Eugenia Apostol

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Eugenia Apostol
Eugenia Duran Apostol.png
Eugenia Duran Apostol

(1925-09-29) September 29, 1925 (age 93)
AwardsRamon Magsaysay Award

Eugenia "Eggie" Apostol (born September 19, 1925) is a Filipino publisher who played pivotal roles in the peaceful overthrow of two Philippine presidents: Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001. She was awarded the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature & Creative Communication Arts.[1]

Early life[edit]

Apostol was born on September 29, 1925, the second child and second daughter among eight children of Fernando Ballesteros Duran, a doctor and member of the National Assembly, and Vicenta Obsum.[2] In 1936, when her father was re-elected to the National Assembly, the family moved to Manila, where Apostol attended Holy Ghost College (now College of the Holy Spirit), where she finished elementary school as valedictorian in 1938. With the Japanese occupation of Manila in 1944, the family returned to Sorsogon. While poking through the ruins of their home after the battle for liberation, 18-year-old Apostol was injured by shrapnel when an unspent bazooka shell exploded. Apostol graduated magna cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Letters in 1949. She wrote a column for Commonweal, a national Catholic weekly and copy for Philippine Manufacturing Company (now Procter & Gamble). She married Jose "Peping" Apostol on February 18, 1950.[2]

Early career[edit]

In 1950 Apostol became women's section editor of The Sentinel, a national news weekly, which succeeded Commonweal in 1949 as a publication of the Archdiocese of Manila. The ultraconservative Archbishop of Manila became unhappy over liberal views expressed in The Sentinel, at a time when the Church was defensive over criticism from some social sectors about the complicity of the Church in the unjust power structures of Philippine society. The church authorities were not too pleased as well when the employees of The Sentinel organized a union with Apostol as the union's vice-president. Apostol criticized the archbishop's ban on ballet classes and performances in Catholic schools as well as a controversy triggered by the presence of Russian ballet teachers at St Scholastica's, a convent school. This was the era of the "Red Scare". Apostol resigned.[3]

In 1954 Apostol became women's section editor and associate editor of Sunday Times Magazine, the supplement of the country's leading daily, The Manila Times. She stayed with the Times for ten years (1954–64), working with both the magazine and the newspaper. She found light work in handling, as editor and writer, the traditional women's beat of home, fashion, food, and human-interest features, and had a knack for infusing something lively, fresh, and innovative into what would otherwise be "canned" and conventional.[3] In 1964 Apostol moved to the Manila Chronicle as editor of its new Sunday supplement Woman and Home. Woman and Home was phased out in 1969 but Apostol stayed on with the Chronicle as editor of its expanded Better Living section.[3]

Apostol claims that it was because her husband was the defence secretary's favourite engineer that she was allowed to launch a woman's magazine at a time when Ferdinand Marcos was closing down many publications, allowing only pro-government titles to operate. The magazine's publishers, former executives of the Manila Chronicle, sought Apostol's aid in gaining the intercession of Defence Secretary Juan Ponce Entrile for the approval of their application to publish. Apostol became editor of the Woman's Home Companion, the first Martial Law women's magazine in the Philippines.[4] Apostol quit Woman's Home Companion in 1975 to launch Mr & Ms Magazine. Amongst her shareholders was Christina Ponce Enrile wife of the Defence Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. The magazine struggled for some years before it broke even due, Apostol says, to a crowded women's magazine market.[4]

Apostol published a series of Mr & Ms supplements authored by Nick Joaquin - re-tellings of Philippine legends and mythology which were later bound as Pop Stories for Groovy Kids, recognized as an important contribution to the history of children's fiction in the Philippines.[2][5]


During the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Apostol used the variety magazine as a platform to air anti-government views, publishing articles that would otherwise be banned in less independent media.[6] In December 1982 the National Intelligence Bureau summoned eight women journalists including Apostol for interrogation at an army camp[7] - described by outright "intimidation" by Ceres Doyo, one of the women interrogated.[8] When opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated, Apostol launched a weekly supplement to Mr & Ms devoted entirely to anti-Marcos politics, Mr & Ms Special Edition.

