Features

The Boom and Bust of Spanish-Language Media in 2000s Philippines

Christine Cruz Rávago and Bon Vibar, former hosts of “Filipinas, Ahora Mismo.” Wikimedia Commons

This article is available in Spanish.

Though journalism in the Philippines dates back to pre-colonial times, it was during the Spanish colonial era that it began to flourish.

In 1637, Tomas Pinpin published the first newspaper in the Philippines called Sucesos Felices. It was followed by other newspapers in the Spanish language, some carrying “news related to Mother Spain” and having a “colonial outlook.” Certain events in history, however, forced many of these dailies and weeklies to shut down.

Fast forward to the 2000s, there has been a tremendous effort to elevate Spanish’s status in the Philippines, as is evidenced by a boom of Spanish-language media before the turn of the century that lasted until the late 2000s. But just as fast as these outlets popped up, they suddenly went bust. In 2021, it’s rare to see a Philippine-based publication exclusively publishing in Spanish, with a scant audience to cater to.

We look back on the boom of Spanish-language media in the Philippines in the 2000s — how they were established, how some of the grassroots projects started and what happened to them now.

e-Dyario

e-Dyario

Known for its tagline “el diario digital filipino en español” or “the Philippine digital newspaper in Spanish,” e-Dyario was a Spanish-language news website that launched sometime in 2010. It was the “first Spanish-language newspaper produced in the Philippines by Filipino journalists,” according to its about page. The said news website covered beats such as politics, culture, weather and sports. It also published opinion pieces and had a section in Chavacano, the Spanish-based creole used in Zamboanga City.

e-Dyario was developed under “Ventura de los Reyes,” a joint project by the local non-profit organization Kapatiran Sandugo Foundation and the Asociación de la Prensa de Cádiz. It was supported by the government of Spain through the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID).

Though backed by Spain’s government, e-Dyario eventually shuttered. The Internet Archive reports that their domain, e-dyario.com, expired on December 4, 2013; it is now in the hands of a different organization. Some of their articles can still be accessed using the Internet Archive, if you want to poke around their website.

“Filipinas, Ahora Mismo”

Filipinas, Ahora Mismo

“Filipinas, Ahora Mismo” was a Spanish-Filipino radio program that ran from March 2007 to September 2009. It was broadcast daily from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. using the following frequencies: DZRM Radyo Magasin 1278 AM Metro Manila, DXMR 1170 AM Zamboanga, DWFB 954 AM Laoag, DWRB 567AM Naga, DYLL 585 AM Iloilo and DYMR 576 AM Cebu.

The show was run by e-Dyario’s staff.

It appeared to be fully-fledged; it had several segments on different topics such as trivia, movie reviews, literature, health, language learning, history, sports and cuisine among others. Though only an hour long, it used to play pop songs in Spanish as well.

Las riquezas de España

The team behind “Filipinas, Ahora Mismo” also launched a spin-off show called “Las riquezas de España,” which used to broadcast on Saturdays from 7:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Business Radio 104.3 FM (now Capital FM2). They also ventured into video production with “Ventura de los Reyes TV,” or simply “e-DTV,” in which they produced news clips for YouTube.

e-DTV

Here’s one video:

To browse the shows’ episode archives, you can visit Proyecto Ventura de los Reyes’ account on Internet Archive. Here’s one episode:

“Filipinas, Ahora Mismo” was funded by different Spanish governments. It lasted up to season five, until they cut its funding due to the economic recession in 2009.

Nueva Era

Nueva Era

Nueva Era was a weekly newspaper published by Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española’s Director and President Guillermo Gómez Rivera.

