Getting to know ‘Newsboy’

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Throughout The Manila Times’ storied existence, there is one tangible icon that has become so beloved by its owners and staff in the last several decades. He is The Manila Times’ “Newsboy.”

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Just as recognizable as the newspaper’s unchanged logo, the Newsboy has stood prominently at the entrance of the paper’s varied offices for many years. Today at the paper’s Sitio Grande building in Intramuros, Manila, he is the first to greet visitors and employees every day at the lobby.

Fondly nicknamed Cosme by the staff under the unwavering leadership of the Ang family since 2000, the Lifestyle team was surprised to learn from President and CEO Dante Francis Ang 2nd that the life-sized statute is not the original.

“There are interesting stories to the Newsboy,” he said. “Some of it I know, the rest I’m sure you can find out.”

The Editorial department was brainstorming this year’s anniversary stories, and a lookback on the origins of the Newsboy was perfect for the line-up.

Firts stop: Eddie Roces
Given a tip, The Manila Times Lifestyle headed to the home of Edgardo “Eddie” Roces, one of the four children of the late Joaquin “Chino” Roces, in turn considered the longest owner and publisher of the paper in the last 119 years.

His house a stone’s throw away from Quezon City’s Roces Avenue, another Newsboy came into view as soon the gates opened for this visit. Said its owner, the brass statue is indeed the original Newsboy, although he cannot say for sure when it was made.

“This is the original brass statue The Manila Times had. Our family has had this for a long time now. I remember a friend of mine, Ed Castrillo—the sculptor of the People Power Monument, among others—telling me that it was Guillermo Tolentino who made this Newsboy statue,” Roces added as he presented the impressive work of art.

“I asked him, ‘How do you know?’ He replied, ‘I saw him doing this kind of work at his home because he was my neighbor,’” he said.

For those unaware, Tolentino was a famous sculptor and professor of the University of the Philippines, who is also the artist of his alma mater’s iconic Oblation statue. He was designated as a National Artist of the Philippines for Sculpture in 1973, three years before his death. Besides the Oblation (1935), his famous works also include the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan Circle (1930).

According to Roces, Tolentino’s inspiration for the Newsboy came from a small statue given to his father as a gift from England. Unfortunately, the sculptor did not sign any part of his brass Newsboy as he is known to do on his other works.

“You know, I don’t exactly know who asked Tolentino to make this Newsboy,” Roces continued his need for a trip down memory lane.

“I only remember my father’s small Newsboy on his office table. Maybe one of our family members asked Tolentino to make a bigger one so it can be used for the entrance of our office before,” was his best guess.

Different takes
“If you notice, artists [of the Newsboy]have different takes on their works. Tolentino did it slightly differently [from the small sculpture],” Roces pointed out.

“This statue that we have is wearing rubber shoes, but in Europe they didn’t normally wear rubber shoes at the time.

“And then Tolentino carved the name of The Manila Times on the paper the Newsboy is holding, which was not in the small Newsboy statue he copied.

“But ever since I was young… this is memory of the entrance of the old The Manila Times office.”

Roces remembered another addition to the brass Newsboy, which was not made by Tolentino—the slab of brown marble on which he stands, bearing the other media and publishing entities his family owned back then.

“A member of the family asked someone to do this and carve the names Associated Broadcasting Company, our radio station DZMT, and [the publications]Taliba, La Vanguardia, The Tribune [then known as TVT].”

Precious gift
When asked how he was fortunate to be the Roces family member given the original Newsboy, Eddie–who is now head of Anak TV–recalled the dark days of Martial Law.

“When The Manila Times was shut down during [martial law]and my father Chino was jailed, the Newsboy statue remained in the office,” he said.

Eventually, the Newsboy came under the care of his uncle Ramon Roces, who also gave it to him in the end.

“Since my father was the one who was always behind The Manila Times—although it was owned by the family–my uncle left it here. My place now used to be the home of my parents. I even remember it was the newsboys who delivered the statue here.”

Roces is aware that his precious gift has two other replicas–thefiber glass statue currently at the lobby of The Manila Times building, and another at the garden of Casa Roces restaurant just across Malacañang Palace.

Unsure who made the fiberglass replica, he had more information about the second one in Casa Roces that was made by a relative named Jonas Roces, a sculptor and portrait painter.

The second -generation Roces swears he will neither sell nor donate the Newsboy for a very personal reason.

Besides being the original, it is his family’s appreciation for the newsboys who devotedly sold the nation’s oldest newspaper on the streets during their time.

“Newsboys, somehow, are no longer relevant these days. You hardly see them on the streets anymore. Over time, they made the newsstands, then dealers started delivering the paper to homes using cars, and now we have the Internet. Times have changed a lot, but we will always owe newsboys a lot,” Eddie said.

“This [statue]then is something that reminds us of the good old days of The Manila Times for our family. So why will I trade it for anything? Eventually, I might give it to my son who also writes for a local newspaper,” he added.

Symbol of values
Back at the office, Dante Francis Ang 2nd enjoyed hearing about The Manila Times Lifesyle’s visit to Eddie Roces and anecdotes about the Newsboy.

Ang said he regards the statue as the one that “stands for the values represented by the paper.”

“I think the old slogan they had before–“All the news. All the views. All the time”–that was the message conveyed by the Newsboy. But of course times have changed and continue to change,” he added. “News is available online already, and there aren’t as many newsboys on the streets anymore.”

All the same, for Ang whose family has long been in publishing even before they acquired The Manila Times, the Newsboy is a reminder that with hard work, one can be truly great.

“Former Chief Justice Art Panganiban, for example, used to be a newsboy. He was also head of the Department of Justice in 2005. I didn’t know about it until I met him one time and happily shared his newsboy story with me. To be sure, he was selling copies of The Manila Times,” Ang said.

“I used to be a newsboy as well but not with The Manila Times,” the newspaper owner revealed. “My dad [Times’ Chairman Emeritus Dante Arevalo Ang] started a small publishing company way back when and so we were exposed to newspapers at a very early age.

“As a young kid, I was a bit enterprising so I wanted to earn my own money because I wanted to buy certain things. I remember I wanted to buy a camera that my parents didn’t get for me because it was so expensive. They said I should save up for it, but my allowance wasn’t enough.

“So I came up with other sources of income and I started selling newspapers and magazines. My target market included my aunties, uncles and neighbors for P20,” he said.

“What’s even funnier was that I still wasn’t able to come up with the entire amount for the camera! I raised half of the cost, then my parents, seeing my efforts and how hard I was working, finally rewarded me with the rest.”

His childhood stories just as interesting and meaningful as Roces’, Ang put across a lesson learned.

“That is why when moving forward, we have to remember where we came from. In the paper’s case, the Newsboy serves to remind us of the long history and tradition of The Manila Times—a powerful reminder for us to do our best every day. Like they say, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan,” Ang said.

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