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The Commercial Alternative Press as an Agent of Nationalism during the Martial Law Era

Constantine Tereso A. Doncila

BA Journalism


Under the martial law, free media was repressed and controlled by the government. Every
news that came out from operational newspapers, radio stations and TV networks evidently came
from the government itself. Under this pretense, the people were only informed of one side of the
Fortunately, alternative media then stepped up to the counter and provided the public with
information rarely seen and heard. From radio stations to publications, alternative media
persevered to deliver the truth to the populace albeit their small reach. However, these actions
provided the populace a general idea of what the regime has been doing.
The paper mainly explores the idea of the alternative media, particularly the alternative
press, being an agent of nationalism during the time of martial law. Nationalism is the desire to
love a bigger community a person has identified and affiliated with. Nationalism, in its base
sense, is love for a country. An agent of nationalism, on the other hand, primarily acts as a
catalyst for cultivation and spread of nationalism in a particular area or location.
The alternative press is particularly interesting as a subject of being an agent of
nationalism because first, most alternative publications are small and thus, has limited reach and
circulation; second, albeit being a small player in an industry dominated by publications with
financial and political backing, these small players were still able to provide a general idea of
what was happening behind the scenes. More importantly, they were able to give the populace a
general sense of who they were and what they were fighting for.

Gathering and Analysis of Data

Primary sources of data include interviews with journalists that are knowledgeable about
the topic and books that relates history and journalism.
The method of analysis, on the other hand, would be a narrative analysis based on
available facts, and contextual and historical backgrounds of events starting from the onset of
martial law, the subsequent sequestration of commercial media entities, and up to the fall of
Marcos regime in 1986.
Scope and Limitation
The paper primarily delves on the effects of the alternative press in nationalism among
Filipinos during the onset of martial law. The paper mainly tries to argue the merits of having an
alternative press during a period of great turmoil. It places in perspective Jose Burgos, Jr. his
publications, We Forum and Malaya, and uses them as the papers jump point in its arguments.
Additionally, a comparison between the government controlled media and the alternative press
then is also covered to further and bolster the papers arguments.
However, the paper does not include other kinds of media for the analysis. These kinds of
media, TV, radio, and as well other forms of alternative press such as, campus journalism and
leftist publications, may be a part of the paper but they will be a part of the analysis.
Operational Definitions
The following set of words is used frequently throughout the length of the paper.
Therefore, defining these terms properly is a must to further understand the paper and to avoid

Alternative Press Alternative press is usually defined as a service-oriented, noncommercial system of producing, framing and disseminating information to the public.
However, the term alternative press in this paper would be used as an umbrella term for

publications that is fighting against the Marcos regime. The term commercial alternative

press would fall under this umbrella.

Commercial Alternative Press Commercial alternative press will be defined as a term
used for commercial newspapers that were critical against the Marcos regime. They are
called commercial because they needed to sell their copies to continue their publication,
albeit they are independent from the grips of large Marcos-sanctioned companies. These
papers espoused the alternative presss character of deconstruction of the policies
employed by the government. Furthermore, these papers also call for social change,

which was then needed by the Philippines.

Effective The definition of effective in this paper will be adapted from MerriamWebster dictionary definition: producing a result that is wanted: having an intended

Establishment Press a term used for media companies, specifically publications, which
were controlled by Marcos cronies. These companies include, but not limited to: Daily
Express that is controlled by Roberto Benedicto, Times Journal of Benjamin Romualdez,

and the Manila Daily Bulletin of Hans Menzi.

Marcos regime The Marcos regime in this paper would be defined as the period when
Pres. Ferdinand Marcos was in office starting from 1965 and ending by 1986 when he

was toppled from power by EDSA People Power I.

Martial law Martial law would be defined as the privilege the president of the country
to call on the armed forces to quell, subdue, or resolve any violence, invasion,
insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it
as stipulated in the 1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Martial law

may also refer to the time period where it was in effect, from 1972 to 1981.
Nationalism As per Merriam-Websters dictionarys definition, nationalism is, a sense
of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary

1 Merriam-Webster, Effective, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, [Dictionary]; available from; Internet; accessed 30 March 2014

2 Official Gazette, The 1935 Constitution, Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, [1935,
Publication]; available from; Internet; accessed
30, 2014).

emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or

supranational groups.3
Press The press would refer to the kind of mass media that delivers news and
information to the public. In this case, we associate the term press with newspaper

Press freedom Press freedom refers to the capacity of the press to freely perform
journalistic responsibilities, i.e. reporting, without the threat of coercion by external
forces like the government and other institutions.


3 Merriam-Webster, Nationalism, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, [Dictionary]; available from; Internet; accessed 30 March 2014

The freedom of the press is upheld in all constitutions of the Philippines. From the 1935
up until the latest, the 1987 constitution, freedom of speech and expression is a given
right for all Filipinos. This is important to know because in Benedict Andersons
Imagined Communities, he laid out the implications of the press in the development of a
single national consciousness.4 Note that he used the term print-capitalism to denote the
interplay of a system of production and productive relations, and a technology of
communications, and the fatality of human linguistic diversity. 5 The subsequent
development of print-languages languages that are commonly used for publications is
an effect of print-capitalism. Anderson in his book said that, print-languages laid the
bases for national consciousness in three distinct ways. 6 First, through print-capitalism,
a single new unified form of communication has emerged. This means that speakers of
different languages can understand each other through the press. Second, print-capitalism
made language to be permanent which means that through printed media, the public can
access works from another generation. Lastly, print-capitalism gave way to the
development of languages-of-power that is different from what is officially used by a
state. This means that the people would have used their own native tongues in the

publication of print materials.7

In application of Andersons Imagine Community theory, todays mass media probably
reproduces what the printing press of Johannes Gutenberg has created in Medieval
Europe. Mass media, particularly the press, brings the consciousness of the nation, as
said by Prof. Ma. Diosa Labiste in an interview.8 Prof. Labiste is the head of the UP College of Mass Communications Graduate Studies Program.
4 Anderson, Benedict R. O, "Imagined Communities," In Imagined communities: reflections on the
origin and spread of nationalism, 48-59, Rev. and extended ed, London: Verso, 1991.

5 Ibid., p. 5
6 Ibid., p. 5
7 Ibid., p. 6
8 Labiste, Ma. Diosa, Interview by author, personal interview, College of Mass Communication, UP
Diliman, Quezon City, February 20, 2014.

The press refers to the newspaper industry that endeavors to bring news

and information to the people. The 1987 constitution sets a framework on how media
entities and companies operate in the Philippines. First, to operate in the Philippines,
media companies must be owned and managed by Filipinos. 9 Second, the constitution
encourages a free market in the media industry.10 This means that monopolies or
collusions are not allowed to exist in the Philippine media industry.

The press usually forms a marriage of convenience with bigger companies

or conglomerates.11 This is done so that the news organization could receive subsidy from
its parent company for the continuance of the basic business operations.

