(Editors? Note: For 25 days, we will be telling stories about the Philippine Daily Inquirer to mark the paper?s 25th anniversary on Dec. 9, 2010. Some are little inside stories but impacting on how we cover unfolding events; some are mark-the-day stories that become talk-of-the-town types; others are turning-point stories that have changed the landscape of history; still others, big or small, seize the heart and never let go. But whatever, the Inquirer will tell you the story.)
MANILA, Philippines?If you think multiawarded Inquirer cartoonist Jess Abrera?s Kalabaw has been the only animal to appear in the newspaper during the past 25 years, think again.
And sniff out these other memorable stories that prove the Inquirer has its ?dog days,? too, as much as the ?crocodiles,? ?pigs? and ?vultures? in the government have theirs.
But first, a caveat: Activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes once visited the Inquirer office bearing a ?gift? of snakes for employees to pet.
His point: It?s unfair to compare corrupt, crooked politicians to defenseless creatures who bear no malice to predator or prey.
Here are 25 examples of how the Inquirer used animals to give its already hard-hitting stories more ?bite,? and to reveal the paper?s lighter (and gentler) side:
1. The octopus? ?tentacles.? On February 8, 1986, in the heat of the counting of votes after the 1985 ?snap? presidential election, a caricature of an octopus labeled ?Marcos media mobsters? was shown spraying black paint on the independent press and the National Citizens? Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) board.
2. The Marcos ?zoo.? ?Can Marcos find haven in Timbuktu?? was the headline of Rey Arquiza?s story on July 3, 1986. The story was accompanied by a caricature of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos walking in a Timbuktu forest and pestered by flies, snakes, a tiger, elephants and carabaos.
3. No man-eat-dog world. ?Good news for dog lovers, bad news for drunkards? was the headline of Tony Bergonia?s story on March 1, 1987.
4. The virus-laden gorilla. Christine O. Avendaño?s story on baby gorilla ?Gorio? suspected of carrying the deadly Ebola virus was accompanied by Erik Arazas? main photo on May 24, 1995.
5. The Philippine Eagle soars. In 1995, two articles illustrated the lofty yet endangered stature of the majestic bird of prey. Avendaño wrote of the eagle named Kalinawan on May 29, and on July 10 Martin P. Marfil wrote that the Philippine Eagle had replaced the maya as the national bird.
6. The croc gives us the slip. Nimfa U. Rueda?s Page 1 story on July 1, 1989, was headlined ?Hunt for killer croc called off.?
7. Bay of mercy. Anselmo Roque?s story of a judge ?saving a dog from execution? appeared on April 29, 1998.
8. Life is doubly hard if you?re an eagle. Three stories in 1999 illustrated yet again how our national bird gets the best, and worst, of one world. Carolyn O. Arguillas wrote of how an eagle?s birth ?sends hopes flying? on February 2, but on July 16, she also wrote that the eaglet ?finds life is hard.? Another story on an eagle peppered by air gun pellets came out on June 23, 1999.
9. Rest in pieces. TJ Burgonio?s story on October 31, 1998, was headlined ?Pet cemetery plan falls on hard times.?
10. Oh, but they?re still here. On May 30, 1999, Henrylito D. Tacio?s special report on Page 1 asked: ?Will the RP tarsier soon be gone??
Waiting for Santa
11. Deer Santa. This reporter was driving on the scenic Dalton Pass in Nueva Vizcaya when she chanced upon a wild deer tied to an electric post. Her story ?Wounded deer waits for Santa? came out on Page 1 on December 28, 2001.
12. UK okays dog. In what Marlet D. Salazar considers her most poignant animal story for the Inquirer, Sweet the ?askal? is rescued from a Baguio City slaughterhouse and adopted by a British family. Sweet?s story appeared on October 4, 2003, and since then she has become a symbol of advocacy against the illegal dog meat trade.
