Teaching History Through the Movies

Often the History Channel makes use of movies to teach history. (historychannel.com ) However, the history channel has an expert panel of historians, who help to distinguish between film making, storytelling, creative license, the factual and true or truer history. Or rather, this is best understanding of these experts and professional historians, since the philosophy and discipline of history is like any other philosophy and discipline that has its best understanding and best theories.

There are movies based on almost every historical period. Some of them are based on historical novels or biographies or autobiographies, Some are based on newspaper accounts. Others are original screenplays written by screenplay writers who research the history and write about it. Many of these are fictional versions of history, with much creative license. However, these films can be used to teach history, and to argue the true history.

Even spiritual history is not without debate and reassessment as is found in the controversy regarding The DaVinci Code and like novels and texts and throughout history. These debates have been going on for centuries and probably only appear new to a modern-day audience who thought that these canonical questions had already been settled, among Catholics and Protestants alike. However, biblical and theological historians are continuing their research, and certainly when new documents are discovered and/or rediscovered.

As for historical movies, whether secular or spiritual, we can also discuss, for example, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. This is indeed Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. A movie portrayal of Malcolm X is not necessarily the true Malcolm X. Don Steele (The True Meaning of Malcolm X) has a review of the Spike Lee movie that makes this very clear. It’s available from Lulu Press, http://www.lulu.com/content/86899. No doubt there are other reviews of the movie that make clear the distinction between history and creative license, even though the Spike Lee movie is a tremendous effort and the performance of Denzel Washington is certainly the greatest role of his career and a fine performance. No fictional role can compete with this, and certainly not the role he received an Academy Award for, even though it demonstrates his versatility, as hero and anti-hero, and certainly the anti-heroic is a much a staple of film making, national and international, as the heroic.

We don’t know if the History Channel has ever included Malcolm X among its repertoire (maybe during Black History Month?) and discussed it with historians, but this would be a good movie to discuss, and to discuss the historical veracity, and not just during Black History Month. How much is true history, how much is creative and filmmic license, and how much is just Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, and just Spike Lee’s imagination or lack of imagination. And maybe how much is Denzel Washington’s Malcolm X, although, again, he gives a very powerful performance, and many agree that he’s a leading actor of this generation. Certainly Spike Lee is a notable and talented filmmaker, but as with all filmmaker he has to decide if a project is truly for him–as with Oprah Winfrey’s efforts with the Great Books of African American fictional tradition in her film productions of the works of Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston, both literary icons. It’s acceptable for filmmakers to make movies. Nevertheless, it’s also acceptable for movies to be remade. Perhaps Oprah’s versions, although controversial now, might very well become classics, as is true not only in film history but literary history.

The great Zora Neale Hurston, for example, had to be rediscovered. Although Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered her “canonical” work, many of her other works, such as Moses Man of the Mountain are being re-evaluated also. If Their Eyes Were Watch God is the great feminine (feminist?) text–and has certainly been used by feminists of every variety to promote an agenda; Moses Man of the Mountain might be at some point regarded as the great masculine (masculinist) text, and her truer and more balanced appreciation and knowledge of African American culture and civilization recognized. In her anthropological stories, for example, she collected not only the stories of women of almost every variety and type, but the stories of men of almost every variety and type and throughout the African Diaspora. Her true stature as a novelist, short story writers, playwright, folklorist, anthropologist (student of Franz Boas at Barnard College, Barnard graduate 1928), storyteller and “cultural icon” is probably not just truly known, and many of her works were not even published, as she complained in a famous essay, “What White Publishers Won’t Print.”

There are many Moses movies, as we know; it would be interesting to have a film of this rendition of the Moses story. And if filmmakers were to decide to make this into a comedy it had better be a “Cosmic Comedy.” However, Moses (Moshe) as spiritual archetypal prophet/liberator in the Hebrew pantheon, who ” is the figure who dominates the Torah,” has also had an important role in African American history, secular and spiritual, and their strategies of liberation and rebellion.

When people become “historical figures” so to speak and are no longer perceived as a “threat”–again, so speak–many make great claims. The Moses story is continued to be made and remade and every historical period has a new image of Moses integrated with the original. However, this is the job of ethical historians to distinguish fact from fiction. Even with the great prize fighter Muhammad Ali–who is no longer in his prime, so to speak (an elder can be in their “spiritual prime” however), nevertheless is a great difference now in how people treat and perceive him than in his more controversial youth. He’s no longer the “upstart” young man–again, so to speak. He even has President George W. Bush giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has many people making great claims. For many he’s a contemporary, but he’s also a “historical figure.” And it should be noted that he also has his role in “The Malcolm X Story.” This role might continue to be assessed and reassessed. But you cannot make a movie about Mohamed Ali without mentioned the Malcolm X connection. Read or reread “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” If you only have a recent edition, try to also find the original edition.

This is a first example of teaching history and “historical figures” via film and also the problem of distinguishing filmmic reality from so-called reality. It is not our role in this essay merely to introduce this topic, but it is something for the teachers of history and the professional historians and those who participate in history and connect to “historical figures” to consider. Also, people who meet so-called historical think that this means they “know” them; this just means that they meet them. It doesn’t mean they “know” them. However, they can present their assessments. No doubt there are many people who meet Muhammad Ali and think they know him. Maybe many who interview him and think they know him from some interview. These people probably don’t know him at all, nor do they have a true means of getting to know him. They have to try to be honorable historians and honorable historical journalists.

There’s a question on the history channel website of whether journalists embedded with the troops in Iraq can be objective. Possibly not. Nor can most of the other American journalists. Nor can Iraq’s journalists be objective. Perhaps many think they are and pretend to be. An objective journalist would have to be a journalist neither American nor Iraqi, nor an ally of either.

That’s like imagining a cowboy journalist to be objective when they’re going after Geronimo. Maybe many many generations later. Also, few Native American would be objective, neither the ones helping the cowboys to capture Geronimo, nor the ones fighting with Geronimo. Think about it. Every generation has its “cowboys & Indians.” Every nation has its “cowboys & Indians.” Think about it. And, by the way, who’s your “Geronimo”?

Part of the history of immigrants and pilgrims has been people trying to escape the “role” assigned to them of having to play “the Indians.” Almost every group has had to play “the Indians,” in somebody’s history. And someone has also had to play “Geronimo.” Think about it.

Guillaume Apollinaire in one of his masterpiece short stories, which we roughly translate as “A Passerby in Prague,” and which a staff writer roughly translates, makes use of the myth of the “wandering Jew,” and the roles that Jews have plays in many society, including America, which is notable in the film “Gentleman’s Agreement.” Although this is fiction it is also history. In an monologue excerpt, we read:

“The second procession was that of a Jew whom they’d caught. With the yelling crowd and those drunk on beer, I walked up to the gallows. The Jew had his head covered with an iron mask painted red. This mask simulated a diabolic figure in which the ears were, to tell the truth, in the form of horns which are the ears of the ass that one puts on the head of naughty children….”

“You’re an Israelite, aren’t you?” I asked simply.

“I am the Wandering Jew. You’ve no doubt guessed that. I am the Eternal Jew–that’s what the Germans call me. I am Isaac Laquedem.”

This Wandering Jew talks about all the names that people have for him–“The Italians call me Buttadio – in Latin Buttadus: the Bretons, Boudedeo; the Spaniards, Juan Espere-en-Dios. I prefer the name Isaac Laquedem, under which one often sees me in Holland.”

He speaks of how he got the name “Wandering Jew,” and also the great authors who’s works he has inspired including Goethe and Schubert and many others.

