Date of Interview: February 5, 2001
Village Voice Office, Taft Avenue, Manila
Mr. Antonio "Tony" V. Roces: then when they put more money into it the rest of the family joined in. So, the eldest brother who was the administrator of the family estate, because at that time they were already orphans.
Sassy Mae C. Sumulong: So, sir bale your, it's really your side of the family where the publishers is there a distinction between ?
A: Well, there were two, two lines that ended up remaining in publishing. At one time it was the entire third generation that were stockholders in the publishing business because ah, the third generation were orphaned with both parents. So, the eldest brother Alejandro as administrator of the family estate put family money into the publishing business which was started by my grandfather, Rafael, and Marcos. Now, that was to start it, then to, in the process of making it grow, the rest of the family joined in. Now, ah, down the line my father, my grandfather became publisher then later on publishing business was taken over by his elder brother, so it became Alejandro. Now from Alejandro the ones that got involved were Ramon, his eldest son, he's, he's the one that made the most money. He was the guy that had Liwayway, Graphic, Filipino Komiks, Hiligaynon, he was the magazine and komiks king. Alejandro stayed with the mainline publication but he died. So, the youngest brother, Chino, took over as publisher.
Q: Sir, do you have any idea cause yung date of, um, yung they died is parehas
A: He died 1943.
Q: same with the father?
A: Yeah, when he got shot his wife had an attack and his father seeing them also had an attack, kaya same, kaya, kaya yan, 43 yan (pointing to the date of death on the three people being talked about in the family tree). Same day July, July 8.
Q: Sir, how, is it Japanese, Japanese time na po iyon nung World War II?
A: Yes, na 43 na yan.
Q: Is, is Alejandro "Andong" into certain guerilla activities or was it by accident that he got shot?
A: Well, ah, he was I think a chief of fire department chief of something at that time when he got shot, he wasn't killed by the Japanese, he was assassinated, he was coming out of his truck then, that's another, that's a different story. So, the one that ah, continued, ah, by the time, by the time the, originally it was La Vanguardia, then they got Tribune, and then they got Taliba so that, that became know as the TVT. That was the, the way they called the group T TVT, Taliba, Vanguardia, Tribune Tribune, Vanguardia, Taliba, which ever way you put it. Ah, before the war, the ones that were involved there were Andong, the old man lolo Moy, Chino had just come back I think from London, I think he was just in circulation or something, and then my father was a columnist of Tribune, he was writing his Thorns and Roses. Ah, after the war, when Anding Alejandro, the former secretary became of age, he turned the title of my father's column and it became Roses and Thorns.
Q: But same spelling of the Roses with a C?
A: No, S it was always S.
Q: Ah, it was always S.
A: Thorns and Roses and then became Roses and Thorns. So, later on the others that became columnist were the congressman, Titong, his column was My Daily Bread. Then, the other brother, the youngest brother, then Alejandro, well, first it was my father, then, Titong, and then Alejandro, by age, as they came of age, they went into writing columns. And then the youngest guy came in that's Alfredo, his was Light and Shadow cause he's an artist.
Q: The author of the book po.
A: Yes, now for awhile Chito was a reporter, the father of Ramon was a reporter. Ah, then on the, the others that were involved as directors were Ben Legarda, the grandfather of Katrina. He was director I think, when Martial Law hit he was
Q: Sir, director of ?
A: Manila Times After the war it became already Manila Times. Tribune became Manila Times. La Vanguardia cease operating, it became Manila Times, Mirror, and Taliba. Taliba continued. Then the other directors were from the Pardo Family because it became majority stockholder became the this is what we called the Roces-Pardo branch (referring to the family tree). The Alejandro "Moy" married Antonia Pardo, so this branch we called the Roces-Pardo, they're the ones with Chino. So, the other, ah, the president at one time of Manila Times was the husband of Chucha, who was Benito Prieto, who is the father of, ah, Alex Prieto, who is the father of Sandy Prieto who's now the president of Inquirer. Their father before was president of Manila Times because his wife was part of the Pardo. Then the, ah, the son of Marcos married to Vidal o Calvo is the guy that ended up with Channel 5 and also with Manila Times, Marcos Calvo. I think is, up to now it's still Channel 5. He and Eddie Roces are the ones still there, in Channel 5 which is to be Manila Times TV station.
Q: Ano sir parang they tied up ?
A: The rest of the family sold to Edward Tan but Chino and Marcos retained their shares. So, they are the ones still with Channel 5, the rest sold out. The other one that was active there was Bebeng who used to be the treasurer. Then there were some Versozas there because they were children of Nenita Roces married to Versoza. Now, Ramon, his empire basically became Capitol, Atlas Publishing, ah, one daughter, Carmencita married to Davila, they sold their publishing empire, this is now what was bought by National Bookstore. The other daughter, Elena or Morita, they still are running their, I think they have the Woman's, ah, Woman's, they have the, this used to be the Graphic group, Graphic Publishing, this is the Graphic group, ah, they also have ah
Q: The ones publishing the song hits.
