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A History of Journalism in the Philippines: Early Years (2 of 11)

The Philippine press, which is committed to the great heritage of libertarianism, is one of the freest, liveliest, and strongest in Asia and in the world. Throughout the ages, it has perpetuated a formidable tradition of service, which is the fortification of our sovereign life.

Its sustainable growth and development provides gratifying and fascinating footnotes of our historical revolutions. It started in 1637 when Tomas Pinpin, the father of Filipino printing, published the Successos Felices, the first Philippine newspaper that antedated Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick for 53 years.

Pinpin, who learned the art of printing from Father Francisco Blancas de San Jose, the parish priest of Abucay, Bataan and founder of the Dominican-owned printing press in Binondo, Manila and in Pila, Laguna, devoted his 14 – page newspaper to the raids of Muslim pirates in the country.

Hojas Volantes, with the title Aviso Al Publico, was distributed for mass readership in the Philippines and acted as town criers of Spain in the country on February 27, 1799. Although it appeared intermittently in the next 50 years, it was only on August 8, 1811 when the Spaniards put out the Del Superior Govierno, the first regularly issued newspaper edited by Governor General Manuel (Mariano?) Fernandez Del Folgueras. It gave news about the Napoleonic invasion in Spain and was a potent weapon in the fight for emancipation. It ceased publication after 15 issues over a six-month period.

Published on March 25, 1821, El Ramillete Patriotico was a liberal and audacious newspaper. It was sarcastic and sometimes unbridled in its speech of degenerating personalities. Another newspaper, El Noticioso Filipino, was published on July 29, 1821.

La Filantropía, a weekly newspaper dealing with current issues from Europe and the arrivals and departures of vessels in Manila, was dedicated to the “welfare of the people in the language that is not offensive to the sane moral of the public.” Printed in papel de arroz (rice paper), it first appeared on September 1, 1821 and ceased publication in 1822. It was followed by El Filantropo, a relatively small newspaper that lasted a year, and the Noticias Compiladas de los Papeles Publicos de la Peninsula both in 1824.

Founded by the Real Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais and edited by Luis Barreto, Jose Azcarraga, Manuel Azcarraga, Marcelo Azcarraga, and Jose Nicolas Irastorza in 1824, the Registro Mercantil de Manila was a monthly newspaper that worked for economic prosperity and political independence, but ceased publication in May 1833 because of lack of financial support and regular subscribers. El Noticiero followed it in 1838.

In 1843, Gregorio Tarrius, the Administrator of Posts, founded the Semanario Filipino that published business news from Asia, Europe, and the Archipelago. It was renamed El Amigo del Pais in 1845, but ceased publication in April 1847. La Estrella, a weekly newspaper founded by Agustin de la Cavada y Mendez de Vigo on October 4, 1846, became a daily newspaper on February 1, 1847, but was suspended in January 1849.

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