Thank God, the Mayans were wrong after all. It is August 2012 as I write this, and the world has not come to an end. At least, not yet.
And we here at The Ilocos Times are taking this golden opportunity for a renaissance of sorts. Let’s admit it, while the paper, oldest in this part of the universe, remains the most legitimate paper here, much of what it could, much of what it should be remains unrealized. And it cannot but keep up with the changing times, lest the Mayans be proven right, at least in the case of The Ilocos Times.
Newspapers aroud the world are in peril of extinction in this age of Internet and digital boom. Print circulation has suffered as demand for news in real time has forever changed the media landscape. Note that the paper’s ilocostimes.com, which debuted in 2000, was one of the country’s first websites offering local news. The website brought a lot of joy to Ilocanos, especially to those who are in Diaspora beset by homesickness.
Somewhere along the way, however, the website faltered, with uploads coming in as sporadic and unpredictable as menopause. Also, in the past half decade, only the paper’s pdf file was being uploaded. Readers would frequently visit the site only to find an outdated issue still posted, and new ones waiting to be uploaded no one knows when.
On the first day of Christmas in the Philippines, September 1, all these will change, hopefully. The new ilocostimes.net (take note, dear karikna, it is .net now replacing .com) will serve Ilocanos in better and bigger ways. Expect breaking news, more interesting features, and even more incisive editorials and opinion. Also, the website is linked up with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter which will allow readers, not only to access, but share information as well. The Ilocos Times Facebook page, which took off barely three weeks ago, now has a weekly reach of over 10,000 netizens. So, it’s Ilocos Sometimes no more, but Ilocos now, Ilocos always, Ilocos all-the-time with the new website.
But it’s not all technology, dear karikna, the paper’s biggest asset remains its rich human resource.
There’s Steve Barreiro who risks life and limb so that we Ilocanos can know what we should know and do something about. The man behind In and Out promises to be more in than out with the new website at hand. Many of Steve’s fans, and that includes me at the forefront, miss his spunk.
Then there’s Mitch Esmino who all of us in The Ilocos Times look up to. Though his journalistic skills are unparalleled, this hunk has been working silently in the background. He is the person I consult when writing about controversial issues, and always to good results. Mitch will resume writing for his column Less than Zero, which is no way related to SanMig Light below zero, though all of us in the paper, and this I am so happy about, do love SanMig Light.
Staff reporters Leilanie Adriano and Dominic dela Cruz have carved their respective niches in the field.
Leilanie, one of the more principled journalists in these parts, also writes on the side for national publications like Business Mirror, Bannawag, Vera Files, Women’s Feature Service, Yahoo Philippines, and the Union of Catholic Asian News, an international news organization reporting on the life and interests of the Church.
She pushes advocacies for the environment, indigenous groups, women and children, and S&T innovations while maintaining objectivity and meeting the highest ethical standards. She is also a poetess, having co-authored recently an anthology of erotic poems.
Dominic can penetrate even the most stonewalled offices because of his charm, wit, and congeniality. He is loved by many here and in Hawaii where, I imagine, he has danced “Pearly Shells” several times.
Fellow columnist Jopo Guerrero amuses us with his insightful and oftentimes witty “Bard of Blaise”. He is anchor of Balitang Ilocos of GMA.
Jay and Jun-b of the Ramos Family remain steadfast in their father’s legacy of a free press. And we are happy that they are taking the paper to greater heights.
Jay, better known in Laoag City as a politician, is now more bent on leading The Ilocos Times into a new era of information than running for a public post. An alumnus of San Beda’s economics program and the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitors’ Program, Jay was city councilor for three terms.
Jun-b, a civil engineer, pioneered ilocostimes.com in 2000. He will oversee today ilocostimes.net. The most IT-savvy member of the Ramos family is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Meanwhile, other members of the Ramos family here and abroad continue to do their share in keeping alive and relevant their biggest contribution to Ilocandia.
Then there is Severino V. Pablo and Amando Yoro who write columns in Iluko; Emmanuel Tipon who, for over three decades, has dealt with U.S. immigration issues; and press icon Juan Mercado, Cebuano by blood and geography, but in many ways Ilocano by heart, too.
We remember with gratefulness many other writers who have been part of The Ilocos Times, those who are still alive, and especially those who have gone to the great beyond where, I am sure, they are scribbling happier lines. I hope there is Internet there, too.
The Ilocos Times is also known as a breeding ground for young journalists. For instance, did you know that Glenda Gloria, a well-respected figure in journalistic circles, saw her first byline in The Ilocos Times as an intern? From there, her star shot up, even heading ABS-CBN’s news channel.
Then a struggling mathematics graduate of MMSU, my cousin Erme S. Labayog’s first job was as staff reporter of the paper. He pursued law and passed the bar the first time he took it. He is now provincial assessor of Ilocos Norte.
But the most important part of The Ilocos Times, dear karikna, is YOU, the reader, and we realize this as the paper leaps into the future. Help us do our work better by giving us feedback, by sharing relevant information, and by keeping the website alive in ways you know and can. You can’t be a mere observer anymore if you want these developments. You have, dear karikna, must be part of it.
Simply put, we count on your help because you are Ilocano, not a Mayan.