almighty gives the Tribune four decades more.
Thank you, dear readers!