The Philippine press has a long and rich tradition of resistance movement. As early as the Spanish occupation in the late 1880s, Filipinos have already managed to create a venue to express themselves and their hunger and struggle for the country’s independence. -, Amidst the Spanish colonization in the Philippines, the secret society “Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan” (KKK) published their own underground newsletter called “Kalayaan ng Katipunan.” Founded by two recruits, Candido Iban and Francisco del Castillowho applied KKK’s goal to overthrow colonial rule in the country and proclaim Philippine independence,they donated a part of their lottery winnings to buy a printing press to publish the first issue of Kalayaan ng Katipunan.
Published on February 15, 1889, another good example of an underground press opposing the Spanish colonization was La Solidaridad. With contributors such as Marcelo H. del Pilar (with pseudonym Plaridel), Dr. Jose Rizal (Laon Laan), Mariano Ponce (Naning, Kalipulo, Tigbalang), Antonio Luna (Taga Ilog), Jose Ma. Panganiban (Jomapa), Dr. Pedro Paterno, Antonio Ma. Regidor, Isabelo Delos Reyes, Eduardo de Lete, and Jose Alejandrino; and some friends of the Propaganda Movement Professor Blumentritt, and Dr. Morayta, La Solidaridad‘s aspirations were cut clear and simple: -to combat reaction, to stop all retrogressive steps by the colonizers, to extol and adopt liberal ideas, and to defend progress.
In a writing by former dean of University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication Luis V. Teodoro, he said that: “the Filipino press was born during the reformist and revolutionary movements, first with Marcelo H. Del Pilar’s Diariong Tagalog (Tagalog Newspaper) and later with La Solidaridad (Solidarity), Ang Kalayaan (Freedom), La Independencia (The Independence), El Renacimiento (The Renaissance) and the guerilla and underground press of the Japanese and martial law periods.”
He added, “The Filipino press was an alternative first to the Spanish colonial press, then to the pro-American press that the U.S. colonial government encouraged, the Japanese controlled press, and the government-regulated press of the martial law period.” (Teodoro, 2001).
In the time of the Second World War (late 1941 and early 1942), Japanese conquerors destroyed and confiscated mass media facilities in the Philippines. Filipino journalism was left with three Pro-Japanese publications which were: Taliba, La Vanguardia, and The Tribunehoping to foul up the well-oiled Japanese propaganda mechanism. The mindset back then was when all the efforts would failed, the last resort would be heading an uphill battle with the guerrillas to publish underground information.
On the other hand, another publication worth noting was the Cebu Times. The paper, which was a perfect example of an early mass media innovation, was published by a small printing press called Minerva. A waterwheel and a power source were used to recharge the batteries of Cebu Area Command’s radio receiving set. And to keep the people updated about war-related developments, war commentaries of the news broadcasts of the American broadcasting agencies were also written in the Cebu Times. —Three of the most popular newssheets during the Philippine World War II were Matanglawin, The Liberator, and The Voice of Free People.
According to Armando Malay, Matanglawin was among the first guerrilla newspapers in Luzon. Founded by the guerrillas of the 14th Infantry Regiment of Colonel Guillermo Nakar on On June of 1942, they have acquired a mimeograph machine and published the first issue. Adopting the name Matanglawin which means serving as a watch over collaborators and the civilian population in general, it was printed in mimeograph form—with one side on the sheet and two columns wide. Recorded through history, its first issue contained some news about the last days of Bataan and a warning to civilians to refrain from collaborating with the Japanese. However, the paper stopped printing when Col. Nakar got arrested.
Dubbed by Malay as the “most famous paper of Central Luzon” The Liberator is the chief guerrilla paper during the entire World War II resistance movement. In August 1944, a former finger print expert Benedicto Valenzona aiming to publish a paper regarding reinforcing the morale (of the guerrillas) and the victory of the guerrilla movement, he approached the chief of President [Manuel L.] Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG) Leon Ty. Ty on the other hand, contacted two of his colleagues in the Free Press namely, F.V Tutay and Esmeraldo Izon. After that, he was introduced to Agapito Canlas who had contact the guerrillas. However, after four months of printing, while they were distributing copies of the ‘Liberator,’ Japanese forces caught Canlas.
