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“The bible of the Filipinos,” 1942

“The bible of the Filipinos”
By Frederic S. Marquardt

Taken from his book, Before Bataan and After (1942)

THE Philippines Free Press was a brilliant example of man’s ability to adapt himself to the circumstances in which he finds himself. I’m sure there was no publication quite like it in the world.

The Free Press was published weekly, in a magazine format much like that of the Saturday Evening Post. It was basically a news magazine, and it had been in existence for fifteen years before Time evolved the present news-magazine technique of handling the news.

But the Free Press offered much more than résumé of the week’s news. Its political cartoons were probably the most powerful single force in Philippine journalism. These always appeared on the first page and were accompanied by an explanatory text, in something like the fashion that Arthur Brisbane used for his full-page editorials in the Hearst newspapers.

There was another page of editorials which everyone in the government, from the chief executive down to the village presidents, used to read closely. There was an illustrated short story, written usually by a Filipino, and a column of verse, partly contributed by Filipinos and partly taken from the work of the better-known American and English poets.

There were feature articles covering nearly everything in the Philippines and a lot of things outside of the islands. There were plenty of pictures from home and abroad, and there was a column of Philippine news from Washington written by a resident correspondent. For a while the Free Press also had its own correspondents in Tokyo and Paris. There was column of jokes and a letter-to-the-editor page and a pen-pals column. At one time or another nearly every type of feature that has appeared in any newspaper or magazine cropped out in the Free Press.

I don’t want to give the impression that the Free Press was a catchall. It was edited with care that would amaze many editors in the United States. But its primary purpose was to interest the readers, and anything that was interesting was likely to pop up between its covers.