A: Yeah, they have a whole scope of comics and they still are publishing several magazines. Then I think, I don't know if it's the, the Reporter or
Q: The one by Cookie or
A: Yeah, Cookie is the daughter she's got the Woman's
Q: the Chic
A: Ah, the Chic, before they have this wedding stuff, that's Cookie. That's the I think she is the youngest. So, going down to the next, to the fifth generation, you've got, Joaquinito was in it, Eddie to some extent, here in the Prieto it went to the wife so, then ah
Q: Sir, how about the Davilas, are the Davilas appearing in television anything to do with
A: No. They are not, they are not Roces, ah
Q: No Davilas ventured into other form of mass communication
A: Not with Roces blood.
A: There are Davilas that are of no Roces blood. The ones with Roces blood are out already, out of publishing. Then, ah
Sir, with the Legarda it was only Katrina who was the recent one?
A: Katrina would be the sixth generation.
Q: The sixth, but prior to that
A: Her mother nor her uncles were not. It jumped from her lolo, Ben Legarda, who was my uncle, then there was a cut, and then it jumped to Katrina, who is, ah, the daughter of Carmenching, Carmita You can, this is wrong, this is not Joaquin (referring to a mistake on the tree with Atty. Legarda's father), this is Antonio.
Q: But that's the, that's her mother (referring to Atty. Legarda's mother on the family tree)?
A: The mother is Carmen.
Q: Carmen, the mother of Atty. Legarda.
A: Yes. 'cause she, her, her marriage was annulled so she reverted to , she reverted back to Legarda. Her father is, ah (Side B) Katrina is with Carmen On the Marcos side it stopped with the third generation, there was no involvement here in publishing, ah, Marc ended up with the Gemma Films, he went, he ended in the movies. So, it is ah, if you would say, sa publishers the ones that, that was continuous was my grandfather became publisher, my father became publisher and I became publisher. Then you have, ah, the case of, ah, Moy and then you have Chino and then Joaquinito. Here you have, ah, some continuity also because Moy, Chino and then the grandson, Joaquinito, all passed through being publishers.
Q: So, sir, um, going back to Ms. Katrina, was she the only daughter or ?
A: No, she's got ah, I think she's got another brother who's in London.
Q: So, on, um, with the, with his father?
A: Yeah, with Carrion. Now those that ah, as far as writing, being columnist and writing editorials it's only this, it's only our branch.
Q: More on the Reyes-Roces?
A: The Roces-Reyes. We have Roces, we have the Roces-Legarda, we have the Roces-Pardo, we have the Roces-Vidal, and then Roces-Reyes. The rest died single eh, or no children like Rosario died without children, Joaquin and Jesus died without children so, only four have children that's, that's the Roces-Pardo branch, Roces-Legar Legarda-Roces, Roces-Vidal and Roces-Reyes.
Q: Sir, I'm just curious with the do you have any idea on why your clan is repeating names in terms of
A: Ah, the supposedly anyway, the, ah, you will note kasi that the the, up to the third generation here, they have very few children, like the first Roces here had only one son that grew to maturity and had a family, that's my great grandfather, that's Alejandro. Now, the reason however why the, the most common, the name that has been in all generations is Alejandro. But supposedly that is because among the ancestors on the one generation, one brother became a priest, he became so they promised to name a son in his, cause he would not have children, they promised that they would name an Alejandro. So, that supposedly that explain why those that have enough children name
Q: would like ah, recognize
A: the Alejandro, but basically it's because they would, the names were given, in honor of our relative, mostly a brother or a father, so Marcos had a Marcos, Filomena had a Filomena, that's a, that's a, like lola Menang had a Filomena also, named one of her children Filomena and there was also a Filomena grandchild and a Filomena great grandchild. So, it's, because you name it after a relative, now, ah, then, Jesus and Joaquin was repeat Joaquin was repeated because of this brother that died a bachelor.
Q: the youngest one.
A: Yeah, so they no, he's not the youngest one, he's the number I think number 5
Q: The one who died young?
A: Four and five, the fourth and fifth were the bach were the bachelors. The eldest is the Legarda followed by Moy, then Rosario, then you have Jesus, Joaquin, Rafael and then Marcos. So, ah, basically it's the naming it after a relative or having a junior. So, Moy had his junior, then he named his son after a brother so you have a Rafael, and then he named a Marcos cause their other brother. The Antonia because of the, because of the ancestor again, Antonia, Antonio. Naming it after an ancestor and so, a relative and an ancestor, we get the repetition.
Q: Cause it got pretty confusing when, when you get to miss the middle initial.