Coined during the time of Martial Law the term “Mosquito Press” meant “small but has a stinging bite” type of news. News publications of that time was cited as part of this alternative press were:
- · WE Forum (by Jose Burgos)
- · Business Day (now Business World was published by Raul and Leticia Locsin)
- · Veritas (edited by Felix Bautista and Melinda Q. de Jesus)
- · Pahayagang Malaya (broadsheet affiliate of WE Forum),
- · Inquirer
- · Mr and Ms Magazine (edited and published by Eugenia D. Apostol and Leticia J. Magsanoc)
- Also, collegiate publications like:
- · The Philippine Collegian (University of the Philippines Diliman)
- · Ang Malaya (Philippine College of Commerce now Polytechnic University of the Philippines)
- · Pandayan (Ateneo de Manila University)
- · Ang Hasik (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila)
- · and Balawis (Mapua Institute of Technology).
When the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) was blacklisted during the Martial Law, Jose Burgos with 20 high school and college editors decided to publish an alternative material. Despite the obvious danger during the Martial Law, the group proceeded on publishing a fortnightly independent paper in May 1977 called “WE (For The Young Filipino).” The paper published a series of stories regarding the fake war medals received by former President Ferdinand Marcos. This resulted to the imprisonment of Burgos, his father Joe Burgos Sr., brothers Edward and Ramon, brother-in-law Angel Tronqued, and the columnists led by former UP dean of students Armando Malay, CEGP founder Ernie Rodriguez, former senator Soc Rodrigo, and La Salle professor Salvador Roxas Gonzales. The We Forum’s printing office was also raided. The health of former President Marcos started to weakened and negative stories started to proliferate. The media began to test the limits of censorship. However, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in Manila International on August 21, 1983 triggered the alternative press to go all out in publishing stories about the Marcos Regime.
In an interview made by Gee Geronimo of Rappler Philippines to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Executive Director Melinda Quintos de Jesus, she said that:
“We had an advocacy bigger than our careers, bigger than our newspapers: we wanted this man out… therefore, we wanted to be able to work together. It was very friendly at that time. It was a great period because journalists helped each other.”
Their advocacy was strengthen by the help of news clippings written by Filipinos working for foreign news service and passed around in formations about the plan of the Aquino family through what they call “Xerox journalism.”
Although de Jesus stated that Martial Law disrupted the media development in the country, she admitted the atmosphere of the time led to a kind of journalism “not tempted to go the path of the scoop.” This brand of journalism provided perspective, analysis, context, and commentary during one of the most challenging times in the Philippine democracy, the country’s history in general. (Geronimo, 2013)
According to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance’s Director for Policy Studies Bobby M. Tuazon, there are two kinds of theories which have defined the state of Philippine Press: the Bourgeois Theory and Progressive Theory. The bourgeois theory traces its historical roots to the U.S. colonization of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. The U.S. colonialist conquest of the Philippines led to a protracted war resulting in the killing of more than one million Filipinos. Despite the reality in the ground, the U.S. newspapers particularly those owned by William Randolph Hearst and the “yellow journalism” or sensationalism of Joseph Pulitzer circulated black propaganda about Filipino “savages,” alleged brutalities committed against U.S. troops and the need to Christianize and civilize the Filipinos.
Meanwhile, during the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986), the media industry was monopolized by the ruling regime and their cronies. The bourgeois press assumed an authoritative streak supported no less by Martial Law censorship. Many progressive journalists were arrested and held in military stockades, anti-Marcos newspapers and broadcast stations were closed or taken over by Marcos cronies. Newspapers, radio and TV networks run by Marcos cronies served as mouthpieces of the dictatorship under supervision of the Department (later, Ministry) of Public Information. The Marcos regime established the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP or Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) as a way of controlling the broadcast industry under the doctrine of self-censorship. The bourgeois theory of the press claims “to represent balanced news, objectivity and neutrality.”
