Today The Manila Times is observing its 115th anniversary. That’s right, this venerable publication has been in existence for more than a century, making it the oldest existing English language newspaper in the Philippines. It was also the most read daily, but that was in the past. Not anymore. The vicissitudes of history took care of that, but it continues to hew close to the tradition of excellence that it has been known for.
On Oct. 11, 1896, The Times printed and distributed its first issue. Talk about being present at the creation. News had just come in by telegraph that the Treaty of Paris would be signed soon, thus Spanish sovereignty over the Philippines was passing on to the US Government.
The Times was to pioneer the use of English, which was to become the medium of communication in and out of the government. Other publications would soon follow, but they would not be able to approximate the influence it wielded in the country.
That is, until September 1972, when martial law was imposed. The Times had been the newspaper that the public looked up to for information—and guidance. That was why President Ferdinand Marcos who had assumed dictatorial powers set his eyes on destroying it. He could have allowed all other media organizations to continue operation and still would have attained his objective of rooting out freedom of the press as long as The Times was closed down. But of course he had to stifle all opposition to his rule.
After democracy was restored in 1986, the Roces family tried to revive the newspaper, but it had lost its momentum. Other newspapers would subsequently fill the vacuum.
Since then The Times has changed hands many times.
The Gokongwei family of Robinson and Cebu Pacific fame acquired The Times, but it had to close it down following the libel case filed by then President Joseph “Erap” Estrada after the publication ran a story that called him “an unwitting godfather” of a supposedly fraudulent deal.
Ownership passed once more, this time to Reghis Romero III, a businessman who turned out to be merely fronting for Mark Jimenez. That fact could not be kept a secret for long.
Following disagreement over editorial policy, practically the entire staff resigned. The perception that the owner stifled rather than advanced the cause of press freedom took its toll. The newspaper lost its readership.
It was against this backdrop that Dante A. Ang took over The Times and proceeded to make it an independent newspaper once again. From the very start, he endeavored to give the readers news born of accurate, fair, and comprehensive coverage.
Under Dr. Ang’s leadership, the editorial staff is reaching back to its glorious past. As a result it has since earned a reputation for enterprise stories on both political and business fronts, as well as exposés of corruption committed by elected and appointed government officials. Some of the exposes are written by Dr. Ang himself, whose title is Chairman Emeritus.
Although an idealist, Dr. Ang is also a hard-nosed businessman. If the newspaper is to continue serving its readers, it must be profitable as well. This he has also set out to do with the help of a professional advertising and marketing group.
The responsibility to pursue the vision—editorial excellence as well as profitability—is now solidly on the shoulders of, Dante F. M. Ang 2, president and chief executive officer, as well as the executive editor, and the editorial staff and the circulation and advertising people working under him.
The Times is now also shining in cyberspace with its online edition.
It has gained the notice of the Facebook Generation, many of whose members have made Times stories—specially exposes—“go viral.”
We pledge to continue striving to excel in serving the truth.