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Carmela Isabelle P.

Disilio 31 January 2019

2018-05119 DEVC20 U – 3R

The Ages of Philippine Press

The free practice of journalism seems to be the fulfillment of the country’s long struggle to liberate
itself from its colonizers, establish an independent government, and unite its people in the name of
democracy and patriotism. Through different historic eras, the country had its fleeting moments of progress,
overwhelmed by ages of corruption and oppression.

Yet through journalism, which relayed patriotic thoughts amongst the masses, the revolutionary
spirit of the Filipino people remained alive in the hopes of attaining a better future for the country. Hence
journalism became a vital element in shaping the country’s history, the same way as history greatly affected,
limited, and developed the practice of journalism. The development of journalism deeply coincides with
the historical context of the country.

The Initial Pages of Philippine Press

The Spaniards colonized the Philippines in pursuit of extending its territorial powers and benefitting
from the latter’s natural resources. Through colonization comes their agenda of religious indoctrination
amongst the people to alter their already-established culture, making them more vulnerable for foreign
occupation. To easily instill such doctrines, the Spaniards introduced the press to the country, promulgating
Spain’s self-serving ideals to the people (Landicho, 1986).

The history of Philippine journalism was notably commenced by the first publication of Tomas
Pinpin’s Successos Felices in 1637. He was then hailed as the Father of Philippine Press (Ramirez, 1983).
It was then followed by numerous publications that primarily catered to the Spanish elites, reporting about
European politics, events and affairs.

It was La Esperanza which paved the way for the Filipino people to exercise journalism in
spreading nationalistic thoughts and sentiment. The said publication discussed and questioned religious
institutions and wrote about history and philosophy that might have prompted the evaluative and critical
thinking of the people regarding their colonial government. Gradually, newspapers that shed light to the
events and issues concerning the country sprang in numbers such as: El Diario de Manila, Gaceto de Manila
and Ilustracion Filipina.
Revolutionary Period of Journalism

The inculcated national consciousness through journalism was sustained in the publication of La
Solidaridad which was headed by Marcelo H. Del Pilar after the death of Graciano Lopez-Jaena. This
period ignited the revolutionary spirit of the people. The press was more editorialized and Filipino
journalists had more opportunities in exposing the plight of the country from its colonizers and inciting
revolution to their fellow countrymen and fight for the nation’s independence.

The Filipinos developed a more refined style of writing, as more revolutionary newspapers
emerged. La Independencia also carved a great part in building nationalistic sense of the Filipinos from the
tragic incident in Malolos, Bulacan through the penmanship of Antonio Luna (Ramirez, 1983).

The revolutionary period was followed by the first liberation of the Philippines and surrender of
Spain from the alliance of the former and America on 1898.

The Philippine Press under the American and Japanese Colonial Rule

Both the American and Japanese government want to break the nationalistic spirit developed by
the Filipinos and conquer the country anew. The revolutionary newspapers produced during the previous
era were challenged by newspapers favoring the imperialists’ self-serving agenda. The Americans and
Japanese government eyed the dissolvement of publications championing freedom and independence to
circulate their own ideologies and claim the Philippines as their own.

American newspapers in the Philippines claimed the archipelago, referring to it as “untapped


sources of American capital and wealth” and deemed that the countrymen could not establish a structured
government without the intervention of American colonizers. This was perpetuated by La Democracia,
through its articles of promoting the American government and urging the people to support it.

Japan, on the other hand, closed all means of publication except for TVT and imposed strict military
permission and censorship of the content of the allowed publications.

The Filipino journalists continued their revolutionary writings established during the Spanish
colonial rule and even improved their craft as well as the security of their publication houses. There was a
development amongst Filipino authors in using the English language. The patriotic sense ingrained in their
writings also intensified.

The Philippine press contributed much to the social, cultural, political, educational, and economic
growth of the country. El Renacimiento openly condemned graft and corruption as an editorial by Fidel
Ramos denounced an American official. Press began to branch out from Luzon to the Visayas region,
despite the tighter censorship laws imposed by the Americans.

Instead of dwelling in their fear, the people used journalism as a means of encouragement to fight
for independence. Guerilla newspapers and periodicals were published to boost people’s morale, to warn
against collaboration, and to fight against the Japanese Military Government (Escote, 2008).

Journalism in Revolution and in Contemporary Times

In the phase of oppression and unjust, tyrannical rule, the Filipino people learned how to sustain
the essence of journalism as a weapon for revolution even during the era of Martial Law. Ferdinand
Marcos’s administration can be likened to the previous colonial governments in terms of the high
concentration of political power and authority on a single entity, the violation of human rights and the
deprivation of democracy and freedom among the people.

And just like those periods in history, the people continued their fight for independence and justice,
even when their lives are already at stake. The revolutionary period played a significant role in how the
Filipino people used journalism as a means for emancipation. The evolution of journalism from mere
reportage to highly editorialized content provided empowerment to the enslaved. It brought wisdom to the
ignorant to be critical of the government controlling the country and call out its mistakes in carrying out
justice.

Primarily that is how Filipinos molded the practice of journalism through different eras—to stand
and fight for the truth.
Sources:

Landicho, D. G. (1986). Peryodismo sa Pilipino. Malolos, Bulacan: Raquel Commercial Press.

Ramirez, J. B. (1983). Philippine Journalism Handbook(2nd ed.). Caloocan City: National Book Store.

Escote, A. H. (2008a). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – American Colonial Period. Retrieved
January 31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of-journalism-in-the-philippines-
american-colonial-period/

Escote, A. H. (2008b). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Japanese Imperial Occupation

-American Colonial Period. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of

journalism-in-the-philippines-japanese-imperial-occupation/

Escote, A. H. (2008c). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Post Liberation Period. Retrieved
January 31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of-journalism-in-the-philippines-post-
liberation-period/

Escote, A. H. (2008d). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Period of Nationalism and First Quarter
Storm. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of-journalism-in-the-
philippines-period-of-nationalism-and-first-quarter-storm/

Escote, A. H. (2008d). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Martial Law Days. Retrieved January
31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of-journalism-in-the-philippines-martial-law-
days/

Escote, A. H. (2008e). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – 1986 EDSA Revolution. Retrieved
January 31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/a-history-of-journalism-in-the-philippines-1986-
edsa-revolution/

Escote, A. H. (2008f). A History of Journalism in the Philippines – Contemporary Period. Retrieved January
31, 2019, from http://socyberty.com/history/history-journalism-philippines-contemporary-period/