For 25 years
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
This should have come out in of our anniversary issue this year but it was postponed and finally cancelled because of the pandemic. Too bad. There were even institutions that, as a show of support (thank you), sent in their ads already. Anyway, the chance will soon come again.
For 25 years, we never missed a beat. We always came out no matter the conditions. Even if it appeared that doing so was a folly at a great expense.
We braved the floods and the typhoons and landslides. For during such calamities, the people needed us most. They needed the right information, if not the inspiration to tide them over their unfortunate situations. There were a few times we got delayed due to natural disasters but we never missed an issue.
It was more difficult for us because most of the hard copies of this publication had to travel 100s of miles to reach their destinations— the nook and crannies of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra and Apayao. We had to adapt with the situations and adopt methods to ensure copies reached the farthest of our markets safely. Some were just common sense such as wrapping the package of newspapers twice, with paper and then with plastic so they won’t get with; other times required some grit or dogged determination. (For those who want to go into business now, remember those words). For how could all the materials needed to print be bought and brought to the printing press when the streets were flooded, or a typhoon was howling, or the rain was like Niagara Falls?
There was a time during the early days when a big part of the Halsema Highway was washed out in Sayangan. On the first day, there were no buses. On the second day, we drove out there on the very rough road and carried the ZigZag Weekly copies up and over the muddy mountain, in the driving rain, so we could get across the washed out portion. On the other side were buses that were marooned when the road went down. So they started making trips going back, ferrying the passengers that followed us or went ahead of us in climbing the mountain to their destinations—to Bontoc, Bauko, Sagada or other destinations. That was how we gained permanent footholds in those remote markets whose people were long brainwashed by the Baguio Midland Courier, which thereafter became known as the Manila Bulletin of the Cordillera.
We did that for a few weeks, and when I could not drive our boys out there because we were sleepless the night before coming out with the ZigZag Weekly copies to be sent, our correspondent then, Joel Belinan, would even do it single handed. It took about two or three months for the government to carve out a new road even deeper into the side of the mountain.
Another most difficult part of getting this paper out was raising the money to keep it going. It would have been easy if you were talking about a few months which would have meant a couple of hundred thousand pesos would have gotten you through. But we are talking about years, many years. Only a few people could survive for only a few could be as crazy as that.. … or as we were. (Allegedly, it took the Baguio Midland Courier 30 years to start making money and there was even no credible competition during those times.)
Yes, we had to adapt and adopt to survive. Sadly, included in such, was our having had to retreat from some of our farthest markets. That was when we got jolted from our idealism and some sense of practicality seeped into our brains.
Since we began, we became the model of other aspiring publishers. So many followed us—more than two dozens as of last count—but immediately folded up. That is, they were not as crazy as we were.
After all, these years, we have grown some deep roots we could grow on to reach more of the unlimited spaces (read: markets) out there. We also have to and will keep on adapting with the new realities such as the internet and pandemics like the COVID-19.
More than ever during difficult times such as these, reliable media outfits are needed to assure our well-being, knowledge, or inspiration if not for our spiritual elevation.**