The host of a radio station’s night talk show contacted by phone a reporter of its sister TV station. The reporter was then in Dumaguete City to pursue the story on the killing of lawyer Noel Archival. Archival was returning from a court hearing in Dumaguete when his vehicle was ambushed by armed men in Dalaguete, Cebu.
After getting an update from the reporter, who said “Mayor” was with him, the host asked that the mayor be put on the line.
For 30 minutes or so, the two talked about the incident, with the host believing it was the Dumaguete mayor he was interviewing.
It was not. The interviewee was a cameraman known to TV co-workers as “Mayor.”
The host learned he was talking to the wrong mayor only after a colleague texted him. Cameraman “Mayor” had no inkling that the host didn’t know who he was; he thought he was being asked, as someone who had visited Dumaguete, for a “situationer.”
The publisher of a Manila-based daily summoned his editor-in-chief and scolded him over what he read in a competing newspaper.
“Why the heck did you not get this story? Are your editors napping? It’s the banner headline of the competition.”
The headline read: “Labor Day today.”
The publisher loved to tell the story, swearing it was true. The editor-in-chief would neither confirm nor deny it.
The paper that “outscooped” them no longer banners that kind of stories but still makes money from its classified ads, its major drawing power.
Fleeing from Tagalog
In the early 1990s, Roger Vallena (now news editor of Sun.Star Superbalita [Cebu]) worked as reporter for dyRF.
There was a nationwide transport strike and Radio Veritas called up dyRF for a Cebu situation report.
Vallena was the one who picked up the phone.
He tried to explain that he had to write down his story as he was not fluent in Tagalog. The news anchor in Manila, however, put him on air before he could finish his request. And he had to struggle in making a news report, struck with fear as he strung together the few words of Tagalog he was familiar with.
Finally, sensing that his vocabulary of the “national language” was about to run out, he put down the phone and fled in terror to the comfort room.
Years back when Philippines News Agency (PNA) sent by teletype news from Manila and received news from bureaus in key cities of the country, the news desk was alerted of a coming big story by the ringing of the bell.
The bell was a device in the machine and set off by the sender of the story.
One bureau (not the Cebu PNA) had the annoying habit of ringing the bell even for such stories as ribbon cutting at an inaugural or a flag ceremony cancelled because of bad weather.
One day, a top official of PNA Manila who happened to be in the newsroom rushed to the teletype when the bell was repeatedly rung, only to read another innocuous story from the bureau.
The chief himself replied with this message, in angry all caps, “STOP RINGING THE DAMN BELL. IT’S NOT YET CHRISTMAS!” —Pachico A. Seares and Cherry Ann T. Lim
A proofreader’s slip on Don Sergio’s day
By Rel P. Micame
Fresh from college at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, I landed a job as proofreader* of “New Day” (“Bag-ong Adlaw”), a thrice-a-week newspaper in English and Cebuano-Bisaya edited and published by the late Don Ramon Abellanosa in Cebu City.
Aside from proofreading, I also was a stringer covering City Hall. I worked with veteran journalists Ben Carredo, Buddy Quintana, Jose del Mar and Hilario “Dodo” Embrado.
Our office was on the second floor of the then Cebu Center Building at Colon-P. Lopez-Osmeña Blvd. intersection, where the Gaisano Metro now stands.
The paper was printed at Pioneer Press along Osmeña Blvd., beside the present Land Bank.
Sept. 9, 1960 was the birthday of Cebu’s Grand Old Man, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr., for which special occasion the paper put out an 18-page special issue. Nyor Ramon suspended publication for five days to prepare for the thick edition (by its standard at the time).
The printers used the letterpress system: linotype, minerva, flatbed, the kind of equipment you now see at Museo Sugbo’s CJJ Gallery.
On the eve of Sept. 9, the birthday celebration, Dodo, as associate editor, and I, as proofreader, worked on the front and back pages, the inside pages having been composed and printed in advance.
I okayed the proof of the front page at about 4 a.m., exhausted by the successive nights of working late for the special edition. Dodo later woke me up to point out an error in a heading beside the banner, which said “Message from His Excellency Presidet (instead of President) Carlos P. Garcia.”
We asked the “cajista” to erase letter “t” in “Presidet” and superimpose the letters “nt.” He had to do it by hand so we asked him to make the correction only on 10 copies, which we placed on top of the pile of newspaper copies.
Knowing how close the publisher was to President Garcia, Dodo suggested that we should not go home to our respective boarding houses and disappear for a while. We fled.
As expected, Nyor Ramon ranted and fumed over the mistake, which didn’t escape his attention despite the subterfuge. When he couldn’t find us, he threw a chair or two and broke a flower vase.
I didn’t lose my job, but I was properly chastised by the experience.
* A proofreader reads the printer’s proof and marks corrections as he compares the typeset text against the original the editor edited and approved. The job has long been phased out, with the page editor now watching out for errors in each story on the assigned page. And no smudges of printer’s ink on his hands.
(The incident must have so seared into writer Rel Micame’s mind that he wrote about it three times in a row, in three anniversaries of Don Sergio’s birthday [2003, 2004 and 2005], in his column in Sun.Star Cebu’s Bridge Cities section. This piece is abridged from his long article.)