However, according to experts, the press running under the bourgeois theory is not necessarily the embodiment of fair and true reporting. For instance, the press in the United States, from where the bourgeois or liberal theory of the press originates, is monopolized by financial oligarchs and mergers of the likes of CNN, Fox and other monopolies. The liberal press in the U.S. features elements of authoritarianism and censorship. Going back to the Philippines, the alternative or progressive theory has a rich revolutionary, radical and critical tradition that dates back to the reformist and revolutionary propaganda movements in the 19 th century struggle against Spanish colonial rule and, in the first part of the 20th century, in the armed resistance against U.S. imperialism and Japanese fascist occupation and, thereafter, in the radical and underground press of the 1970s and until today.
The progressive press therefore has a rich legacy of resisting foreign domination and fighting for independence, opposing fascist dictatorial rule and continuing attempts at reinstituting an authoritarian regime. Illustrative of this in the contemporary period of the Philippine press is during the martial law regime when writers, journalists and artists put up underground revolutionary newspapers and operated what was described as “xerox journalism” as part of the struggle against the dictatorship. (Tuazon, 2007)
In 1978, as the Alternative Press in the Philippines was emerging against the mainstream media and the martial law, the subculture called punk was also starting to make a new scene in underground print media called fanzines.
Punks and The Do-It-Yourself Ethic
Western musicians described the Punk subculture as musical freedom, the “nirvana” of the music scene. The unique personal expression was in touch with the human ability to reason and ask questions. In the rise of this subculture, gave birth to the interest of self-publishing. The Do-It-Yourself Punk culture started the publication of magazines which are made by fans and for the fans. (Moran, 2010)
A “zine” is simply a small magazine written by non-professional writers who have stories about a particular subject they consider worth publishing. With small circulation, the magazine is usually being produced by a person or few individuals. Some zines are photocopied but some are printed offset, like the mainstream magazine or newspaper.
The zines can contain whatever subject the creator decided upon and may contain variety of subjects and writing styles in the same issue. According to zine historian Teal Triggs the subculture emerged from the words fan and magazine coined by the American science-fiction enthusiast and zine producer Louis Russell Chauvenet in 1940.
Formative Years of Filipino Fanzines
Disc jockey Dante “Howling Dave” David introduced fanzines to Metro Manila on his show at dzRJ 810 “Rock of Manila” in 1978. It took nine (9) years (1987) to publish the first recorded fanzine by Tommy Tanchangco called Herald X. Eventually becoming known as “the alternative music read for the bored generation,” Herald X pioneered the local self-publishing industry and acted as the official fanzine of the underground during that time. Unfortunately, Herald X delivered only two issues.
Even though Herald X’s publication died shortly, the eve of its wake provided influence that made ferocious recoil in the form of other zines. Birth of fanzines like Mutilated news, Blatant Underground, OiBanger, Anti, Blank information, Garbage, Grrowll, and Manila Oi Paper sprouted soon after and the local fanzine community was born. (Alisuag, 2006)
The Filipino Zinergy (or Zinesterssisters), which was able to document the history of fanzines in the Philippines, there is an estimate of over 140 fanzines were in Metro Manila from 1987 to 2004. However, the group stressed that the main constrainst in zine publication was the cost and time required in making one. The blogsite Zinesterssisters.blogspot.com added that that zinesters in the Philippines had published an average of only three or four issues.
As the years gone by, the Philippine fanzine community has progressed in terms of its form and content. The dawn of Herald X gave birth to another influential fanzine called “Philippines-Mutilated News” in 1988. Tagged as one of the longest running fanzines in Metro Manila, Noel Francia was able to publish nine printed issues and went online in 2000. It was followed in 1989 by Darwin Koh published Head Shrinker which had three issues. In 1994, Koh decided to change the name of the zine to “Verbal Pixie Punxine” and in the same year, he had collaborated with Rigor for “Bullet Inn.”
