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Reflections on The LaSallian: 1965 – 70

Memories of flower people and student power

I was Sports Editor of The LaSallian in 1969 and 1970 and Associate editor in 1970. Jess Gallegos, an Engineering alumnus, was my editor in 1969 while Danding Lucero was my editor in 1970, when I became both Associate and Sports editor. Both Jess and Danding were friends from our grade school and high school days, both at De La Salle.

I had written for the Sports section of the school paper as early as grade school. The grade school paper was then known as Jr. Archer and it was edited by our flamboyant teacher Artemio Tinio.

In high school, the paper was known as The La Sallite. I was a Sports writer for the high school paper too.

In college, I was part of the paper, known as The LaSallian, as early as the time when I first set foot, as a freshman taking up Liberal  Arts-Commerce, on St. Joseph’s Building, the exclusive domain of college students. The “main” building, now called St. La Salle, was for the high school and grade school students.

I was a Liberal Arts (History-Political Science) – Commerc e (Accounting) or LIACOM student from 1965 – 1970. The mid-60s and the early 70s were about the Vietnam war, flower people, student power and Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and how the Marcos couple ran the country to the ground. We were to find out the extent of the damage created by the kleptocracy only after the Marcoses fled during the EDSA I People Power Revolution.

The Editorial and Opinion pages of The La Sallian were therefore peppered with anti-Vietnam war, anti-U.S. and Marcos commentaries.  The La Sallian of the 1970s was a departure from the normally placid and non-contentious tone of earlier Lasallians.

Earlier college papers sounded more like company newsletters, which did not really reflect the concerns and aspirations of the community’s various stakeholders.

School papers then  did not report on internal conflicts such as, in the case of De La Salle, the shipping back to the United States of Bro. (the abbreviation of Brother was then Bro. and not Br. which was used to distinguish Christian Brothers from non-religious lay preachers) Edwin Becker to the United States over Bro. Becker’s pro-student stance.

It was during this time that the term “student power” found its way to the Philippines and the American brother encouraged (some say, even instigated) expressions of such power.

The recall of Bro. Becker resulted in a brief boycott of classes by the entire college population. The boycott was made even more dramatic by students who sat down in the middle of the football field (which is about to disappear in a few months).

In our terminal year in 1970, student agitation became even more pronounced leading to the first ever strike in the University over a number of issues. We were in the middle of that protracted struggle both as student leader and newspaper editor.

Our family business, the then Hotel Liwayway in Echague, Sta. Cruz became the headquarters of the Student Council. All officers of the Student Council had by then, been suspended by the school authorities. Ironically, a prominent DLSU alumnus, Sen. Jose W. Diokno Jr., served as our lawyer.

1970 was when the First Quarter Storm (FQS) emerged. We were there and so was The LaSallian. The FQS was triggered by the riot that occurred in front of the old Senate building right after Marcos’ State of the Nation address.

The boldness of the topics in the school paper led one renowned English and Literature professor Dr. Aurelio B. Calderon to remark that unlike in previous years, The Lasallian, which is a monthly paper, was starting to be read by the students and not just left uncollected in the college canteen.

The La Sallian had become a true student paper in the sense that it exercised academic and press freedom. The imposition of Martial Law on September 23, 1972 of course put an end to all those freedoms:  school papers and organizations were abolished and padlocked for the duration of the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Putting together the paper was by itself a magnum opus during those days when there were no computers and Photoshop, and the only equipment we could brag about in The La Sallian office then (which was burglarized several times) was an IBM Selectric.

“Press work” or the nights and early mornings devoted to laying out the paper would be right after our last evening class. All the editors trooped to the office of Girl Friday in Manufacturer’s Bank in front of the Sta. Cruz Church and did final editing and cropping of the pictures. Girl Friday was one of the country’s noted design firms and it took care of the final layout and printing of the paper.

Everything was done manually and after about five hours of work and countless Cokes and siopaos bought from nearby Chinatown, we would leave the dummy around 2 A.M. on the desks of either Mrs. Oliva (head of Girl Friday) or Frankie Patriarca (one of the country’s top photographers) or Baebee Lumabas, assistant of Mrs. Oliva, with notes that had more detailed explanations.

After about 10 days, The La Sallian, then tabloid-size, in book paper and with about 12 pages, would come out and we the staffers felt like we delivered a baby every month. We found fulfillment in the finished product and appreciated that students did take the trouble of getting their copies.

At that time, the college population was a mere 1,500 and distributing the paper was not therefore problematic.

I occasionally see some issues of the present version of the school paper.  It has become like a regular broadsheet and is not averse to tackling controversial internal issues. I would think that putting the paper together is but another aspect of (rightly) preparing the student for the practical problems one will face in real life situations after graduation.

By philipjuico

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