TODAY I bid all those who faithfully followed my column on INQ7.net a very sentimental farewell. Until two Fridays ago, Nov. 24, this departure was not in the stars. I never had any inkling whatsoever that I will be making this move.
But things do happen, with the hand of Divine Guidance, if we have the faith to trust the Divine. The Philippine Star publisher and top columnist Max V. Soliven rejoined our Maker last Nov. 24 and that sudden development triggered the chain of events that led to this decision.
Max and I were both part of the founding of the top two English-language newspapers in the country today: the Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Philippine Star.
Elfren Cruz (who became head of the Presidential Management Staff and governor of Metro Manila during the Cory Aquino administration) and I brokered the partnership between Betty Go-Belmonte and Eugenia Apostol that gave birth to the Inquirer.
Elfren and I were actively involved in fighting the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, and in 1985 it was announced that a snap presidential election would be held on Feb. 7, 1986. We deliberated on how we could fight the Marcos media monopoly and awesome propaganda machinery. There was hardly any major newspaper and national broadcasting network that would support the opposition cause.
We realized that if we could put together two people who had never dealt with each other before, we could establish a major newspaper, one that would give the opposition a voice. Those two persons were Betty Go-Belmonte and Eggie Apostol. Betty's family owned presses that could publish over 250,000 broadsheet copies a day; while Eggie had the editorial staff (which included Max Soliven), which was producing the Mr. & Ms Friday Supplement. As fate would have it, Elfren was very close to Eggie and his wife Neni was writing for her; while Betty and I were like brothers and sisters.
Elfren and I first spoke with Eggie. She was receptive to the proposed partnership. I then spoke with Betty about our meeting with Eggie. Betty was one of the biggest supporters of Cory Aquino; in fact, it was through her that I first met Cory, at Cory's Times Street home in 1983, shortly after Ninoy was interred.
As was the standard operating procedure for Betty: She prayed over the proposal and sought guidance from the Lord. Betty always prayed and sought Divine guidance for her moves, and received guidance through her daily Bible readings. Her family has lived by this practice, and they always get their marching orders right. I've written about this in my "Amazing true-to-life success stories" column.
Subsequently, Betty got her guidance from a verse in her daily Bible reading, which she interpreted as her marching orders to enter into the partnership with Eggie. And as they say, the rest is history.
When Betty decided to leave the Inquirer, and Max and Art Borjal joined her, we all got together and formed The Philippine Star, in July 1986. Just as with her entering into the partnership with Eggie, Betty left the Inquirer after a Bible reading that told her to "Go you out from among them."
Strange indeed are the ways of the Lord. The Inquirer and the Star now occupy the top two market positions, fitting achievements for the legacies of EDSA People Power.
I wrote my first column in the Star, called it "As I Wreck This Chair," a reference to my ability to challenge the finest furniture and to the symbolic shaking of the seats of people in positions of power who have failed in the performance of their duties as public servants. But when I was conscripted to join the Cory administration in January 1987, I had to give up my column.
In 2001, Bobi Tiglao, who was not yet then a member of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Cabinet, invited me to write a column in INQ7.net. I felt challenged, because I had been through all the tri-media of radio, television and print, and INQ7.net offered the new media frontier: the Internet. I knew the potential of what they now call the third screen (first screen is cinema, second is television, and fourth is the cellular phone) and I've always been excited by the new experience of interactive media.
Inviting me to write for INQ7.net may have become one of the biggest regrets of Bobi Tiglao when he was already in the Arroyo administration. I had developed into one of the Arroyo administration's most vocal critics, read around the world through the average 1.5 million page views of INQ7.net.
Writing for INQ7.net was one of the greatest experiences of my now 40 years in the media (I started in radio as a disc jockey in 1967). The interactive nature of the medium has allowed me precious insights into the minds and hearts of many Filipinos who have bothered to e-mail me and share their reactions and views.
Were it not for my obligations and commitments to The Philippine Star, of which I am a part owner, and my closeness to Betty's family, I would not have considered leaving INQ7.net.
Starting Tuesday, Dec. 5, my "As I Wreck This Chair" column in the Star will resume after a 25-year pause.
Thus, on this my last High Ground column, thanks to all of you who have supported me all these years. God bless you all and our beloved country.
You may e-mail William M. Esposo at firstname.lastname@example.org