In its 30 years of publication, the pages of the Manila Standard has not only reported the news but also served as a venue for opinions on issues that affected, and continue to affect, the country. In this section, we highlight four esteemed newsmen who lent their voices to the public and spoke up on burning issues. These men were unafraid to challenge even the highest government officials and the most powerful in private industries., They have helped set the bar high for journalism in the Philippines.
Luis Beltran (April 4, 1936 – September 6, 1994)
“Ka Louie” was a broadcast journalist and newspaper columnist who wrote for the Manila Standard’s opinion pages from the late eighties to the early nineties. He is considered one of the media giants for his journalistic accomplishments in the field. Known as a hard hitting investigative journalist, he fearlessly hobnobbed with political warlords as well as criminal kingpins to get his stories. He also often ran counter to government administrations, which is why he came under close scrutiny during the Martial Law era, and was once detained for his political stories.
His show, Straight From the Shoulder, was often the venue for political confrontations.
He considered Ninoy Aquino a friend, following him as a journalist from the time he was mayor and corresponding with him while the latter was in exile.
After the EDSA revolution, he became a very prominent media figure, commenting on current issues on radio and TV. He was sued by former President Corazon Aquino for libel when he wrote in his column that the late President was “hiding under her bed” during the 1987 coup.
Beltran was unafraid to share his opinions and was very vocal about issues. He left behind a legacy of fearless sharp-witted reportage, raising up many of the current practitioners in radio, TV and print as his students or as his readers and viewers who grew up admiring him.
Rod Reyes (July 23, 1935 – April 14, 2016)
The appeal of newspaper writing came early to Rod Reyes, the founding publisher and editor-in-chief of Manila Standard. He was a sports writer of the Manila Times at the age of 16, and later became an investigative reporter, bagging the Journalist of the Year award in 1961for his exposé on heroin drug syndicates in the suburbs of Malabon. Roxas disguised himself as a drug addict to infiltrate the syndicates. His piece was subsequently translated into a full-length film by Gil Portes entitled “Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa,” with Matt Ranillo III portraying his role.
For his work, he was given a Ten Outstanding Young Men award and a Nieman Fellowship from the Harvard University. From the Times, where he was also a news editor, he moved to the Manila Chronicle as the editor-in-chief until its closure during the Martial Law era. He was also involved in the TV Times, Celebrity, Ginoo and Woman’s Home Companion publications.
Together with the Elizalde Group, Reyes founded Manila Standard on February 11, 1987. He was the publisher, editor-in-chief and chief operating officer of the paper from its first issue until 1990.
Reyes also wrote a column in the newspaper, titled “A Journalist’s Memoirs”, which came out every Wednesday, where he gave vignettes of his experiences both as a newspaper and broadcast executive.
He served as an executive vice president and news director for ABS-CBN in the 1960s and later returned to the network as the senior vice president of the news and current affairs division in 1990, after the People Power Revolution.
He also served as general manager and executive vice president of the GMA Radio Television Arts in 1974, and the Maharlika Broadcasting System (now known as People’s Television Network) in the 1980s. He was also on board the Manila International Film Festival organizing committee from 1983 to 1984.
Reyes was appointed Press Secretary for the Estrada administration, serving time from July 1992 until May 1993 under the Ramos administration, and is still mentioned today as one of the most effective officials to hold this job, making the Presidential office more approachable to journalists covering the beat. Under his watch, Reyes strengthened the presidential coverage by setting-up the Presidential News Desk. He was later reappointed by former President Joseph Estrada and worked as Press Secretary from June 1998 to April 2000. He was later appointed as chief of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan.
Cip Roxas (December 20, 1939 – January 26, 2016)
Roxas, is said to be one of the most colorful personalities in Philippine journalism. He started his newspaper career as a “mechanic”, a working student, in the composing room of pre-Martial Law Manila Times. He was “discovered” by Sunday Times Magazine editor Primitivo Mauricio who recruited him as a proofreader. The diligent Roxas worked his way up from the showbiz beat to executive editor.
In 1989, he became editor-in-chief of the Manila Standard when the newspaper was bought by the Soriano family from the Elizalde group and served in that position until 1997.
He also became the executive editor of the Journal Group, business editor of the defunct Philippines Herald and later press attaché of the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C.. He also served as bureau chief of the Philippine News Agency covering Los Angeles, USA and Toronto, Canada.
One of the memorable moments that went down in journalism history was when he asked President Erap Estrada’s chief-of-staff Aprodicio Laquian about the President’s drinking habits at a televised luncheon event. The chief-of-staff jokingly replied that he was the sober party and designated driver of the President’s group, implying that the President was still a heavy drinker.
Emil Jurado (Sept. 15, 1927)
The multi-awarded journalist’s career spans nine Malacanang residents starting with President Elpidio Quirino. He has also rubbed elbows and written about important figures in government and the private sector, working to this day on his typewriter to meet his “To the Point” deadlines in Manila Standard.
He is known and beloved in his circles and is described as a friend to almost all the other influential journalists in the country. The late Louie Beltran actually worked as his messenger in the past. A father figure in the industry, it is to him that journalists would go for opinions and advice. It was his other friend, Rod Reyes who persuaded him to join the Manila Standard.
In his pursuit of the truth, he has been charged with 17 libel cases and had to apologize four times upon the request of his publisher. He exposed three members of the Monetary Board who were then committing anomalies by playing the stock market, and getting import quota allocations for their favored companies or their own companies. The exposé started an investigation in Congress but also resulted in him receiving death threats and was even kidnapped as a result. It was with the help and protection provided by then-President Magsaysay that he and his family were able to survive the ordeal. His work in journalism was recognized by the Stanvac Oil Company.
Under Marcos rule, he served as the first president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, thinking it would be a way to escape censorship, when he still felt pressure to edit the news as head of radio-television network KBS, he resigned, choosing integrity over higher pay.
He served as the president of the Business Writers Association of the Philippines for two years and he is the Chairman Emeritus of the Manila Overseas Press Club having been its president and the oldest MOPC member. His zeal for exposing the truth and educating readers on important issues with a look at what is behind the news has kept him going for more than 60 years of tireless writing.