A typical newspaper company usually follows an organizational structure,

an illustration of which can be found in figure 1.12



Editorial Editor

Managing Editor


Head Copy Editor


Layout/ Graphic Artist

Copy editors



Figure The common organizational structure of newspaper publications

9 Official Gazette, The 1935 Constitution, Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, [11
February 1987, Publication]; available from; Internet; accessed 30, 2014.

10 Ibid.
11 Tuazon, Ramon, "The Print Media: A Tradition of Freedom." National Commission for Culture and the
Arts.[n.d.]; available from
igm=3&i=221; Internet; accessed March 30, 2014.

12 Stovall, James Glen, "Chapter 4 - Newspapers." [n.d.], available from; Internet; accessed March 30,


A news organization follows a defined structure. Usually, there would be a

publisher, an editor-in-chief or an executive editor, a managing editor, the different

editors of the different sections of the newspaper and the reporters. They are also joined
by various artists that is responsible for the lay-out, and other graphics, of the newspaper.

The publisher is responsible for ensuring that the paper runs smoothly,
both in the editorial and the business side of the newspaper. The editor-in-chief is
responsible for all the editorial content the newspaper publishes. The EIC is also
responsible for the accounting of the budget that was spent and will be spent by the
newspaper. The managing editor, on the other hand, assures that the daily operation of the
newspaper runs smoothly. The copy editor checks a copy a manuscript of an
unpublished article for gramatical and style lapses and edits out any error. The editors
of the various sections, or beats, of the newspaper are responsible for checking an
articles factuality, aside from checking it for any style and grammar lapses . The layout
and graphic artists are responsible, as stated above, from the lay-out of the entire
newspaper and forthe other graphics that would be published. The columnists and the
reporters provide the articles that will be published in the newspaper.

In a normal day, reporters will call their editors whether they have a story
ready, or they are going to cover an event. The job of the reporters end here. All they have
to do next is to cover an event for them to write an article, and hand the finished article to
their editors. The editors, on the other hand, are just getting warmed up. Editors handle all
of the reporters under their respective beats. On top of that, all of the editors, along with
the managing editor and the editor-in-chief, holds story conferences everyday. A story
conference (storycon), as the name implies, is a process wherein various stories are
pitched in and defended by the editors to be able to be published in the newspaper. All
aspects of the newspaper and the articles therein will be discussed in the storycon. The
question of which article will be on the banner headline, and which articles will land on
the front page are all decided in the storycon.

Prof. Labiste cited Andersons theory by saying that the the mass media is
essential to the formation of a nation. 13 However, can an alternative type of news

13 Labiste, Ma. Diosa, personal interview

organization different from the mainstream type of press, also be used to bring about
nationalistic sentiment among the people?

The alternative press is a smaller type of news organization. It is usually

attributed as a service-oriented, non-commercial system of producing, framing and
disseminating information to the public. According to Prof. Labiste, the purpose of the
alternative press is to write a forum, an alternative forum, where people can speak, and
make their voices heard and also, articulate issues from the perspective of the people.14

As a news organization, the organizational structure of an alternative press

establishment, does not much differ from a mainstream press. However, inherent to its
small size, an establishment that is considered to be an alternative press employs a
smaller staff compared to a mainstream establishment. In some cases, the publisher of an
alternative press establishment may also stand in as the editor-in-chief.

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Editorial


Managing Editor


Head Copy Editor


Layout/ Graphic Artist

Copy editors



Figure 2 Common organizational structure of an alternative publication

As a community journalist, Prof. Labiste has worked for Philippine News

and Features (PNF) an alternative publication that is based in Manila, but had bureaus
all over the country.15 Community journalism is a part of the alternative press. Other
kinds of publications considered to be part of the alternative press are: college
newspapers, religious newsletters, and leftist publications, among others.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.

Alternative publications are commonly seen as small organizations due to

their financial limitations. Likewise, their circulation size around the country is similarly
smaller in size compared to the press. However, Prof. Labiste said that they mechanisms
to ensure that at the very least, their articles will be re-published by the press. 16 She said
that they, in PNF, had to compete with other journalists from the press to be republished
in major publications.

Notable alternative journalists are Jose Burgos, Jr., Raul and Leticia
Locsin, Eugenia Apostol, Letty Magsanoc and Maximo Soliven.17 These journalists
pioneered and established a foothold for the alternative press in the country, especially
during the Marcos regime.

While Benedict Andersons Imagined Communities stated that it is the

press that can bring nationalism to the whole populace, I believe that the alternative press,
especially the commercial alternative press, can do the same as effectively as the press,
albeit in a smaller scale. This assertion can be best seen during the Marcos regime.

In September 21, 1972, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos declared Proclamation no.

1081 effectively placing the country under martial rule. The rationale for his decision to
declare martial law is to put the country in order because of the ongoing communist
threat, the bombings of 1971 and the alleged ambush of then defense secretary, Juan
Ponce Enrile.18 And with its declaration, the president ordered the press secretary and the
defense secretary, through Letter of Instruction no. 1, to take over and control or cause
the taking over or control of the mass media for the duration of national emergency, or
until otherwise ordered by the President or by his duly designated representative. 19 Thus,
the government placed a heavy hand against the practice of free press since then.

16 Ibid.
17 Tuazon, Ramon, "The Print Media: A Tradition of Freedom
18 Official Gazette, "Declaration of Martial Law," Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines,
[n.d.], available from; Internet; accessed March
30, 2014.

19 Ferdinand Marcos, Official Gazette quoted in Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history
of Philippine journalism since 1945, Metro Manila, Philippines: Cacho Hermanos, 1984, p. 135

The media was repressed. There were a lot of policies that Pres. Marcos enforced which
made the practice of free press virtually impossible, and perhaps even illegal. There was
also heavy censorship in the media industry then. Furthermore, it was hard to voice out
issues against the government as it may warrant an unexpected arrest which may lead to

incarceration, or ultimately, to an enforced disappearance.

However, before the Martial Law, the press was flourishing. It was active in
engaging both the public and private sectors about policies and other issues. Likewise,
the government gave the press a free reign in whatever they like to write and tackle

about. In fact before the Martial Law, the Philippines had the freest press in Asia.
While the freedom of the press was enshrined in the 1935 constitution, Pres.
Marcos largely ignored that. In fact, while Art. III, Sec. 8 explicitly said that there should
be no law that will passed that can impede the performance of the peoples right to
freedom of speech, expression, and likewise, their freedom to assemble to air their
grievances, Pres. Marcos still went ahead with his declaration of Proclamation No. 1081,
which effectively cuts of these rights and freedoms from the people. Ironically, the same
statement that may be found in the 1935 constitution can also be seen, in verbatim, in the
1973 constitution. However, there was no improvement with the plight of the people. All
just stayed the same.