This story is a great metaphor and this role is a great metaphor. Some peoples have only played the “Indians” in their own histories. Some have gotten to play the “Indians” in many peoples histories. Irish? Africans? Who else? Much of the struggle of peoples, including Europeans, is to avoid having to play “the Indians.” Of course. This is a role that almost every nationality gets to play in somebody’s history, and history always has poignant reminders of this. The question is always, Why don’t people learn anything from history?

And since nobody likes playing “the Indians,” why don’t we learn something?

Spiritual Philosophers have been teaching the same lessons century after century, generation after generation. Even historians, who are not on the level of these have been teaching the same lesson just by teaching history, and for whatever reason, people seem not to learn. Great novelists and writers like Leo Tolstoy and others have been teaching the same lessons. When the elders of civilizations can not be duped and deceived anymore, usually the young, the impressionable young, are recruited. And many times the impressionable elders also. The Great Teachers are correct when they try to teach people to transcend the world of appearances and authority figures. They’re correct. The world of appearances and the world of authority can be honorable or it can be corrupt. Think of Nazi Germany, think of the Romans at the height of their worldly corruptions. Think of Egypt at its most corrupt, or the Greeks. Think of the Moors when they were the conquerors. The great conquering Indian nations. The great conquering Africans–and yes, Africans too, have been conquerors, although their role today is very different, and so the role of Native Americans–who have also had their days of conquest, andn conquering other Indian tribes and peoples. We are not being specific here, because it’s just a matter of reading and learning the histories of all these peoples. Every now and then you have writers of the true histories of nations and peoples. And of course you have the honorable men and women of nations, and those who come closest to the divine ideal and societies idealizations of themselves and their peoples. But at some point societies and civilizations are going to have to take true and honest looks at themselves. They are going to have to do so. And that’s everybody. Every nation. Every civilization. Not just pointing the figure at others. At some point every nation, every civilization is going to have to take a true and honest look at itself, like when Leo Tolstoy tried to take a true and honest look at Russian society and civilizations through his great novels, including The Resurrection.

Recently there was a news item about American kids learning Chinese. Why do you think so many American kids are learning Chinese? Why do so many Americans want to teach their children Chinese and while they are still little children? Think about it. Some Americans remember the time when everybody felt the need to learn Spanish? Japanese? English? Think about. Un poquito? Think about it. Un poquito? And why is the language of international business English? Suppose there’s a time when the language of international business is Chinese? Or Spanish? Or, another language? What about Swahili? Think about it. Certainly in science fiction stories and novels, science fiction writers think about such scenarios all the time.

But in this essay we’re talking history, not science fiction, although there are some science fiction writers who deal with the subject of history, like Octavia Butler, the great African American science fiction writer. If you don’t know of her works, read them. And, the hero or heroine of a science fiction novel could also be a historian.

Certainly history (spiritual and secular) is a necessary subject and historians are necessary in every society. Now, what do we learn from films? And how and why can films be used in teaching history? And then how do we review those films, both their artistic craft and their historical veracity? How do we make use of historical films in a classroom? How do we make use of historical films as filmmakers and moviegoers? What is the role of history in film? What is the role of film in history? These are some of the questions. Of course this essay can not answer all of these questions. The essay introduces these questions. These are the type of questions that a history teacher can ask? Or that those watching historical movies can ask themselves?

When teaching history, teachers of no matter what educational level, from elementary school to graduate and post graduate school can use movies to teach history. Parents can also buy DVDs to teach their children about history. Like with books, there are historical movies for every grade level.

Of course, teachers and parents have to do like the history channel. They have to discuss the historical realities and make distinction between those and the creative license of movie makers. That have to make it clear to children and other who watch historical movies, that historical movies are not necessarily history. We began by mentioning the Malcolm X movie. Certainly some children not of the Malcolm X generation might have thought that they were watching a real history. Parents, of that generation, certainly had to make it clear that this is just a movie. Also, this is where it is necessary if possible to include documentary films. Even though documentary films can be selective and have a point of view, nevertheless documentary films should also be included in the use of films in teaching history. But mainly we are discussing the creative films and the fictionalization of history, which most of them are. Our source mainly for this essay is the Hollywood movies and the American movies.

One can find historical movies on almost every historical period. A website which lists them in chronological order–mostly the American movies and perhaps the Americanization of history is vernonjohns.org.

There are movies dealing with Ancient History through various Biblical histories through various modern histories. There are also movies that deal with histories of different countries and civilizations, like England, Russia, China, Japan, Israel, Ireland, etc. There are various political histories.

Some samples include: From Ancient Man, Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), from Old Testament Biblical History, Esther and the King (1960), from the Greek City States, Troy (2004), from the Roman Empire to Early Christianity, Hannibal (1960) and the various movies about Spartacus, the rise of Christianity is represented by the various Jesus movies including The Passion of the Christ (2004); Gladiator (2000) also represents this historical period. Attila (1954) represented the Fall of the Roman Empire. The El Cid movies and Mohamed, Messenger of God (1977) represent Islamic history. These are just a few.

Then there are many other movies to represent historical period; these are the further categories at this website:

  • England in the American Revolution
  • France to French Revolution
  • Italy, Sweden & Austria, Sweden
  • Russia & Turkey to French Revolution
  • China
  • Medieval Japan
  • Age of Discovery
  • America & Canada to American Revolution
  • American Revolutionary War
  • French Revolution, 1789
  • Napoleon
  • USA: Early Years
  • Crimean War
  • American Civil War
  • USA–Reconstruction & Separate But Equal
  • USA–Cowboys
  • & Indians
  • Victorian England
  • France & Austria
  • Imperialism: Spanish-American War
  • Imperialism: Africa
  • Imperialism: India
  • Imperialism: China
  • Italy: Before WW I
  • USA: Before WW I
  • WW I
  • Russian Revolution
  • Independence for Ireland
  • USA: 1920’s
  • Gangsters: Prohibition
  • Great Depression USA
  • Black History: Great Depression to Civil Right Movement
  • Hitler’s Rise
  • Pre-War Japan
  • Spanish Civil War
  • Rise of Mussolini
  • World War II–Germany
  • Soviet Union
  • Germans Kicked Out of Africa
  • Allied Invasion of Italy
  • Russian Front
  • Allied Invasion of France
  • German Counter-attack
  • Air War
  • Others
  • Hitler’s Last Days
  • Holocaust
  • World War II–Japan
  • The War in China
  • The USA Finally Gets into the War
  • USA Strikes Back
  • Post-War Japan
  • Post-War China
  • Post-War Germany
  • USA: The Home Front and the Soldiers Return
  • Independence for India–1947
  • Anti-Colonialism Against the French
  • USA–Loss of China, Korean War & McCarthyism During Cold War
  • Teen Rebellion and Rock & Roll
  • Civil Rights–USA
  • JFK, president 1961-1963
  • USA Struggle to Stop All Leftists in Latin and South America
  • Vietnam War
  • Hippie Era
  • Backlash: Nixon & the 70’s
  • Godfathers & Serial Killers
  • Civil Rights: South Africa
  • Civil Rights: Northern Ireland
  • Civil Rights: Canada
  • Civil Rights: Australia
  • Israel
  • Recent Politics
  • Worries About the Environment

The above are the categories of many movies on this page. This is excellent research of these different historical periods and the principle movies. Of course, most of these are just the American movies. Those interested in doing this type of historical movie learning, should also put together a collection of the international movies made during these important historical periods and should also compare them to the American movies.

The defining of history according to these periods tells a great about viewpoint and history, and why earlier we mentioned the “Americanization” of history. If the 20th century is the “American” century, then certainly history is “American.” That’s why it’s important for American to watch international film and international television and to learn about other peoples histories and from other peoples points of view. Certainly they might prefer their own point of view, but they need to learn of others and other points of view. Suppose China were to become the next greatest civilization as some pundits think. Then wouldn’t Americans want their point of view to be heard? Of course. But to continue our discussion of history and the movies.