In an interview by Revista Filipina editor Andrea Gallo with Rivera for the University of Murcia’s online journal TonosDigital in 2008, Rivera said that Nueva Era was founded on October 12, 1935 by Don Emilio Incióng of Lipa, Batangas. “As I was a friend of my grandfather Felipe Gomez Windham, he invited me to write a weekly column, starting in 1965, I think; At the same time I wrote a daily column in El Debate, which I had until 1971 when, due to Marcos’ martial law, it was closed, along with all the newspapers in Manila. On the other hand, Nueva Era continued because it was a weekly. Later, in 1985 and after the death of Don Emilio, his daughters appointed me director of Nueva Era. This newspaper is also an official gazette where public announcements about naturalizations, family cases and public land sales must be published in Spanish,” said Rivera in Spanish.

Nueva Era folded in 2008.

Perro Berde

Perro Berde

Perro Berde is a Philippine-Spanish cultural magazine published by the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines with the help of the AECID. It was first launched in 2009, and the Spanish Embassy has been publishing it yearly since then. The magazine is somehow a continuation of Ateneo de Manila University’s Azucar magazine (1999–2000), according to the Instituto Cervantes de Manila.

“Perro Berde in Spanish is an expression to describe something special, different and unique, so all the cultural work of what we’ve been doing in the Philippines last year is reflected in this very well designed, bilingual book and we celebrated that with the writers and the cultural people of the Philippines,” Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines Jorge Moragas Sánchez said in an interview with Presidential Communications Operations Office’s JV Arcena during the launch of the magazine’s eighth and latest issue at the Bellas Artes Outpost in Makati City in 2019.

Perro Berde’s website was not updated in 2020 and 2021. To access the back issues, you can visit the Internet Archive as it has recorded some of them.

Semanario de Filipinas

Semanario de Filipinas

Semanario de Filipinas was a Spanish-language news website published by Rafael Martinez Minuesa. It stopped publishing new content in 2012 due to Minuesa’s lack of time and “any kind of support or help.”

“After a long period of reflection I have decided to close this publication,” wrote Minuesa in Spanish. “For three years I have tried to revive somehow in this 21st century the Spanish-language journalistic tradition that existed for centuries in the Philippines, a tradition completely unknown to most Filipinos and Spaniards today, despite being more than sufficiently documented,” the publisher also said.

He also wrote that he might revive Semanario de Filipinas in the future. “I also do not rule out the possibility of resuming this publication in the future, but at the moment it is very difficult, if not impossible,” his statement reads in Spanish.

The said news website covered science, politics, culture, economics and sports among others. It ran from 2010–2012.

Revista Filipina

Revista Filipina

Revista Filipina is a biannual literary magazine/journal of Hispanic-Filipino language and literature. It was founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1997 by Edmundo Farolán; it has now been under the direction of Edwin Augustin Lozada since 2017. Revista Filipina is published by Carayan Press in San Francisco, California, which hosts its content on a subdomain.

Like all the outlets aforementioned, the said magazine is not a commercial publisher, and it mostly publishes reviews, poems, essays and articles. The credits of the magazine’s last issue also mention that it “devotes space to current events in Filipinismo worldwide and the Filipino bibliophilia.”

Revista Filipina is still in circulation. Andrea Gallo, one of its current editors, recently told me that two new issues of the journal are going to be published this year.

The unfortunate death of some of the outlets above somehow reflect the dearth of Spanish-speaking audience in contemporary Philippines. Similarly, it proves the unsustainability of hyperlocal journalism in the Spanish language, at least in the Philippine setting. Much of local Spanish-language journalism in the 21st century is driven by altruism; even three of the aforementioned outlets were funded by foreign governments and were not at the mercy of the capital.

With the rise of digital media, the Spanish-language journalism in the Philippines had had its chance to establish itself. It’s nearly impossible to do something large-scale now.


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Arvyn Cerézo
Arvyn Cerézo is the editor of La Jornada Filipina, an English- and Spanish-language news magazine in the Philippines. His work has appeared in South China Morning Post, Publishers Weekly, AudioFile Magazine, PhilSTAR Life and Book Riot. You can find him on arvyncerezo.com.

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