By ROBERT ROQUE
Forty years today and still going strong, Tempo did not reach this milestone anniversary on an easy-ride bicycle.
Even before the pandemic shocked the world, the challenge of keeping up with new-age media amid dwindling ads for print evenly laid scourge after scourge on small-format newspapers since the turn of the millennium.
It would be tough to find newsstands these days, so it’s hard to illustrate how tabloids were their draping sales hit in the ’80s and ’90s. In those days, Tempo copies sold out ahead of competition.
Now, most of those we considered competition have folded up or, if at all, shifted completely to digital platforms. So, hitting 40 is definitely a stamp of success in itself.
The formula to this success has not changed in four decades and I’m talking about the credibility of the news churned out by the paper and the integrity of the people working hard to deliver them.
It’s been exactly 10 years since I walked away from the editor’s chair of Tempo. It was a post I had inherited from Augusto P. Sta. Ana, one of the tough pillars of old-school journalism; and for that, I am grateful to this day.
It was under his watch that I had my best days as a reporter, then as a crime columnist until earning my spot at the editors’ desk right beside him. Like editors of his age and mettle, he worked every day; he did so on holidays, on sick days, and the days he probably knew were his last.
I am profoundly pleased that now, that chair is occupied by the reporter I had promoted to become part of the Desk. Emily Bugarin had always stood out as one of the best reporters of her time. She continues to bring a great sense of pride to Tempo, having steered it through the difficult times of the pandemic.
When I took over Tempo’s own kingdom of a corner on the second floor of the Manila Bulletin Building in Intramuros, I learned that owning up to such a great responsibility was not much fun. But it was a worthwhile challenge that allowed me to go full circle in the only newspaper I truly loved.
Frankly, there was nothing more to be desired after my days in Tempo. Fulfillment was exactly the gift it gave me on my last day at work on July 12, 2012, Tempo’s 30th anniversary and a day after I turned 50.
Still, I never had the heart to call it totally quits with Tempo, so I have continued to write my weekly column Firing Line. To this day, I take pride in having lived my journalist’s life in a tabloid many have referred to as a “mini-broadsheet.” It’s a profound complement for Tempo’s dedication to put out only relevant news and stave off the smut.
When I look back, I realize that what has sustained Tempo as a force in media through 40 years today are the people who treat the paper as their home and their workmates as family. In my heart, I hold them all in my best of memories.
So, as much as my memory these days tends to fail me, allow me to greet them all Tempo babies past and present by name: Emily, Nestor, Ed, Recah, Pinky, Ding, Manny, Al, Amy, Joem, Tony, Martin, Jenny, Manolet, Albert, Joe, Luis, Freddie M, Anjo, Tito, Amor, Nate, Vicky, Tessa, Reyban, Remia, Rolly, Victor Torres, Clyde, Gerson, Bong, Ronald, Mike, Jo Banana, Conrad, Vincent, Deejay, Tristan, Jeff, Francis O, Wacqs, Ellson, Aaron R, Aaron F, Sheila, Francis S, Noli, Jeamma, Helen, Cynthia, Jorge, Ferdie, James, Ronniel, Rey L, Dennis, Fe, Marione, Lito, Dante, Bong Karno, Mario, Waku, Cromwell, Pochie, Norma, Leovy, Joemar, Jayson, Freddie V, Nel, Anabelle, Natalie, Allendale, Raniel, Rommel, Ronie, Macky, Mimi, Jet, Eris, the contributors, and all who went before us. Happy Tempo Anniversary!