La Independencia

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La Independencia was the periodical organ of the Revolution. It was founded by Antonio Luna on 3 September 1898 and published by Impr. del Asilo de Malabon. Its staff members were Leon Maria Guerrero, Cecilio Apostol, Jose Palma, Mariano del Rosario, Rosa Sevilla, Rafael Palma, Fernando Ma. Guerrero, Salvador del Rosario, and Felipe Calderon.

According to Palma, one of its writers and later its director, the intelligentsia was the one who decided to establish the newspaper to “serve as spokesman of the country.” La Patria, a committee led by Juan and Antonio Luna was formed. Antonio appointed himself as its director and used his money to publish it.

When the American provost marshal of Manila withheld permission to publish the newspaper under the name La Patria (Fatherland), Luna decided to change its name to La Independencia and issued the first copies on 3 September 1898. While its masthead named the Malabon-based Asilo de Huérfanos as its printer, Luna used the press installed in his house on Calle Urbiztondo in San Nicolas.

The newspaper articles advocated for the country’s unconditional and total independence, thus it quickly gained public support. However, many of its readers mistakenly believed that it was a Spanish-owned publication, as its writers were the Filipino literati of the period. La Independencia published an editorial on 16 September 1898 to denounce the said misconception.

The existence of La Independencia was placed on the line when the Philippine-American War broke out on 4 February 1899. It became an anti-American newspaper on the run. As province after province fell to the American army, the printing press was constantly on the run. When General Antonio Luna resumed his military duties, Palma, Guerrero, and Apostol took responsibility of managing the paper. Its printing press was placed in a railroad car to facilitate an easy escape until it arrived at a permanent base in Bautista, Pangasinan. Palma assumed directorship of the newspaper after Luna was assassinated in June 1899.

La Independencia continued publication and distribution through mail service. Its supporters provided regular communication from Manila and Hong Kong. It was smuggled from Manila to Pangasinan.

Tarlac fell to the Americans and the Philippine army retreated to Pangasinan. Emilio Aguinaldo ordered the transfer of La Independencia to Nueva Vizcaya and that all of its publication expenses would be shouldered by the government. However, as the American army was hot on their heels, Palma and his staff dismantled the printing press and buried it near the railroad tracks in Bautista. In Camiling, Tarlac, they published two more issues by another printing press.

Camiling soon fell to the arms of the Americans. The newspaper was “forced by circumstances into an inactive existence,” with its last issue published on 24 November 1899. It signaled the end of the Philippine revolutionary press.




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