A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Japanese Imperial Occupation

by Alixander Haban Escote

The DMHM chain of newspapers owned by Senator Vicente Madrigal was the first casualty in the field of journalism. It was destroyed when a couple of bombs attacked its editorial offices in Port Area, Manila on December 8, 1941, the Feast of Immaculate Conception.

Within two weeks of Japanese occupation, all publications, except the TVT chain of newspapers of Alejandro Roces Sr. and one of the chain of magazines of Ramon Roces, were closed and their editorial offices were sealed with “By Order of the Japanese Imperial Government.”

On October 12, 1942, Taliba, La Vanguardia, Tribune, and Liwayway were placed under Osaka Mainichi Publishing Company, a group that established the Manila Sinbun-sya Corporation and controlled Shin-Seiki, Bicol Herald, Manila Shimbun, and Davao Nichi-Nichi.

During this period, anyone who wanted to publish newspapers and periodicals must secure a military permit and must submit to military censorship, which, when violated meant severe punishment, if not death.

In a study conducted by Jacqueline Co, Annie Dematera, Rosanna Carreon, Rolando dela Cruz, and Adoracion de Guzman, 27 publications were given permission to operate: The Bicol Herald, a four-page tabloid in English and Bikolano published in Bicol from August 1942 to March 1944; the Panay Times, a twice a week newspaper in English and Ilonggo published in Iloilo from January 1943 to December 1944; the Cebu Times, a four-page daily, except Monday, newspaper in English and Cebuano published in Cebu from March 1944 to March 1945; and the Davao Times, a newspaper in English and Cebuano published in Davao from March 1944 to April 1945.

Other newspapers were Davao, Manila; Filipina, Manila; Leyte-Samar Bulletin, Tacloban; Leyte Shimbun, Tacloban; Liwanag, Manila; New Negros Weekly, Bacolod; Philippine Review Newsette, Davao;Pillars, Cavite; Republic, Manila; Shin-Seiki, Manila; Tagapagturo, Manila; and government bulletins and bibliographies.

On the other hand, guerilla newspapers and periodicals were published to boost people’s morale, to warn against collaboration, and to fight against the Japanese Military Government. Guerilla publications, edited by journalist-guerillas, were usually typewritten or mimeographed on 8.5 X 11-inch bond papers.

In 1942, the HUKBALAHAP (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon) published Ing Masala, the most powerful guerilla publication in Tarlac and in Pampanga. Pedro de la Llana edited The Flash, the newspaper in Tagalog, English, and Spanish in Iloilo. The latter published news stories about the war and editorial articles denouncing the Japanese Military Government. Ironically, its editor was liquated by uninformed guerillas because he was mistaken as a collaborator.

The Thurderclap, the official publication of the Hunter ROTC (Reserved Officers Training Corps) also came out in 1943. Very often, it changed its place of publication to confuse the Japanese as to its origin. On February 2, 1945, a day before the Americans entered in Manila, it was renamed the Liberty.

Founded and edited by Leon Ty of the Philippine Free Press, The Liberator was one of the most widely read guerilla newspapers in Rizal, Cavite, Manila, and Bulakan. Some of its writers were executed because they were caught circulating it. Luckily, Ty and a few others escaped and were saved from the enemy dragnet.

In Nueva Vizcaya, Col Guillermo Nakar published the Matang Lawin, which reported news stories about the Battle of Bataan.15 It also informed the Filipino people that like the Hawk, the guerillas watch over and look after their welfare and, at the same time, take cognizance of the activity of the spies.

In Panay, Tomas Confessor, Free Panay governor, published Ang Tigbatas, a Hiligaynon-English newspaper that survived the war and later became the principal reading matter of the province. Other newspapers in Panay were the Chronicle, Coordinator, Harbinger, Kalibo War Bulletin, and the Unknown Soldiers.

Juan Frivaldo published The Commentator in Sorsogon while Wenceslao Vinzons popularized The Saber in Bicol and in Laguna. Other guerilla newspapers were The Bugle of Leyte, the Palaso of Manila, and the Kalayaan of Bulakan.

Also based from the study conducted by Co, Carreon, Dematera, Dela Cruz, and De Guzman, 37 guerilla newspapers, which when evaluated carefully, reflected the sentiments of the country. Among these newspapers were Bolos and Bullets, Manila; Bombshells, Manila; Fornightly Publication, Panay; Free Philippines, Manila; Free Sulu News, Sulu; Freedom, Panay; Liberator, Negros Occidental; Patnubay, Manila; Patriot, No Official Address; Press of Freedom, No Official Address; Red, White, and Blue, Manila; Tanauan, Leyte; 34th Anniversary of the Chinese Republic, No Official Address; Thurderbolt, Manila; Tigbatas, Panay; Tingug sang Kalwasan, Cebu or Iloilo; Torch, Cebu; Unknown Soldier, Panay; USAFIP NL Newsletter, No Official Address; Victory News, Negros; Victory News, No Official Address; Victory News, Panay; Vigil of Freedom, Visayas; Voice, No Official Address; Voice of Free Samar, Samar; Voice of Free People, Leyte; Voice of Victory, Tacloban; and Weekly News Bulletin, No Official Address.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Post Liberation Period