• The journey of The Manila Times

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    SINCE its humble beginnings in 1898, The Manila Times has been manned by and has produced topnotch journalists who have made the press a partner in nation-building. The following are the significant events that are now part of the paper’s history as well as that of the country:

    1898 – American businessman Thomas Gowan starts The Manila Times, the first bulletin that carries press cable in English that is distributed in the Philippines. The first issue is a sheet of two leaves or four pages measuring 12 by 8 inches. A bulletin entitled “Manila Times” appears on the streets of Manila on October 10, 1898. The bulletin carries the first English-language press cable received in the Philippines. The bulletin is about the Paris Conference held to end the Spanish-American war. The publication also carries the description: “Pioneer American daily in the Far East.” At one point, the paper prints an issue at noontime and another in the afternoon. In 1928, however, its offices are razed by fire.

    1899 – It is at this time that George Sellner joins the Times staff as business manager and subsequently buys the paper from Gowan.

    1902 – After three years, Sellner sells the paper to a group of American businessmen. But he reacquires the company in 1905.

    1907 – Sellner again sells the paper, this time he closes the deal with Thomas C. Kinney, who organizes within the Times company a board of directors composed of American and British businessmen. R. McCulloch Dick, a British sailor who comes to Manila, is appointed editor. At this time, he also acquires the Philippines Free Press, which is founded by Judge W. H. Kincaid in 1907.

    1908 – Martin Egan, an editor of The Saturday Post, arrives in Manila and is appointed as Times editor. He is known for his work as a correspondent during the Spanish-American War.

    1914 – The Manila Times moves from downtown Manila area, on Escolta Street, to its new offices at the Cosmopolitan building–formerly the Metropolitan Hotel – on the northeast approach of the Santa Cruz bridge, which is renamed MacArthur bridge. With the transfer of its offices, the Times upgrades its equipment.

    1917 – In association with other businessmen, Manuel L. Quezon, who later becomes Commonwealth President, buys the paper. He manages the paper for four years before selling it to George H. Fairchild in 1921 because, he finds out, publishing and politics are like water and oil.

    1920 –A. V. H. Hartendorp, a former school teacher, becomes editor of the paper. By publishing their works, he encourages Filipino writers to write in English.

    1921 – Walter Q. Wilgus is appointed as the editor of the Philippine Education magazine upon the resignation of Hartendorp. In 1920, a Wilgus, a veteran of the First World War and a journalism graduate, comes to the Philippines and establishes the School of Journalism of the University of the Philippines. Later, he becomes editor and city editor of the Times.

    1926 – Fairchild sells the paper to Jacob Rosenthal, a businessman, who is engaged in the importation and manufacture of shoes.

    1928 – The Cosmopolitan building in which the Times had been housed, is burned down. The paper is reported to have sustained a loss of P200,000. Jacob Rosenthal collects the insurance claim and sells the paper’s name and goodwill to the T-V-T (Taliba-La Vanguardia-Tribune) papers through D. H. Thibault who, after an absence of about ten years, had returned to the Philippines to become general manager of the T-V-T publications of Don Alejandro Roces Sr.

    1929 – D.H. Thibault buys the Times for the T-V-T chain of papers.

    1930 – Thibault, on February 15, announces that the publication of the Times will be stopped on March 15, 1930. On March 14, the paper’s “Swan Song” editorial appears. After 32 years of uninterrupted existence, the paper closes its doors.

    1945 – The T-V-T is discarded in order to revive the Manila Times Publishing Company Incorporated, 15 years after it closed. On May 27, 1945, the first reincarnated issue of The Manila Times comes out as a weekly tabloid carrying the name, The Sunday Times. It is launched along with Graphic magazine and Sunday Tribune, which both feature Filipino stories written in English. It is on September 5, 1945, that the first daily issue of The Manila Times hits the newsstands. Ramon Roces resigns after the Times is acquired so he can concentrate on his comics publication. His brother Joaquin “Chino” Roces becomes the publisher. Two other family members become involved in the publication–Benito Prieto, chairman of the board, and Antonia Roces Prieto, director of the paper.

    1945-1972 – This period is hailed as the “Golden Age” of Philippine Journalism, and the Times is the leading English broadsheet. It is at this time that Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. joins the paper as a cub reporter, covering the police and miscellaneous beats. Ninoy’s work is exceptional and his editor sends him to Korea as the paper’s correspondent. Fourteen years later, Ninoy himself would be the catalyst of change. He is shot dead at the international airport tarmac on August 21, 1983. A few years later, the people stage a People Power revolution.

    1972 – The second time that the paper is closed is when President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law on September 23. The Manila Times is silent for the next 14 years.

    1986 – On February 5, days before Edsa I that ousts Marcos, the Roces family, through Ramon Roces, revives the paper with Joaquin “Titong” Roces as editor. After some time, when Titong is appointed ambassador to Taiwan, his brother Alejandro or Anding takes over.

    1988 – The Roces family, citing financial dearth, sells the paper to business tycoon John Gokongwei.

    1999 – The Times prints a story stating that then-President Joseph Estrada is an “unwitting godfather” to a fraudulent deal. Estrada sues the paper for P101 million but the case is withdrawn after a public apology is issued. On July 23, the nation’s most trusted newspaper closes, for the third time. On October 25, the paper is reacquired by the Roces family, with lawyer Katrina Legarda as publisher and editor-in-chief of the “New Manila Times.” The third revival of the paper is short-lived. Businessman Mark Jimenez then buys the paper.

    2000 – Businessman Dr. Dante A. Ang acquires The Manila Times, formally sitting as publisher and chairman on August 8.

    KENN MENDOZA, REPORTER

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