Teodoro M. Locsin Sr.: Patriot and journalist - Roses And Thorns byAlejandro R. Roces
() - January 25, 2000 - 12:00am

He was exposed to the very worst kind of tragedy at a very early age. Both parents died under the most tragic circumstances. But as Norman Cousins said, "The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside a man while he lives -- the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response. . . of the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in oneself." And so with genuine feeling and inspired response, Teodoro Locsin lived to be one of the most patriotic persons of our times. He was from the Ateneo de Manila, the school that produced such patriots as Francisco "Soc" Rodrigo and Raul Manglapus.

As a publisher and editor, he was the most respected and admired by his peers. From the start, he was associated with only one magazine -- the Philippines Free Press. In his lifetime, the Free Press underwent two major crises. First was when it was closed by the Japanese military authorities. Locsin promptly took a batel back to Negros and joined the guerrillas. He was awarded two Philippine Legion of Honor decorations for valor for his role in the guerrillas during the occupation. He has also written one of the finest accounts of the Japanese occupation in a story called The Heart of the Enemy.

The second crisis came when President Marcos declared martial law. Locsin was incarcerated in Camp Crame along with Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Eugenio Lopez, Jr. This despite the fact that President Marcos honored Locsin with the Presidential Golden Plow Award for Land Reform in 1968. Then, Marcos' citation said that Locsin's Free Press editorials were democratic and libertarian. Locsin never wavered in his stand. Like Ninoy and Geny Lopez, he stood pat on what he had written and openly expressed what he thought of the martial law regime.

Last year, Raul Manglapus died. Now, it is Teddy Locsin who has departed. We are sincerely afraid that since the so-called New Society, we have stopped producing people of their calibre. Raul Manglapus was also in the guerrilla movement. He was captured, tortured in Fort Santiago and jailed in Muntinglupa. Yet, he was a perfect gentleman and a great scholar. There was a Renaissance term for such men -- the universal man. Men of thought and men of action.

In the case of Locsin, what distinguished him from almost all other journalists was the fact that he was a loner. It was Lord North Cliffe who said, "If you know many people it is impossible to conduct a newspaper impersonally, and the only way to run a newspaper is in an impersonal way." It is to Locsin's credit that unlike the majority of newspapermen who have many activities outside their field, he was publisher-editor of the Free Press and nothing else. He gave those two positions his full time. You didn't see him in public places drinking and dining with politicians. He was always at his desk in the office or library at home.

Locsin authored a book on Rizal, The Heroic Confession, and was the recipient of the Rizal Pro Patria Award. He should have been given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his patriotism and lifetime dedication and contribution to journalism.

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