Profiles of Courage

Teodoro M. Locsin Sr.

Locsin was very active early on in his career. He graduated from the University of Sto. Tomas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, subsequently passed the bar, and briefly served as a lawyer. However, Locsin opted to join the Philippines Free Press as part of the editorial staff under R. McCullough Dick and F. Theo Rogers in 1939.[1] Thus began Locsin’s 60-year odyssey as a fearless and principled journalist and writer.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II, they turned to the press to help them disseminate propaganda. However, for Locsin, collaboration was not an option. The Free Press was shuttered and Locsin fled to join the resistance movement.[2] Along with Jose Diokno, Philip Buencamino and Arsenio Lacson, Locsin founded the Free Philippines, a daily newspaper for which he published admittedly scathing and emotionally evocative editorials during such tumultuous times.[3] He also fought the Japanese in Negros and was in Manila during its liberation in 1945.[4] After the war ended, Locsin rejoined the Free Press, which had resumed publication, for which he would write feature articles and almost all editorials. Following the deaths of Dick and Rogers in the early 1960s, it seemed apt that Locsin took over as editor-in-chief.[5]

Locsin was as fierce and unreserved with a pen and typewriter as he was with a weapon — one can say they were his weapons. He would often relay through articles in the Free Press his support of campaigns for land reform and anti-logging as well as criticism for a meek and defeatist foreign policy and creeping militarism. He earned the ire of many elites who stood to lose fortunes should his covert campaigning and support for the people through the Free Press help them succeed. However, Locsin was unfazed as he continued doing the same for decades.[6]

Locsin was not alone. Many of his colleagues espoused the same ideals. For them to truly embody truth and accuracy in their writings, they must not bow to looming threats and must continue their efforts unabatedly. This escalated during the Macapagal administration and peaked towards the end of the sixties.[7] Unrest continued to grip the country the following years, with waves of demonstrations against Marcos unfolding over perceived failures of his administration. Locsin and many local journalists reported on these movements all the same.[8] They also began reporting on whispers that Marcos was seeking to perpetuate his rule through increased militarism. The Quintero Exposé, which revealed Imelda Marcos paying off Constitutional Convention delegates to vote in favor of allowing his husband to extend his term through, was published in the Free Press by Locsin through an editorial.[9]

Mounting tensions came to a head by September 1972, when Marcos declared Martial Law. Locsin and many of his colleagues were included in a “National List of Target Personalities” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.[10] Marcos believed that media outlets were being used “for propaganda purposes against the government” by those “actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy to seize political and state power,” and ordered the military to shutter newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations across the country. Many journalists, commentators and writers accused of being critical to the administration were arrested.[11]

Marcos extended an offer to Locsin, however, thinking he could force the latter’s hand. He wanted Locsin to continue publishing, but the latter unequivocally refused, believing the strongman would use him and the Free Press as a mouthpiece for his martial rule. In retaliation, Marcos also closed down the Free Press and gave its assets to his crony.[12] This was not new to Locsin, of course, who had faced similar coercion and closure from the Japanese thirty years ago. For his refusal, he was brought in with the others to be detained. Nonetheless, he found solace in the companionship of his friends and colleagues while in detention.[13] It was during their time in detention that Locsin became acquainted — and later became friends — with many of the opposition leaders such as Ninoy Aquino.[14]

Shortly after, Locsin and many others were released. Locsin continued his opposition to the government, albeit without the capacity to write and publish. Locsin decided to join other self-exiled opposition leaders in the United States, settling in New York with his family.[15] He reconnected with Aquino, who was allowed to leave the Philippines to receive treatment in the United States. He would recall that he and many others advised the embattled former senator against returning to the Philippines to no avail. Locsin believed that Aquino refused to give up on the cause he spearheaded and wanted to help by returning. Though it came at a steep price, as Aquino’s return and assassination in 1983 did revitalize the opposition, intensified the struggle against the regime, and culminated in the People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos.[16] The Free Press was revived afterwards and Locsin resumed the mantle as its editor-in chief until he was succeeded by his son, Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Until his death in 2000, Locsin was fully dedicated to his craft and vocation. He was bestowed with the prestigious Philippine Legion of Honor twice, for his efforts in the guerrilla movement to resist the Japanese occupation and for his expertise and leadership in journalism.[17] His response on whether or not Aquino’s death was for nothing can be paraphrased: he would only have died in vain if the people gave up on the cause for which he died. Locsin has done his part for this cause, and for his efforts in resisting the threat of Marcos against press freedom, he is given due recognition as one of the motu proprio victims of Martial Law.