Initial government crackdown on media outfits included the shutting down

of all publications, from newspapers to student papers. The government also rounded up
and detained publishers and journalists considered to be critical of the Marcos regime that
includes, Joaquin Roces, Eugenio Lopez, Jr., Amando Doronilla and Maximo Soliven,
among others [4].20 Essentially, the media was effectively suppressed by the government.

Repression of the media does not stop with the aforementioned reasons.
The government came up with several other orders and proclamations to ensure the
media was effectively shackled and critical views restrained. Among the orders include
Presidential Decree No. 1 which stipulated that all media publications were to be cleared
first by the DPI (Department of Public Information) and that the mass media shall publish
objective news reports, whether of local or foreign source 21, and Presidential Decree No.

20 Ibid., p.135
21 Ferdinand Marcos, Official Gazette, quoted in Ibid., p. 135

2 which prohibited printers from producing any form of publication for mass
dissemination without permission from the DPI. 22 Likewise, Pres. Marcos issued
Proclamation No. 33 which penalized the printing, possession, distribution and
circulation of printed material which are immoral or indecent, or which defy the
Government or its officers, or which to tend to undermine the integrity of the
Government or the stability of the State23.

In a bid to further control the populace, cronies of Marcos were allowed to

own and control print media. The likes of Hanz Mensi, Roberto Benedicto, Benjamin
Romualdez and the Tuveras owned and operated Bulletin Today, Philippine Daily
Express, Times Journal and the Evening Post, respectively.24 These were major
publications during that time that had large circulation numbers. The martial law years

were truly a dark age for the freedom of the press.

However, this was not always the case. The Philippine press attained the so called,
golden years during the countrys post-war period (1945 1972). 25 Also at that time,
the Philippine Press was known as Asias freest. 26 The period may further be subdivided
into two parts: Post-liberation period (1945 1948), and the Third Republic (1946

The post-liberation period (1945 1948), was when the country was

finally freed up from the helm of war. The period is usually characterized as an era of
reconstruction and rehabilitation. These were also the times when various players in the
publishing field, whether small or big, tried to quench the peoples thirst for news after
the Japanese occupation. As characterized by Jose Luna Castro, a veteran journalist,
during that time, Printing newspapers went back to the primitive methods in use before
22 Ferdinand Marcos, Official Gazette, quoted in Ibid., p. 136
23 Ferdinand Marcos, Official Gazette, quoted in Ibid., p. 136
24 Ibid., p. 136
25 Tuazon, Ramon, "The Print Media: A Tradition of Freedom."
26 Ibid.
27 As adapted from Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history of Philippine journalism
since 1945.

the American occupation in 1898. Types were handset in the Year of our Lord 1945.
Rotary press was not available. Presses operated by hand or foot were used. The printing
were inferior but the public gobbled up copies of the newspapers regardless of size. The
public was hungry for news, mostly wholesome news of the victory of the allies on every
front, mostly news of where much needed clothing and food were given away or sold at
reasonable prices.28




making newspapers was a big business. Practically, any newsroom with a skilled team
consisting of editors, reporters, proofreaders and advertising solicitors can put up a
newspaper and sell it, if they can find the most basic tools a press and types. 29 In fact
the early dailies that came out during the time were only made up of one to two pages.30

However, the number

of small publication players were largely diminished by December 1945 when most of
the market was dominated by notable names in the business like: Daily News, Balita,
Light, Manila Times, Evening Post, Liwayway, Daily Standard, Ang Pilipino, Liberty
News, Voz de Manila, Bagong Buhay, Star Reporter, Manila Post, Morning Sun, Courier,
Manila Tribune, and the Manila Chronicle.31 Carson Taylors The Manila Daily Bulletin,
now called as the Manila Bulletin, resumed its operations on February 25, 1946.32

As seen above, both

the Post-liberation and the Third Republic have overlapping timeline. For some, this
might pose as a problematic that was failed to be addressed during the course of the
development of this paper. However, it is to note that in reality, both of them really
happened the same time. The only distinction between the two periods is that the period

28 Jose Castro, quoted in Ibid., p. 17

29 Ibid., p. 17
30 Ibid., p. 17
31 Ibid., p. 18
32 Ibid., p. 31

known as Post-liberation focuses on the different rehabilitation efforts the country was
undertaking then with the assistance of the United States. Likewise, it tries to explore the
different implications and effects of these rehabilitation efforts pushed by America to the

On the other hand,

the period known as Third Republic focuses on the policies taken and implemented by
the country starting from Pres. Manuel Roxas and ending on Pres. Ferdinand Marcos by




called, the Third Republic, the Philippine press was known as the freest in Asia. 33
This period was also a major contributor as to why the post-war Philippine press achieved
its golden years. This is due to its active involvement in many aspects of Philippine
politics. According to Ramon R. Tuazon, the president of Asian Institute of Journalism
and Communication, the press then was critical to the government questioning mistakes
and errors and also discussed issues of national importance.34

Institutions of great

importance to journalism in the Philippines namely, the National Press Club and the
Philippine Press Institute was established during this period in 1952 and 1964,
respectively. They were set up to promote cooperation among journalists, to uphold press
freedom, and to professionalize the journalism industry.35



period seemed to be further divided into three. First, as stated in the book, The
Manipulated Press, during the period of 1948 1956, the press became an instrument of
American policy in the Philippines.36 Second, as stated in the same book, the press also
became integral in the rise and fall of nationalism during the period of 1956 1965.

33 Tuazon, Ramon, "The Print Media: A Tradition of Freedom."

34 Ibid.
35 Ibid.
36 Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history of Philippine journalism since 1945.

Lastly, also in the same book, the period 1965 1972 had seen a press with a lot of

problems to contend with, but still free and standing tall amidst the turmoil.37
The alternative press has shown its worth during the Marcos regime. Before 1977, there
have already been alternative publications operating in the country. These were what
Aurelio Reyes has called in his book, Press Freedom, The Peoples Right, the noncommercial alternative press.38 The non-commercial alternative press operating before
1977 included publications by religious and cause-oriented organizations like, Signs of
the Times of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, and
Courier, an Isabela parish-based non-commercial alternative publication. 39 It also
included the campus press which was led by the Philippine Collegian of the University of
the Philippines, Diliman.40 The publications of the leftist organizations during that time
like the Liberation and Taliba ng Bayan41 and the Xerox journalism newspaper
articles that were clipped and distributed through photocopying 42 were also included in

the non-commercial alternative press.

By 1977, the proliferation of the so-called commercial alternative press started. The
commercial alternative press is a category of the alternative press where produced copies
were sold to support the continuous publication of the newspaper. The commercial
alternative press enjoys a larger circulation base compared to the traditional alternative
press. However, the commercial alternative press is still fundamentally the same with the
other categories of the alternative press. It was on the year 1977 that Jose Burgos, Jr.s
commercial alternative publication, We Forum started to be published.43

37 Ibid., p. 86
38 Reyes, Ed Aurelio, "Dictatorship and the Media: the Pen is Mightier!." In Press freedom, the
people's right: assertion and repression in the Philippines, Manila, Philippines: Philippine Movement for
Press Freedom, 1992, p. 97-109.

