Two days, ten months and ninety nine years ago, the Philippines was not much different from what it is now. There were news related to politics, health and festive activities that Filipinos normally do. What differs between the past and the present is the manner of how news or stories were written and published in newspapers. As if the concept of responsible journalism was not yet reiterated then. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all get to know what our beloved ancestors did and experienced at that certain time which were primary ingredients in molding what and who Filipinos are today.
“ANG DEMOCRACIA”, the official Tagalog publication of the “Nacional Progesista” Party, is one of perhaps the few newspapers circulating the country back then. The headline of the paper on February 5, 1912 is about an American who disguised as a Chinese. Certain officials began to follow all his steps and looked for clues that will reveal his real personality. In the end, it was known that the American was accepting money from illegal lottery owned by a full blooded Chinese. The woman behind the story was a hired investigator of somebody named Mr. Trowbridge.
I was shocked to read an article on the front page about two parties destroying each other. The ligueros were allegedly suspected of telling things against the Partido Nacional Progesista In return, the article in the same newspaper owned by the latter party claimed that what the liguerosare doing is part of their political strategies: to destroy the other party.
An article was also describing how grand the parade that happened the other day which is February 4, 1912. The article states that there were a lot of people who joined the event and in the parade includes the Kings of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It was further noted that a float known asCarroza ng Matrona ng Filipinas stood out. Fifty horses accompanied it and people would clap the said float pass in front of them. Alongside with the parade were carnivals and shows that all Filipinos in the event enjoyed.
In very small fractions, there were news stories about certain personalities who left their job or were promoted that time. But what gave an impact on me was a notice that someone was dead. It stated there in brief form that the man lived in Carolina Street and died of a serious illness.
More happened that time based on the newspaper. There was a news story about a group of people who established a group to see if the medicine for leprosy was giving the expected effects. A head was assigned to lead the study. The purpose of the study is to solve the growing number of people with leprosy which are confined in San Lazaro Hospital. It was said in the article that there were people who were proven to be free from that disease but the hospital insists to confine them. The article asks the readers if what they could infer from this. This article gave me the idea that Filipinos back then were already trying to put their soles in the medical world.
There was a fire incident that happened and some immediately panicked. But it was known afterwards that an open electrical cable just touched a tree near it and that it caused the fire. Everyone was relieved for it was near the stage where performances were being done that day.
Like our newspapers today, the “Ang Democracia” had advertisements scattered in their publication. There were advertisements telling the people that new neckties, handkerchiefs and socks are ready to be sold on a store named “The Novelty Store”. It boasts off that their products cannot be seen from any other stores for it was imported. Some products that were also advertised include shoes, eyeglasses which they call “invisible bi-focals” and sold at 25 Pesos.
“Ang Emulsion ni Scott” was the only medicine advertised. Other advertisements were about the offices of lawyers, information about lending firms and corporations like the Cadwallader – Gibson Co. who makes muebles. Others were written in Spanish and I cannot understand them.
I am happy to see poems mostly below the articles. There were four poems written in Filipino and some of them I believe were long. Parts of the poem are published day by day as for readers to continue patronizing the entire newspaper.
What I can say with the experience of looking back at the past is that it was amazing. I never knew that there is a technology that can put books, journals and newspapers to thin and small microfilms. But more than the unique experience, what remained in my mind is that the newspaper I read is a proof that we progressed in some way and at the same time remained the way our ancestors were.
Same ordinary things happened on that day. News articles were written in a way that the readers would think they’re just listening to somebody sharing a story about happened to him today. I cannot say that some articles were not significant because all of them are important in our study of our own history.
I can competently say that the impact of the Spanish colonization is great. Their practices such as the festival and parade and their language were imprinted in the Filipino culture and somehow remains until today.
Looking back is an important step in understanding how we became who we are now. We can never change what happened either good or bad. But these hundred year old materials serve as instruments for us to appreciate and learn from the past to make the present and the future better, if not the best.
(Histo homework to be submitted on December 7, 2011)