Liwayway (Tagalog word meaning "dawn") is a leading Tagalog weekly magazine published in the Philippines since 1923. It contains Tagalog serialized novels, short stories, poetry, serialized comics, essays, news features, entertainment news and articles, and many others.
The Liwayway was actually a re-issue of Don Ramon’s first published magazine, the Photo News, a news magazine jointly edited by Don Ramon Roces himself and the Filipino novelist Don Severino Reyes in 1922. Published forthnightly at 15 centavos a copy, the Photo News had three sections: English, Spanish and Tagalog, presumably to cater to the major three language readers of the Philippines at the time, which were essentially the clientele of the T-V-T.
Thus, English readers had only need of the Photo News’ English section; the Spanish readers its Spanish section; and the Tagalog readers its Tagalog section.
The readers who cannot read in any two of the sections thought that it was a waste of money paying for the other three-fourths of the magazine, which they could not understand. Thus the magazine did not sell very well and Don Ramon discontinued the magazine before the year was out. Frustrated, he went to Mindanao as a self-exile, and for a while, contemplated on establishing a coconut plantation there.
After three months, however, Don Ramon was back in Manila and told his fater that he learned his lesson. He immediately called Don Severino to revive the Photo News, but this time the magazine will be called "Liwayway" which aptly means new beginning.
They established Liwayway's new office in Calero St., a few blocks away from the Don Alejandro’s T-V-T building.
On the front page of the first issue of Liwayway, dated November 18, 1922, Don Severino greeted his past “patron” readers of the ill-fated Photo News, as well as the new magazine’s prospective sponsors, and announced the new look and contents of their resurrected magazine:
“Katulad ng isang panauhing umalis muna sa bahay niyang tinutuluyan, bago nagbalik na muli, sa aming pagsipot na ito na bago ang bihis at bago na ang gayak, ay muli kaming nagpupugay sa lahat. Sa Pamahalaang nakatatag ay inihahandog namin ang aming pamimitaganan, sa mga kapamahayagan ay ang malugod na bati at pakikiramay at sa mga tumatangkilik sa amin---ang bayang mambabasa at ang mga bahay kalakal---ay ang lahat ng mabuting nais sa kanilang kabuhayan”
Don Ramon and Don Severino made every effort to ensure that the Liwayway would not suffer the same fate of their ill-fated Photo News. Published weekly, the Liwayway’s cover price was tagged at 12 centavos, or 3 centavos cheaper than the forthnightly Photo News. It also had 40 pages, in contrast to the Photo News’ 28 pages, and it carried more pictures and illustrations.
In its early issues, the Liwayway carried the same typeface and overall design of the Photo News, but it was a considerably enlarged magazine. It also featured local and foreign news, as well as an expanded section on essay, short fiction and poetry.
It was in the pages of Liwayway where Don Severino’s Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang appeared. The “Lola Basyang” stories eventually became the most-widely read prose feature of Liwayway. For many years, readers mistook the real “Lola Basyang” as an old woman with loadful of ancient stories stuck in her ancient baul, only to find out later that she was actually man.
Don Severino recruited some of the literary giants of the time as regular contributors to the Liwayway. They included the poets Jose Corazon De Jesus, Florentino Collantes, Julian Cruz Balmaseda, Cecilio Apostol, and the writers Lope K. Santos, Inigo Ed Regalado, Romualdo Ramos, Francisco Laksamana, Fausto Galauran, and Don Severino's own talented son, Pedrito Reyes, who later succeeded his father to the magazine’s editorship.
Thus, even though the Liwayway was basically intended as a magazine for the man on the street, yet its prose and poetry was considered the best Tagalog literary output of the era. Some of the great Tagalog literary novels produced in those years were serialized in the Liwayway, many of which became classics in Tagalog literature.
To make the Liwayway more visually appealing, Don Severino recruited some of the best layout designers and artists of the time, which included among others Procopio Borromeo, Jorge Pineda, Jose V. Pereira, P. V. Coniconde and Antonio Gonzales Dumlao.
The Liwayway and Early Pinoy Cartoons
The Liwayway also became the vehicle for some of the Philippines early comic strips, like Tony Velasquez' Mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy, J.M. Perez' Huapelo and Pamboy at Osang, Francisco Reyes' Kulafu, and Deo Gonzales' Isang Dakot na Kabulastugan. These became the starting point for the comics industry that later flourished in the Philippines/
The Liwayway was also supported by regular sponsors and advertisers like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Chesterfield cigarettes, Zamora’s Tiki-tiki, Chrysler-Plymouth cars, Esco shoes, Ang Tibay shoes, and Botica Boie products. These advertisements ensured the magazine’s survival in the future.
Liwayway's Sister Magazines
The Liwayway’s commercial triumph prompted Don Ramon to launch a sister Tagalog magazine, Hiwaga, in 1926. A year later, an English weekly, The Graphic, was published. Soon, other vernacular magazines in the other dialects of the Philippines came out in succession: Bisaya in 1932, Hiligaynon (Western Bisaya dialect) in 1934, Bikolnon in 1935, and the Ilocano Bannawag in 1940.
So popular Liwayway had become that Don Ramon decided to publish a thicker monthly supplement called Liwayway Extra beginning in 1936. At this time, Tony Velasquez was already promoted as Chief Artist of the Liwayway. The Liwayway Extra had more pages and more comic strips than the weekly Liwayway.
Liwayway during the Japanese Occupation
During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese Imperial Army confiscated the Liwayway from Don Ramon Roces. The Japanese continued Liwayway's weekly publication, knowing that they could use the magazine to propagandize their occupation agenda. The Filipino editors were replaced by the Hodobu, or Japanese Information Agency editors.
Kenkoy, the most popular comic strip in the Liwayway, was allowed to continue. But its creator Velasquez insisted it would only mouth President Laurel's health and educational policies.
In 1945, after the liberation of Manila, the Americans took over for a while the Liwayway, publishing it in pocket form due to the shortage of paper. After the war, the Liwayway was returned to Don Ramon Roces.
Liwayway in the 1960s to present
In 1965, the aging Don Ramon Roces retired from publishing and sold the Liwayway to Hans Menzi, founder of the Manila Bulletin. Since then, it had changed ownership at least two more times, but still the magazine, owing to its popularity with the masses, continued publications. It did not close shop at any time. Surprisingly, this year the Manila Bulletin re-purchased the Liwayway. One can only wonder if in the future, the Roceses would also repurchase the Liwayway. Well, anything can happen indeed.
Now, the Liwayway is already 82 years old still going strong and definitely the oldest existing magazine in the Philippines. Throughout its existence it had become an indelible part of Philippine culture.
It had witnessed events that are now a major part of Philippine history. If there is only such as a thing as a national award for a magazine, the Liwayway deserves one.
Editors of the Liwayway
- Ramon Roces and Severino Reyes 1922-29
- Severino Reyes 1929-32
- Jose Esperanza Cruz 1932-41
- Hodobu Editors 1941-45
- Pedrito Reyes 1945
- Catalino Flores 1945-50
- Jose Domingo Carasig 1950-60
- Gervasio Santiago 1960-78
- Bienvenido Ramos 1978-82
- Rodolofo Salandanan 1982-2001
- Reynaldo Duque 2001-05
- Cris Icban, Jr. 2005-Present
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- Soriano, D.H. "Roces Family: Publishers" Quezon City: Capitol Publishing Inc., 1983
- Mangilaya, Perry C. "Liwayway: Noon at Ngayon" Liwayway Magazine Agosto 22, 2005, Manila Philippines
- Additional information on Liwayway Magazine at Komiklopedia
- History of Liwayway Magazine at Alanguilan