39 Ibid., p. 100
40 Ibid., p. 101
41 Ibid., p. 101
42 Ibid., p. 102
43 Ibid., p. 102

We Forum was a commercial alternative publication produced by the Burgos family.

According to an article in entitled, Joe Burgos Final Journey by Ronalyn
Olea, Burgos and his wife decided to establish We Forum with only a borrowed table and

typewriter from the National Press Club.44

Already inherent for a small publication in an industry dominated by cronies of a
president, We Forum had to compete with the large newspaper publications of its time
which include, Daily Express, Bulletin Today, and the Times Journal. A solution for the
couple was to establish their own distribution network wherein Jose would deliver the

copies personally.45
However, as the publication was critical against the Marcos regime, copies of We Forum
had to be sold hidden in plain sight. When people started buying We Forum, they had to
whisper its name, like buying pornography. The vendor would reach under the counter
and fold it so small you could put it in your pocket.46 Nevertheless, We Forum remained
to be the top, and the lone, opposition paper in the late 1970s to early 1980s. 47 By the

time of its closure, it had a circulation of 22,000.48

By December 1982, when We Forum published an article which proved the issue that
Pres. Marcos was a bemedalled WWII veteran false, the publication was ordered be
closed.49 The assets of We Forum worth P500, 000.00 were confiscated, and their office
were padlocked and placed in round the clock surveillance. 50 The editorial staff of We

44 Olea, Ronalyn "Joe Burgos' Final Journey", [Online Magazine, 23-29 November, 2003],
available from; Internet; accessed March 30,

45 Ibid.
46 As quoted in IPI International Press Institute, "Jose Burgos Jr., Philippines," IPI International Press
Institute, [n.d.], available from; Internet; Accessed
March 30, 2014.

47 Ibid.
48 Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history of Philippine journalism since 1945, p. 150
49 Reyes, Ed Aurelio, "Dictatorship and the Media: the Pen is Mightier!."
50 Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history of Philippine journalism since 1945, p. 150

Forum, on the other hand, were arrested due to conspiracy to overthrow the government
through black propaganda, agitation, and advocacy of violence.51 The editorial staff was

also slapped with a P40 million libel suit for their article against Pres. Marcos.52
This act of the Marcos regime was seen as a further attack to press freedom, and the
human rights of the editorial staff of We Forum.53 In response, civil groups trooped down
to Camp Aguinaldo and protested the arrest of Burgos and Co. 54 On the other hand,
journalism institutions National Press Club and International Press Institute also showed

their respective acts of protest against the Marcos regime.55

When Burgos was released from prison, he later on established Malaya as a leading
alternative newspaper.56 In the face of harassment, through multiple libel suits, Malaya
and other smaller alternative publications stood tall and weathered the incoming

onslaught thrown at them by the Marcos regime.

The death of Sen. Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr. helped in achieving a critical mass against
Pres. Marcos administration. It was then that Malaya reported the funeral of Ninoy
which was attended by thousands of people.57 After this, the people began to shun the
establishment press in favor of the commercial alternative press. 58 Publications with a
similar cause like Philippine News and Features, Mr. & Ms Special Edition, and Inquirer,

among others were also increasingly consumed by the people.59

Malaya led the opposition together with other alternative publications and Radyo Veritas.

51 As quoted in Ibid., p. 150

52 Ibid., p. 150
53 Ibid., p. 151
54 Ibid., p. 151
55 Ibid., p. 151
56 IPI International Press Institute, "Jose Burgos Jr., Philippines,"
57 Ibid.
58 Reyes, Ed Aurelio, "Dictatorship and the Media: the Pen is Mightier!.", p. 105
59 Ibid., p. 105

Malaya, according to the International Press Institute, [rallied] the previously

disorganized opposition and generating an authentic peoples revolution.60

The importance of the commercial alternative press, or the alternative press in general,
during the Marcos regime was that in the process of fighting for press freedom in turn,
these publications were also fighting for the freedom of the Filipino people. They saw
the need for social change and therefore, acted to achieve it. They became an alternative
venue wherein people can freely read other perspectives on issues, and voice their

It would have been impossible to see that the alternative press could be an agent
of nationalism if Benedict Andersons Imagined Communities would be followed strictly.
If qualified through the basics of nationalism building fraternity, affiliation, acceptance
the actions of those behind alternative press can be qualified as an act of acceptance,
acceptance of the fact that the Philippines needs change. And through their actions, albeit
small but effective, because the people knew of what they do and what they stand for 61,

the Philippines achieved social change.

This would prove to be the lasting legacy of the alternative press in the country today. As
said by Prof. Danilo Arao, College of Mass Communications associate dean, The fact
that you have a lot of alternative media outlet means that there is something wrong with
how things work in the country right now. 62 This was furthered echoed by Prof. Labiste

by saying that the alternative media is there because there is something wrong.63

60 IPI International Press Institute, "Jose Burgos Jr., Philippines,"

61 Arao, Danilo, interview by author, personal interview, College of Mass Communication, UP Diliman,
Quezon City, February 7, 2014.

62 Ibid.
63 Labiste, Ma. Diosa, personal interview


The commercial alternative press, or the alternative press in general, can be said to be an
agent of nationalism during the Marcos Regime because of the following reasons: First,
the alternative press fought for the freedom of speech and expression that was grossly
taken away by the Marcos regime from the people. Second, in their pursuit of press
freedom in turn, they were also fighting for social change, in which the Philippines badly
needed that time. Lastly, the alternative press, being a people-oriented organization,
provided the public an alternative venue where they can voice their grievances, and seek
other perspectives or viewpoints on issues that affects them.


State of the














albeit on a













1948 1956












64 Ofreneo, Rosalinda, The manipulated press: a history of Philippine journalism since 1945, p. 16
65 Ibid., p. 35


1956 1965









1965 1972






Martial Law








early years.


66 Ibid., p. 63
67 Ibid., p. 85
68 Ibid., p. 135





Daily Express
Times Journal


We Forum/ Malaya



















), Manila

Table 1 Different periods in Philippine Journalism

In retrospect, table 1 represents the different conditions Philippine

journalism had since 1945. However, the table values are not extensively researched.
Nevertheless, it can be seen that Philippine journalism has not really changed that much
since the liberation. Contemporary publications were still as heavily influenced by
external factors as seen during Post Liberation. Even the publications themselves has
not changed that much, Manila Bulletin is testament to that, having endured almost 100

years in publication.
Interestingly, it can be seen that one of the alternative publications during the Marcos
regime, the Philippine Daily Inquirer emerged as the top publication today. However, the
Philippine Daily Inquirer today is heavily influenced by the Prietos. This would lead to
question the publications journalistic value of independence to be free of external
influences that may affect the editorial policies of the publication. The same may be said
with the Philippine Star, and the Manila Bulletin, owned by the Belmontes and Emilio
Yap (Manila Hotel). Conflict of interest may lead these news publications to have a

sloppy news reporting.