Examples of articles published in Mr & Ms viewed as anti-Marcos[edit]

These examples were contained in the National Press Club publication The Philippine Press Under Siege Volume II[9]

  • "The Silencing of Letty Magsanoc" (by Salvador P. Lopez, from 'Freedom of the Press', Mr & Ms, July 28, 1981)
  • "The Letty Magsanoc Story" (by Leonor J. Aureus, originally submitted to Celebrity Magazine but subsequently pulled by the author because of censorship. Mr & Ms, August 25, 1981)
  • Freedom of the Press series, Mr & Ms, August to October 1981)
  • "Transcript: President Marcos responds to Eugenia Apostol's questions about the Magsanoc case", Mr & Ms 1981)
  • "Why is Tony Nieva in Jail?" (by Leonor J. Aureus, published May 10, 1983)
  • "Too Late the Memo (of General Ver)" (by Eugenia D. Apostol, published February 15, 1983)
  • "Jose Rizal Lecture" (by Jose W. Diokno, delivered at the P.E.N. conference on The Writer in a Climate of Fear July 2, 1983, published by Mr & Ms, July 26, 1983)

Mr & Ms Special Edition[edit]

On August 21, 1983 opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated upon his arrival from exile in the United States. Though the funeral drew over two million people, it was ignored by the media. In a recorded interview, Apostol described her reaction: "Next day, I said: 'What's this? Not a single photo of the funeral in the papers, as if nothing happened.' What really got me was the Times Journal - owned by Benjamin Romualdez, brother of Mrs. Imelda Marcos. What they printed was the photo of the spectator who was hit by lightning — that was their top news!"[10]

A Time magazine article that hailed Apostol as an Asian hero, described what she did next: "Apostol fumed. Within days she was printing a tabloid version of her glossy Mr. & Ms. called Mr & Ms Special Edition. It had 16 pages of photographs showing Aquino's body, the multitudes that came to view it, and the massive funeral parade that wound through the streets of Manila for almost 12 hours. The first run was some half a million copies, yet it could not satisfy demand. In the coming months, as momentum built for the People Power revolution that would topple Marcos three years later, Apostol turned the tabloid into a weekly endeavor, putting it out from a raggedy office that, for security reasons, did not even have the publication's name on the door."[11]

Apostol had instructed her staff to put out a special report on Aquino in the September 2, 1983 issue of Mr & Ms as well as a "special edition" sixteen-page supplement about the funeral. The supplement sold 750,000 copies and had a significant impact in arousing public anger at the dictatorship.[2] She launched the weekly Mr & Ms Special Edition, with journalist Letty Jimenez Magsanoc as editor. The special edition's masthead declared its commitment to "justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Aquino assassination."[12] The public response to the forty-page, black-and-white weekly was described as "phenomenal". Sales rose from two hundred thousand to half-a-million copies, numbers unprecedented in the country. The appearance of the publication was a high moment in the campaign against the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. Ferdinand Marcos was toppled by a popular uprising known as the People Power Revolution in 1986.[2]

Philippine Inquirer (weekly)[edit]

In February 1985 the trial of the military personnel accused in the Aquino murder commenced, conducted by the Sandiganbayan, a special court for officers of the state. Apostol launched the Philippine Inquirer, a tabloid-size weekly, on February 4, 1985 with herself as publisher and editor-in-chief and a staff of only two writers - JP Fenix and Candy Quimpo (now Candy Gourlay).[2][13] Initially focused on the trial, it slowly acquired all the elements of a regular paper. Its final issue came out on December 2, 1985 after the Sandiganbayan handed down its controversial decision acquitting the accused.

Philippine Daily Inquirer[edit]

When President Ferdinand Marcos announced in November 1985 that a snap presidential election would be held in February 1986, Apostol saw it as an opportunity for a "concerted anti-dictatorship campaign". Apostol invited some of the country's biggest mass-media publishers to breakfast in her home. The group included:

Apostol's goal was to persuade the group to launch a single daily newspaper in time for the election but the group was largely unenthusiastic. Undeterred, Apostol pushed ahead with a seed capital of a million pesos from the profits of Mr & Ms, using the printworks of Betty Go-Belmonte's family. Apostol originally envisioned a cooperative-owned newspaper but the pressure of events led to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) being registered as a corporation, with the stipulation that only permanent employees could own stocks in the paper. Apostol headed the PDI as chair of the board of management with Betty Go-Belmonte as vice-chair.

The newspaper started with a staff of forty in a hundredsquare-meter office and a circulation of thirty thousand copies limited largely to Metro Manila. Aided by the high excitement surrounding the election campaign, PDI's growth was dramatic. Its circulation quickly ballooned to a peak of half-a-million copies daily. In just three months after its appearance, it became the leading Philippine broadsheet, accounting for 22.3 percent of the Metro Manila market, making it the country's number one daily in terms of circulation. Demand was so great that production had to be done by five different printers in separate locations in the city.