Let’s say you’re dealing with Imperialism & Africa or with Germany. What are the movies made by the Africans and Germans during these periods? That’s the same with the other historical periods. In India, what movies were the Indians making? Are these movies also available.

Also, the philosophy of history should be discussed with the class. What is history? How do historians research and select historical facts and historical information. Why is history continuing to be re-researched and rewritten. What is the role of the so-called common people, the so-called masses in history vs. the great historical figures? What is the role of women? What is the role of minorities? What is viewpoint and history? Is history ever truly objective?

This website is great for initial research. Then the researcher must consider movies made by others than America and Hollywood. Brown University, for example, in 2005 held an Africana Film Festival, including many of the great African movies, like Cosmic Africa, about African Astronomy. A list of these movies can be found at the following website:

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Africana_Studies/AFF/films.html

When study African history, for example, movies made by Africans should also be included. This is the same with all these other histories and historical periods.

Have Native Americans made any movies about their history. If not, then go to the books written by Native Americans. When considering making Native American movies, for example, filmmakers are going to help to start looking to the books written by the great Native American writers. If filmmakers don’t know them, then research them. James Welch, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, and the lesser knowns. Why not consider making movies not just from the Hollywood imagination, but there are many great Native American authors. Not as many known or published as there should be. But there is great wealth here.

Recently a staff writer was wondering why not a movie based upon the great Ralph Ellison novel Invisible Man. A great novel of the 20th century. Maybe among the greatest. And by Ralph Ellison, not only a great novelist, but an artist, musician, photographer. The staff writer read a review of Terrence Howard’s pimp flick. Not very commendable, although the review finds Terrence Howard a talented actor and a fine performance. But the role? Why not have a great actor like Terrace Howard play one of the greatest roles for an African man called Invisible Man?

There are other great historical roles–Hannibal–not the Anthony Hopkins movie, but the original; and what of Toussaint L’Ouverture. Once there was to have been a movie of Toussaint L’Ouverture and there was a great controversy because Anthony Quinn was to be considered for the role. Although Anthony Quinn is among the great actors, and certainly made many great movies, nevertheless when one looks at the historical documents, he is certainly no Toussaint L’Ouverture, and it would be excellent to have a dark-complexioned African playing this great role, and not always pandering to the “American aesthetic.” For a photographic image and historical account of Toussaint L’Ouverture go to pbs.org .If the wife of Moses is truly Ethiopian, then why not have an Ethiopian play the role? And what of the original and ancient Jewish people–not the Europeanized Hebrews?

There are many historical movies and there is much historical movie work to do–and this is for all ethnic groups, who must all deal with the virtues and the vices of their various histories. Certainly for Terrence Howard it’s exceptable for him to play a pimp, since there are such types, but that should not be the only type for him to play.

We know that Oprah Winfrey has a commitment to making movies and plays (The Color Purple on Broadway) by African American women, but there are the great books by African American men also. The Old School and the New School.

All of these ideas should be considered when dealing with movies and history. Great that Hollywood has made so many historical movies of so many different historical periods. However, when truly wanting to teach history through the movies, we have to all consider the non-Hollywood movie makers, and also the great works, historical and otherwise, to help to enhance American history and everybody’s history through the movies.

These are all questions for those learning and teaching history through the movies to consider.

Historic movies online can also be found at:

Ancient Symbols – The Swastika

(Photo above: Anglo-Saxon cinerary urn with swastika motifs, created between 5th and 6th century, from North Elmham, Norfolk.)

The Swastika is an ancient sacred symbol – upon first glance, the words “Sacred” and “Swastika” seem to contradict each other……we are all painfully aware of the negative Nazi association with this symbol, BUT, we should not forget that this symbol is ancient, it did not start with the Nazi’s and it would be a shame to let it end there, when potentially, analysis could provide a startling insight into human history.

The swastika has been used by many cultures and religions

The Swastika has been attributed with many meanings over time.

Many believe that the symbol originated in the ancient Sumerian civilisation (the cradle of civilisation) 5300 – 1940BC located in modern Southern Iraq – the Swastika symbol has been found on some of the earliest Sumerian pottery ……. but, the earliest discovered use of the Swastika was in and around India during the Neolithic era – the new stone age – 9500 years ago!

The word Swastika is derived from the Sanskrit language – svastika – meaning well being or lucky.
Source

In 1925, Coca Cola launched a brass Swastika shaped lucky watch fob promotion.

It’s possible that the key fob was distributed in Germany just before the 1936 Olympics. The Coca Cola corporation appeared to be one of the sponsors of Hitler’s Third Reich propaganda.

A town in Ontario was named Swastika in 1911 because of a lucky gold strike.
Source


In Great Britain the common name given to the Swastika from Anglo-Saxon times … was Fylfot, said to have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon “fower fot”, meaning four-footed, or many-footed. SWASTIKA STONE ILKLEY – YORKSHIRE

This carved stone on Woodhouse Crag, Ilkley Moor, Yorkshire, England – the carving is thought to date back to the bronze age (2700 – 700 BC).

You may see the swastika symbol regularly – hidden in plain sight – The Microsoft Swastika
Source

The US Navy base in San Diego was required to spend $ 600,000.00 to alter the design of their building in the wake of numerous complaints following the launch of the aerial visualisation tool – Google Earth. From The Daily Kos.

Buddha in Tanzhe Temple in Bejing, China has a swastika on his chest – “A seal on Buddha’s heart”. In the Buddhist tradition, the Swastika was used to mark the beginning of sacred texts. Source

Villa Romana de Tejada in village of Quintanilla de la Cueza, in the province of (Palencia), Spain.

Mosaic floor showing the symbol of a swastica in the Roman City of Sabratha, Libya

Many scholars have attributed the symbol to be a representation of the sun – However, every time I look at a swastika – I see a spinning, spiral armed galaxy – but given the history of this symbol – how could our ancient ancestors know of or have seen a distant galaxy?

The History of St. Patrick’s Day Parades

How did a Christian observance for the Patron Saint of Ireland turn into the St. Patrick’s Day parades we see every year? Read on to learn some of the history behind the festivities.

“May you live to be a hundred, with one extra year to repent!” goes a well-known Irish saying. And may you be able-bodied enough to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day every year of your life. One of the ways Americans enjoy it in cities across the nation is with annual parades. On March 17th it seems everyone has a wee bit o’the green in him, for they turn out in droves, line the streets early, bring their grills and their picnic baskets, and settle in for a day of pure enjoyment.

Lonely Irish immigrants in Boston in 1737 held the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America. It is likely that they continued to celebrate together every year, just as they had in their home country, but the next one recorded in history was in 1762. Irish soldiers stationed there with the English military held a parade in the New York City streets, much to the delight of a growing Irish immigrant community. It was such a success that in 1766 New York declared it an annual event, and so it has been ever since.

The protestant, largely middle-class immigrants formed several ‘Irish Aid’ societies in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, like the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, to assist each other and new immigrants that were pouring in. They were hard-working, upright people who helped their own and anybody else who needed it. And their celebrations – St. Patrick’s Day being the main one – were boisterous, happy, fun, and open to anybody who wanted to join in. As a result, they were well received by all. Local groups turned out with bagpipes and drums, the churches opened up with bazaars and games, and residents vied with each other to produce the best ethnic dishes and desserts.

