By NESTOR CUARTERO
Tempo didn’t turn out to be a tempo-rary layover at some pitstop for me. It was to kick off a long journey that helped shape a career in media and academe.
I was associate editor of weekly magazine Mr & Ms when I was invited to join the pioneering staff of Tempo in 1982. The offer, articulated by Recah Trinidad, the paper’s very first editor in chief, was tempting enough. I was to be the entertainment editor of what was then touted as a promising English-language newspaper in tabloid form.
After a tearful goodbye to my journalism mentor, Eugenia D. Apostol, I plunged head on to the wide open pages of Tempo and into the wider arena of entertainment reporting. Before the actual launch of Tempo’s maiden issue on July12 that same year, the staff underwent what was called a dry run for two weeks.
It was meant to familiarize us with deadlines, news gathering, networking with contacts, production schedules, the works. Recah was quite strict in implementing the new paper’s vision of providing a fresh avenue for truthful, accurate reporting. We were tasked to look beyond the headlines, search for human interest stories, and provide fresh angles to breaking news.
Those early days, weeks, months and years with Tempo passed by so swiftly, just like the seasons, the coming and going of news. Without my knowing it, 36 years had passed until I retired in 2018. Tempo turns 39 today, still effervescent, growing and glowing, fulfilling a promise made nearly 40 years ago.
Looking back now, what stands out in memory are the happy, fulfilling days I had as an entertainment editor. After a coverage around noontime, editors would proceed to their offices to close their pages.
We would write our stories on our brand new Olympia typewriters sitting proudly on our wide aluminum steel desks. The collective noise created by all that hitting and hacking on those hapless keys raised our adrenaline levels as we rushed to finish our stories and put the paper to bed. Only God and nurse Lorna Molina knew how all that excitement raised our (high) blood pressure, every day starting at 3 p.m.
Even as we hovered over our typewriters amidst an environment that was quite noisy and at that time not smoke-free, we managed to engage our fellow newsmen in light banter. I especially miss my friendship with Rey Bancod, assistant sports editor who was to become EIC, who had been my seatmate all those many years.
The beauty about being physically present in any newsroom is the opportunity to feel the pulse of newspapering so badly missing in today’s electronic age, where people work from home or elsewhere and email is the medium of contact.
Such a setup has allowed the forming of deep friendships, camaraderie, not to mention contact tracing. Being in an office setting also gave working journalists a window to relax, loosen up after a hard day’s work, laugh at our mistakes or misadventures while tailing stories.
We would trade tales over long dinners either at the Bulletin canteen or some restaurant, or simply overstay at the Tempo office, then situated at a large area at the far end on the second floor of the Bulletin building. Those days are gone, yet they remain in the heart with fondness.
For all that and more, I shall forever be grateful to my Tempo family.