Roces: A Tradition in Philippine Print Media|History of Journalism|Early Years

History of Journalism in the Philippines

History of Journalism in the Philippines

Early Years

The history of journalism in the Philippines goes back to the 16th century, the same period when England and Europe were starting on the proliferation of community newspapers. It was in the year 1637 when the "Father of Filipino Printing", Tomas Pinpin, launched the first Philippine newsletter called "Successos Felices" (Fortunate Events). The publication was written in Spanish and contained a 14-page report on current events.

In 1799, following Pinpin's debut in printing, he again came up with his Hojas Volantes or "flying sheets". It was titled "Aviso Al Publico" (Notices to the Public), which served the Spaniards and had a role comparative to a "town crier."

Surprisingly, it took a gap of a little more than a decade before the first actual newspaper, "Del Superior Govierno," was launched by Gov. Fernandez del Forgueras on August 8, 1811. It was the so-called first regularly issued publication that reported developments about Spain and Europe. It was also the first newspaper that included in its layout the name, date and place of its publication. Unfortunately, the paper only came up with 15 issues within its years of operation from 1811 to 1832.

Due to the constraints of the church and government at that time, 35 years had lapsed before the Philippine press continued on its development. From the first regular publication, then came the first daily newspaper on December 1, 1846 called "La Esperanza." The paper, edited by Felipe Lacorte and Evaristo Calderon, lasted only for three years. However, it gave way to the birth of other dailies such as "La Estrella" in 1847 and "Diario de Manila" in 1848.

Diario's existence was significant because it monopolized the market a year after its launch and became the government's daily organ in 1852. It was renamed to "Boletin Oficial de Filipinas" which later ceased circulation by Royal Order in 1860. The paper reappeared with Felipe del Pan as its editor and encountered another official decree that led to its permanent closure on February 19, 1898.

There had been a surplus of newspapers but most of them talked about the same issues and had almost similar formats. Until 1862, a Tagalog publisher, Mariano Sevilla, founded El Catolico Filipino. It was considered the first Philippine religious newspaper, unexpectedly not managed by the Church. It was also a paper which seriously dealt with the problems of Filipinos.

Another first in the history is El Porvenir Filipino founded in 1865. It was the newspaper that pioneered in two-edition dailies. Later it was followed by Revista Mercantil which came out the same year.

In the succeeding years there had been attempts to create a more liberal and mass appealing press. The year 1887 marked the beginning of a more opinionated journalism in the Philippines. It officially begun on April 1, 1887 with the birth of La Opinion. According to historians, "it was the first paper to defy the friars and campaigned for the ouster of the religious…"

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