NINFA R. LEONARDIA, editor-in-chief
The STAR would not have reached 30 years old without Ninfa Leonardia, who never gave up on it even when almost everyone else said it would not survive the trying years of the waning Marcos rule.
Leonardia stood pat on the need to write the truth even if it meant losing advertising revenues from government-controlled corporations for writing about protests against the sugar monopoly and other issues of the day.
Every payday was a miracle for the early staff of the paper, but Leonardia, who was then an official of the Development Bank of the Philippines, would use her salary to pay the staff when there was not enough from the paper’s income to go around.
The standard speech she has given every new reporter on the paper is – the integrity of the paper is important, our stories are not for sale to the highest bidder.
She has also constantly reminded the staff not to let the attention they get from public officials go to their heads, and to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground.
Leonardia has a Bachelors of Arts degree from La Consolacion College in Bacolod and has taken up journalism courses at the University of the Philippines.
She was the first female to be elected president of a Philippine press club, and as some members say, maybe in Asia.
Leonardia served as president of the Negros Press Club two times.
She also wrote news stories for Reuters, especially during the most critical days of the insurgency in the province, and has attended several dozens of journalism seminars and conferences. She has also travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and the U.S. and has covered several presidential state visits and APEC and ASEAN conferences.
She says that one of her biggest moments, after all the awards she had received for the DAILY STAR was when she was presented a citation by the Rotary Club of Manila as its president and editor-in-chief, where her fellow awardees were such icons of Philippine journalism as the late Maximo Soliven, Raul Locsin, Isagani Yambot, and Teodoro Benigno, and Amando Doronila, Belinda Oliveros Cunanan, Jessica Soho, Jerry Esplanada, and Howie Severino.*
CARLA P. GOMEZ, editor
Gomez has a Mass Communication degree from Silliman University and masters degree in journalism from the University of Arizona. She has always believed that journalism is a passion one pursues not just for the scoops but to make a difference for others.
When Gomez started at the STAR, it had a skeleton staff and covering politicians, military abuse, rallies of peasants and sugar planters crying for justice, trials of political prisoners facing trumped up charges, rebels in their lairs, and yellow rallies that led to the end of the Marcos regime were among the stories the paper pursued in those trying times.
Except for two years to pursue her masters degree in the United States, a Rotary Group Study Exchange trip to England, and a brief training for women editors in Singapore, Gomez has worked for the STAR for most of its 30 years.
On top of her desk work, she continues to cover the provincial Capitol beat, causes of communities and children in need of help, and political events. The fun is where the action is, she says.
She was a stringer for United Press International, has had articles published in American and Irish newspapers, and has also taught journalism at the University of St. La Salle and the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. She currently also writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
CHERYL GABRIEL CRUZ, desk editor
Cruz has a Mass Communication-Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines in Baguio City.
She was detained for one night at the Baguio City Jail along with around 20 local journalists and correspondents for national broadsheets due to the 1999 libel case filed by an Iloilo publisher. It was inside the jail’s comfort room that she counted 150 crisp P1,000 bills, wrapped in a sheet of yellow pad, to confirm receipt of the amount donated for the group’s bail bond.
She and her furry baby Wenty, then 2, relocated to Bacolod City in 2008. Cheryl relies on her baby to wake her up on the dot.*
NIDA A. BUENAFE, sports editor
Buenafe is a Mass Communication major in journalism graduate from the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, who started as a news writer before finding her niche in the sports page.
Her sports coverage has brought her to as far as Guangzhou, China during the Asia-Pacific Little League Softball Championship in 2008 and the remote areas of Antique during the regional PRISAA.
Being the only female, most of the time, in the predominantly male group of sportswriters, she has gotten used to hearing cuss words and swearing around her while covering tightly-contested games.
While she enjoys seeing the triumphant faces of athletes celebrating their victories, she would flinch and hide her face behind her notebook at the sight of injured players or bloodied faces of boxers while covering live tournaments.
Her most unforgettable experience in her beat was interviewing Ron Jacobs, the former coach of the national basketball team and the champion mentor of the Northern Consolidated Cement in the PBA. As she grew up having a crush on the likes of Hector Calma and Samboy Lim and was a die-hard NCC fan, getting the chance to interview coach Jacobs was a dream come true.*
PATRICK JAY P. PANGILINAN, business editor
Pangilinan is an AB in Mass Communication graduate from the University of St. La Salle.
