Sunday, August 23, 2009

IF YOU WANT TO READ ] Free Press celebrates 101 years


I wrote the Maricar Reyes cover story for them a month ago. Of course, we also have a Cory tribute (written by Malou Mangahas and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz) over at my new HQ, but for the love of Ricky and Erwin...

The FREE PRESS celebrates its 101st anniversary in this issue. We also take this occasion to pay tribute to the late President Corazon Aquino. Cory!—the private woman who was thrust out of her domesticity to the arena of politics, the prison cells of the Marcos regime, the parliament of the streets, the leadership of the Philippines and the world stage. Manuel L. Quezon III’s “Filipino of the Century” is an inspired retelling of this now-legendary story—one that resonates even amid the flamboyance and machismo prevailing in our culture, as the late FREE PRESS editor Teodoro M. Locsin pointed out in his eloquent editorial on Mrs. Aquino. The highlight of Mrs. Aquino’s international acclaim is, of course, her triumphant 1986 address to the US Congress, which we reprint here.

A tribute to Mrs. Aquino also serves as a tribute to her martyred husband, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., whose association with the FREE PRESS is underscored by Locsin being thrown in jail together with Aquino (and nine other critics of the Marcos regime) in 1972. Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.’s interviews with Aquino are fascinating chamber pieces that hint at Marcos’s impending dictatorship. Another cellmate of Aquino and Locsin Sr. is the brilliant political analyst Napoleon G. Rama, whose article on martial law has unfortunately become more relevant in our time. With the articles by Rama and Locsin Jr., we also reprint the classic political cartoons of former FREE PRESS art director E. Z. Izon.

Former FREE PRESS executive editor Gregorio C. Brillantes wields his lyrical journalism as he takes a retrospective look at Rolando Galman, the much-overlooked casualty in Aquino’s assassination in 1983. We also look back to the body of work of the FREE PRESS and some of the writers who helped shape it. “The Ruling Money,” by the late associate editor Nick Joaquin (writing as Quijano de Manila), is an exhaustive business story as only he could write it—and a departure from his reporting on politics, history and pop culture. Kerima Polotan’s “The Woman of Fashion” is a quiet critique on the thriving bourgeois scene of the Sixties and its devotees at the time. Then there’s the other side of that milieu, lauded by Jose F. Lacaba’s now immortal “Notes on Bakya,” an inventive variation on Susan Sontag that counsels against elitism in art and culture. Finally, here too is Aquino’s soul-searching poetry, written during his eight years in prison. The themes are familiar to victims of political persecution like Lacaba, Locsin, Rama and this magazine, which was padlocked on the eve of martial law and revived in time for Cory’s historic presidential campaign.
Ricky S. Torre

Available at all National Bookstore Outlets and 7/11 Branches. Or you can call 844-2316, 844-2251, 844-2275, 0919-583-8487 for orders.

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