Who can recall the era of Bicol newspapers Balalong and Naga Times? They were all published and edited in the city of Naga for regional consumption. During the tumultuous years of the Martial Law era and beyond, the free press in the region was exemplified by the two publications, as with other struggling tabloids in different parts of southern Luzon.
The Balalong was published by Juan F. Triviño and edited by Atty. Alfredo Tria while Naga Times was published by Lily Tolaram with Ramon Tolaram as the editor.
[Revision/Correction: Sept. 22, 2021: Mr. Ramon Tolaram was the publisher and editor of The Naga Times while his wife, Mrs. Lily Tolaram, was the business manager.]
Both were homegrown newspapers which week after week came out with relevant and engaging news stories. Balalong ventured into more controversial, some very relevant political issues and dug into the psyche of the Bicolano readers. Fans of the tabloids can’t wait for the week’s edition of freshly printed news carrying juicy and investigative articles from its contents.
Even local radio stations sourced their headlines from both tabloids. That period was the silver era in the region of tabloid news publications as responsible publishers, editors and reporters shine in their trade.
But what do we find in the scant local newsstands in Naga city are completely different now. The “thin” tabloids mimic the look, mastheads and appearance of national broadsheets to attract enthusiasts. But inside its pages are no more than hashed press release of this and that government agency or business entity. There are more column inches allotted to legal and extra judicial notices, which gives the impression it is the main source of tabloid income and not the circulation sales.
At the town market, a local vendor was saying that the local newsprint is not enough to wrap “tinapa” and dried fish (tuyo or alang na sira) because of its scanty page as compared to the voluminous national broadsheets. What?