A: Yeah. So, but we've solved that by nicknames, so we never refer to them as their formal name, so lolo Alejandro was never Alejandro it was always Moy, so that's how we solved one Chino, one Joaquin is Chino the other Joaquin is Titong, my father is Liling, the other Rafael is Tuti. So, there's a and then, their Alejandro is Andong our Alejandro is Anding. So, then their, ah, theirs was Marcos, ours was Marquitos. Actually, no this guy (referring to Marcos Pardo-Roces ), this guy was not, his nickname was Taling Macarena, Iñigo (referring to the sons of Eddie Carvajal-Roces).
Q: Ah, the sons of
A: Eddie. Macarena and Iñigo. So, this guy was Taling ( referring again to Marcos P. Roces), the other cousin, my uncle was Marquitos and the other guy was Marcos. He was, he was allowed to keep the name Marcos because his father was Marcos, the others had used another nickname, Taling and Marquitos. Then you have but Alejandro is the one whether it, may have it, with, for women and for men, you have Alexandra, you have Alejandro this guy also has an Alexandra.
Q: Sir, how about your side of the family, your immediate family, I haven't get your, the, your wife and your children?
A: My wife is Evelyn Benares.
A: B-e B-e-n-a-r-e-s B as in boy. Then my children are Rita Anna Rita - Anna, and Carlos Noel.
Q: Carlos Noel.
A: Ah, missing ka dito ng isa (referring to their family branch in the tree), I have a sister Leonor. The junior of my mother. She died two years old.
Q: Sir, did your mo did your mother remarried after
A: Yes. She remarried Aurelio Montinola. Cause there's a there is a, there was a junior and now there is a, Aurelio Montinola the third. The president of ah, BPI Family Savings that's his grandson now. I may fill up to call him senior, Aurelio Montinola, Sr. But no children.
Q: Ah, no children, so sir, kayo pong tatlong magkakapatid is
Q: Sir, how about Sylvia po is married to a Montilla, was it?
A: Yeah. Agustin Montilla the third. Ito mali ito (referring to the family of Tuting on the tree), the children of Tuting are Regina, Rafael, Rebecca and Robert. Marlene is the daughter of Rafael, from his first, from his second wife is Regina, Rafael. The other one that's gets it confusing with us is the second name, we have Marcos Victor and then the son of Francisco is Victor Marcos. My father is I am Antonio I mean Rafael Antonio, my cousin is, this guy's Rafael Antonio, I'm Antonio Rafael he's Rafael Antonio.
Q: I thought you're just plainly Antonio sir (chuckles) I thought your name is just Antonio it's Antonio Rafael.
A: All of us have got a (interruption)
A: This Francisco, his nickname is Pipo. His son who's Francisco, his nickname is Popi. His grandson is Francisco his name is back to Pipo. (chuckles)
Q: But sir in your side of the family ah, you're the only one who's currently involved into publishing like
A: My sister.
Q: and your sister.
A: My sister is the editor-in-chief of Village Voice. Ah, Alfredo used to be columnist and he was the editor-in-chief of Geo Magazine
Q: In was it Australia?
Q: So he's not here right now?
A: No, he's not here right now. But he is, he's been the one that's been publishing books here like Hidalgo. He and my sister are the ones that are involved in putting out books. So, Hidalgo, they are now coming up with a Malacañang book, they came up with my father's book, they came up with the
Q: Sir, is he ah, his, his wife Irene also a writer or ?
A: No. She, she helps him out in the publishing but more for sourcing out, ah, like his gofer, he it's the daughter that is, has written a book also.
Q: Was it Irene too?
A: No. She is a
A: Mina. Alfredo. Irene Pineda, Pineda is the wife. Yes.
Q: Cause they got a book, Medals and Shoes, was it back in the post Martial Law
A: Yeah, that was ah, I think that was Mina. Grace. He has three daughters. Mina also writes, but she writes more scholarly stuff. I think she's written already about two books. My sister also used to be with Filipino literary publication called AKDA. The other one that does a little writing is the daughter of ah, Joaquin. Joaquin "Titong", his daughter Teresita, she doesn't write continuously. My daughter has also written for Village Voice, I think ah, when I retire she's to take over this... The up to, I guess up to my generation, all of us had second names, second Christian names but that was the Spanish time, so, it is still our baptismal record will have Spanish style so in my case it would be Antonio Rafael Roces y Varona. But Philippine style the mother's name becomes the middle so it becomes Antonio Varona Roces, written the old style you have your first name, your second name, your family name and then your maternal family name. But you have the "y", so "and" Roces and so that's why we say, that's why we say Roces-Reyes because Roces y Reyes. With Chino's side would be Roces y Pardo.
Q: Always they mentioned first Roces
A: The family name and then the maternal.
(personality interview proper)
Sassy Mae C. Sumulong: First, can you sort of like tell us a brief information about yourself personal data, date of birth
Mr. Antonio "Tony" V. Roces: Well, ah, I was born June on 14, 1940. Had my graduated from La Salle grade school, high school, took my college at Ateneo, BS Natural Science and then I took my masters in the University of California, Davis, in food science and technology. So, I'm basically by training, I've got no involvement with journalism not even in college days. It's only I entered journalism, ah, sideways 'cause in 1966, late 1966 two sons of publishers wanted to put up, ah, the first-ever offset daily newspaper, this was Joaquinito the son of the publisher of Manila Times and Andrew Go the son of the publisher of Fookien Times.