Alternative press, on the other hand, provides the people a news organization that
maintains [their] integrity. [They] are independent, and [they] maintain their editorial
integrity.69 The alternative press do not have any conflict of interest, therefore they can

69 Labiste, Ma. Diosa, personal interview

exercise their journalism as freely as they can.70

Likewise, through the alternative press reportage of the issues of the people emanating
from government policies71, the rest of the public will potentially be in the know about
these topics and issues that may affect them in the future. As Prof. Labiste has said, the
alternative press is a commitment and presents itself with a certain bias towards the

In another note, the alternative press can also be used in promoting other advocacies that
are not usually covered by the press. This may include other kinds of reporting such as,
environmental reporting, among others. As Prof. Labiste has said, the upsurge on
reporting on the environment during the late 1980s by the alternative press, has in fact led
to the establishment of what will be now known as environmental reporting in the press. 73
These kinds of reporting include issues on illegal logging, overfishing, mining, among

70 Ibid.
71 Ibid.
72 Ibid.
73 Ibid.


Anderson, Benedict R. O. "Imagined Communities." In Imagined communities:

reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, 48-59. Rev. and extended ed.
London: Verso, 1991.

Arao, Danilo. Interview by author. Personal interview. College of Mass Communication,

UP Diliman, Quezon City, February 7, 2014.

IPI International Press Institute. "Jose Burgos Jr., Philippines." IPI International Press
Institute. (accessed March 30, 2014).

Doughtery, Timothy. "Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the

Seeds. (accessed March 30, 2014).

Labiste, Ma. Diosa. Interview by author. Personal interview. College of Mass

Communication, UP Diliman, Quezon City, February 20, 2014.
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Philippines. (accessed March 30,
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Philippines. (accessed March 30, 2014).
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Philippines. (accessed March 30, 2014).
Official Gazette. "Declaration of Martial Law." Official Gazette of the Republic of the
Philippines. (accessed March 30,
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1945. Metro Manila, Philippines: Cacho Hermanos, 1984.
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the people's right: assertion and repression in the Philippines, 97-109. Manila,
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Newspapers." (accessed March
30, 2014).

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Interview with Prof. Danilo Arao

Feb. 7, 2014 4:22 PM


Prof. Arao: Those who fought for freedom of the press, mainly If you talk about
fighting for press freedom and uh, the drive the journalists to join the movement for
change, then technically thats nationalist. But of course, Marcos had his own skewed
concept of nationalism. Because if you read, Todays Revolution: Democracy of Marcos,
he argues that developmental journalism is actually nationalist in a sense that it supports
government policies, and that uh, it seeks to have a kind of revolution that is peaceful.
Kasi, yung stand ni Marcos, parang revolution from the middle. So, the middle class will
be the one to initiate change. But of course, it is very divisive. So, both stands, whether
you are from the mainstream media or from the alternative media, they would claim
nationalism. Uh, its understandable. But of course, when we say nationalism here, we
want to stress more on helping out the marginalized sectors of the society and
dismantling repressive state mechanisms that tend to make life difficult for people who
would want to voice their opposition to the current, ah, to that of the dictatorship.

Me: Sir, sino po yung masasabi niyo po na players noon? Among yung sa alternative
press, sino yung players na talaga na nag-push para ma-dismantle at least yung parang
dominance ng mainstream media noon po, mainstream press.

Prof. Arao Ah, well there was no attempt to dismantle the [mainstream press]. The
attempt of the mosquito press then, was to present an alternative, okay? There was no

competition between the two, although from time to time, you would hear the alternative
media that are ranting about the kind of journalism or PR propaganda that is being used
by the likes of Manila Bulletin the Daily Express, among others. So, many of the
alternative journalists, then actually went underground. Taking part of the Communist
Party or some of them took arms, literally took arms and became members of the New
Peoples Army. So yea. There are a lot of journalists that come to mind, like uh, the late
Eman Lacaba, the brother of Pete Lacaba for example. Tagamolila, Tony Tagamolila, who
was the editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian, and [cant be heard]. So, there are a
lot. So, they decided that the power of the pen is there, but uh, going by the statement of
Ho Chi Minh, a poet must learn how to lead an attack. So, it worked both ways. So,
there was the practice of journalism, but there was also the practice of revolutionary
armed struggle. It was deemed necessary during that time because that was the only way
to dismantle not only the mainstream media, but also the dictatorship. So its more
encompassing so far as your political agenda is concerned. Youre fighting not only the
mainstream media, but the dictatorship that maintain that kind of mainstream media

Me: Sir, what can you say about, uh, yung commercial alternative press. Kasi, may
nabasa ako dun sa isang libro thats a source na nagkaroon ng isang commercial
alternative press during that time.

Prof. Arao: Which is what? Mr. and Ms.? Are you referring to that?

Me: We, sir.

Prof. Arao: We Forum?

Me: Yes sir, We Forum by Joe Burgos.

Prof. Arao: Well, its like this. Uh, there is a commercial component in any media entity.
So whether, its We Forum, Mr. and Ms, actually for a time, GMA-7, well its basically
mainstream, but there are some reporters who would uh, be affiliated with the alternative
media, or would be sympathetic to the alternative media. Uh, a certain degree of
commercialism or profit orientation is okay, for as long as you dont do that at the

expense of the content. For example, We Forum and Mr. and Ms, both magazines have a
sizeable market share. Its a healthy mix of uh, light articles and serious articles but the
serious articles are basically critical orientation. Actually, for a time, theres a song
magazine, Jingle Extra Hut. Its a very, very commercial magazine and, people would
usually read it for the lyrics, and the chords, especially for those who want to play the
guitar. Okay, so that you can sing along with your favorite song, ah, do a cover of your
favorite song. But some articles, who are misplaced in Jingle Extra Hut, would be very
critical of the administration. So, it can happen. Ariane Oreta, who had a show in GMA-7,
was eve castigated by Marcos for the tagline, Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, bisikleta ang
kailangan. Because the tagline of the government then was, Sa ikauunlad ng bayan,
disiplina ang kailangan. So, instead, of disiplina, she said bisikleta. So, I think she was
admoni- ah, reprimanded by saying that. Sometimes it happens, but Oreta is not really
revolutionary. We said that ah, shes not an activist, but there are certain tendencies
towards that direction. The APO Hiking Society, was also very much anti-Marcos, but uh,
they still had that commercial flare, in so music is concerned. The same is true with
Celeste Legazpi, if I am not mistaken. Actually, if you listen to the song, Saranggola ni
Pepe, its not a childrens well, its packaged as a childrens song, but basically, a dig
against the Marcoses. So, in the context of journalism, theres the likes of We Forum, Mr.
and Ms. and Jingle Extra Hut, as well as other mainstream publication that from time to
time, would allow, wittingly or unwittingly, very, very critical content. The poem of Pete
Lacaba was published in a mainstream publication. The name escapes me at the moment.
But uh, its the one that is acrostic - you know acrostic, no? The word at the beginning of
every line, uh, has meaning. Actually, if you read the first characters of Pete Lacabas
poem, you would see there, Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta. Okay, so, sometimes it can
happen. Its either the literary editor was too stupid to notice that, or it was tolerated.

