Blast from the past: Most memorable headlines
- Alexa Villano () - July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Star has covered much news in the last 25 years and without a doubt, every story is read from cover to cover.  From its initial banner to the present, The STAR has always been there to provide readers with quality information on issues hounding the country. Here is a list of some of the most memorable stories the STAR team has covered.

1. Wear Yellow and Die (July 28, 1986) – Five months after People Power I, The Philippine Star was put up by the late Betty Go-Belmonte, Max Soliven and Art Borjal. The story which was the newspaper’s first banner is in reference to a student wearing a yellow shirt that was killed by Marcos loyalists in Manila.

2. Luzon earthquake (July 16, 1990) –  On July 16, the country, particularly the northern part of Luzon, was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Baguio City, the summer capital of the country was one of the most affected cities with 21 buildings destroyed, roads closed and thousands dead.

3. Mt. Pinatubo eruption (June 1991) – A year after the Luzon earthquake, the country experienced another catastrophe when Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga erupted, causing the whole of the province to be buried in ashes. Livelihood was affected and thousands lost their homes when the mud (lahar) destroyed it. Parts of Luzon also felt the eruption with many areas like Manila experiencing the ash. Twenty years after its eruption, Pinatubo still remains active, Pampanga returned to its formal glory and Pinatubo has now become one of the top places tourists go to for vacation.

4. Vizconde massacre (June 30, 1991) –  Known as the “trial of the century,” the Vizconde massacre is considered as one of the most sensational cases in the country, with famous personalities involved. Hubert Webb, son of former senator and actor Freddie Webb along with his colleagues Peter Estrada, Antonio “Tony Boy” Lejano, Miguel Rodriguez, Hospicio Fernandez, Joey Filart and Dong Ventura were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Paranaque Regional Trial Court for the murder of Estrellita Vizconde and daughters Carmela and Jennifer.  A policeman, Gerardo Biong was found guilty of accessory to the crime. After more than 15 years, on December 14, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the original decision given by then Paranaque Regional Court and acquitted Webb and his colleagues. Filart and Ventura still remain at large while the star witness, Jessica Alfaro is now abroad. President Aquino has recently ordered the reinvestigation of the case.

5. The sentence of Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez (March 15, 1995) – Two years after the death of University of the Philippines Los Banos students Aileen Sarmienta and Allan Gomez, on March 14, 1995, then Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez was sentenced to life imprisonment along with several others for the rape-slay of the two victims.  

STAR senior reporter Jaime Laude who was still a correspondent back then said there were so many twists and turns in the case.

Nandiyan sina Ping Lacson nagbigay ng ibang lead. Si Erap na nag-offer para i-pursue si (Kit) Alqueza but the investigation talaga always goes back to Mayor Sanchez,” Laude recalled.

He also adds that Mrs. Belmonte wanted to get updates on the case. “Pinatutukan talaga ni Ma’m Betty because the victim (Aileen) was a sorority sister.”

Sanchez is still in jail serving his sentence.

6. Ozone disco tragedy (March 18, 1996) – On March 18, 1996, more than 158 people, mostly students were killed in the Ozone Disco Bar in Quezon City when a fire sparked inside the establishment. Many of the students were celebrating their graduation. The incident has been acknowledged as the worst fire incident in the country. The owners have since been sentenced to imprisonment and survivors have tried to moved on despite the burns they’ve suffered.

7. Erap’s ouster/People Power II (January 20, 2001) – After Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson accused then President Joseph Estrada and his family of getting illegal money from jueteng, many called for his ouster resulting in People Power II. Estrada was defiant, saying he will not resign but on January 20, 2001, he left Malacanang Palace to avoid “bloodshed.” Then vice-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed after resigning from Estrada’s cabinet, becoming the second woman president after Corazon Aquino who was elected in 1986.

8. The Dos Palmas kidnapping (May 27, 2001) – On May 27, 2001, American couple Martin and Gracia Burham and tourist Guillermo Sobrero along with some staff of the Dos Palmas Resort were kidnapped by members of the Abu Sayyaf and taken to Basilan as hostages. The incident resulted in the killing of Martin Burham and the beheading of Sobrero. A Filipina nurse Ediborah Yap was also killed as the military tried to rescue the Burham couple. Gracia Burham survived the incident and even wrote a book about her experience. In 2004, she returned to the country to testify against her captors.

9. The Philippine National Broadband controversy (April 2007) – In April 20, 2007, a contract was signed by the Philippine and Chinese governments for a proposed government-managed National Broadband Network at the cost of $329 million. It was said to be tainted with corruption with former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos demanding money from ZTE and with the testimony of Joey de Venecia, son of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, a key witness in the scandal was allegedly “abducted” and after surfacing, linked Abalos and President Arroyo’s husband Mike Arroyo to the controversy. The deal has been cancelled by the Arroyo administration due to the controversy. The story was one of the top stories of the STAR which was exposed by columnist Jarius Bondoc.

10. Ondoy hits Manila (Sept 26, 2009) – What turned out to be a simple typhoon became a nightmare as Typhoon Ondoy pounded Luzon with Manila submerged in floods bringing President Arroyo to declare a “state of calamity”. Places like Marikina and Pasig were flooded, leaving thousands homeless and close to 700 people dead. A week later, Typhoon Pepeng spared Manila but pounded Northern Luzon with places like Ilocos, Baguio and Pangasinan experiencing its wrath.

The Ondoy story was also one of the highlights of The STAR as the company ran the paper despite the lack of manpower to bring the news to the stands.

11. The death of a beloved president (Aug 1, 2009) – On August 1, 2009, the country mourned the death of President Corazon Aquino who died from colon cancer. Considered as a democratic icon, Aquino was installed as president of the country after the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Aquino’s death would spark the rise of her only son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to run for the presidency in 2010.

12. Noynoy’s time to shine (June 30, 2010) – After his mother’s death, then Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III declared his intention to run for the presidency in the May 2010 elections. Voted by 14 million people, he was officially declared the winner with Jejomar Binay as vice president and officially took his oath on June 30, 2010, making him the second child of a president after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take the position.

AQUINO COUNTRY LEFT LUZON PRESIDENT
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