In 1845 the Great Potato Famine in Ireland drove scores starving immigrants to American shores, and public opinion changed somewhat. These immigrants – almost a million of them – tended to be poor, uneducated, and Catholic. They had difficulty finding even menial work and were often met with contempt by Americans. Protestant middle class Irish scorned them as well. For years many of them had a rough go in their new country. But the Irish are durable, and find ways to weather storms. Eventually they began to recognize their power as a voting block, and to organize what was called the ‘green machine’. Their power was in their sheer numbers, and political candidates began to woo them determinedly for the swing vote they represented. By this time many cities were hosting parades on March 17, the largest being in New York City. Irishmen must have danced with glee in 1948 when then-President Harry Truman attended the New York City parade, giving his seal of approval to the practice and creating public acceptance across the nation.

St. Patrick’s Day was not an officially recognized holiday until 1976, but most large cities were already hosting their own brand of parades in honor of the day. However, it was increasingly recognized as a secular holiday, not a Christian one, with the emphasis on pure fun. While there is nothing wrong with that, the outlandish customs that Americans seem to love have become offensive to some devout Irish, who would never dream of wearing a “kiss me, I’m Irish” button. Also drinking to excess is now a given for many folks on this holiday, something the true Irish did not tolerate.

In Ireland, businesses were closed on St. Patrick’s Day, including the pubs. The day began by attending church services to honor their patron saint. Men wore a sprig of shamrocks on the hats or jackets, women wore green ribbons in their hair, and children wore green, white and orange badges – the colors of the flag. The rest of the day was devoted to family, friends, and festivities. Games, crafts, and contests were held, and copious quantities of dark Irish beer and traditional Irish dishes were consumed, but drinkers stayed close to home and knew their limits.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Irish parliament repealed the law keeping pubs closed. In 1995 a national campaign began to attract tourism to the war-torn country, and to showcase the beautiful Emerald Isle. A national St. Patrick’s celebration now takes place in Dublin every year, lasting several days. In addition to a huge parade, there are fireworks, concerts, theater productions, and treasure hunts. Close to a million attend every year.

St. Patrick’s Day parades are springing up in other countries as well. Canada, Russia, Singapore, and Japan boast of parades, among others. It just goes to show that, indeed, there may be a little leprechaun in all of us. This is certainly true in America, where the Census Bureau estimates over 34 million Americans can trace some Irish blood in their ancestry.

With this year’s celebration just around the corner, many establishments are already gearing up for the coming festivities. In university towns this often includes neighbors boarding up their windows against a night of frivolity and heavy drinking. But less troublesome celebrations will be everywhere, so be sure to freshen up your green jacket and buff up your dancing shoes! And as the evening wears on and you are ready to end your day, be sure and bless your hosts with a traditional Irish blessing: “May your neighbors respect you, troubles neglect you, the angels protect you, and Heaven accept you.”

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Introduction

Introduction

Journal, the root word of journalism, came from the Latin word diurnal, which means daily. In ancient Rome, brief communiqués were called Acta Diurna, which means Daily Events. Others were called Acta Publica, which means Public Events.

Journalism, the art and science of writing for newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, and online publications, enfolds timely and factual reports of unusual or unexpected events, opinions, or situations that affect man and his environment. These reports are gathered, evaluated, and published, broadcast, or posted on the Web to inform, to entertain, or to influence large number of readers.

The history of journalism started in ancient Egypt when heralds ran to pharaohs with oral reports and when town criers sang important announcements in public places. The first printed newspaper, produced from wood blocks, appeared in Beijing, China in the Seventh and in the Eight Centuries.

When Johan Guttenberg of Mainz, Germany invented the movable printing press in 1450, wider and faster dissemination of news stories were made possible. It also facilitated the exchange of ideas throughout Europe and the spread of the ideas of the Renaissance from 1300 to 1600.

On September 25, 1690, Benjamin Harris, an English refugee, published the Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, the first American newspaper, in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1783, the Daily Advertisers and the Pennsylvania Evening Post, the first daily American newspapers, were published in Philadelphia.

The Gentleman’s Magazine, published from 1731 to 1907, was the first periodical to use the word magazine that denotes a vehicle of entertaining reading. It contained political essays, poems, stories, and debates and was very influential, serving for example, as the model for the American Magazine of Andrew Bradford and the General Magazine and Historical Chronicle of Benjamin Franklin, the first true American periodicals.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Early Years

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Early Years

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.

La Esperanza, the first daily newspaper filled with long discussions about religious, scientific, historical, and philosophical subjects, was also founded by Agustin de la Cavada y Mendez de Vigo, was edited by Felipe de la Corte y Ruano Calderon, and was published by Miguel Sanchez on December 1, 1846. It also published official and commercial news and advertisements.

When El Diario de Manila was founded on January 1, 1848, La Estrella and La Esperanza ceased publication and relinquished the monopoly to the Boletin Oficial de Filipinas, the daily government organ from 1852 to 1860. However, when the latter was renamed the Gaceta de Manila by a Royal Order on May 18, 1860, El Diario de Manila reappeared in September 1860.

Edited by José Felipe Del Pan, El Diario de Manila became not only the best-edited newspaper, but also one that had long, prosperous, and continuous circulation until 1899. Its editorial staff included José de la Rosa, Manuel Garrido, Manuel Marzano, Lorenzo Moreno Conde, Francisco Ramos Borguella, Francisco de Paula Martinez, and Antonio Vazquez de Aldana.

El Instructor, 1849; El Despertador, 1849; Diario de Avisos y Noticias, 1850; El Observador Filipino, 1851; Boletin Oficial de Filipinas, 1852, and El Commercio, 1858, followed the Diario. The latter, not an example of correctness, tidiness of language, and civility in reasoning, was an afternoon newspaper edited by Soler Ovejero, an army officer.

A fortnightly that opened a new era in the history of Philippine journalism because it had sustained its reviews, sketches, biographies, news about the country, and literary and scientific sections, the Ilustracion Filipina was published on March 1, 1859 and ceased publication on December 15, 1860.

Published on February 26, 1861, the Gaceta de Manila, a weekly government newspaper that published official documents and announcements, ceased publication on August 8, 1898. It was followed by the Revista de Noticias y Anuncios, 1861, La España Catolica, 1862, and La España Oceánica, 1862.

With the slogan “Religious Unity,” El Catolico Filipino was founded by Father Pedro Pelaez and was published by Father Mariano Sevilla on February 1, 1862. Though it was the first religious newspaper in the country, Fray Agapito Aparicio charged it as a political newspaper masquerading beneath the cloak of religion. El Correo de Filipinas was published in 1863.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Revolutionary Period

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – American Colonial Period

by Alixander Haban Escote

Although Gen Emilio Aguinaldo and his revolutionary government proclaimed Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 and established the First Philippine Republic in Malolos, Bulacan on January 23, 1899, President William McKinley and Admiral George Dewey planned to take over the Philippines and forced the surrender of Spanish forces inside Intramuros. With the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 and the Treaty with Spain on November 7, 1900, the United States of America acquired the sovereignty over the Philippines.

As the Spanish-American War was being fought, La Democracia, the first Filipino newspaper that recognized American sovereignty in the country, urged the Filipino people to accept the new government and to help heal the wounds of war. Edited by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, it was the official publication of the pro-American Partido Federalista, the first political party organized on December 23, 1900 by 125 Filipino illustrados.

Besides La Independencia and El Heraldo dela Revolucion, other Filipino newspapers were also published as the Americans established their military government in the country. Among these was La Patria, the newspaper that openly championed freedom and independence and directly challenged La Democracia. Published by Pablo Ocampo and edited by Rafael Palma and Aurelio Tolentino, it was closed by Gen Arthur McArthur, the father of Gen Douglas McArthur9.