Me: Sir, ano yung sa tingin niyo yung pinakamalakas na effect ng alternative press din, at
ano yung parang nagging legacy niya until now?

Prof. Arao: Well, in terms of effect, well quite limited. Because theres limited reach or
circulation. At that time, there was no internet din. So, in order for something to go viral,
you *in audible* in what we call Xerox journalism. So, you photocopy, you know, news

clippings or certain statements, or publications, whole publications in order to reach in a

wider audience. So, its quite limited. But for the people, they became aware that there is
such a thing. That there is general awareness of who they are, and what they do. Of
course, the legacy it has left has to do with the continuation of the tradition of alternative
journalism. So, you have the Spanish period, American, and Japanese. Even during the
darkest moments particularly during the Marcos regime, theres a burgeoning alternative
press. And, even up to now. The fact that you have a lot of alternative media outlet means
that there is something wrong with how thigns work in the country right now.

Interview with Prof. Ma. Diosa Labiste

Feb. 20, 2014 3:39 PM

Me: Ang nakita ko po doon sa topic na iyun is, naging mover talaga po ng tao yung
alternative press. Tapos, ang nakita ko pong central figure po, isa sa mga central figure ay
si Joe Burgos po. Tapos, isang, yung parang naging um, maybe an example ng isang
paper na mover is yung We Forum.

Prof. Labiste: In my experience, I would say that my work is oriented towards alternative
press. But, I wasnt, I was in the regions. Meaning, I was a community journalists. I
started my journalism, yung, in 198-, in 198-, cause I graduated in 1985. Matagal na
yun. And then I started being a journalist in 1986. Mga, end of -. By that time, wala na si
Marcos. But of course, when I was a student, I was also an activist. And I was a member
of the community and the school paper. But even if, you know, tapos na yung time, like
ah, the Marcos years, tapos na siya. Even then, yung idea of community, ng alternative
press, in fact, those ideas of which means, is to write a forum, an alternative forum,
where people can speak, and make their voices heard and also, articulate issues from the

perspective of the people. In fact, it was one of the reasons why, for example, where
alternative press that were, the alternative newspapers during the Marcos time, stayed on,
or in fact, lived up for some years, for some time, even after Marcos was unseated from
power. Meaning na, kahit wala na si Marcos, yung alternative press, in fact, some of them
became mainstream. Some of them continue to exist like We Forum, and the Philippine
News Features, which was established during the dying years of Marcos, stayed on to
publish until the end of the 90s 98, 99. That is my news organization. Yung editor
naming dun was the former dean of the College of Mass Communication, who is Dean
Luis Teodoro. So meaning na, kahit wala na si Marcos, many of those alternative
newspapers or news organizations stayed on and continue their advocacy which is to
provide alternative voices, rather than what is transmitted or articulated by those you
found in Malacanang, or Congress kasi that time, there was the process of
democratization. Di ba umalis na si Marcos, the process of democratization allows so
much freedom to publisic h, and to express your political beliefs which is much different
during the time of Marcos, di ba kasi, repression of the press freedom and you couldnt
even hold public assemblies because mau mga laws against doon and you cannot just.
There was also censorship. So, yung influence I think ng alternative press, yung legacy
ideals niya, continued and in fact were the guarding principles of newspapers that were
setup after the martial law. That would mean beyond 1986. So yun, for community
journalist, because I started as, although I said I work with the Philippine News and
Features. But, my first assignment was a reporter in Cebu. Meaning, I was not in Manila.
And then, later on I moved to Iloilo. Pero yung PNF, the Philippine News and Features,
now defunct in 1999 presented itself as an alternative news agency, because the
mainstream news agency, the Philippine News Agency, siya yung PNA. So, yung
Philippine News and Features, is a people-oriented news agency. So yung ginagawa
naming, the stories that we wrote are alternative stories which means, they are not the
stories that PNA had been writing. So, we report about human right, we report about the
environment, we report about peoples organization, peoples movement, political groups,
and of course, remember that this time, even if theres democratization, with so much
freedom, yung red-baiting, mataas. Which means, theres anti-communist hysteria.
Because of course, remember that those who unseated Marcos, part of the group are

members of the military, and the defense department Enrile and Ramos and then of
course, this uh, for quite some time, military officials, in military, and generals. Of
course, this includes Enrile, they are, they really wanted a hold of power. Kasi, remember
that in the time of Pres. Aquino, th president was trying to setup a coalition of different
groups that worked together to oust the Marcos dictatorship. So, yung military dun, were
trying to, remember that there were at least 9 coup dtats the military grabbed. So this
time, they were exerting their muscles. So, yung anti-communist hysteria, was very much
around. So, yung mga militant organizations, peoples organization were labeled as
Communist. In fact, this was also the time when religious fanatics, these are millenarian
groups, and yung peasant based millenarian groups, they were armed by the military, and
those were the early years of the Aquino administration. So, in the community press,
were are works. As I said, kasi even if PNF is a national, or a Manila-based news agency,
but I operate, but I was assigned, I was reporting from the regions. Yung, What is
alternative about that is were trying to give voices to the people in the community that
mainstream media, Manila-based media have difficulty in doing so, or were not even
aware that they were supposed to do so. Because most of the news were coming from the
national media, or the national beats like Malacanang, like Congress. Remember that
these beats, these were the year when were setting up legislatures, or were trying to fix
yung wala pang, were trying to set-up Congress, were trying to fix the institutions that
were, you know, that were actually ravaged by the dictatorship. So, yung Congress. Were
also trying to setup yung agencies of the government, or the Cabinet as you call it. So,
tryng to replace the Marcos institutions. I feel that the ideals of the alternative press,
nandun pa rin. In fact, those are the years that suddenly, you know, I remember those
were the years that suddenly, theres upsurge of report na on environment at that time of
environmental crisis because of illegal logging. Yun pala yung destruction of the
environment caused by mining, illegal logging, tsaka overfishing, nagdraw ng attention.
These kinds of stories I think that, these are the stories which have national implications,
but they are located or situated in the regions, or in the local level. What is distinct about
the alternative press, its not just reporting. Its more like a commitment. Parang when
youre in the alternative press, wala na yung element of neutrality, if contested. What I
mean is, contested because when you write about issues, you really, I mean the details