Q: Andrew Go.
A: Yes. So they have hands-on experience in publishing but they had no experience in doing a project study and setting up companies, which that was where I had my experience in. At that time I was working for the management firm of Bong Tangco, MIDA, Management Investment Development Associates, so, my, my job then involved consultancy and doing project studies and setting up companies, I had just finished setting up, ah, a feed mill in, ah, Las Piñas. So, they asked me to helped them prepare the project study, setup, ah, implementation program for the publication THIS PART OF INTERVIEW IS ON VIDEO WITH DUBBED AUDIO ON TAPE which case they said okay that make me vice president of finance and administration, because they, they knew the operation but they didn't, they didn't wanna, they didn't have their interest or experience in finance and administration, at that time I was just doing it part-time with them so we started it in April 1967, subsequently, Bong Tangco was pirated by the government and, ah, the Daily Star Publishing was having difficulties, so they asked me to join them full-time. The first president of the publication was my grandfather, Rafael Filomeno Roces, and I was vice-president, well, no first president sorry, first president was Joaquinito Roces, first publisher was Andrew, later on as we got a little bigger, Manila Times asked Joaquinito to go back to Manila Times, so I, he asked me to buy him out, so I had my, I talked to my grandfather and he put some money with me and he bought Joaquinito out, so I made my grandfather the president, I was always at that time vice president. Then my involvement into the editorial and publishing came again not out of program but out of reacting to situation. Our editor-in-chief Johnny Perez was pirated by Malacañang during the elections in 69 or the, for the elections of 1969, so, it was difficult to get a editor-in-chief so the board said you've been meddling with this putting your two beats and you become the editor, so I became the editor. That's how I got to become an editor.
Q: This was around what year?
A: This was 69. Then when my grandfather died in 1970, I assumed the presidency. So, at that time I was president and editor-in-chief. Then we grew rather rapidly in 1970-71 especially after we put out the Ang Filipino, Filipino Star. First one was Daily Star, an English tabloid, then we came up with the Ang Fili Filipino Star which was Filipino and that time we became also the first daily newspaper that had full-color daily.
Q: That was with the Daily Star or the Filipino ?
A: Both Daily Star and Filipino Star. So, in effect the, what attracted me into the business was really the, that we were doing something new, it was the first time where we are gonna have an offset daily newspaper, we had some assistance on technology transfer from Hong Kong, from the friends of Andrew Go who were publishing the Hong Kong Standard. So, it was intriguing me we were starting this on a shoe string, started the business with two hundred thousand pesos capital.
Q: So, sir may I interrupt with Mr. Andrew Go, he is related to the Go-Belmonte?
A: Yes, he is the younger brother of Betty. Now, during the Daily Star day before Martial Law, Betty was our columnist, she was writing "Pebbles" for us, so she was a columnist. Then, before we, then in 71 we were already having some measure of success, we bought the, this whole rights to that property where the Philippine Star is now in Port Area and we put up a sister company called Filipino Star Printing Co. At this state, time we needed also more money, we invited Betty to become stockholder, so she was a stockholder and columnist but not a director. So, then Martial Law hit, we shut down. The publication cease but the printing company continue to exist Andrew Go migrated to Toronto, he joined the Toronto Star. So, I was trying to run the, the business here but I couldn't get any printing contract. We always lost possibly because the government didn't like us to win contracts. So, Andrew asked me to passed on the presidency to one of his sisters who might be able to get contracts, so we first passed it to Cesley Chua, then Cesley went to the States so we then, we then passed it on to Betty. Then Betty using her relations, good, good relations with Narciso Ramos who was her ninong in her wedding they invited him to join to help out. I think for a while he was president or something. And Betty with her typical reliance on faith, what she reads in the Bible, she asked us to put more money but we weren't willing to put on money under these circumstances. She had more faith and she has, and she also had the encouragement from Narciso Ramos, she was able to get contracts. She hawked their house and lot so they were able to buy machineries and they again based on faith she decided to buy one particular machinery which enabled her to, the first one in the Philippines to do that, of that size, it enabled her to win printing contracts because it printed on a sheet that was one-half inch less, oh, three-fourth inch less than the other machines. Ah, the normal press were twenty two and three-fourths, she was printing on a twenty-one inch, so that saving him paper helped her win ads plus they were not so mad that, ah, Betty Belmonte as they were with the Roces signing the contracts, signing the offer. So, she was able to keep the printing company alive, so that when Egi Apostol needed a printing press, Filipino Star Printing Co. was in a position to do so. So, he joined Egi put up the Daily Inquirer, later after the EDSA referred, EDSA revolution number one, Betty saw me at the inauguration of Cory and she asked me to rejoin her and come up with a Filipino daily because Inquirer was in English, they wanted a Filipino daily. So, I did rejoin them in '86 and we came up with the Ang Filipino Ngayon. Few months later when they split up from the Inquirer, they asked me to join them to put up the Filipino Star, The Philippine Star. So, I joined them, I was, at that time I was president and publisher of Ang Filipino Ngayon and I became president of Philippine Star, our editor-in-chief was suppose to be Raul Gonzales but right before the publication started he said he was getting palpitations, he was, his health would not allow it to become editor, so I became the, filler upper again, I became the editor-in-chief of the Star
Q: So, publisher at the same time editor?
