Unveiling Cebuano Culture during American Period and Today Thru Cebuano Publications



Cebuano newspaper during the American occupation (Source: allaboutargao.wikispaces.com)

The Philippines was colonized by Spaniards through spiritual devotion and by Americans through education in order to attain ‘economic supremacy’. To write and to speak are the best things the Filipino nationalists thought of doing in order to resist and react to the Spaniards and Americans. The emancipation fervor of young Cebuano writers from the political and cultural influences of the Spaniards was the mark of Cebu press during the American colonization in the Philippines. Most of the writers that contribute to Cebu’s publications were among the youth. Back then, they didn’t develop a distinction between creative writing and journalism. This is evident in the style of writing they use. Regardless of this fact, they were much nationalistic that they wrote articles using their vernacular and standardized the spelling of their dialect’s words to distinguish it from the Spaniards’. Also, they deliberately avoided the use of English language.

The content of the publications in Cebu were mostly about politics, education, infrastructure-building, and economy. The writings in the publications ranged from news articles to poetry. By reading their newspapers, one would come to know the culture that Cebuanos had during American occupation that could be comparable or contrastable to what they have today. The difference between the layout and the style of writing the Cebuanos used during the said period and today, could explain the progress of the press in Cebu.

In one of Cebu’s publications, Bag-ong Kusog, a political news was published on January 16, 1925. In the article, it was stated that the members of the Nacionalista party derogated and bashed each other, as they didn’t agree as to whether what position their members would run for. In addition, they also thrust those who don’t belong to their party like Momoy Sotto, who could be a threat to their colleagues’ chances of winning. Just like the politicians today, the politicians back then also took the acquisition of power as a big deal, that they do everything they could just to win, without having their self-images messed up. However, the press back then revealed to the readers the personal objectives and tactics of the politicians, breaking off their facade. On the other hand, the press nowadays keeps the politicians to be perceived with a sense of diplomacy.

A news article of a publication in Cebu purported that the advancement of education in the form of building schools was the least of the government’s concern. The government was more engaged in building infrastructures, so as to improve the economy of the province. It was stated in the news that there were people who protested to have more schools be built than government buildings like the city capitol—a building that was noted to be built in the same period. This view of the government is different from what they have today. Nowadays, the adults have come to stand by Jose Rizal’s statement that the youth is the hope of the nation. As a result, a number of schools were built, and a number of school competitions were organized.

Probably, the reason why the Filipinos nowadays constantly experience inflation, and high demands of taxes, is because even during American period, the Philippines was full of debt. In Bag-ong Kusog’s issue on March 8, 1921, titled ‘Unsa Atong Dagaton?’ it was stated that in a meeting attended by the Filipinos in China, the Philippines lose 15 Million. Unfortunately the reason why and how the Philippines lose that amount of money was not stated. The writers claimed that the government wasted the country’s money or the Filipino nation’s money. Due to this event, the government found the need to borrow money from the World Bank.

Cebuano writers didn’t acknowledge the nuances in the ethics of journalism during the American period. Sometimes, they intend to write a news article, but they end up writing an editorial. They were not objective in their approach in writing, as they include their own opinions in a news article. In terms of the layout of their publications, articles and literary pieces were not sorted. News articles, commentaries, letters, poems, short stories, and editorials were put in the same page. In addition, the writers were not acknowledged for their works.

Today, Filipinos attained more knowledge. The Cebuano journalists are now critical in following the ethics of journalism. Unlike before, they now observe tactfulness. Also, they learn to claim their outputs as their intellectual property, by writing their names below the title of their article. The readers also can take the acknowledgement of the writers in their work, as an advantage for through this; they could know the credentials of the writer. In addition, the appearance of publications of Cebuanos nowadays has also improved. The articles are now sorted into sections and pages, and the layout of the publications is now creative. While what Cebuano journalists during American period were mainly concerned of was the content of their articles using only letters, they now put photos in the newspapers to give the readers a clearer visual view of the event. Upon knowing better about disseminating information through publications, journalists became more enthusiastic in serving the Filipinos through writing. In this sense, one could say that they stayed nationalistic. However, one aspect of Cebuano journalists’ nationalistic fervor has been slowly declining—their urge to use their vernacular in writing. Only few Cebuano publications use their vernacular.

The English language is what many people consider as the universal language. Due to this, Filipinos tend to become more interested in learning it. Learning this language is sometimes considered by Filipinos as the basis of knowledge. As a result, Filipinos become eager to learn this language. Indeed, it is nice to be good at this language. By being good at this, people across countries could communicate well. However, the drawback of being fond of using this language is that, Filipinos tend to forget their vernacular, that they don’t know the meaning of some of its words. Also, Filipinos become more influenced by the English culture. In the end, Filipino culture would not be totally lost, but it is possible that the English culture would become more apparent in some Filipinos. By that time, it is going to be difficult to distinguish the Filipinos from other nations.










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