A fire gutted the GLC Building along T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Manila early into the life of the then new Daily Tribune.
The staff was about to put the paper to bed when some chemicals from the sixth floor, just below where the Tribune originally held office, caught some electrical spark and quickly sent plumes to the ninth floor, where we were at.
That was the top floor. We had no chance to escape that fire.
Instead of panicking, the whole staff stayed together and made sure that everyone was safe.
We made calls to friends to help us contact the city fire department. They responded well and fast.
Firemen arrived on time and saved us all with nary a scratch.
We partied afterwards, purportedly to celebrate our new life.
No. We look for opportunities to party, really. That fire was one.
It was the first time that the Tribune had failed to come out with the next day’s issue.
The following day was a disaster.
All personal computers were black with soot. The tables and chairs were carbonized. The office was a mess.
With pails of soap and water, the staff came back to clean everything up. We did it voluntarily.
We had wanted the Daily Tribune back on its feet the soonest.
The week’s work was slow. The damage was just immense.
But we made a vow that the event would be the last to stop the Tribune from its operation.
Daily Tribune has established itself as a daily newspaper critical of the government’s excesses and failures.
And so, in 2005, Daily Tribune became the government’s target for closure for being too critical of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The former Chief Executive had declared martial law amid threats of a coup d’état by some forces in the military.
Quickly, policemen and soldiers were set out to padlock the Tribune office — that same floor in a Kalaw Avenue building, which had previously been sooted by a fire below it.
Luckily for the Tribune’s staff, they came later after we had rolled out the last copies from the printing machine elsewhere.
We had received an advance notice that the raid at the Tribune office was to happen.
What happened the next day was fit for a comedy skit.
One by one, we reported back to our cubicles. We ignored the presence of the soldiers and policemen sent by GMA to block us.
The two bars of wood they placed across our main door were not resilient enough to douse our intent to continue.
The chief of the raiding team then demanded to review our copies before they were printed. He received a cold stare, then a hearty laugh.
“No, you can’t,” we said.
GMA had managed to contain the other conflagration in the military camps. But she failed to stop the Tribune from coming out with its daily editions.
Floods, rains, earthquakes and many more natural calamities came, but they also failed to dampen our spirit.
The lack of advertisers and shortage of money that came in the middle of the Daily Tribune’s struggles had also been testy, but they kept us even more cohesive. Nobody left, and we proved ourselves to be more than a paper. We are family.
Questions were raised when our late founder and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho-Olivarez decided to sell the paper to the Fernandez couple — Willie and Chingbee — before June of 2018.
It was the first time that we felt we were being abandoned. We felt that our separation was near.
None of them came.
Daily Tribune did not stop printing even on the day the sale transpired.
We are now celebrating our 20th year without a hitch.
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic scared us to continue on.
We have survived many tests in the past that we are confident enough that not even wars could stop us from delivering the news and opinions to you every day and every minute.
Daily Tribune is here because of you, our readers.
It is our vow to serve you the top stories when they happen, as they happen.
We will party today, definitely, in many ways. But that will be after we have put to bed the paper that will start the countdown to our 21st.
Because only you matter to us. No matter what.