Another Filipino Zine published in 1989 was “Anti Fanzine” by Raymond Bravo who was also responsible for the Laguna-based fanzine “Keep da Faith.” “Oi Banger” which had six issues was written by Dennis De Vera, Chris Aguilar and Darwin Laluz and was released in 1990.
Golden Era of Filipino Fanzines
During the golden era for the Filipino fanzines, from 1996 to 2002, music is not the only main theme for fanzinesbut it was still the dominant content mainly due to its target market.
In December 1995 siblings Butch and Dangie Regala started conceptualizing their fanzine called “Get in touch” which was published the month after. Regala siblings also collaborated with “Step Forward Zine” which later was printed as “The Conspiracy.”
Another breakthrough to the community is the release of Wendy Castro’s “W.R.I.N.G.” in March 1996. Described as a zinester’s very own diary, W.R.I.N.G. tackles personal issues rather than just being music related. Notably, Castro had 10 issues before stopping the publication.
Facing the centennial year of the Philippines’s independence in 1998, the first documented art zine by Lena Cabang called “Lunar Landing” came into publication. The phenomenal art zine, “Lunar Landing” had nine to 10 issues. In the same year, as the population of zinesters increased, the first Filipino Zine fest was finally organized in Mayrics Bar, España, Manila on October 18, 1998.
Approaching the new millenium, the zine scene provided zine readers other genres like metal, political, and literary. Meanwhile, in the mainstream media, magazines like “Seventeen” and “Cosmopolitan” started to emerge. With contents far different from what the underground scene wanted to consume, Claire Villacorta and Paolo Jose Cruz from the Dumpling Press decided to make its own zine called “Halo-halo.” The Dumpling Press also printed the zines “Martial Law Babies”, the feminist zine ‘Baruka’, and Villacorta’s ‘Jaw Breaker.’
In 2002, applying his punk influences, Alvaro Martin released a metal-based zine called “Metal Havoc”. In the same year, zines also conquered the world of sports and politics. Jong Pairez printed a political zine called “Soluble Fish” while skaters Boyet del Mundo, Bas Umali, and (X-games champion) Jun Castor made the first and last issue of a zine about skateboarding called “Oyster Skatezine.” This was later on continued by del Mundo publishing “The Holocaust.” As Dumpling Press was on the loose in the industry, Raya Siriban and Ebong Linan organized another Zine Conference.
Aside from the zines that were documented with dates, personal fanzines have also emerged. Examples of these Fanzines are the following:
- · “Barrel”
- · “Framing Historical Theft” (Athena Tan)
- · “Billet Doux”
- · “Beer Mug”
- · “Club Crony”
- · “Everyday is Inhibition”
- · “Freedom pad”
- · “Fresh Milk”
- · “Generation W”
- · “Welcome to my Dollhouse” (Cheryl Tiu)
- · “Catatonia”
- · “Illiterati” (Diana Mae Siriban)
- · “I Love You Sharon” (Noel Kuhlman)
Just like Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Queer fanzines, literary zines were also part of the emerging amount of zinesters like “Huwan Pontoc.”
