The Manila Bulletin is 117 years old today. It began as a modest four-page paper with shipping and other commercial information on February 2, 1900. It was the turn of a new century and the Philippines was entering a new and modern world after three and a half centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
The paper was set up on Carriedo St. in Manila by Carson Taylor, a teacher from Illinois, United States, who had served on the US Army during the Spanish-American War. The editor was H. G. Farris. The two were the entire staff of the publication. It became a general newspaper with five-column tabloid format in 1912, moving on to standard size with eight columns in 1918.
It was a new era in government and in national life. For newspapers, it was the start of press freedom which the Philippine press enjoys to this day. It was a freedom guaranteed by the US Constitution which has become part of our own Philippine Constitution.
The Manila Bulletin has been coming out all these years, except for four years during the Japanese Occupation in 1941-1945 when it was closed down by the Japanese armed forces and for a few weeks at the start of martial law in 1972.
The martial law years were specially difficult for all newspapers that were allowed to operate but the Manila Bulletin constantly strove to come out with news of significance during that period. The people recognized this and the Manla Bulletin gradually gained a wide following and reached the circulation which it maintains to this day as “The Nation’s Leading Newspaper.”
Leading the Manila Bulletin in the early years of martial law was Swiss-Filipino Brig. Gen. Hanz Menzi. In 1962, he passed on the ownership of the publication to philanthropist-businessman Dr. Emilio T. Yap. Under his chairmanship, the Manila Bulletin moved into its own building in Intramuros, acquired its own five-story printing press, branched out with several new publications, and became a public corporation. When Dr. Yap, passed on three years ago, new Chairman Basilio C. Yap and Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III took over and the Manila Bulletin moved strongly into the new era of multi-platform communications. Our print edition remains a solid foundation as our On-Line and Social Media move strongly into the digital world.
The Philippine press is noted the world over for its freedom, its active coverage of events, and its readiness to engage our officials in asserting its rights and its duty to inform the public. The Manila Bulletin has been in the forefront of this great tradition.
Today the Manila Bulletin is known for its solid coverage of national, international, and local events, without any sensationalizing — just solid, accurate, and responsible reporting of the news, so that our readers will “Be Fully Informed.” At the same time, we present in our editorial pages the opinions of a variety of respected men and women to help our readers in their own assessment of national and international events, as part of their role as citizens of our republic.
On its 117th anniversary today, the Manla Bulletin reaffirms its commitment to press freedom and its ideals, to accurate and responsible reporting of the news, to the sharing of a variety of opinions, to the end that we will all remain a well-informed, responsible, striving, and thriving Filipino nation.