A wreath-laying at the historic Mendiola Bridge in Manila on Wednesday marked the 27th death anniversary of Don Joaquin Roces, or more popularly known as Don Chino, the late publisher and for a time, the face of The Manila Times.
The activity was led by Alab ng Mamamahayag at the foot of the bridge–a silent witness to turning points in the country’s social and political history—in San Miguel district.
“This day, September 30, is a very important day that Filipinos should never forget, particularly members of the media who believe in upholding freedom of the press,” the group said in a statement.
On September 30, 1988, Don Chino, “Press Freedom Fighter,” succumbed to cancer.
The man behind this daily broadsheet–the oldest in Asia–was among the more high-profile victims of martial law.
Don Chino was arrested a few hours after the declaration of military rule on September 21, 1972 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Until the imposition of martial law, he had fought for press freedom, paying the price in Marcos prison.
Upon his release after months of incarceration, Don Chino continued to oppose the government on all fronts, with Mendiola Bridge as a backdrop to the more stirring of the struggles he waged against strongman rule.
One of such battles saw him being drenched by water cannons, kneeling but unbowed with a crucifix in one hand.
Don Chino is a founder of the Cory Aquino for President Movement, which gathered one million signatures that convinced Corazon “Cory” Aquino to run for President against Marcos in the 1986 snap elections.
Contested results of those polls led to the bloodless EDSA Revolution in February 1986 that catapulted Cory to the presidency.
“Let us not forget the day Don Chino died. Let his memory remind us, especially members of the media, to never again allow anyone to suppress press freedom,” Alam national chairman Jerry Yap said in the group’s statement.
“Don Chino, you will always be in our heart’s forever,” Yap added.