References:

 

Galang, Gigi. “80 years of the Free Press, August 13, 1988.” Philippines Free Press. Online copy. August 13, 1988. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://philippinesfreepress.wordpress.com/1988/08/13/80-years-of-the-free-press-august-13-1988/.

Marcos, Ferdinand E. “Letter of Instruction No. 1, s. 1972.” Official Gazette of the Philippines. September 22, 1972. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1972/09/22/letter-of-instruction-no-1-s-1972/.

“Philippine Journalist Locsin Dies.” AP News. January 23, 2000. May 7, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/42bfd2014afa566a0dc7b534ca885344.

Quezon, Manuel, III. “The Poet, the Fighter, the Locsin of Memory.” Philippines Free Press. February 5, 2000. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://philippinesfreepress.wordpress.com/2000/02/05/the-poet-the-fighter-the-locsin-of-memory-february-5-2000/.

Robles, Raissa. Marcos Martial Law: Never Again. Quezon City: Filipinos for a Better Philippines, 2016.

[1] The Philippine Diary Project, “About Teodoro M. Locsin,” The Philippine Diary Project, accessed May 7, 2021, https://philippinediaryproject.com/about-the-philippine-diary-project/about-the-diaries/about-teodoro-m-locsin/.

[2] Manuel Quezon III, “The Poet, the Fighter, the Locsin of Memory,” Philippines Free Press, February 5, 2000, accessed May 7, 2021, https://philippinesfreepress.wordpress.com/2000/02/05/the-poet-the-fighter-the-locsin-of-memory-february-5-2000.

[3] Ibid.; The Philippine Diary Project, “About Teodoro M. Locsin.”

[4] The Philippine Diary Project, “About Teodoro M. Locsin.”

[5] Gigi Galang, “80 years of the Free Press, August 13, 1988,” Philippines Free Press, online copy, August 13, 1988, accessed May 7, 2021, https://philippinesfreepress.wordpress.com/1988/08/13/80-years-of-the-free-press-august-13-1988/. They were joined soon after by other significant figures such as Nick Joaquin and Napoleon Rama.

[6] Quezon III, “The Poet, the Fighter, the Locsin of Memory.”

[7] Ibid. Locsin also wrote harshly against Sergio Osmeña Sr., as the latter was a perceived collaborator during the Japanese occupation. After Marcos won, he even offered Locsin the position of Secretary of National Defense.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Raissa Robles, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, (Quezon City: Filipinos for a Better Philippines, 2016), 34.

[10] Luis V. Teodoro, “Forgetting or Not Knowing: Media and Martial Law,” LuisTeodoro.com, October 5, 2002, accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.luisteodoro.com/forgetting-or-not-knowing-media-and-martial-law/.

[11] Ferdinand E. Marcos, “Letter of Instruction No. 1, s. 1972,” Official Gazette of the Philippines, September 28, 1972, accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1972/09/22/letter-of-instruction-no-1-s-1972/.

[12] “Philippine Journalist Locsin Dies,” AP News, January 23, 2000, accessed May 7, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/42bfd2014afa566a0dc7b534ca885344.

[13] Luis V. Teodoro, “Forgetting or Not Knowing.”

[14] “Teodoro Locsin Sr. on Ninoy Aquino,” Malacañang Palace Presidential Museum & Library, accessed May 7, 2021, http://malacanang.gov.ph/4574-teodoro-locsin-sr-on-ninoy-aquino/.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.; The Philippine Diary Project, “About Teodoro M. Locsin.”

[17] “Philippine Journalist Locsin Dies.”

Teodoro Locsin Sr., one of the fiercest defenders of free press during Martial Law. Photo retrieved from Philippine Diary Project at https://philippinediaryproject.com/about-the-philippine-diary-project/about-the-diaries/about-teodoro-m-locsin/

Teodoro Locsin Sr.

Birthday: December 24, 1914

Death: January 22, 2000

Parents: N/A

Spouse: Rosario Lopez

Children: 3 (Henry, Ramon, and Teodoro Jr.)

If there are people who think that Ninoy died in vain then, Ninoy died in vain because that means giving up the cause for which Ninoy died

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