Photo by Bernard Testa
The last decade of the 20th century saw the third re-emergence of the Philippines Graphic—this time, under the ownership of the late Ambassador, business mogul and philanthropist Antonio L. Cabangon Chua.
Launched in 1927, the Second World War and the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 had forced the magazine to cease operations, only to rise again and again after these two challenging junctures in our nation’s history.
In 1990, Cabangon Chua and the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin combined to set up a magazine that would carry national and local news, while featuring in its pages the freshest works of the best and the brightest in Philippine literature in English.
As first Editor-in-Chief of the revived Philippines Graphic, Joaquin chose as his first-in-command then 45-year-old Pete Lacaba, already a name in the Philippine literary and movie scene. From 1990 to 1993, Lacaba became Executive Editor, and then editor of the Graphic.
Joaquin and Lacaba had a professional association that started during the days when Joaquin was editor of the Philippines Free Press (1965-1970) and where Lacaba worked as proofreader, copy editor, and eventually, as writer.
The years saw the association blooming to a life-long friendship and mutual respect. It is well known among literary and journalistic circles that when Joaquin was declared a National Artist for Literature in 1976, he moved for the release of Lacaba, who had been detained for two years under Martial Law.
When the Philippines Graphic was revived in 1990, Lacaba had already won various awards and accolades, both as a journalist and as literary writer.
He had received the National Book Award for nonfiction for his book, Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage (1982); the Palanca Award’s first prize for poetry in Pilipino for “Sa Panahon ng Ligalig” (1983); the National Press Club’s Carlsberg Award for best editorial writing as editor of the National Midweek magazine (1989), the Urian Awards from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino for best screenplay in Lino Brocka films like Jaguar (1980), Sister Stella L. (1984), and Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim (1985).
In 2020, Lacaba was struck by a neuromuscular disease. Now, slowly but surely, he has come back to the world of editing. And it is but fitting for Pete to join the Cabangon Chua-owned BusinessMirror as editor of “Tony&Nick,” the newspaper’s Arts & Literature section named after Antonio L. Cabangon Chua and Nick Joaquin.