A: I was president of the Star and editor-in-chief at the same time publisher and president of Ang Filipino Ngayon. Then we put up
Q: What year was it sir, with the Philippine Star?
A: '86. '86.
Q: Ah, same, just a matter of months.
A: Then we put up, we put up Evening Star and the Business Star as part of the group, there I served as director, as director.
Q: Sir, from being a part-time, you have Daily Star before, nung nagsisimula pa lang siya, part-time nyo pa lang iyon or sideline?
A: Oo, part-time ako, part-time ako, sideline.
Q: So, what was your job before that?
A: Well, I was working for the management firm, I was handling the agri, agribusiness portion of the management company.
Q: More like you're a regular employee or ?
Q: And then you'd give it up then ah, stayed with Daily Star?
A: I went part-time with Daily Star, part-time with the management company then I gave up the management company and worked full-time with the Daily Star Publishing.
Q: And then you continued your involvement in the newspaper?
A: Yeah, until Martial law.
Q: After Philippine Star, you
A: Philippine Star. I sold out the Philippine Star, I resigned from Philippine Star in '89. And Joaquinito got me again involved, cause he said our uncle was selling Ang Bagong Araw so, Joaquinito, myself and our partner in Village Voice bought Bagong Araw from my uncle, '89 but we closed that in '92. We started Village Voice in '91, December '91, this the one we continued.
Q: So, sir you're full-time, um, was it publisher ?
A: Well, I'm also working, as, I'm president also of the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development which is involved in agribusiness, consultancy.
Q: So, Village Voice is more like, um, more time or ?
A: Well, it is now occupying more time than before.
Q: Sir, can you tell us a short history of the Village Voice?
A: Ah, the Village Voice, the concept of Village Voice really belongs to my uncle, Alfredo, cause we were, we were, I've always consulted him in publication matters, 'cause he is like an elder brother to me. He was, he was in publishing ahead of me, ah, a lot of good people I utilized and easily hired in publishing I got, well ah, recommendees of his, like my first editor-in-chief, the editor-in-chief that made Filipino Ngayon (correcting), Filipino Star successful was from him Joe Buhain. Ah, Joe Buhain is interesting because he was ah, working for an advertising firm when I got in to become editor-in-chief. So, I also utilized Nonoy Marcelo who was another protégé of Alfredo as, ah, editorial cartoonist. Ah, so when we were in the, in '91 when we were having problems with the Bagong Araw because at that time the tabloid publication became too sleazy for our stomachs we couldn't compete in that kind of field we wanted to get out of that kind of competition we were looking for some other field and Alfredo said going to niche publication. Instead of looking for the national, of the national picture, ah, look at the niche market, so we looked at the community publication that's how we came up with the Makati Village Voice.
Q: So, Makati was the first one?
A: Yes. The idea was again it, intrigue me because it was, ah, it could be another innovation, another first. We were gonna come up with the first community paper which will be given free, delivered and all. And we would just have to depend on ads, so, I've always been intrigued by something, you know, so I always got into
Q: So, after Makati Village Voice
A: then came EDSA.
A: EDSA-Ortigas, that was in, ah, '95. Then '96 came, ah, the Alabang. Alabang was really premature but, ah, we wanted to preempt somebody else coming up with Alabang so we, we started it we were sure, we were confident that Makati and EDSA-Ortigas could support, subsidize Alabang for the initial period.
Q: Sir, what do you do? Like you, um, you deliver the paper, I mean the Village Voice per subdivision or
A: Per area okay so
Q: per area.
A: you have Makati, the Makati issue is printed in this, ah, a good portion of it is separate from the EDSA-Ortigas and the Alabang, so, the community news is specific for the, that particular publication.
Q: Do everybody from that community really receives the paper or ?
A: Ah, only the A and B villages or condominiums because by nature of niche marketing you can only have a circulation large enough that, that can be supported by your advertising. You cannot have too big a circulation or else you won't be able to support it.
Q: Sir, your involvement into, ah, newspaper is more on the publishing side or ?
A: Yeah. Ah, my sister is the editor-in-chief, ah, I can't help but put my finger into (garble of words), like, ah, having been an editor, I can't resist. And so, ah, but, ah, it's primarily my sister that ah does the editing and it's proper because, ah, the biggest segment of our readership are women. And ah, so, better for a woman to know what a woman wants to read. So, ah, my inputs are basically to help determine what community news is the most pertinent. But, ah, especially when it comes to features, food and etcetera that
Q: Sir, but have you also experienced like writing a news, being on the beat or ?