The closure of La Patria and the assertion of American military rule did not dampen the newspaper industry. Unfazed, Pablo Ocampo published La Libertad and continued to fight for freedom and independence. As a result, the American military authorities banned the newspaper, and its publisher was exiled to Guam for two years.

Meanwhile, Rafael Palma, a lawyer, educator, and social scientist, founded El Nuevo Dia, Cebu’s first daily newspaper, on April 6, 1900. In collaboration with the then Speaker Sergio Osmeña Sr.10 and Commissioner Jaime Carlos de Veyra, Palma criticized American military rule. In the end, the newspaper was severely censored and as a sign of protest, it came out with large blacked-out pages that ostracized the Americans who championed freedom of the press and expression in their country, but censored them in the Philippines.

El Grito del Pueblo and its sister publication in Tagalog, Kapatid ng Bayan, edited by Pascual Poblete, and El Filipino Libre, published by Manuel Xeres Burgos, also cried for freedom and independence and criticized American military rule.

On the other hand, English language newspapers were published to cater the needs of the American reading public: Bounding Billow, published aboard US Olympia;11 Official Gazette, published by the American military government; American Soldier, published for a month with some 20 issues; and Soldier’s Letter, published by the 18th Minnesota Volunteers in the US Army. These newspapers had common point of view: “These islands were rich untapped sources of American wealth and capital. The natives, half-devil and half-child, insist on playing government: a group of warlike tribes who will devour each other the moment American troops leave.”

On October 11, 1898, Thomas Gowan, an Englishman rather than an American, edited and published the Manila Times, the first continually published English language daily newspaper in the country. In 1899, George Seliner joined the Manila Times as business manager and later bought the newspaper from Gowan. Seliner sold it in 1902, reacquired it in 1905, and sold it again in 1907.

The then Senate President Manuel Quezon12 bought the Manila Times in 1917. During his ownership, the newspaper was generally staffed by Filipinos, a pattern followed by Governor General Francis Burton Harrison13 in Filipinizing the government. In 1921, Quezon, who found out that politics and journalism are like oil and water that could never be mixed well, sold the newspaper to George Fairchild, a Hawaiian senator engaged in the sugar industry. Politically speaking, the newspaper became the mouthpiece of American politicians and businessmen and was intensely pro-American and anti-Filipino. In 1926, Fairchild sold the newspaper to Jacob Rosenthal, a businessmen engaged in the shoe industry.

Alejandro Roces Sr., the father of modern journalism in the Philippines, bought the Manila Times in 1927. At that time, he was also the owner of the TVT chain of newspapers: Taliba, La Vanguardia, and Manila Tribune. Roces founded the latter on April 1, 1925 when he failed to purchase the Philippine Herald.

Because of its substantial editorial pages and wide international coverage, the Manila Tribune, edited by Carlos Romulo,14 the Philippine Herald former editor, and staffed by Mauro Mendez, Benito Sakdalan, Amando Dayritt, Roberto Anselmo, and Fernando Maramag became the most informative and most entertaining newspaper in the 1920s. The Tribune Magazine, its weekly supplement, had a circulation of 40,000 during weekdays and 80,000 during weekends.

On March 15, 1930, Roces stopped the publication of the Manila Times, but continued the publication of the Manila Tribune, which became a morning newspaper, and the Philippine Herald, which became an afternoon newspaper. After World War II, Alejandro Roces Jr. revived the newspaper business that his father founded, but discarded the TVT chain of newspapers. Roces formed The Manila Times Publishing Company, Inc., and published the Sunday Times on May 27, 1945, which became the Manila Times on September 5, 1945.

Established by Carson Taylor, an Illinois public school teacher who came to the country as part of the Colorado First Volunteer National Guard Regiment, the Manila Daily Bulletin made its debut on February 1, 1900 as a shipping gazette devoted to ship arrivals and departures. Its early editors were H G Farris, 1900; George Rice, late 1900; Chas Bond, 1904; William Crozier, 1905; M L Steward, 1913; C R Zeininger, 1918; and Roy Bennet, late 1918.

In 1912, the Manila Daily Bulletin widened its coverage and circulation and marked its entrance into the newspaper industry. By then, the newspaper shifted to a six-column newspaper consisting of eight pages.

In 1918, the Manila Daily Bulletin switched to a standard eight-column newspaper and published foreign news, first obtained as cable flashes from San Francisco and later as wired stories from the Associated Press and the United Press International. It also rose in circulation and became the largest English language daily newspaper in 1925. Robert Kidd, Ford Wilkins, Frank Bennett, and Ralph Hawkins, were among its early bigwigs.

Abram V Hartendorp, a Thomasite who stayed in Samar and in Zambales, founded The Philippine Magazine, formerly The Philippine Teacher, and later The Philippine Education, in 1904. He contributed largely to the development of Filipino writers in the English language such as Manuel Arguilla, Amador Daguio, Jose Garcia Villa, N V M Gonzalez, Edilberto Tiempo, Bienvenido Santos, and Francisco Avellana.

Judge W H Kincaid founded the Philippine Free Press, the first regularly issued English language weekly magazine, in 1907. It was edited by Pat Gallagher and started as English-Spanish weekly. On August 19, 1908, Robert McCulloch Dick, a Scot who came to the country in 1899, bought the one-year-old magazine and paid one peso, approximately fifty cents, for its goodwill, circulation, and equipment. With the aid of F Theo Rogers as general manager, Dick, who was the editor and publisher until his death on September 14, 1960, turned the magazine into the largest circulated publication in the archipelago and the most influential English language weekly magazine in the history of Philippine journalism. Dick lived most of his life in the Philippines, dying here at the age of 80 years.

Before the war, leading Filipino journalist joined the Philippine Free Press editorial staff – Jose Joven, Jose Reyes, Juan Callas, Ramon Navas, Federico Calero, Roberto Anselmo, and Leon Maria Guerrero. A consistent crusader, the magazine contributed much to the social, cultural, political, educational, and economic growth of the country.

El Renacimiento, a Spanish daily newspaper founded by Rafael Palma on September 1, 1900, became very popular because of its vigorous campaign against graft and corruption in the government. On October 30, 1908, the newspaper came out with an editorial written by Fidel Reyes, its city editor, titled Aves de Rapina, Birds of Prey, which denounced an American official for taking advantage his office in exploiting the resources of the country for his personal gains.

Although the editorial did not mention names, Dean C Worcester, the then Secretary of the Interior and former professor at the University of Michigan, felt alluded to in the editorial and filed a libel case against Teodoro Kalaw and Martin Ocampo, editor and publisher, respectively. The entire Spanish and Filipino press supported the newspaper and many Filipinos offered legal, moral, and financial support.

The lower court sentenced Ocampo to 6 months imprisonment and PhP2 000 fine and Kalaw to 12 months imprisonment and PhP3 000 fine and a verdict for moral and punitive damages for PhP25 000. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which affirmed the decision of the lower court. The embattled journalists appealed again to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, which sustained the decision of the Philippine tribunals. However, Ocampo and Kalaw did not spend a day in jail because Governor General Francis Burton Harrison pardoned them in 1914.

Today, El Renacimiento is remembered as a proof of American antagonism against Filipino nationalism. And, after it had been closed, several newspapers and periodicals were published and fought for freedom and independence.

On August 8, 1920, the Philippine Herald, the first Filipino-owned English language daily newspaper edited by Conrado Benitez, became the mouthpiece of outraged Filipinos led by the then Senate President Manuel Quezon against conservative Americans led by Governor General Leonard Wood. Later, at the helm of its bankruptcy, Senator Vicente Madrigal, Ramon Fernandez, the Earnshaw brothers, and other Filipino millionaires continued its publication and circulation. Among those who worked for the Philippine Herald were Vicente Bunuan, Gregorio Nieva, Antonio Estrada, Modesto Farolan, and Vicente del Fiero.

