Picture a bike loaded, front and back, with a hundred copies of the Visayan DAILY STAR, and a lanky driver darting in and out of early morning traffic, as he makes the rounds of his regular “suki”, from Bacolod to Talisay City.
This was what Manong Leo Almoete Pabalinas recalled was his routine when he started delivering the paper in 1984, two years after the DAILY STAR hit the newsstand.
He was 28 then, newly married, with one son.
Manong Leo (center) with the other newsboys*
It was difficult, he said, balancing his load while ensuring that he stayed clear of speeding cars. But he persevered since, as a college dropout, he had no other means to support his family.
For every copy he sold at P2.50, he earned P1.
Helping gather the DAILY STAR (left)*
Still, the selling was brisk, Manong Leo said, because there was no competition that time. Another local paper that time, “Iwag” was published thrice a week, and the national broadsheets arrived late from Manila.
His growing family also helped sell the paper. His wife, Belen, put up a mini-newsstand at the Capitol Lagoon. When the children came, they too, assisted in delivering copies to an increasing number of subscribers, before going to school.
The kids woke up as early as 4 a.m. so they have time to deliver the newspaper. The pesos they earned were used partly as their “baons”, and as savings, Manong Leo said.
He believes it was this shared routine and the hard work and dedication that taught the children to be responsible and to value every hard-earned centavo.
“I thank God every day for giving me responsible and loving children,” Manong Leo said in the vernacular. “I may come from a poor family, and still poor, but my kids grew up decent and respectful. That is what every parent wishes for in his or her child.”
Manong Leo (back) with children Rhea, Rhynz and Rhyzel (l-r)*
He is thankful to the paper, and the Gonzales family, biggest distributor of newspapers and magazines in Negros Occidental, for the help in sending the children to college. “My family and I owe them a lot.”
The eldest daughter, Rhea, 36, graduated as chemical engineer, and works for a transnational company based in Batangas; the surviving son Rhynz Leo, 24, is a mechanical engineer; and Rhyzel Mae, 17, is taking up accountancy at the University of St. La Salle.
Manong Leo still delivers the DAILY STAR, at a minimum of 200 copies a day. His loyalty and sense of routine and continuity, keep on, but this time, on a motorcycle.*