A: No. Ah, that's, that's the, ah, like I said I didn't come in from the rocks, I didn't pass the point of being a reporter, desk man, I ended up editor.
Q: But you never get to
A: Editor immediately.
Q: be curious on trying to cover a certain beat?
A: No, ah, one of our advantages of the, one of the reasons why the Daily Star maybe click was because we are the, we are the very young top echelon at that time Andrew was 27, I was 27, Joaquinito was 28, Johnny Perez was about 36 he was already editor-in-chief, ah, so being young, ah, we could, we would still move around, if there was a rally we drop by, take a look you know. Ah, it's, that is one of the reasons why, ah, very often we had much better photos because our reporter, our reporters and photographers didn't know if they would suddenly see me there or Joaquinito so, they had to be a little, they could not just stay in the background. That's the advantage of being much younger, so I, compared to Chino at that time the people there was Chino, Hans Menzi, these were all much older and, ah, at that time Chino did hit the streets as much as he did after Martial law, so, ah, he also were more up to date with the language. Andrew can't write Tagalog, ah, he had difficulty reading but he was up to date with the catch-phrases with what you know the what was popular like, ah, he knew "jeprox" at that time, things like that he, he was aware so, when we would write stories or headlines we are using language that click with the greater majority because we were younger.
Q: Sir, any memorable instances with your years of being a publisher, editor, president of different, um, publications?
A: Yeah, the, like the, when they stormed Malacañang I got caught, we had to hide under, both, five of us were lined up hiding behind one post because they were throwing things but I had got in and we couldn't get out until after these stone-throwing stopped. So, when they storm the, the embassy I was there on a moped, one of these little scooters so, ah, at that time there was no other president or editor-in-chief that was in that sort of a situation. Being young we would be, still going to the nightclub brawls so when Banjo Laurel was beating up this, ah, guy I happen to be there and, ah, since they knew each other they didn't bother me and ah, these are, these are the differences like, ah, when we would, ah, go to the press club we could mix with the reporters and the other editors because we were, we were young, we were all bachelors at that time, it was different. The other editors, publishers and presidents couldn't mingle as well as we could, so, it helped us in our recruiting of people, helped us know, ah, what stories would develop because you, you could, you could seek in and listen to the opinions of the reporters, although we were their bosses we have, there was still a certain camaraderie that we could enjoy, so, ah, like Ruter Batuigas, he was one of the, interest experiences. When we hired Ruter, we pirated him from the Herald, he was just a photographer but we made him chief photographer then we notice that his, his captions work better, it caught the gist of the news, who, where, when, what, and the leads better than our reporters. Ruter always had the ability to have good sources. He could have sources in the military, in the police, in the underground, so, we made him chief of the crime reportorial team from photographer. Then he, the stories I have to bump off and kill because I said, "you are writing opinion, this is not, ah, news, this is opinion", so he said, "boss but this is what it's gonna be". So, so I said, "okay let's write, we'll let you write but we'll make it a column we cannot make it as a news item we're gonna get sued for libel this is, that's not news, that's an opinion, that's your theory", so we had to get Joe, have him write it, Joe would rewrite it because he couldn't write at the beginning. So, then he became our columnist and for awhile he was about the hottest selling columnist at that time and I used to get all sorts of criticism from the top boys. Chino said how can you have this, this, ah, hoodlum like guy be your chief reporter, columnist. I said, I said tito he's beating your people to the news so, and ah, he would also, he would get me into a lot of trouble but he does a lot of, sold a lot of papers for us. One of them was the "Lalaking Buntis". Ironically, this story first came out with the Manila Times, it was a small, two and a half inch, one column by two and a half inch story. And he brought it up to me and said, "boss this is a hot story", so I said, "Ruter I know why you want to go to Nueva Ecija, I know you're dating a girl from Nueva Ecija, so that's why you wanna go there". He says, "yeah, yeah, yeah I wanna go there but if the story breaks will you cover my cost?", I said, "sure if the story breaks sure I'll cover your cost". And he says, "will you lend me the money to go?" (laughs), so, I lend him the money to go. When we got there, he came back he says, "I've seen the guy, his stomach is really big and I've talked to people he's been growing at the rate of a pregnancy", he said. Um, they have something there, I said but who knows if that just be gas or water, I said, "go back there have an x-ray, no have him take up frag test", came up positive. "I wanna be surer, go back there have him take an x-ray", when the x-ray came back there was a skeleton, skull and skeleton. Oh-ho, it's hot stuff so, we went, we went to town on that. That thing really sold, in fact, ah, Reuters even paid us to carry the story. And there was a guy in London who if it were true that he was pregnant then we are gonna give you one million pound because a guy took an insurance versus somebody, a man getting pregnant. So, we advanced a lot of money for the coverage, for medical treatment and finally we had a Caesarian operation. And we were