Founded in 1922 by Ramon Roces, Liwayway became the most widely read weekly magazine in Tagalog and gave rise to publications of the same type in other Philippine dialects. It first appeared as Photo News on June 15, 1922, and had sections in Tagalog, English, and Spanish. However, the idea did not appeal to the reading public and was dropped after 10 issues over a five-month period. When the publication was revived on November 18, 1929, it became a Tagalog weekly magazine that published romance and fantasy stories that included Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang by Severino Reyes, the leading Tagalog fictionist during those days. Among those who served as editors in chief were Jose Esperanza Cruz, 1932-1942; Pedrito Reyes, 1942-1945; Catalino Flores, 1945-1954; Jose Domingo Karasig, 1954-1960; Gervasio Santiago, 1960-1979; Bienvenido Ramos, 1979-1982; and Rodolfo Salandanan, from 1982 to the present.

Ramon Roces also founded the Weekly Graphic, the most widely read weekly magazine in English, on July 15, 1927. It was edited by Vicente Albano Pacis, the Manila Times former editor, and later, by Agustin Fabian. In the 1930s, the Philippine Herald and the Manila Tribune shared the top position in the newspaper industry.

Established by Ramon Roces, Bisaya became the most successful periodical in Cebuano. Its first issue on August 15, 1930 had an initial circulation of 5 000 that rose to 60 000 in the 1960s. Among those who served as editors were Vicente Padriga, 1930-1931; Natalio Bacalso, 1931-1933; Flaviano Boquecosa, 1933-1941; Maximo Bas, 1946-1949; Francisco Candia, 1949-1966; Marcelo Navarra, 1969-1973; Nazario Bas, 1973-1986; and Tiburcio Baguio, its current editor.

In 1933, Senator Vicente Madrigal with the help of Carlos Romulo, who left the Manila Tribune, organized the DMHM chain of newspapers: El Debate, a Spanish morning daily; Mabuhay, a Tagalog morning daily; Philippine Herald, an English afternoon daily; and Monday Mail, an English weekly. In his capacity as the editor in chief of the DMHM chain of newspapers, Romulo won a Pulitzer Prize.

First published regularly in 1934, Ang Bisaya sa Hiligaynon was renamed the Hiligaynon in 1936. With an initial circulation of 5 000 copies, it reached a larger circulation than its sister publication, Bisaya and Bannawag, at its peak. It was published by Ramon Roces and was first edited by Abe Gonzales.

Ramon Roces published Bannawag, the brainchild of Magdaleno Abaya, the Philippine Graphic former staff member, in 1935. It has fostered the growth and maturity of Ilocano literature and has produced creative writers like Leon Pichay, Benjamin Pascual, Godofredo Reyes, and Hermogenes Belen. Considered as the “Bible of the North” that catered the grassroots and intellectual readers, the magazine serves as the major venue for most writings in Ilocano and covers a wide range of writings from fiction, poetry, and comic stories to essays, feature articles, and reportage on local and foreign developments.

After spending at least PhP100 000, Joaquin Elizalde, who rescued the Philippine Herald from Senator Vicente Madrigal, leased the DMHM chain of newspapers to Jorge Araneta, a businessman who wanted a newspaper to bat for a larger market for the Philippine sugar industry in the United States, in 1938. After his death, the chain of newspapers was reverted to the Madrigals.

Before World War II, there were 153 provincial newspapers in the country. Of these, seven were dailies: Cebu City Advertiser, Cebu; Cebu Herald, Cebu; Davao Nichi-Nichi, Davao; El Tiempo, Iloilo; La Nacion, Cebu; La Revolucion, Cebu; and Times, Iloilo.

The oldest newspaper before World War II were Mindanao Herald, which was published in Zamboanga on November 3, 1903, and Ang Manugbantala, which was published in Iloilo on July 7, 1905.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Japanese Imperial Occupation

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

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

by Alixander Haban Escote

During this period, journalism moved the country toward nationalism and independence. It is the period when the country experienced economic turmoil and had a hard time in paying its increasing foreign debts. The Philippine peso flunked against the US dollar and America meddled in the state of economy of the country. As a result, the people felt hardships in life and the press reported the continuing destruction of bureaucracy that shaped the neocolonial outline of our history.

In 1963, Bertrand Russel Foundation published the Progressive Review whose prominent writers included Luis Teodoro, Jose Maria Sison, and Francisco Nemenzo Jr. The Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines,16 published essays that mirrored progressive and revolutionary ideas of its editorial staff.

At the University of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, also known as Amado Guerrero, founded the Kabataang Makabayan on November 30, 1964. A militant student organization, it removed the unscrupulous masks of feudalism, capitalism, imperialism, and neocolonialism, which, according to Sison, are “the barriers toward the attainment of freedom and independence.”

In November 1965, the then Senate President Ferdinand Marcos,17 Nacionalista Party presidential candidate, who ran against President Diosdado Macapagal, Liberal Party presidential candidate, was elected Sixth President of the Republic of the Philippines, defeating the latter by 67 000 votes. In January 1966, Marcos vowed to be the “leader of the people” and “to make this nation great again.”

After one year, US President Lyndon Johnson sought support for the American involvement in South Vietnam and called for a summit among his allies in the Asia and the Pacific. As a response, Marcos sent an engineering battalion despite popular clamor for non-involvement.

In December 1968, Jose Maria Sison founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and continued the armed struggle against the government and its foreign tentacles. When Marcos was re-elected for another four-year term in November 1969, CPP formed an alliance with the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan, formerly the military arm of the Partido ng Komunista ng Pilipinas and later the New People’s Army led by Bernabe Buscayno, also known as Kumander Dante.

In January 1970, series of rallies were launched by radical and moderate student organizations protesting the inclusion of politicians in the 1971 Constitutional Convention and the constitutional provision that would allow Marcos to run for a third term. When militant students overrun the military lines and ram commandeered fire trucks at the gates of the Malacañang Palace, bloody violence erupted.18 This bloody episode began a wave of protest known as the First Quarter Storm.

On August 21, 1971, two hand grenades were thrown at the Plaza Miranda19 killing 8 and injuring 120 persons including Senators Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga, and Sergio Osmeña Jr. who attended the Liberal Party proclamation rally. As a result, Marcos suspended the privilege of writ of habeas corpus20.

In a study conducted by John Lent, there were 26 newspapers and 16 periodicals published during this period. The principal newspapers were the Taliba, Daily Mirror, Evening News, Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Philippine Herald, and the Manila Daily Bulletin. The principal magazines were the Liwayway, Tagumpay, Weekly Nation, Weekly Graphic, Republic Weekly, Philippine Free Press, Asia Philippines Leader, and the Philippine Free Press sa Filipino,

Militant newspapers during this period included Ang Pasada, Samahan ng mga Makabayang Tsuper; Pagkakaisa, Philippine Peace and Solidarity Council; Bandilang Pula, Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan; Ang Kalayaan and Ang Aktibista, Kabataang Makabayan; Taliba ng Bayan and The Liberation, National Democratic Front; and the Sulong, Ang Bayan, and Ang Komunista, Communist Party of the Philippines.

In early September 1972, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.21 refuted “Oplan Sagitarrius,” the plan to place some parts of the country under martial law.

On the very night before martial law was declared, the convoy of Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed. Fourteen years later, while facing uncertain fate at the Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City after he broke away from Marcos, Enrile confessed that the “ambush” was staged to help justify the imposition of the emergency rule.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Martial Law Days

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Martial Law Days

by Alixander Haban Escote

On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 and “placed the entire country under martial law.” With the guise of rebellion and insurrection against the government, Marcos manipulated events and situations to justify the declaration of martial law.