Besides journalism, his other favorite subject in college was acting. When he’s not editing business stories, he’s scribbling notes on students’ essays.
During his police beat days, he re-learned the invaluable lesson that it is really not quite okay for a reporter to barge into a wake and interview grieving family members – except if he/she shares the same first name with one of them.*
GILBERT P. BAYORAN, senior reporter
Bayoran is a Mass Communication graduate of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos who has covered the military and police beats for the STAR for almost two decades, and is known to have news sources in the highest echelons of both establishments.
He is known in the newsroom as Gen. Bayoran.
Gone are the days when he used to collect posters of beautiful women, having covered local beauty pageants for almost a decade, including the Miss Earth international contestants.
"It is now a thing of the past, since I have already two beautiful women in my life, my wife and daughter," he says.
Bayoran also covers the provincial Capitol and political events, and is a correspondent of national broadsheet Malaya.
CHRYSEE SAMILLANO, CIty Hall beat reporter
Samillanowanted to pursue a degree in fine arts but her parents wanted her to be a nurse. After two years in nursing school an unhappy Samillano, shifted to B.S. Mass Communication and graduated at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.
She worked as a bank teller before joining the Visayan DAILY STAR. As a member of the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros and the Masskara Camera Club of Bacolod Inc., she enjoys taking pictures of people, places and events.
“When I first joined the DAILY STAR as a police beat reporter, I found myself caught in a near shoot-out in front of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative Office between elements of the Bacolod City police and the Regional Mobile Group due to a conflict between the city government and CENECO.
“While taking pictures of the action, I told the RMG personnel, who were armed with M-16 rifles, not to shoot since there were many bystanders around, but at the same time trying to look around for a place to hide in case a fire fight ensued," she says.
Today Samillano is the STAR reporter covering the City Hall beat.
In the newsroom she is known for working with grace under pressure, never losing her temper and forever soft spoken even in the most trying of times.
ADRIAN NEMES III, police beat reporter
Nemes III is an education graduate of La Consolacion College-Bacolod, where he was also the former editor-in-chief of the school’s official publication - The Ripples.
His training as a campus journalist earned him the Philippine Information Agency Region-6 Iwag Awards for the best performance in Campus journalism in the field of developmental communication in 2005. He has been in the media covering police stories for almost six years now. "Each day is memorable for me as I learn new things and encounter new people," he says.
Nemes who talks a mile a minute non-stop is the life of the newsroom and lovable pest. His colleagues have threatened to move his desk to the bathroom in order to gain reprieve from his chattering away.
LISA ANGELI GAPAC, business reporter
Gapac is a Mass Communication graduate of Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
"It was never my dream to become a journalist since I wanted to be a nurse. But because of fate, I ended up shifting courses. In the first two days of classes in 2005 I was a BS Physics student, but because I could not handle Mathematics and Calculus subjects all at once, on the third day, I finally found myself in the College of Mass Communication, which I never regretted," she says.
She has been a journalist for two years now covering the business beat for the STAR. "I have been in this profession for two years now but the essence of being a journalist does not count in years since journalism spells passion, determination, and credibility," she says.
The funny and the crazy side of Gapac is that she loves Korean Pop Music and buys albums of her favorite KPop idols. She says " Do not ask me if I understand their music because I will always say Yes I Do!"*
SHEERON DE LOS REYES TINGA, editorial assistant
Tinga is a Liberal Arts and Commerce graduate of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod and a mother of 9-year-old twin boys, and a 4-year old girl.
Her first day of work at the DAILY STAR was April 12, 2005, its 23rd anniversary.
"It is a good thing working at the newsroom, being updated in the current events in the region and around the world is like learning new things everyday," she says.
Tinga downloads news sent to the newsroom and is in charge of making sure columnists and correspondents send in their pieces on time.
"And one of the best things about working at the STAR is the nice people around you; it is like having somebody to lean on, to cry with and to laugh with," she adds.
"We may be busy at work, but we still find time to bond, like eating and watching our favorite TV program, American Idol," she says.*