Bohol Philippines - The Bohol Chronicle, a local weekly newspaper and Bohol's enduring newspaper here, turned 54 last Friday as it completes more than five decades of uninterrupted service to community journalism.
We who had once worked with this paper can write an account of its life in the fist person. Indeed, the Chronicle's record of existence is the longest in local journalism history.
On May 16, 1954, its maiden issue done in hand-set first appeared in this city.
Tagbilaran, then was a fledging town. To think it could sustain a weekly was, to many, a fool-hardy attempt to defy a tradition of failure.
It has survived on hard work and patient struggle to seek the truth and print it. In turn, this has nourished a strong faith in it from its thousands of readers.
This paper started with a one-man job. Now a full staff works for the paper with an AM and FM radio stations as part of this media outfit.
Where before the first issue of the Chronicle was hand-set and later produced with a modern linotype machine, it is now being printed in off-set process back up by a laser-desk-top computer and jet printer, the latest used in modern-day publishing.
Scanning the back issues of the Chronicle is just like taking a glimpse through the past 52 years of Bohol's history.
Dr. Crispin Maslog, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, who was formerly director of the Institute of Journalism of Silliman University, wrote a case study of the Bohol Chronicle as one of the most successful community newspapers in the Philippines.
With the Institute of Development Communication of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Dr. Maslog wrote a book under a Ford Foundation grant entitled "Dragon Slayers in the Countryside" with a Foreword by Joaquin "Chino" Roces which documented outstanding exposes of seven highly respected community newspapers in the country which left great impact in their respective communities.
On the exposes published by The Bohol Chronicle against graft and corruption, Dr. Maslog in his Preface, wrote: "A few cases, however, rise above the others in significance: the Bohol Watergate of The Bohol Chronicle campaign waged by that paper against graft and corruption.
"It is perhaps not too much to think of these community journalists as the modern day St. Georges of our society. We salute these dragon slayers in our countryside."
Excerpts of Dr. Maslog's case study on The Bohol Chronicle follows.
This article was also reprinted in the book "The Rise and Fall of Philippine Community Newspapers" launched by the Philippine Press Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The Horatio Alger story of The Bohol Chronicle is an inspiration to the struggling community newspapermen in the Philippines. It shows how the dedication and talent of one man can overcome obstacles and make a success of a local paper that was predicted by a priest to die six months after birth.
When the first issue of The Bohol Chronicle came off its rickety printing press on May 16, 1954, an American priest working with the Divine Word College in Tagbilaran City predicted, half in jest and half in earnest that either the paper of its editor would die in six months. Other papers had come to Tagbilaran City before and they all eventually died.
As a matter of historical fact, the newspaper has never failed to come out with its weekly issue every Sunday during the past years. Neatly bound volumes of all its issues are displayed in the compact and near office of the paper and printing press on Mabini Street (now B. Inting Street) in Tagbilaran City showing how the paper has kept faith with its readers.
The Chronicle is now being printed in offset by its own printing press. This success did not come easily to the late publisher-editor Atty. Zoilo Dejaresco Jr., known to his friends as Jun. He had to work hard, day and night. He had to overcome public apathy to a local paper and lack of advertising support and other serious obstacles along the way in the past 40 years before he reached the prominent position where he is today.
The first issue was very timely from the newspaperman's point of view. A big typhoon smashed Bohol, killed several persons and rendered thousands homeless. This was a big story in that province where typhoons rarely visit, and the paper capitalized on it.
This was the first banner story of the paper, and the paper sold. It was one of the ironies of the journalistic profession - a misfortune for the province, but a fortune for the paper. -- published by the Bohol Chronicle