and the perspective almost always. Its an alternative. It present itself, it has to take a
certain form of bias. Not in the way that you neglect the fact, or you neglect the basics of
journalism. Because, you already have taken sides, to write about issues of the
community that were affected by programs, policies, for neglect of the government. Yung
idea of alternative press is already, a declaration that its not going to be like the usual
news story. It takes a perspective. It takes a perspective and recognizes that there are
voices that are neglected and therefore, the take of the journalist there is to bring them
out. And to, write about them, and to work with them in a manner that these voices, or
these wrongs be righted, or the injustices to be redressed. So yun yung idea ng
community press. I mean, when the ideals of the community press, the idea of
community press. And such ideals, I think, were carried by some journalist who practiced
their journalism at that certain period. If you carry only the news of Malacanang, the
news of Congress, the news of businesses in Makati, you are only carrying the voices of
the ruling class, if you look at it in a Marxist perspective. Meaning, if newspapers would
only consider the beats to be those in these places, thats the ruling class. What about
those who are ruled? Hindi mob a sinusulat? I mean, would you only write about, write
about them kung may ginawa silang masama, like there were crimes, may accident. Or,
were they, you know, disasters victims? Ted What about the way to which they are
affected by government policies like mining? What about their lives that were destroyed
by disasters? So basically, the destruction was caused by man-made intervention like,
cutting trees sa bundok. Or because they have nowhere else to go, they live in creeks. Or,
they live along canals. They live along canals. They live along places that are dangerous
that when the rain comes, when the heavy rain comes, or when flood come, they were
the first to be, you know, affected. And of course, to be victims, even die as a result. So,
its like, its already taking sides actually. Its a journalism that can never be neutral in its
choice of story. But, that does not that you reporting will be sloppy, or youre based its
not, its not propaganda.

Me: Its by the facts.

Prof. Labiste: Yes, its still by the facts, but its a kind of focused journalism. And it
already takes a perspective by the choice of the story. But not, in any way, sloppy

reporting because you have to do investigative journalism. You have to do research. You
look at documents to get the facts. You interview people. Its just as rigorous as any form
of journalism. Its just that there are choices of topics, there are choices of stories that will
probably make them alternative. Because the basic thing is that, you let the voices that
were unheard, speak in your story. And, its not just, you dont just let them speak
because you just want color; you want quotes. But you actually taking, examining the
issues surrounding the story for the people and also, your insights. I mean if you write
about a complex story like the environment, you dont just say that, trees were cut, and
when heavy rain comes, theres soil erosion. Theres landslides, and what not. But of
course, you look at the reason for the massive tree cutting, or massive deforestation. So
you cannot but look at the socio-political, and economic contet of the story, and that
would make the story complex.

Me: Okay, sabi niyo po PNF po is

Prof. Labiste: Alternative

Me: Alternative po. Tapos nag-ooperate po siya regionally?

Dr. Labiste: Yes, we have a bureau in Cebu. I started as a junior reporter in Cebu, just out
of college. It was actually my first job as a journalist. And in Manila, we have a bureau in
Baguio, we have writers in Los Banos, and we have correspondents in Negros,
correspondents in Mindanao, and many regions in the country. I would say that, yung
perspective ng PNF, and also because of well probably because Luis Teodoro is my
editor, my sensibility as a journalist, my practices as a journalist were honed by that
environment. So, even if eventually, nag-close na yung PNF, in 1998, you have in 2000,
wala na. Nagsar na kami kasi wala na kaming funds for operating. And, I went on to write
for other news organizations, like the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I also write for other
news organizations, eventually even handled and edited a local newspaper. Pero feeling
ko, yung perspective, training, and skills I've learned shaped my journalism, which is
people oriented. It is alternative which is always alternative siya because, it always
speaks to highlight voices that are otherwise neglected. So, its a kind of journalism
which is a commitment for social change. Its not going to be like the commitment of an

activist, or members of political groups, but its a kind of journalism, which is journalism,
in a way. You have to deal with the standards of journalism. The rigour, I mean you have
to deal with, I mean in my news agency, we ask national news organizations, newspapers,
televisions, or radios to publish our stories. We feed them with our articles. So, that alone
we compete with their writers. Which means, that your story really have to be good to be
able to compete. Kasi, magagagaling yung writers nila. And the story, not just in terms of
technical aspect of the story, which means how it was written, but also that it should be
distinct meaning, compelling for a copy to be reprinted in other news station. Ts a
demanding work. I admit it, it demands a lor from the reporter, especially if youve been
born from the province, to be able to come up with a compelling story for national news
organization that would reprint it. Its a challenge. I think, maraming ano, maraming
difficulty, of course. But I think, what is basic there is the sensibility of being alternative.
How alternative journalist am I to take that tend to be able to provide voices to people in
the community, or to give a different perspective for what is officially written about, just
makes it the whole thing rewarding.

Me: Nasabi niyo po yung tungkol sa funds niyo? Sa funds ng PNF. Sa tingin niyo po, ano
yung advantages and disadvantages?

Prof. Labiste: Yes, because alternative press, has always been typified as small news
organization, its always, its not corporate, big. Its always small and, uh, hindi siya
mainstream which means hindi siya corporate. Hindi siya ganun kalaki kagaya ng big
network, big news organizations. That is an advantage and thas also a liability. Kasi, if
youre a news organization, na kng maliit ka, konti lang pera mo. And you can only cover
so muc territory. Like, even if may pumutok na story anyou want to send someone, but
you dont have the resources to send someone to do the story. Isa din yun. Isa din of
course, yung salary would be smaller, probably because you can only afford NGO rates,
whereas the big news organizations can probably, the big news agencies like the AP, the
AFP, or Japanese News Agency, malalaki yung mga pera no. So its a marriage of
poverty. Wala ka talagang pera. On the other hand, the limitations of resources, of
evonomic status, also allows you to have a leeway. You are more independent. I mean,
you dont have to rely on, kasi, its not owned by conglomerates, not owned by big

corporations, not owned by powerful individuals. So you maintain your integrity, you are
independent, and you maintain your editorial integrity. You can hit the government
anytime kasi yung owner mo hindi siya, he doesnt wine and dine with the president. He
wasnt close, or kumpare niya si senator what. Wala kang conflict of interest. So which
means, you can exercise your journalism as freely as you could. So, you dont allow
conflict of interest to get in the way of your reporting. So, its also, an advantage, I mean
for a journalist to belong to a small news organization. But, in terms of sustainability, its
always a question. It hangs in the back of your mind.

Me: Can you say na yung alternative press, or yung community press in a sense,
nationalistic siya?

Prof. Labiste: Nationalism is a complex term. How would you define nationalism?

Me: Ang nationalism po is love po for a certain place na kinabibilangan mo, or yung na

Prof. Labiste: Its not just love of place, but theres more than that.