Marcos dismissed the Inquirer and other opposition papers as the "mosquito press". Military plans to arrest opposition figures after a Marcos victory were leaked to the press. Apostol's name was at the top of the list. Later, Apostol dismissed the threat, saying, "It was alphabetical."[2] Juan Ponce Enrile filed suit against Apostol, alleging that she had diverted funds from Mr & Ms to establish the Inquirer. The suit referred to the use of Mr & Ms money to capitalize PDI. Apostol contended that the loan had been paid back. The case was dismissed in 1994 but continued until the Supreme Court finally ruled in Apostol's favor in 1998.[2]

In the 1990s the Philippine Daily Inquirer underwent a struggle for power - between Apostol and her managers. Apostol severed all corporate and editorial ties with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 26, 1994, resigning from the board and retiring from the paper. She is said to have seen the battle for corporate control to be detrimental to the paper's growth.[2]

Later career[edit]

On January 9, 1996 Apostol founded the Foundation for Worldwide People Power, with the aim to improve facilities and teaching in Philippine public schools. During the presidency of Fidel Ramos, moves were made to revise the Philippine Constitution to extend the presidential term of office. Apostol published a sixteen-page, tabloid-size satirical weekly called Hu! Ha!, to oppose charter change and expose regressive political practices. The weekly covered the 1998 elections and ran from September 20, 1997 to May 16, 1998.

When President Joseph Estrada called for an advertising boycott of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and sued Manila Times over a corruption story, Apostol set up the Pinoy Times. Apostol designed it as a popular tabloid for the masses, written in everyday Filipino it attempted to deliver "quality journalism with the price, size and liveliness of a tabloid". From an initial run of 30,000 copies, its regular five-days-a-week edition rose to a circulation of 170,000 in just eighteen months. Its weekend Special Edition sold as many as half-a-million copies. The paper was met with bomb threats, hate mail, and libel suits from Estrada supporters, who at one point published an imitation tabloid in an attempt to undermine the Pinoy Times. A popular uprising - known as People Power II - forced Estrada out of power in 2001. Estrada's departure sent the sales of Pinoy Times into a slump. The paper closed on December 21, 2001 after two years in circulation.[14]


In the November 2006 issue of Time Magazine (International edition), Apostol and Letty Jimenez Magsanoc were cited thus: "Apostol, now 81, and Magsanoc, in her mid-60s, were not firebrands in their younger days. Both were veterans of the lipstick beat, writing for the lifestyle sections of newspapers. But the assassination of Aquino, which sparked [the People Power Revolution], galvanized Apostol and Magsanoc to break the local media's complicit silence surrounding Marcos' oppressive rule. In late 1985 they phased out Mr. & Ms. Special Edition and launched the Philippine Daily Inquirer, trailblazing a brand of hard-hitting, mischievous, in-your-face reporting that tested the limits of a dictator's tolerance and helped Filipinos win their freedom. 'In three months,' says Apostol, 'the Inquirer had not only helped to oust Marcos, it was also making money.' Today, the Inquirer is the country's largest newspaper and, while sometimes criticized for sensationalism, it has been unflinching in its coverage of government and the Philippines' uneasy transition to democracy."[11] Apostol was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature & Creative Communication Arts in 2006 in recognition of "her courageous example in placing the truth-telling press at the center of the struggle for democratic rights and better government in the Philippines".[15]


  1. ^ The 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts (Retrieved on November 28, 2007)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mojares, Resil. "Biography: Eugenia D. Apostol" (PDF). RMAF (Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation).
  3. ^ a b c Mojares, Resil. "Biography: Eugenia Apostol" (PDF). Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation.
  4. ^ a b Apostol, Eugenia. "Present at Creation: Hysterical, Historical". Telling the Filipino Story to the World.
  5. ^ Dominador D. Buhain (1998). A history of publishing in the Philippines. Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 66–. ISBN 978-971-23-2324-9. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Aureus, Leonor J. (1985). The Philippine Press Under Siege volume II. The National Press Club Committee to Protect Writers.
  7. ^ Arroyo, Joker P. (1985). Philippine Press Under Siege Book II. The National Press Club Committee to Protect Writers. pp. 139–140.
  8. ^ Doyo, Ceres (1985). Philippine Press Under Siege Vol II. The National Press Club Committee to Protect Writers. p. 144.
  9. ^ Aureus, Leonor J. (1985). The Philippine Press Under Siege Volume II. The National Press Club Committee to Protect Writers.
  10. ^ "Eugenia Apostol". Edsa Stories.
  11. ^ a b Coronel, Sheila (November 2006). "Inspirations: Eugenia Apostol and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc". Time International.
  12. ^ Coronel, Sheila (November 13, 2006). "Inspirations: Eugenia Apostol and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc". Time Magazine.
  13. ^ Gourlay, Candy. "About Me".
  14. ^ "Hard Times for the Media". Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved January–March 2002. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ "CITATION for Eugenia Duran Apostol". Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. Retrieved August 31, 2006.