The imposition of martial law was necessary, Marcos said, “to save the republic and form a new society.” The purposes of the emergency rule were two-sided: (1) eradicating the armed force of the rebellion and ending the anarchy that prevailed; and (2) eliminating the social and economic roots of the rebellion, by causing rapid national development.

Marcos assured the people that the imposition of martial rule was “legal and constitutional…humane, fair, and just as shown in the absence of bloodshed and the almost unanimous acceptance [of emergency measure] by the people.” The autocrat reiterated that martial law was “not a military takeover of civil government functions… but is the ultimate weapon availed of to preserve the people’s life as a nation when threatened.” A war to be waged on two fronts: “On one hand, we have to completely stamp out the communist menace. On the other hand, we have to cut the powers of the oligarchs who have tyrannized the people.”

The following day, Marcos issued Letter of Instruction No. 1 ordering the Press Secretary and the Defense Secretary “to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of the mass media for the duration of the national emergency, or until otherwise ordered by the President or by his duly designated representative.”

In the first few days of military rule, the Public Information Office issued tight censorship guidelines. Department Order No. 1 signed by Francisco Tatad, ordered, “unless otherwise specified, no newspaper, radio, or television program may carry any editorial opinion, commentary, or asides, or any other kind of political, unauthorized, or objectionable advertising. The so-called society page shall not appear in any newspaper and its equivalent shall not be broadcast either by radio or television.”

As a result, all newspapers and periodicals were closed down and the Sun, Daily Star, Evening News, Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, and the Philippines Herald were sequestered. The likes of publishers Antonio Araneta, Graphic; Joaquin Roces, Manila Times; Eugenio Lopez Jr., Manila Chronicle; and Teodoro Locsin Sr., Philippine Free Press; were jailed.

Marcos also jailed the following editors and reporters: Rolando Fadul, Taliba; Luis Mauricio, Graphic; Juan Mercado, Dumaguete Times; Rosalinda Galang, Manila Times; Jose Lacaba, Philippine Free Press; Amando Doronilla, Manila Chronicle; and Napoleon Rama, Philippine Free Press.

Dolores Feria, Jose Burgos Jr., Satur Ocampo, Rommel Corro, Armando Malay, Napoleon Rama, Maximo Soliven, Petronillo Daroy, Ernesto Granada, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Ninotchka Rosca, Rodolfo Ordonez, and Antonio Ma Nieva were also jailed.

Philippine Collegian student journalists like Roberto Coloma, Alexander Magno, and Malou Mangahas were also put in jail. Mauro Avena, Jose Burgos Jr., Sheila Coronel, Rommel Corro, Domini Suarez, Armando Malay, Ma Ceres Doyo, Francisco Rodrigo, and Salvador Gonzales faced libel and subversion cases.

Arlene Babst, Mauro Avena, Antonio Ma Nieva, Ninez Cacho Olivarez, and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc were dismissed as professional journalists. Jacinto Peña, Alex Orcullo, Kenneth Lee, Geoffrey Siao, Henry Romero, Porfirio Doctor, Demy Dingcong, Walter Sisbrenio, Noe Alejandrino, Jacobo Amatong, Florante de Castro, and Antonio Tagamolila offered their lives for journalism.

Women journalists though subjected to military threats, harassments, and intimidations proved to be equally if not more daring than men in their writings. Among them were Ceres Doyo, Arlene Babst, Sheila Coronel, Ninez Olivares, Betty Belmonte, Melinda de Jesus, Eugenia Apostol, Malou Mangahas, Domini Torrevillas, Tina Monzon-Palma, and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc.

Within weeks, the Philippine Daily Express, published by Juan Perez and owned by Roberto Benedicto, Marcos’s friend and law schoolmate, was allowed to operate and became the unofficial mouthpiece of the administration during the historical martial law proclamation. It was an unabashed propaganda newspaper and eventually came to be known, in the kind of defiant humor popular during the martial law, as the Daily Suppress.

In its December 7, 1972 editorial, the paper praised the imposition of martial law in rather flagrant time:

“President Marcos took the decisive step to realize that Filipino dream when he placed the entire country under martial law to save the republic from foreign-backed communist conspiracy trying to seize state and political power, and to reform a sick society by eradicating the social roots of the rebellion and anarchy. (Italics Mine)

“Proclamation 1081 is not a martial law proclamation but a declaration of emancipation…liberating the Filipino mind, body, and soul from centuries of imprisonment (by social, political, and economic ills and conditions imposed by [the] Spanish, [the] American, and [the] Japanese force[s]) as well as from local tyrants and warlords… and those who took orders from Moscow and lately from the operatives of Chairman Mao” (Italics Mine).

The tightly controlled mass media had few openings for alternative versions of reality to seep through the thick mist of official propaganda. Kerima Polotan-Tuvera published the Focus, a safe but interesting magazine. The daughter of sometime presidential representative Adrian Cristobal published the Review, a short-lived literary magazine.

Only few newspapers and periodicals were given permission to operate: the Evening Post of Kerima Polotan-Tuvera, the Bulletin Today of Gen Hans Menzi, and the Times Journal of Benjamin Romualdez. These newspapers were also known as “crony press” or “establishment press.”

The boldest publication during the martial law period was the Who Magazine of the Bulletin-owned Liwayway Publications, Inc. It was intended to be a personality periodical, but Menzi gave its editorial staff some liberty to write feature stories. It tackled stories about victims of human rights abuses, public sentiments regarding the real state of things, and indigenous communities resisting development programs. Some of its editorial columns were critical of the administration.

Who Magazine editorial staff and contributors were often summoned to explain the merits of their stories. Marcos himself expressed annoyance over the existence of the publication. But, Menzi was fond of the young journalists and that he defended them and the publication. The magazine was finally shut down after he died.

Nationalistic campus newspapers were the Pandayan of the Ateneo de Manila University, Balawis of the Mapua Institute of Technology, the Philippine Collegian of the University of the Philippines, Ang Hasik of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Ang Malaya of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – 1986 EDSA Revolution

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – 1986 EDSA Revolution

by Alixander Haban Escote

Three years before the 1986 EDSA Revolution, Mr & Ms, an inexpensive weekly magazine, sensationalized the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., paramount political rival of Marcos, at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983. Aquino’s assassination ignited a fire of protests particularly in Ugarte Field in Makati and in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila where the upper and the middle classes marched with the poor, the workers, the unemployed, and the professionals.

The continued publication and circulation of Mr & Ms encouraged Eugenia Apostol and Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc to publish the Philippine Daily Inquirer, an opposition newspaper edited by Luis Beltran, on December 2, 1985. With the slogan “Balanced News, Fearless Views,” 40 editors, reporters, photographers, correspondents, and other editorial employees put out the newspaper on December 9, 1985. It was one of the two alternative newspapers that chronicled the flight of the Marcoses on February 25, 1986.

Earlier, We Forum, with Jose Burgos Jr. as the editor and publisher and Bonifacio Gillego as the writer, ran series of exposé on the alleged Marcos fake medals. Because of this, Marcos ordered the closure of the newspaper and the arrest of its editor and publisher. However, on December 4, 1981, the newspaper metamorphosed into Malaya, which ceased on December 7, 1982 and reopened on January 17, 1983.

The rampage of the new elite and the abuse of human rights did not only bleed the economy dry but also fueled rallies and demonstrations. The EDSA Revolution that prevailed on February 22-25, 1986 was a peaceful cry for freedom and independence, which, according to Senator Francisco Tatad, was “a beautiful revolution whose combatants include men, women, and children who had fun rather than fear and who thought that what they went through was a religious rather than a political experience.”

