Today the Visayan DAILY STAR trek marks its pearl anniversary with a celebration of 30 years of journalism with a passion.
The STAR anniversary rites will be held at Planta Centro Hotel in Bacolod City at noon today.
Thirty years ago disgust at the way big interests were trying to influence the way the previous newspaper they were connected with was covering the Central Azucarera de La Carlota strike at the start of the 80's, drove a group of journalists to band together and start the Visayan DAILY STAR.
The three were Ninfa Leonardia, Modesto Sa-onoy and Primo Esleyer, who in March 1982 decided they did not want to be dictated upon by business and political interests and would rather venture into their own newspaper.
Sa-onoy and Leonardia were glumly sitting in a car in front of her house discussing their disappointment at how the newspaper they were connected with was going, when he half-seriously broached the idea of their starting their own paper.
But Leonardia was apparently of the same mind and approved his suggestion immediately. They then brought Esleyer into their plan.
The "Three Musketeers" rallied friends and relatives to invest P5,000 each along with them, and in a few weeks launched the Visayan DAILY STAR on April 12, 1982, amid snickering from the powers-that-be that they would not be able to make a go of it.
Later members of the staff and other writers also took pay cuts in exchange for stocks in the newspaper. When the STAR began it was called the Newsmen's Newspaper with Esleyer as chairman and first editor, Sa-onoy as president, Leonardia as treasurer and chairman of the editorial board, Albert Lim as manager and printer, and Rafael Golez as office manager.
College journalism professor Allen del Carmen actually did the editing work and Leonardia, who was working at a local bank, squeezed in time from her work there to mentor reporters and the staff.
She also used her salary from the bank on many occasions to pay the salaries of the staff when the paper was not making enough money until she retired from the bank and took on the role of editor-in-chief of the DAILY STAR full time.
Other stockholders of the paper aside from Leonardia, Esleyer and Saonoy are Andres Leonardia, Coo By Giok (Roberto Uyquiengco), Segundo Chua, Carmen Lim, Rafael Golez, Rodolfo Señido, Teody Lopingco, Simplicio Gamboa Jr., Josefa Puentevella, Hugo Corral Jr., Nestor Jalandoni Jr., Fely Vergara, Benjamin Ortega, Erlinda Jara, Ruperto Go, Enrique Dy, Romeo Uy , Virgilo Duyongco, Rafael Salvador, Ramon Ledesma, Rolando Espina, Ruperto Toga, Star Printing Corporation, Carla Gomez, Mary Ann Barcelona, Maja Dely, Eli Francis Tajanlangit and Glenn Vincent Leonardia.
Original stockholders of the paper who have passed away are Primo Esleyer now represented by Sonia Theresa Esleyer Avelino, Larry Tronco and Dr. Romulo Ramos represented by Joan Tronco, Emma Guatelara represented by Ma. Theresa Guatelara-Ancheta, Judge Edmundo Palermo represented by Ann Marie Palermo, Dr. Rodolfo Lacson, Santiago Alacapa represented by Bella Alacapa, Virgilio Arisola, Eduviges Gasataya and Roberto Espacio represented by Corazon Espacio.
Two years after the newspaper started, mounting costs of printing and supplies almost drove the STAR to the ground.
It was the height of the Marcos rule and Negrenses wanted their independent local newspaper to survive, so when the STAR officers went to relatives and friends to once again ask for funds to start a printing press, they came across.
The investors were warned not to expect to make a profit as they were investing in the printing press to help subsidize the costs of producing the DAILY STAR.
It was largely through the efforts of Sa-onoy and Andres Leonardia that Star Printing Corp was born. And it was Star Printing that enabled the STAR to stay afloat.
Its investors are Ninfa Leonardia, Primo Esleyer, Modesto Sa-onoy, Armando Arceo, Roy Aguilar, Eduviges Gasataya, Napoleon Gonzaga, Rodolfo Lacson, Ramon Ledesma, Andres Leonardia , Cesar Leonardia, Perla Leonadia, Edgardo Lizares, Lodiffi, Wilfredo Mirasol, Fred Pflieder, Jose Ramos, Remo Ramos, Rinaldo Remitio, Rogelio Tongson, Enrique Rojas, and Carla Gomez.
The current board of the Visayan DAILY STAR is composed of Hugo Coral Jr. as chairman, Ninfa Leonardia - president, Enrique Dy - vice president, Rafael Golez - secretary and treasurer with Ramon Ledesma, Andres Leonardia and Glenn Leonardia as directors.*CPG
Some of the awards received by the DAILY STAR
1991 – “Most Outstanding Provincial Newspaper” from the Rotary Club of Manila
1991 – Significant Achievement Award – from Rotary International District 385
1992 – Distinguished Service Awrad - Rotary Club of Bacolod-South
1996 – Best in Business Reporting - Philippine Press Institute/Konrad Adenauer Foundation
1997 Best in Science and Technology Reporting – from Philippine Press Institute
1997 – Best in Business Reporting – Philippine Press Institute/Konrad Adenauer Foundation
2003 Outstanding regional Newspaper – Rotary Club of Manila
2006 – Best Editorial Page – Gerry Gil Foundation/ Philippine Press Institute