A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Post Liberation Period

by Alixander Haban Escote

When Manila was freed on February 3, 1945, the press was also liberated, not only from censorship, but also from the notion that newspapers must be a million peso corporations. Vicente Albano Pacis remembered that approximately 250 newspapers and periodicals were published right after the Japanese occupation.

Publishers during this period were the Roxas syndicate – Light, Balita, and Daily News; the Standard Publishing House – Ang Pilipino and Daily Standard; the PSP Publishing – Bagong Buhay, Liberty News, and Voz de Manila; and the Roces chain of newspapers – Liwayway, Evening Post, and Manila Times.

Other post war newspapers were the Chua’s Courier, the Cojuangco’s Manila Tribune, the Del Fierro’s Star Reporter, the Mendez’s Morning Sun, and the Subido’s Manila Post. The US Armed Forces also published the Yank, the Daily Pacifican, and the Star and Stripes and distributed condensed editions of the Times and the Newsweek

The US Army Office of War Information in Leyte published the Manila Free Philippines, the first post-liberation newspaper, on February 9, 1945. It was edited by Frits Marquardt, Philippine Free Press former editor, and was distributed free until March 12, 1945. It ceased publication on September 3, 1945 when privately owned newspapers were published.

On April 23, 1945, Ramon Roces resumed the publication of the Liwayway and its sister publications: Bannawag for the Ilocano speaking provinces of Luzon, Bicolonian for the Bicol speaking provinces of the Bicol region, Bisaya for the Cebuano speaking provinces of the Visayas and Mindanao, and Hiligaynon, for the Ilonggo speaking provinces of Panay and Negros. This group of weekly vernacular magazines formed the Ramon Roces Publication, Inc.

With a capital of PhP6 000 from the Manila Post and the Philippine Tribune rebel staff members, the Manila Chronicle, a hard hitting and politically conscious newspaper published by Manuel Villanueva and edited by Anacleto Benavides and Ernesto del Rosario, started as the People’s Newspaper in April 1945. Later, Eugenio Lopez Sr. acquired the newspaper when he sought congressional support for the sugar industry.

Following the Lopez takeover, the Manila Chronicle acquired a new offset printing press and a fleet of delivery vehicles that increased national circulation by 100 percent. The newspaper came out daily with at least 20 pages that included business section and provincial supplements. Del Rosario continued as associate editor though Pedro Amaguin and Anacleto Benavides were recruited to serve the same position. Before martial law, it had made itself as a newspaper of high quality.

At least 40 newspapermen who met at the Manila Jockey Club founded the Philippine Newspaper Guild on May 4, 1945. Its committee members were Cipriano Cid, chairperson; Renato Constantino, secretary; and Jose Lansang, Vicente Navarro, Amado Hernandez, Roberto Villanueva, and Hermenegildo Atienza, members. Its officers were Cipriano Cid, president; Jose Lansang, executive vice president; Amado Hernandez, first vice president; Ralph Hawkins, second vice president; Eugenio Santos, third vice president; and Roberto Anselmo, secretary-treasurer.

Under the new management of Joaquin Roces and the editorships of Jose Luna Castro and Vicente Guzman, the Manila Times, which had started as a weekly newspaper on May 27, 1945 became a daily tabloid on September 5, 1945. During those times, it had a rotary press with a capacity of 30 000 copies per hour. It started with chairs, tables, typewriters, and electric generators purchased from the US Army.

The Manila Daily Bulletin resumed publication on February 25, 1946. A printing assistance from Ramon Roces and two newsprint quotas from the War Production Board in Washington facilitated its comeback.

On July 4, 1946, President Harry Truman proclaimed, “the United States of America withdraws and surrenders all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty now existing and exercised by the United States of America in and over the territory and [the] people of the Philippines.” Truman, in behalf of the United States of America “recognizes the independence of the Philippines as a separate and self-governing nation and acknowledges the authority and control over the same of the government instituted by the people under the constitution now in force.”

In October 1947, the Manila Daily Bulletin underwent modernization and transferred to its new plant in Florentino Torres Street, where its brand new Duplex Unitubular machine with a capacity of 40 000 copies per hour was housed. When Brig Gen Hans Menzi bought the newspaper, it became the unofficial mouthpiece of the Americans in the country after he gave it a Filipino rather than an American orientation.

In February 1948, the Newspaperman announced the death of three militant newspapers because of staffing and financial difficulties. These newspapers were the Manila Post, edited by Abelardo Subido and published by Victorio Santiago; the Manila Chronicle, edited by Vicente Pacis and published by Eduardo Cojuangco; and the Philippine Liberty News, edited by Indalecio Soliongco and published by Manuel Manahan.

In 1948, Ramon Roces revived the Graphic but with a different name, content, and language – Kislap, a movie magazine in Tagalog. In 1951, it became the Kislap-Graphic, a bilingual magazine in Tagalog and English. In 1960, it became the Weekly Graphic in order not to compete circulation with the Liwayway.

The Manila Times Publishing Company, Inc. launched the Daily Mirror on May 2, 1949, less than a year after Ramon Roces sold the News, the newspaper he founded on September 23, 1945, to Lt Cmdr Chick Parsons. On February 11, 1960, Parsons sold the News to the Far East Publishing Company. In 1965, it was taken over by Manuel Elizalde, a business tycoon with substantial holdings in radio and in television

In 1961, the Soriano Group of Companies acquired the Philippine Herald, which resumed publication on July 8, 1949. Other newspapers during this period were the Comet, Liberal, Express, Freedom, Guerilla, Chronicle, Daily Mail, Victory News, Fil-American, Evening Herald, Filipino Observer, Philippine Progress, and the Philippine Liberty News.

In 1952, the National Press Club was founded by the Senate Press Club, Philippine News Service, Manila Police Press Club, Congressional Press Club, Port Writers Association, Manila Overseas Press Club, Political Writers Association, Labor Reporters Association, Philippine Movie Press Club, Malacañang Press Association, Manila Newspaperwomen’s Club, Cartoonist Association of the Philippines, Philippine News Photographers Association, and the Business Writers Association of the Philippines.

On the other hand, the Philippine Press Institute was inaugurated on May 4, 1964 after the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation donated a more than enough fund for its establishment. Its pioneer officers were Hans Menzi, Oscar Lopez, P K Macker, Juan Mercado, Joaquin Roces, and Carlos Romulo.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Period of Nationalism and First Quarter Storm