Me: Yung pagbuo ng nasyonalistikong damdamin po ay, unang-una may kapatiran sa tao,
may apilasyon siya. Yung mga taong yun may apilasyon sya sa lugar na kinabibilangan
niya. Tapos, may pagtanggap tungkol dun sa mga nangyayari tungkol dun sa lugar na

Prof. Labiste: Alam mo, I dont know if you are familiar with, yung idea of the press
brings a nation together with the rise of, remember mo yung the printing press? Or how
print journalism - its an author na, Benedict Anderson, print capitalism brings the
consciousness of a nation. Kasi, remember that the media transmit information. Mass
media, kasi halimbawa may newspaper, or radio, and bino-broadcast niya yung
information to many people. And that is how nationalism came about because, we share a
commonality. The reason of that of course is the transmission and circulation of ideas that
the press, or the newspapers or the radio, or even television industry perform. So meaning
yung how does a nation is shaped? A nation is shaped through print capitalism through
the rise of printing press, or the mass media that unifies people together. So ganito yung
perspective natin, yung kanila kasi its more political. Its more on how a nation is formed
and is usually yung nation noon, is usually formed by of course, yung common ethnicity,

yung governance, yung sovereignty, territory whereas sa atin, sa mass media, if you are
doing media studies, um, a nation is formed, or also formed through the press, print
capitalism sinabi ni Benedict Anderson but can be applied to mass media, Kasi, the media
circulates information, it, halimbawa, how language is formed. A part of it, of course is
the printing press. Diba with the rise of print journalism, yung isang newspaper nagcicirculate over the country, radio stations for example would broadcast information with
the television stations, they broadcast information, So, yung people would have access to
information simultaneously, all of the things done, and ah, pati na yung satellite
television, marami na ngayon, and of course, the internet. Yung, how information brings
forms the community through its transmission and dissemination. Kasi, its not just the
nation is formed by the institution, by ethnicity, by beliefs or the commonness. Pero alam
mo yung, yung Imagined Community ni Benedict Anderson and print capitalism ng mass
media is the idea that brings the people together, unifies the country. Kasi, theres
commonness of information. Being spread around. So halimbawa, yung balita, kakalat
yun. And people would know that information, may bagong president sa eleksyon. May
nangyaring disaster, kakalat yun. Mass media is also considered in the formation of the
nation. Ang importante doon ay hindi lang yung institution, hindi lang yung territory and
needed sa formation ng isang nation, hindi lang. Benedict Anderson, sinasabi niya
printing press and print language, ito yung sa sinasabing Imagined Communities, it yung
how the nations are formed, yung just after nagiging, just after the World War II, na
nagiging may anti-colonial struggles. Remember, many nations became independent after
the World War II. Kasi, yung mga nag-colonize sa kanila, after World War II, nagbuo sila
ng separation movements after World War II. Marami na ang naging independent. So
what unifies them is the print-languages, alam mo yung print-languages, they codify, so
theres uniformity and standardization of information. We have dictionaries, book, text
books, so yan yung nag-codify ng information. Dati, yung laws ay yung lang naaalala
mo, eh di sinusulat mo with the printing press. Print languages actually make um,
information, in a way hegemonic, kasi nagiging nalalagay na dun. But it also standardizes
and makes it easy for mass distribution. Tapos sabi niya, may common language and
national identity. So this is reinforced by the media, kasi kung merong common language
tayo, kunyr na-circulate siya. Ang controversial ditto in the Philippines ay ang common

language natin ay Tagalog, Filipino is basically based on Tagalog. Yung nag-aangal yung
mga Cebuano, nag-aangal yung mga ibang regions kasi iba yung language nila. But
Tagalog is imposed, in a way hegemonic. Not because they obtained the consent of the

Ilokanos, or the Cebuanos, or the Ilonggos. Its just that and sabi ng taga Maynila ay yun.
Me: I-impose nila.
Prof. Labiste: Impose nila, Naggagalit talga. Nagagalit sila. Ayaw nila yun. So sabi niya,
communities unite through common language and identity. And in this manner, yung role
ng mass media is crucial in the circulation of information. So, Benedict Anderson was
only talking about the print. But, if you apply it to radio, television, the argument still
holds na nag-cicirculate yung information and that unifies. Um, but its not just, hindi
yung i-weweigh natin yung argument dun lang sa mass media. Because, I think dun sa
kahit sa southern most part ng Philippines, yung last na siya. Five hours away from
Malaysia, in fact mas malapit siya sa Malaysia kesa sa Zamboanga, or Tawi Tawi. It
will take them a day to go to Tawi Tawi, two days to go to Zamboanga. Yung mga
biscuits nila ay mga Malaysian brands, yung pinanonoood nilang movies ay Malaysian
brands. Yng TV nila ay Malaysian TV, pero they still think theyre Filipinos. So, even if
yung mga, siguro kahit hindi nila nakikita yung taga-Batanes, or taga-Ilokos, pero they
still feel kinship. But its not because, for many things of course, they see themselves as
part of the Philippine territory. And they feel certain kinship with the Filipinos. And also
because yung school system nila ay still Filipinos. Yung mga boks nila ay probably in
Filipino. They still feel thattheyre Filipino kahit na mas malapit sila doon sa Malaysia.
Yung commerce nila, doon sila namamalengke. But the ystill think theyre Filipinos.
There are many things that woud unify a country other than element of what you know,
but one of them of course is the mass media, or print-capitalism as the ycall it. And uh,
that of course, yung nationalism connotes a nation, connotes homogeinity, which means
that isa tayo, sama-sama but it shouldnt be, when you look at the alternative press, hindi
naman ganyan. When you talk about the alternative press, you do class analysis. I mean,
you look at it in the Philippines society hindi naman, na okay lahat tayo Filipinos. And,
we always think the Philippines, the country should be good to exhibit *inaudible*ship.
So, yung *inaudible* derives from the citizen. But when you look at in terms of classes,
in terms of who is ruling or who is ruled, who are powerful, who are marginalized, those
who have voices and those doesnt have voices. So even if you look at nationalism as

probably as what could be seen to unite people, being under one, in a country like the
Philippines recognizing ethnicity, territory, or sovereignty, and of course mass media
being there to unite the people, when you write stories about the Philippines, you always
think of, Sino ba yung laging sinusulat? Sino ba yung hindi nasususlat? Sino yung
palaging naririnig? Sino yung hindi naririnig? And thats the perspective of the
community press. Theres recognition of unity but at the same time, its not going to be
blind. Theres always recognition that homogeneity, in what could be homogenous, in
what could be thought a homogenous society, there will be fissures and cracks and
divisions that shouldnt be ignored. Ganun. Ayun ang role ng community press. So
meaning that, ayun okay nationalism, but we deconstruct it. Okay, what brings us
together, we always deconstruct it. Because you always think of divisions. Because in the
perspective of the community press, because there are so called mainstream press, or the
established press, iba yung kanilang agenda, so why do you post an alternative? Why do
you post a counter-hegemonic voice? Why do you post a counter-ideological voice? Kasi
alam mo theres something wrong. You cannot just hold it in together, otherwise, it would

be injustice.