able to remove two skeletons, fingernails that were already curling and when they took, ah, aging of the, the fetuses, they were about his age. So, the analysis was these were his, they were suppose to be triplets, the two did not developed and remained inside him and when there was an adhesion the flesh just grew there was no life but you know the, but ah, it was getting big and he was starting to get infections so we had, the Caesarian operation saved him but ah, he later on died because he didn't wanna go back for continuous medical treatment because people were teasing him. He didn't go back he died of infections. That was a hot selling news. The other one was the Sushi butler, that kidnap case in Forbes Park, ah, this guy went in to rob a house in Forbes Park the alarm was, they sounded and so he took a Sushi butler hostage in, in the basement and ah, when, during the negotiation they asked for Ruter Batuigas. So, Ruter Batuigas returned calls me and says, ah, "why don't you come to the place and maybe you can talk to the guy swap", so, puts me on the intercon with this guy and tell him na, "o pare, this is Tony Roces, baka puwede tayong mag-swap ng hostage", sabi nya, "putang ina wala akong kinikilalang Tony Roces, gusto ko si Ruter Batuigas, wala akong pakialam sa iyo" (laughs). I return to Ruter, I tell him to get it, "it's you he wants, it's only you". So, he was going down, each time he would go down to the basement room the guy would change his position so, they couldn't just bust in and shoot the guy. And he was, Ruter was so mad because ah, the guy don't wanna let him come in down that "pasilyo" unless he was in his, just in his jockeys. So, Ruter would say, "who the hell, I won't gonna let him have me walk around with my jockeys", "no, no you have to go down, nobody will see you, we'll prevent anybody from going down, you on a certain place where you tear off your cloth", then he put on a nylon string and he wanted to put in a .45 behind him and when he's almost there shoot the bad guy. And I said, "Ruter I don't think so the guy is too smart, he'll probably have you turn around and if you have a gun you're in trouble". Right enough the guy made him turn around, that was one smart guy.
Q: Sir, moving on, ah, you're involved, you've mentioned that you're also involved in the natural sciences, agriculture, was it?
A: Yeah. We're, we're, we're in agribusiness, ah, well, that's my background, I have food science so, I am involved, my scholastically I'm, I'm better prepared for agribusiness and that was my first work when I came 19 , back from the States, agribusiness. Then during Martial Law I couldn't be in publishing I went back into agribusiness.
Q: So, sir how can you compare the two fields that you've been in right now?
A: Well, it's the same one is food for thought and one for the, one is food for thought and one is food for the stomach or the body. They are both food.
Q: If, if you are to choose just one inclination where would you put yourself in?
A: Well, I think, ah, I am better trained for agribusiness but, ah, maybe it's because of family, the constant contact with it, I can't seem to be without involvement in publishing also.
Q: So, sir you're saying there personally that, um, your being a Roces has influenced you so much to be in this business?
A: Ah, yeah. Ah, this is why they felt I could be editor because I had, ah, pretty good judgment of what stories would sell, I have pretty good judgment of how to angle the stories, ah, I have enough street sense because my uncles were politicians, to be able to read in-between the lines of what politicians say and what really is, because of my uncles' moving around with the, with the masses a lot, I also have, I have some feel for the masa, so, though when it came to the technical aspects of ah, when to hyphenate and all of these technical stuff of journalism I didn't have, but when it came to judging which story should be the front page, what photos would be good, how to angle it, how to ah, evaluate whether the reporter was, were ah, making manufacturing or twisting a story, I could, I could do that, better than those who study journalism. And these came up, a lot of these is from your experience dealing with, ah
Q: People in your clan.
A: people who are right, the clan. Ah, and especially our branch 'cause ah, we do, we did mix around with the ah, masa more, in fact our branch, when my grand when my father was growing up they were called the Central Market boys because they grew up not far from Central Market. My grandmother is from Trozo, so, ah, we had the, though, we had the relatives who would be, let say moving in the fancy society we also, we also had contacts with the, with the masa that's why they could become politicians because of that so this helps a lot, these are UP TO THIS PART WAS ON DUBBED AUDIO FROM VIDEO FOOTAGE these are experiences which you have to count on when you're, when you become an editor-in-chief and, ah, they just can't teach that in school, yet you'll have to learn that from experience while going up the ladder but, ah, a lot of big people who have been with us have gone pretty much up, one of our rookie reporters is now congressman Bunyi who used to be my, our reporter.
Q: Sir, when your father died how old, how old were you?
A: I was four.
Q: So, everything, all the stories about your father usually
A: Basically it is heard. I, ah, when my, when I was one and half year old my father was already very involved in the, in the guerilla effort, in the Free Philippines. So, I would wake up he was already gone, he would come home I was already sleep. So, I have really not too much direct, memories of my father.
Q: But can you say that, having known that your father has been in the, has been a, had been a columnist back in his era would, would that also constitute you, your, what your profession is right now?
