July 19, 2024

(Editors’ note: We are reprinting this article written by former Midland Courier staff member Juan Valdez, who joined the paper as a cub reporter in 1958 and continued to be with the paper until 1973. He was also a correspondent of the Philippine News Service and a member of the National Press Club. He was the first newsman to break the story on the armory raid at the PMA by Lt. Corpuz and the raid on the Golden Buddha at Aurora Hill. He is also one of the awardees for service given by the Philippine Military Academy in 1971 together with other Baguio newsmen. This peace was published on April 29, 2007.)

Sir, is your editorial ready? The man suddenly wakes up, looks at his manuscript still in the Underwood typewriter, raises his right forefinger, and presses on the key, which struck the roller to imprint the period after the last word of the sentence. He unrolled the manuscript, gave it a quick glance, and handed it over for printing.

Each Saturday night, at just about midnight, Sinai would make the same ritual in his study room. Sinai C. Hamada, “Syne” as he is fondly called, was one of the founders of the Midland Courier. From a four-page tabloid with humble beginnings on April 28, 1947, it grew to what it is today.

The 1960s saw new faces running the Midland Courier, aside from columnists Ricardo A. Paraan and Romeo S. Florendo, who belted out the Column of Two, Cecile Afable ran her column In and Out, and Ruth Mowry wrote on the life in the foreign community including those in the minesite.

Not only lawyers in the likes of Paraan and Florendo were writers for the Midland Courier but others from the community like educator Benjamin Salvosa, writing for Educationally Yours; Augustus U. Saboy, who wrote for the hinterlands of Apayao; Francis Tiotioen, writing from Bontoc and Benguet; Mary Wilson and Eduardo Masferre, contributing their notes from the mining sector; Francisco Dipasupil, with business reports and who later moved to Manila to join the Manila Chronicle; and Edilberto Claravall, now a judge, who wrote the column “Grassroots.”

G. Bert Floresca, who was managing editor, had been recruiting writers from colleges and universities, the likes of Gabriel Pawid Keith who substitutes as editor when Syne wasn’t around due to his work as Mountain Province Development Authority; Hilarion Pawid, a staff writer, who later became mayor of La Trinidad, Benguet; and come to think of it, Andres Cosalan, Sr., before he ever became a congressman, also wrote for the Midland Courier.

Earlier, there was Atty. Benjamin Rillera who later became city councilor; Virgilio Bautista who became a lawyer, councilor and city council PRO; and Zenaida C. Hamada who had pitched in as staff writer.

Some may remember the likes of Primitivo Mijares of La Trinidad, Benguet, who once wrote for the Midland Courier, only to go to Manila for better opportunities but was lost during Martial Law; Edilberto Olimpo, who is now in the United States, covered Camp Dangwa for news before; and remember Cong. Ramon P. Mitra Jr., a former student of then Baguio Colleges (now University of the Cordilleras), was also a writer for this paper.

Oh yes, Col. Juan Aguas of the Philippine Military Academy also started with his column “From My Window” until he could write no more.

But not all were busy into writing.

A golf addict, Oseo Hamada, the paper’s business manager, taught the game to the writers and soon a team was formed. Syne and O.C. Hamada, Carding Paraan, Romy Florendo, G. Bert Floresca, and this writer formed a formidable golf team with the addition of Bernie Biscocho of the John Hay personnel/PRO department.

With O.C. as our mentor, the team, rain or shine, started learning the game. At that time the Malacañang Press Corps also organized its own golf team so that a yearly tournament with Imelda Marcos as guest and sponsor was held either at the Baguio Country Club or at John Hay with the local newsmen. And so it was the Midland Courier staff and newsmen who religiously covered the Fil-Am golf tournaments.

From humble beginnings, Syne wrote his first editorial of the paper as an exponent of the Cordillera as it remains today – fair, fearless, friendly, and free, and, to add spice to the issues, Cora and Fe weekly barbs at the ongoings in the city and province with an apology “Bato-bato sa langit, tamaan huwag magalit.”

Many of the writers have written “30,” but the Midland Courier moves on with a new generation of writers, carrying on the vision and hope Syne started. Syne had bested the cream of writers of the University of the Philippines at that time to become The Collegian’s editor. He had the vision that one day Baguio will live up to its name as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, and hope that it will become likewise an economic and educationally progressive city.