BY ROGER M. BALANZA
How did I become a member of the Davao print media and editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper in Davao City on the first day of my work?
This is my story.
Sometime in 1985, the artist in me produced cartoons which led me to be hired as editorial cartoonist of the Mindanao Daily Mirror.
I was then the Davao Ports representative of the Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL), an association of international liners calling on Philippine ports. My main job was break-bulk export marine cargo surveyor (shipping lines could not issue bills of ladings without my report). My Davao office (at the ground floor of the post-WW II Columbian Philippines building at Airport Road-JP Laurel Avenue) also provided outbound cargo tariff rates to local agents of ocean-going members of AISL like Maersk, American President Lines, Everett Lines, Eastern Shipping Lines, etc.
The job paid well and I had ample time to spend for my doodling, a childhood habit that developed into serious cartooning.
By then, I was already submitting pieces to Mirror (one of my joys then was hearing Mirror matriarch the late Anita Flaviano saying “ Ara na si Roger” every time I arrive at the Mirror office at Magsaysay Avenue to submit my cartoon.
I lost my AISL job when shipping containerization entered the marine cargo shipping world, and my office had less break-bulk cargo to measure in Davao. To while myself in those days joblessness, I continued to submit my art works to Mirror.
One day, Jorge Marques came looking for me for art works and lay-out for a new magazine that he and wife Dolly was planning.
He offered me a sum and located me at the office of the Daily San Pedro Express in Luna Street where Dencia’s now stands. Dolly was related to the Express publisher Nilo Claudio. She was then the social page writer of the Express.
One late afternoon at my new office, I noticed that Claudio would hover at my back as I was pounding the typewriter, apparently to read what I was doing.
I would learn later that on that day, he was suffering from an editorial crisis. The day before, Express’ editors Vic Sumalinog and the Bert Tesorero had resigned over editorial policies. They had both transferred to Mirror.
You can write, Nilo told me. He gave me pieces to edit and rewrite that he read after I was done.
You are now my editor, he said.
The offer was shocking. Although I knew I could write.
That is how this high school graduate from the Holy Cross of Davao (64-65) who has not an iota of experience in newspapering became an instant editor of the San Pedro Express, then one of only two daily newspapers in Davao City.
And it was Jorge and Dolly Marques behind it all.
Hppy 40th Wedding Anniversary friends!