THE Manila Times first appeared on October 11, 1898, a few weeks after the Treaty of Paris took effect and the Philippines fell to American hands. Newspapers published here then were in Spanish and Filipino. The American community in the Philippines grew, and so did the demand for an English-language paper. Thomas Gowan, an Englishman, addressed that demand by founding The Manila Times.
George Sellner, The Times business manager, bought the paper from Gowan, and sold it to a group of American businessmen in 1902, then re-acquired it three years later. In 1907, Thomas C. Kinney bought the paper from Sellner.
Filipinos started to join the former all-American staff only some time in 1918. The Times roster of Filipino journalists included luminaries such as Maria Kalaw-Katigbak, Jose Bautista, Jose Luna Castro, Luis Serrano, Benjamin Osias, Jose Guevara, Estrella Alfon, Cita Trinidad, Consuelo Abaya, Carlos Romulo, and Benigno Aquino Jr.
After the Second World War, the heirs of Don Alejandro Roces Sr. reopened the paper
in 1945. Roces-owned, The Manila Times reigned as the Philippines’ leading daily—as a business and as a respected and credible source of news and intelligent and wise opinion pieces—until September 1972, when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and closed down the paper.
The Roces family revived the Times, in a much reduced circumstance, on February 5, 1986, a day before the ouster of Marcos. But after three years, the family sold the newspaper to tycoon John Gokongwei Jr.
Early in his administration, then President Joseph Estrada sued the newspaper for P101
million for publishing a story that called him an “unwitting godfather” to a suspected fraud.
This prompted the management to print an apology “but not a retraction,” according to
then Publisher Ermin Garcia Jr. Eventually, the Times under Gokongwei printed its last issue
on July 23, 1999. It continued to come out with businessman Mark Jimenez as its new owner.
In August 2001, Dante Arevalo Ang acquired the Times and gave it new vigor and a renewed sense of mission.
For a detailed history, here’s The Manila Times’ moments of triumphs and trials:
The Manila Times first came out on October 11, 1898, a few weeks after the Treaty of Paris took place, and the country fell into the hands of the American invaders.
The American community in the Philippines grew, and so did the demand for an English-language paper. Thomas Gowan, an English man addressed those demands with the formation of The Manila Times.
Chofre y Compania was the first printing press hired by Gowan, located along Legarda St., formerly known as CalleAlix. The Times had a separate office in the Escolta.
Its first issue had four pages and two leaves, measuring about 12 by 8 inches divided into two columns. First page consist of announcements and advertisements, while the second page was the editorial and important news of the day. The third page had cable news from Europe and the United States, with reportage on the Spanish-American War.
In those days The Times bore the flagship “Pioneer American daily in the Far East,” and underneath it, “Published everyday since 1898.” This rang true to the day that the paper burned down in 1928.
In 1899, George Sellner bought The Manila Times bought it from Gowan and treated it as a profitable business while making it a more sustainable journalistic venture.
Sellner sold the paper to Thomas C. Kinney who incorporated the newspaper as The Manila Times, Inc. and formed a board of directors. The company achieved financial stability during his management.
Martin Egan, famous for his articles in the Saturday Evening Post in the States and as war correspondent in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, became the editor of The Manila Times. He was later joined by his wife Eleanor Franklin Egan who became the subeditor.
Due to the success and growth of the publication, The Manila Times moved from its original office in the Escolta and transferred to Cosmopolitan Building near McArthur Bridge. With the new office, came a new Linotype machine, giving the Times an edge against competitors.
In time for the coming of an American congressional delegation to probe into the Philippines’ readiness for independence, employees of The Manila Times called an all-out strike against their American supervisors whom they believed misrepresented them. It was said that the leader of the strike was Manuel L. Quezon who hired some of the employees as his temporary staff.
Quezon ended up buying the newspaper. His ownership did not last long since after two years, he went to be President of the Philippines and sold the paper, with the realization that politics and publishing don’t mix.
George Fairchild assumed control as the new ownership of The Manila Times and launched the golden years of the newspaper. George was a conservative businessman, an ardent believer of an autonomous Philippine Commonwealth. He was often accused of being anti-Filipino but during a Senate trial involving his Filipino employees, he backed them up. Also under his ownership, the publication had come to have first-class reporters.
A disaster struck the The Manila Times after a fire burned the building down to the ground. The tragic event would have signaled the publication’s end had not the American owners of the Bulletin housed The Manila Times on Evangelista Street. Days later, the publication moved to Intramuros and used the facilities of the Philippines Herald. In the same year, then owner Jacob Rosenthal collected the insurance and sold the publication to the TVT (Tribune-Vanguardia-Taliba) chain of newspapers owned by Alejandro Roces Sr.
It was announced that after 32 years of existence, The Manila Times would discontinue.
Nearing the end of the Second World War, the heirs of Alejandro Roces Sr., decided to revive their father’s business. All were made possible through the help of Dave Boguslav. Boguslav’s management made the rebirth of The Manila Times successful. During this post-WWII period the publication excelled in writing investigative reports.
A 16 year old boy wearing a short pants showed up for a job interview with Boguslav. He expressed his eagerness to become a journalist. That boy was Benigno “Ninoy” Aqunio Jr. Due to his passion to be a journalist, he was the first choice to be sent to cover the Korean War when it broke out in 1950.
The Manila Times excelled as the Philippines’ No. 1 newspaper in circulation, coverage of regional and national, OpEd columns that commanded the attention and respect of national leaders.
With Publisher Chino Roces’ encouragement, Times reporters and columnists berated corrupt national officials and provincial officials and exposed unpatriotic activities.
Martial Law was declared by Ferdinand Marcos on September 21. The Manila Times and lll media organizations except those owned or coopted by the government were shut down. Some The Times editors and writers, as also those of other newspapers, were picked up by military teams. Some Times men succeeded in escaping to other countries before they were arrested.
The Roces family revived the The Manila Times few days before the day Marcos was ousted and carried away by Americans from Malacañang at the height of the EDSA Revolt. Ex-Times senior editor Jose Monteclaro edited The Times. After, Monteclaro. another ex-Times senior editor Manuel Benitez—who had worked in Hong Kong during the martial law years together with ex-Timesmen Johnny Gatbonton and Rene Bas—became editor.
The Gokongwei group took over The Manila Times. Under them, one of the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism’s much-awarded journalist Malou Mangahas became the paper’s editor.
On July 23, 1999, The Manila Times bannered a one-word headline, “Closed.” This signaled the end of the publication under the Gokongwei’s hands.
On October 11, it operated under Reghis Romero, who was fronting for businessman Mark Jimenez, and Katrina Legarda until New Year’s eve when the editors suddenly left their desks and resigned.
No issue was missed, however, because a new set of editors and writers led by Publisher Adrian Cristobal and Editor in Chief Cipriano “Zip” Roxas immediately took over the responsibility of putting out the paper.
The Times continued to come out daily until the Mark Jimenez Group sold it to Businessman Dante Arevalo Ang.
On August 8, 2001- The Manila Times was re-launched under Dante A. Ang.
On assuming ownership of the publication, he promised to honor its rich heritage of excellence in journalism, a policy that prevails until today 13 years later.
He formally is now the Chairman Emeritus, making sure that those involved in the day-to-day work of publishing The Manila Times are committed to the spirit of excellence and the highest principles of journalism in a democratic society.
The Manila Times is the older running broadsheet in the Philippines.