It was shortly after World War II that Dioscoro B. Lazaro took charge of the newspaper in Cebu known as The Republic Daily. It held office at the Republic Building along Colon St., near the corner of D. Jakosalem St., Cebu City. It was the rebirth of the newspaper founded by Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco known as The Republic.

Lazaro was not a Cebuano; he was from Manila. It was the Cebuano senator, governor and congressman Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco that brought him to Cebu. When he came to Cebu with his young wife, they lived on the upper floor of The Republic Daily (in 1968, he was able to build a house in La Guardia, Cebu City, that people up to now refer to as the “Lazaro House”).

Dioscoro B. Lazaro

Dioscoro B. Lazaro

Lazaro was able to learn the Cebuano language and assimilated himself to the Cebuano community, thus his popularity widely spread as well as his newspaper. Lazaro was a cousin of the wife of Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco by the name of Doña Rosa Cayetano (M.J. Cuenco married twice; his first wife was Filemona Alesna of Carcar, Cebu).

Lazaro (son of Manuel Lazaro and Gregoria Bernardo), at 23 years old, married Amelia Almera (daughter of Nacario Almera and Susana Quiambao) on Dec. 8, 1941 in Tondo Church, Manila. Their marriage was solemnized by Rev. Fr. Vicente R. Navarro. Lazaro was a pious man, a devout Roman Catholic who went to mass daily and served as lay minister for decades. It was he together with Fr. Restituto Suarez, rector of the Basilica del Sto. Niño de Cebu, that wrote the Sto. Niño Novena. He and his family were very close to the Augustinian community of Cebu. In fact, his four children (Beatriz, Dioscoro Jr., Concepcion and Trinitas) all studied in the school founded by the religious order in Cebu.

Love tested

Lazaro, who held the title of publisher and business manager of The Republic Daily, had his love and passion for journalism tested many times, often by legal action. He was made defendant of a libel case filed by Don Miguel Cuenco (the younger brother of Don M.J. Cuenco, who served for years as congressman of the old Fifth District of Cebu and a lawyer). It was on Nov. 15, 1958 that Don Miguel filed the complaint regarding an article printed on Aug. 3, 1958.

The co-defendants of Lazaro were Manuel Cuenco (son of Don M.J. Cuenco, a doctor of medicine who like his father also served Cebu as governor after World War 2), Jose P. Velez and Capt. Federico Reyes. Dr. Manuel Cuenco was president of the Bisaya Land Transportation. Velez was its secretary-treasurer and Captain Reyes its general manager.

The Court of First Instance of Cebu (Branch 3) on Aug. 12, 1961 while dismissing the case against the codefendants of Lazaro, ordered him and lawyer Nicolas Jumapao to pay Don Miguel Cuenco damages in the amount of P2,000.

When the case went to the Supreme Court, it made a decision dated March 21, 1976 absolving Lazaro of any liability. The decision was written by Associate Justice Esguerra, who said, “Our conclusion is that the published complaint in Civil Case No. 5665, although considered libelous ‘per se,’ would fall under the protective mantle of privileged communication. It follows that its author (defendant Lazaro) cannot be held liable for its publication.”

Lazaro’s legal counsel was Nazario R. Pacquiao and Nicolas Jumapao, who belonged to the law firm of Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco (the law office was located in the same building of the newspaper).

EDITORIAL OFFICE. There used to be a big sign “The Republic News” on this building (top photo) facing Colon St. in Cebu City, says Elias Baquero, a reporter there from 1984 to 1986, when the editorin-chief was Mario Lumanao. The Republic News occupied the entire ground floor, with the editorial and the business sections adjacent to the sidewalk, and the printing press area at the back of where the pharmacy is now. The pharmacy area used to be the editorial office. The printing press, with the sign above, continues to occupy the same area it did in the 1980s. (ALAN TANGCAWAN/SUN.STAR CEBU)

Among those who worked in The Republic Daily run by Lazaro were Ignacio Pogoy, the Linotypist; Ildefonso Guisadio, a Minervista, whose job was to make a galley proof of the articles; and Filemon Perez of Villagonzalo, a typesetter (he set the types called “emplanar”).

Big boss

Great men and women of Cebu journalism worked with Lazaro as their big boss. Among the many were Concepcion Gantuangco Briones. She took charge of the society page of The Republic Daily. Briones became the first president of the Association of Cebu Journalists (ACJ) and executive director of the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation. She also wrote a column for The Freeman.

The Cebu City Council renamed a street, “Guerrileros” in the Veloso Subdivision in Guadalupe, Cebu City, after her.

There was also Jose Logarta, who became Lazaro’s editor. A street in Brgy. Poblacion, Talisay City, Cebu was named after him. Wilfredo “Boy” Veloso also worked as staff member of the newspaper. Later the latter transferred to the newly created newspaper, Sun.Star.

Press lives on

In 1983, the veteran publisher and business manager of one of Cebu’s oldest newspapers, Lazaro, retired and turned over the love of his life, his passion, The Republic Daily to the hands of the heirs of Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, from the sons of his second wife, Doña Rosa, namely: Mariano Jesus C. Cuenco Jr. and Jesus C. Cuenco.

The Republic Daily ended print in 1986, but the printing press up to now continues. The machines still clicking, it still carries its original name registered in 1958, “The Republic Publishing House.” Today it is managed by Medardo Almera Flores, a nephew of Lazaro being the son of the sister of his wife Amelia.

Lazaro fondly called by many as Tatay devoted his life to God by serving as an active lay minister in the following churches: Sto. Niño de Cebu, Redemptorist Church and lastly, St. Therese Church in Apas, Cebu City.

Dioscoro B. Lazaro, the pious publisher and editor, devout father and husband, returned to his Creator at the age of 81 on July 13, 1999. His ashes entered on July 19, 1999 the Basilica del Sto. Niño de Cebu, a privilege bestowed only to those who served God and its Church, extraordinarily.

MINERVA flatbed and the printer at the present-day The Republic Publishing House. (ALAN TANGCAWAN/SSC)

‘REPUBLIC NEWS’

The paper that Coring managed

THE Republic News was widely known to be a merger of the two competing political newspapers The Republic Daily and The Daily News on Jan. 1, 1961.

It symbolized the end of the bitter political rivalry in Cebu between the Cuencos (Republic owner) and the Osmeñas (owner of The Daily News).

Republic also began, without fanfare, an era of newspaper publishing in which business, not politics, was the principal motive.

It inevitably became the No. 1 paper at the time, picking up more readers as it began shedding off partisan color and publishing the news without political agenda, even trying to print both sides of any issue or controversy. A new thing to Cebuanos who were used to buying two papers if they wanted to get the full story of a public dispute.

And Dioscoro B. Lazaro, as publisher and business manager, ruled over the paper, from its new phase until he retired in 1983—in those years when the owner’s representative actively worked with the editor on the paper’s content. And the Cebu public didn’t know much about Coring who, they were told, hailed from Luzon.

Tenets

And details of the arrangement between the owners—the Cuenco family of politicians—and Coring were not publicized: how much of the profit went where and what he got for his work as publisher. What circulated and wasn’t corrected in industry circles was that Coring would relinquish the paper to the heirs, scions of the owners, once they reached 21.

That could be the reason the Republic News under Coring failed to keep pace with its competitors, notably The Freeman and particularly on new printing equipment and methods.

After Coring exited, soon Republic News quietly bowed out, leaving the room to new players that more diligently followed tenets of fairness and accuracy, which began to show in Republic News only after the historic merger of Cebu’s two politics-driven newspapers. — Pachico A. Seares

(CJJ11 was published in hardcopy in September 2016.)