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Cebu Media in the Post War Decade


The return to normalcy in Cebu, also brought back the operation of the city's only radio station. Opened in 1939 as station KZRC, it was the first radio station in Cebu and outside of Manila. It became most popular when it started a program in amateur singing contest. Managed by Harry Fenton, an American, it became a major source of information that was handicapped only by the dearth of radio units in public hands.

Indeed, when a study was undertaken in 1952 by the University of the Philippines under the auspices of the United States' Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) through the US exchange profession Dr. John de Young, called "Communications Problems at the Barrio Level", it was noted of every 100 families in Cebu, there were only an average of three radio units.

There was a dearth of information then among the fighters in the hills.

It was probably for this reason that Pete Calomarde's Morning Times daily thrived in the rugged mountains. There was no way a radio station could be operated in the Cebu hills. This situation could have been the reason why Harry Fenton , the station head man, decided to join the guerrillas instead. Being an American caught in Cebu by the war, he decided to stay and help organize the resistance movement in the Cebu hinterlands.

Some of the resistance movement leaders were Cebuano survivors of the Bataan war, while others were from Mindanao. But they were able to form a cohesive group with Fenton as the top man. Later, however, perhaps because Fenton did not have a military background, he became somewhat paranoid, and caused senseless executions of soldiers he suspected of betraying the cause. In the end, he was himself tried and executed.

During the Japanese occupation, there appeared a couple of publications, one was called Kadaugan of Cipriano Barba in 1942, but it was said to have lasted only less than a year. An anonymous mimeographed sheet appeared, called the Visayan Press with a pro-Japanese orientation. But it disappeared as fast as it appeared. A third one, the Visayan Shinbun also came out in 1942, edited by Napoleon Dejoras.

However, it was the Morning Times, a guerilla paper edited by Pete Calomarde that lasted up to the end of the war. It was the only source of reliable information about the war, except for the lucky ones who were able to keep their radio units from being confiscated by the Japanese. According to Calomarde, he was publishing his paper with only himself doing the writing, editing and printing in decrepit Chandler.

But at the end of the war, when The Pioneer Press started circulating in mid-1945, other periodicals soon followed. Cebuano vernacular writer Florentino Suico was the first who came out with a weekly, Ang Panahon in early 1946.

A Spanish language journalist, Jose Ma. Del Mar, father of incumbent Rep Raul del Mar of Cebu City's North District, founded the La Prensa , a Spanish bi-weekly.

There were two other newspapers that came out in 1947. One was an English daily, The Republic News, with Dioscoro Lazaro as editor and publisher. But most everyone in Cebu believed that the real owner of the daily was the Cuenco family. The other periodical was a Cebuano weekly called the Katipunan by Manuel Enriquez. In 1950, one more Cebuano weekly, Vicente Suico's Kahayag joined the media melee.

Thus Cebu at this point, not only had three English dailies and three Cebuano weeklies, but it also had one Spanish biweekly, making the score of seven periodicals in the mass media market.

It's true though, that while there's a list of the "birth" of Cebu's various print media, none kept tab of how they survived the economic pressures of the time. Hence, while there's a record of their "live birth", there's none about their "death."

We know, though, that two of the three English dailies were able to live through the '50s. These were the veteran Morning Times and the Republic News. Sadly, The Pioneer Press became the first victim of political terrorism that emanated from the 1949 presidential elections. It was an encounter of the Nacionalista Party and the newly organized Liberal Party, a heated one that eventually resulted in cheating and terrorism during the elections.

When the Philippines became independent on July 4, 1946 in fulfillment of the Tydings-Mcduffie Law, the first president was Manuel A.Roxas who won the elections in May, just two months away from July. Roxas took the honor of being the first president of the Republic. Unfortunately, he died of heart attack on 1948 during a visit to Clark Field, the American airbase in Central Luzon. His Vice President Elpidio Quirino, took over.

It was during the incumbency of Quirino that Philippine elections deteriorated. There was rampant fraud and terrorism all over the country. In Cebu, the critical press became the target of the bungotons, the bearded armed followers of political warlords who were hired to make their candidates win. The Pioneer Press became the first media victim in the1951 midterm elections when the editors life were threatened, and they had to stop publication.

PHOTOS: Golden boys, 1950s, Sun Star Cebu