Since zines are about personal experiences and beliefs, there are some Filipino fanzines that tackle Ska Music and Hare Krishna. Examples of these were Ferdinand Lindayen’s “Mantra”, “Le Beat”, and “Haribol Worship.” Lindayen was also responsible for the fanzine “For All Who Cares. “
Punk Revival and Metal Zines
Due to the number of punk bands which have tried to revive the punk scene in 2005, the number of Filipino punk fanzines also increased in that year. Some examples of the punk fanzines which emerged in the said year and onward were:
- · “Chaozine” (Michael Ilomin)
- · “Alas Dose”
- · “Freedom Newsletter”
- · “Nerdcore Punkzine”
- · “Heritage” (Giovanni Concha)
- · “Bound-by-Conviction” (Allen Rubis)
- · “Conspirazine”
- · “Punk Out Hard” (Manuel Badiola)
- · “Extrovert” (Randy Rayos)
- · “Resistor” (Cocoy Tan)
- · “Shitwiper” (Allan Mendoza)
- · “Stand Straight” (Dencio Velasco)
- · “Static Control”
- · “Cheap Control”
- · “Unseen Assazine”
- · “Watxeber”
- · “Oi Standard” (Emir Bernardo)
- · “Exhausted UrbanOi”
In 2005, not only punks were able to publish again but also the metal scene with zines like “Blackbox” by Joseph Conde and “Into Another World” by Alexander Manalo.
Included also in the 2005 wave of Filipino zines were “Diretso” (Skateboarding Fanzine), “Earth Defense”, Arvin “Tado” Jimenez’s “Grin Department”, “Intensity”, “Rampage, Squat” by Dennis Cortez, and “Blank Information” of Jonathan Casuncad.
Modern day Filipino Zines
To date, fanzines are still being published and sold in the market. In the Philippines, majority of the zines are being sold in independent bookstores like Bookay-ukay in Maginhawa Street, Teacher’s Village Quezon City or in a shop along Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City called Uno Morato.
Bookay-ukay carries fanzines occasionally while Uno Morato sells over 50 local zine titles. For example, there are zines for Breaking Bad fans called “Love Meth, Cheers for Breaking Bad” published by Reyna Delos Reyes and Mikey Jimenez and Marcushiro Nada’s “Ang Alamat ng Chismis.”
In February 2015, a featured selection of Jun Sabayton’s Instagram images publishing “Bayaw Zine” for P60 each while artist Dina Gadia’s features her doodles with “At Odds with the Visual.” There was also a photography zine by Erin Noir launched in 2015 called “MONO”. It exhibits not less than 30 photographs taken with 35 millimeter cameras with the traditional black and white films. Finally, a poetry zine called “Zig-zag Animals” written by Diana Aviado and Hanna Puyat was also published in that year. (Banzon, 2015)
Aside from exhibitions, there are also conferences which provide zinesters avenue to sell or trade their works. For example, the Philippines has its annual book fair and Komikon or the Philippine Komiks Convention. Moreover, the six-year-old tradition initiated by Adam David called “Better Living through Xerography” known by many as “BLTX” is the most consistent zine festival in the Philippines. Started in Ilyong’s at Project 4, Quezon City BLTX now happens at Uno Morato every July and November, with satellite events happening in places like Davao and Baguio. The last BLTX happened in Anthosia Cafe, Naga on July 30, 2016.
Filipino zines have been underground since the day it was first published. According to Zinesterssisters, there are only three documented dissertations that discussed Filipino Fanzines. These theses are:
- · “Historical Case Study of Herald X” (1992) by Pio Redel Ramos
- · “Underground Press of the Philippines: History and Nature” by Jorge G. Canare
- · “Zines in Philippine Punk Culture: A Textual Analysis of Creative Nonfiction in Southern Tagalog Zines” (2010) by Dianne Rae E. Siriban.
Even though there is a huge gap in obtaining related pertinent information for this study due to the limited number of published documentation (as of 2015 when this research was conducted; will try to update it if procrastination doesn’t exist)— this attempt aims to further present a historical analysis and the way forward regarding the existence and value of zines not only in the Philippines’ underground scene.
*This was an excerpt from my thesis “Going Against the Flow: A Historical-Cultural Hegemonic Interpretation of Fanzines in the Philippines”; edited by former PCIJ journalist, Aura Dagcutan and approved by my thesis adviser Joyce Babe Panares (also EIC of Manila Standard). Citations are of course provided at the end of the article. Because we don’t want to spread fake news just like the people hanging around our bloody president.*
Sources and Citations: Continue reading “Going Against the Flow: A (not-so) short history of Filipino Zines”