On February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino24 was inaugurated as President of the Republic of the Philippines at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan before Supreme Court Senior Justice Claudio Teehankee. An hour later, Marcos conducted his own inauguration at the Malacañang Palace. Channels 2, 9, and 13 covered the ceremony, but they were cut off suddenly because their transmitters were taken by reformist troops. Without television, Marcos finally loses control. Marcos called Juan Ponce Enrile to offer him power in a provisional government, but the latter turned him down. Marcos called US Senator Paul Laxalt to ask for advice and he was told: “Mr. President, I think you should cut, and cut cleanly.” Marcos made a final call to Enrile asking for a safe conduct for his family. The Marcoses then packed hurriedly. At 9 p. m., four American helicopters fly the Marcoses from the Malacañang Palace in Manila to the Clark Air Base in Pampanga. The next day, they stop over at Guam, then fly to Hawaii.

Prominent newspapers during this period were the Business Day, the most respected business newspaper; the Malaya, the newspaper that strongly opposed martial law; the Bulletin Today, the newspaper that exists through bad and good times; theManila Times, the newspaper that came back before the snap elections; and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the most read newspaper even after a few months of circulation.

Included were their Sunday magazines: Panorama, Inquirer Extra, Midday Malaya, Sunday Times Magazine, and Sunday Inquirer Magazine. The weekly newsmagazines were Veritas, We Forum, Veritas Special, and Mr & Ms Special Edition. Also included were News Herald, Manila Chronicle, Ang Pilipino Ngayon, Pilipino Daily Mirror, and the Philippine Tribune.

Next: A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Contemporary Period

A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Historical Notes

by Alixander Haban Escote

Twenty-four important notes necessary in understanding a history of journalism in the Philippines.

  1. Marcelo Del Pilar is also the author of La Soberania Monacal, 1888; and Frailocracia Fililipa, 1889. Hilario was not actually his middle name, but Gatmaytan.
  2. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente was founded by Isabelo delos Reyes and Pascual Poblete, 1902; and was headed by Gregorio Aglipay as its first Pontifex Maximus or Obispo Maximo or Supreme Bishop.
  3. Vigan, before Ciudad Fernandina and later Heritage City of Vigan, is the capital of Ilocos Sur and the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. It is the third city in the Philippines founded by Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.
  4. Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo Realonda wrote Noli Me Tangere, 1887; and El Filibusterismo, 1891. He was executed in Bagumbayan, now Rizal Park, on December 30, 1896.
  5. Ferdinand Blumentritt, the “true brother” and “loyal friend” of Jose Rizal, made several studies about the country. He was born in Praque, Bohemia, now Czechoslovakia.
  6. Andres Bonifacio is the father of Philippine Revolution and Philippine Democracy and the founder of the Kataastaasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan in Tondo, Manila on July 7, 1892.
  7. Emilio Aguinaldo was the President of the First Philippine Republic. He was also elected as President of the Revolutionary Government and President of the Biak-na-Bato Republic. He proclaimed Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.
  8. Rafael Palma was elected Senator of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, 1916; appointed Secretary of the Interior, 1919; and appointed member of the Independence Missions, 1919 and 1922. He was also the fourth president of the University of the Philippines, 1925-1933; a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, 1934-1935; and the Chairman of the National Council of Education; 1936-1939.
  9. Gen Douglas McArthur was the youngest Chief of Staff of the US Army. He served as the Military Adviser of the Philippine Commonwealth, 1936-1941; Commanding General of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), 1941; Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific, 1942-1945; and Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers for Occupied Japan, 1945-1951.
  10. Sergio Osmeña Sr. was the first Filipino national leader under the American regime as Speaker of the Philippine Assembly and the Second President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, 1944-1946. He was the Vice President of Manuel Quezon when World War II broke out, and assumed the presidency upon the death of the latter in 1944. His secret agreement with US President Harry Truman on May 14, 1945 became the basis of the 1947 RP-US Military Bases Agreement.
  11. US Olympia is the flagship of Admiral George Dewey, the Commanding Officer of the US Asiatic Squadron during the Spanish-American War. For his victory, Dewey rapidly rose from the rank of Commodore to Rear Admiral and Admiral in the US Navy.
  12. Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina was the President of the Philippine Senate, 1916-1936, and the First President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, 1935-1944.
  13. Francis Burton Harrison was the American Governor General of the Philippines, 1913-1919, remembered for his Filipinization policy, i. e., replacement of Americans in the Philippine Civil Service with qualified Filipinos. His dying wish that he be buried in the Philippines was granted and that he was buried in Manila North Cemetery.
  14. Carlos Romulo y Peña was the first Filipino president of the United Nations General Assembly, 1949; and a member of the United Nations Security Council, 1958.
  15. The Battle of Bataan started on January 9, 1942 and continued until April 9, 1942.
  16. The University of the Philippines was established in 1908 by virtue of Act No. 1870 written by W Shuster Morgan, Secretary of Public Instruction and member of the Philippine Commission. Formerly located in Padre Faura in Manila, it transferred to Diliman in Quezon City in 1949 although the College of Medicine and Allied Medical Professions remained in Manila.
  17. President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. First elected in 1965, he was easily re-elected in 1969. Facing increasing civil unrest from the Communist Party of the Philippines headed by Jose Maria Sison and the Moro National Liberation Front headed by Hashim Salamat, Marcos suspended the constitution, declared martial law, and seized dictatorial powers in 1972. Accused of massive fraud in the 1986 Snap Elections against Corazon Aquino, Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii. He spent the last three years of his life fighting the lawsuits that tried to reclaim the large fortune he had accumulated improperly while in power.
  18. Malacañang Palace is the official residence of the Spanish and the American governors-general from 1863 to 1935 and of Philippine presidents from 1935 to the present. The name is said to have come from the words “May lakan diyan,” literarily, “there are noblemen residing there.” A violent rally in front of the palace on January 30, 1970 was described as the “Siege of Malacañang.”
  19. Plaza Miranda is the public square in front of the Quaipo Church in Manila. It was named after Jose Sandino y Miranda, Secretary of the Treasury of the Philippines from 1853 to 1854.
  20. The writ of habeas corpus is a written order, issued by a court, directed to the person detaining another, and commanding him to produce the body of a prisoner with the date and the cause of his capture and detention.
  21. Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was the youngest foreign correspondent during the Korean War, the youngest adviser of President Ramon Magsaysay, and the youngest member of the Philippine Senate. His assassination at the Manila International Airport, now Ninoy Aquino International Airport, on August 21, 1983 galvanized popular opposition to the Marcos administration and brought his widow, Corazon Cojuangco, to the forefront, during the 1986 Snap Election.
  22. Martial law is the temporary imposition of a military government over a civil government. It is invoked when civil authority is inadequate to enforce law and to preserve order against rebellion and insurrection. It was also proclaimed in Taiwan, 1949; Thailand, 1958; and South Korea, 1972.
  23. EDSA is an acronym for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, named after a Filipino historian and provincial governor of Nueva Ecija. Formerly known as Highway 54, which starts from Kalookan City to Pasay City, a stretch of it in Quezon City was the setting of the 1986 Philippine Revolution, hence 1986 EDSA Revolution.
  24. Corazon Aquino is the First Woman and Eighth President of the Republic of the Philippines, 1986-1992. With Salvador Laurel as his running mate, she led the opposition that overthrew President Ferdinand Marcos who went into exile in Hawaii after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. She first established a revolutionary government under a Freedom Constitution, which was replaced by the 1987 Constitution, drafted in 1986 and ratified in 1987.