How a wee woman's gigantic faith led to the STAR
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-07-28
Today is a milestone for The Philippine STAR. It was 25 years ago when the faith of a wee woman — our Founding Chairman Betty Go Belmonte-led to the birth of The Philippine STAR.

For those who will see the state of The Philippine STAR today, you’ll get the impression that it was an easy decision to make to put up the paper. That’s because you’re seeing the success. However, if you were with us, the original founders of the Philippine STAR, 25 years ago — you’ll find that it was tough call to make.

By the time we were to launch The Philippine STAR, there were already 21 other publications that have sprouted nationwide after the restoration of democracy on February 25, 1986. We became publication number 22 in the post-EDSA era.

In fact, during one of our meetings at the Belmonte residence in Quezon City, now Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Betty’s husband, sat across us on the other sala set and was shaking his head in disbelief over what we were planning to embark on. At the time, the logical thing for Betty to have done was to protect her dues at the Philippine Daily Inquirer which was launched as a partnership between Betty and then Inquirer publisher, Eugenia “Eggy” Apostol.

My friend Elfren Cruz and I were instrumental in forging the Belmonte-Apostol Inquirer partnership. I was close to Betty while Elfren’s wife, Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, worked for Eggy. The rousing success of the Inquirer was followed by a series of big disappointments for Betty. She discovered that many things she assumed would be implemented would not be undertaken.

As is always the case with Betty, she prayed for the Lord’s guidance. She asked if it was His will for her to continue being with the Inquirer. “Go you out from amongst them” Betty read from her Bible verses that day and that decided things for Betty. She cut her ties from the Inquirer and soon assembled the original cast of The Philippine STAR.

How many people do you know would have turned their backs from a successful venture like the Inquirer on the prodding of a Bible verse? How many people do you know would have trusted the assurance of a Bible verse that The Philippine STAR will be a success that’s made in Heaven? Betty Go Belmonte had such a faith and The Philippine STAR today is a monument to her gigantic faith.

Even when my dearest friend and STAR founding Chairman, Betty G. Belmonte, was still with us, STAR shareholders have been consistently receiving cash dividends. Over the last six years alone, STAR annual cash dividends to shareholders have doubled!
Just how many Philippine companies are there who paid double their annual cash dividends to shareholders compared to annual cash dividends paid to them in 2005 and earlier years? From all indications, STAR will again pay the same amount in annual cash dividends for the year 2011.

In the newspaper business, there are the usual breast beatings about being numero uno in circulation. Talk is cheap. The business bottom line is the real thing. Business bottom line reflects advertiser trust that the publication is widely read and credible.

For the STAR to consistently lead in ad revenues is reaffirmation that the STAR delivers the advertising messages to their intended consumers — efficiently and effectively.

Other solid indicators about the impressive state of your Philippine STAR are the following verifiable facts.

1. The Philippine STAR has no debt. We don’t owe any bank or person any money.

2. The STAR printing company bought all its printing equipment with money up front, in CASH.

3. The Philippine STAR is easily the favorite of the suppliers of the publication trade. We offer advance payment for better prices.

4. The Philippine STAR is easily the biggest consumer (among publications) of newsprint, ink, printing plates and so forth - a sure sign of who really publishes the most number of copies.

5. Philippine STAR employees get 18 months pay and this is guaranteed by the management and owners regardless if the publication makes a profit or not in a given year. Luckily for us, we have been consistently profitable. Maybe it is what the Bible promised — the return of generosity by a hundredfold.

6. Philippine STAR employees also enjoy housing benefits. Over 400 families now live in STAR villages located in Canlubang, General Trias, Cavite and San Pedro, Laguna. STAR shuttle buses service these housing areas.

Two types of companies attract offers to buy in. The first type is the badly-managed company with a big unrealized potential. The other type is the well-managed company that’s facing a great horizon.

It’s easy to see that the STAR is not a corporate disaster zone that would be seeking a sale relief or capital infusion but is one of the few Philippine companies that are still managing to remain lucrative, profitable and cash rich. The recent Media Quest buy-in is testament to that.

All these that we are reaping today, we owe to the gigantic faith of one wee woman.

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