13. The bullet catcher. Avendaño wrote about Butchoy, the Senate mongrel that survived being shot, ?It?s open season on dogs at Senate? on January 27, 2005.
14. Understanding the butanding. Former Sunday Inquirer Magazine editor Alya Honasan set the template for feature stories on the mysterious whale shark (butanding) when her essay ?My ?butanding?? appeared in the Inquirer?s travel section on June 6, 2004. The essay also subsequently earned for her what she described as ?my one and only journalism award, a Louie R. Prieto award.?
15. New door for an old Lab. Honasan wrote another moving animal story, titled ?You Lucky Dog,? about Rex, an abused and emaciated Labrador rescued and adopted by another family. The story, published in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine on February 3, 2008, taught the author ?so much about forgiving and being positive.?
16. Creature comforts. Salazar?s December 21, 2008, article showed Dr. Dog tirelessly helping sick kids in an animal-assisted therapy program implemented by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society. Under the program, dogs visit hospitals, orphanages or schools for special children.
17. No howls of protests on the reproductive health bill here. Margaux Ortiz wrote about stray animal overpopulation and the measures taken to stem this in her January 14, 2007, story titled ?Clinic set up to spay dogs, cats in poor areas.?
18. The horse with a name. ?Life?s just too cruel for Conde? is Charles Buban?s poignant news item on November 18, 2007, about a maltreated horse who literally made it to the Inquirer premises, and into Page 1, as part of its last act of defiance against its abusive master.
19. Revenge of the meat. Running the risk of being branded ?holiday KJs,? the editors ran on Page 1 this reporter?s article cautioning revelers on the dire health-related consequences of eating animal protein. The article, titled ?Health experts warn revelers on deadly cholesterol,? came out on December 25, 2007.
20. Noises off! As a follow-up to item 19, another Page 1 story by this reporter on December 31, 2007, (?Pray for, be kind to all God?s animals, Church urged?) showed animal rights groups appealing to the Church and its flock to show mercy on all creatures by taking pets and other animals away from places of noise during New Year?s Eve revelries.
21. Down, ?Ondoy.? The terrible storm also took a massive toll on pets, as shown in the stories ?Pets left homeless too by ?Ondoy?? by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez and Tetch Torres (September 28, 2009), and ?Abandoned pets storm ?Ondoy?s? forgotten victims? (September 29) and ?They also rescue pets, livestock from floods? (October 5), both by this reporter.
In 2008, an Inquirer exclusive on Page 1 on how the Humane Society of the United States rescues animals during calamities (?Include pets in all disaster plans, veterinarians urge? by this reporter) came out on May 8, 2008.
22. Canine wheels. A paraplegic canine is given a wheel chair in this ?moving? Page 1 story about Cyrus, written by this reporter and published on May 25, 2008.
23. Their doggone opinions. Inquirer opinion columnists Mike Tan (?Pinoy Kasi?) and Neal Cruz (?As I See It?) have shown soft spots for animals?Cruz in ?Requiem for a cancer victim? in on January 17, 1999, ?Adopt a dog from an animal shelter? on October 22, 2003, ?Gassing dogs is very cruel form of euthanasia? on August 10, 2010, and ?Greyhound racing is cruel to the dogs? on August 10, 2009; Tan in ?Great and small? on October 8, 2008, and ?Defining animal welfare? on July 23, 1998, among others.
24. Noises off! Part 2. More reminders of the sensitivity of animals? hearing were published in New Year?s Eve issues of the Inquirer. ?How to take care of dogs when firecrackers explode? on December 30, 2005, by this reporter, and ?Revelry hurts animals most? on December 31, 2006, by this reporter and Jerome Aning landed on Page 1; Tina Santos? ?Firecrackers harmful to animals, too? appeared on December 30, 2009.
25. The only place where animals are not allowed. This reporter, in ?Eating for the planet? on June 6, 2009, listed five reasons why shifting to a plant-based diet could help check climate change and prevent disease.