A: Well, I, I'd tried being a columnist for many years and I must admit I'm a far cry from my father. He, he was it was not, I did not inherit his skills in that but I would say that I was more successful as a publisher that he was. I guess my training in consultancy, business management helped me have the pesos and cents aspects of it, I cannot write as well as he, but I can, I can appreciate a good article. I've also got a fairly good eye for what, what's a good layout for the aesthetics. Ah, you might say it's like a being a movie critic and not a movie producer. I'm okay as a critic, I cannot, I cannot maybe, I cannot produce it but I know what is good and I'm able to, ah, mold a team that can produce a good paper and mold a team that can operate a publication economically with just enough money. So, in the case, let's say in the case of the Daily Star the publishing genius was Andrew Go, I mean Betty was no match to Andrew Go, he was, he was the real, he was a genius in publishing but, and I provided the structure for the publication to operate. So, Andrew had a very good eye for layout he, he was like me, well, except that he was able to see them even more exaggerated within because I at least could, could write a column, write an editorial, he couldn't but he was like me that he could, he knew a good story, he knew how to angle it, he knew how to develop it, he was even more imaginative than I in, in that aspect and, ah, when it came to sales, he was a very, very good marketing man. So, our combination must worked out quite well.
Q: Do you have any contact with him?
A: Ah, yeah.
Q: Right now? Do you have any plans of ?
A: Ah, no, you cannot bring him back anymore, he's making too much money in Toronto Star. He's, he's that shows you how good he is that he went to Toronto, to the biggest newspaper in Canada and he is one of the top notches there. You see, he is really got the, got the skills.
Q: Sir, how does it feel or how is it like to be a father a son of a Liling Roces?
A: Well, definitely it puts pressure on you, that you have to maintain a certain moral high ground, that's why I have to get out of the Bagong Araw because I couldn't compete in that kind of a field. I just shut that down. Ah, you, you realize that a lot of things are more valuable than material things or position because becoming a prisoner or being on the hills is no fun, you have no materials things and you have no position. But he was willing to give all of that up. So, make sure you realize that it's your, your values have got to come over everything else.
Q: How about sir being a Roces?
A: Well, that again puts, puts a certain demands on you that you have to the way you treat people, the way the, the values you represent has got to be something that will not smear or deduce the, the memory of your father. My grandfather was a saint, he was, he was a saint.
Q: Sir, how about your future plans with Village Voice or do you have any plan of moving back in the mainstream publishing business?
A: No. I, I think that all of us have got our time. I think my time in the national publication has come and gone. Each one of us got decision but that for me is over. I realized that I was able to get into something like that as unprepared or (laughs) sideways as it was so, having been there, I thank already the Lord for that experience and move on to what is ah He says when he closes a door, he opens a window, this is now my window.
Q: Sir, do you plan to stay, not really is it for good at Village Voice or you plan to extend ?
A: Well, I think that right now is the time for niche, niches, specializations. If you're gonna be in the national paper, you're gonna need a whole lot of money, and if the Lord wanted me to be in that he would have given me a whole lot of money (laughs). Well, you know, the way, I believe that, you're, there are some things that are for you to do and some things at sometime not at others. My entering the publishing there was suddenly and suddenly it was supposedly one chance in a million with ah very, very few gave us any chance of competing with our elders, we were competing with Manila Times, Fookien Times. We made it at that time after Martial Law when we started the Ang Pilipino Ngayon we also made it for awhile, we reached no. 1 and the Star when we were there we reached no. 3, for a short while even no. 2 but that times, times so, this is the opportunity years.
Q: Sir if I'm not mistaken I've read an article by the, by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism during the hot time of the Manila Times' buy out from the Gokongweis, so, did you have any plans of acquiring the Manila Times?
A: No, no, the, that, that one again is one of those side way entrances and again it's because of a relative. During my time as editor-in-chief in the Philippine Star we were sued for, I was sued for libel by Cory Aquino, then president, together with Louie Beltran. My lawyer by some twist of fate ended up Katrina Legarda, so she was my lawyer and she got me acquitted, she got me, Ricky Agcaoili and Godofredo Mansanas acquitted in the court of first instance. So it was just Louie and Max Soliven who were, had to go through the court of appeals, they were eventually acquitted in the court of appeals. But Katrina was my lawyer and she got me acquitted. So, when she asked me to help her, I could not say no, she helped with hers, with her skills and she was asking me to help her with my experience, be her adviser, help her up. So, I could not say no to a niece who had helped me up. So, she asked me to be a board member and then the others agreed that I will be chairman of the board. So, I told her, yes, I will help you but only up, up to a certain extent one is I don't want any blind function, I will just be your adviser in the board and as chairperson, now if you have some operational thing that you want to ask, seek my advise yes I can give you advise, but I will not be in the operations. Now at that time the Gokongweis had several offers, one of them was from Joaquinito, one from them was from Mark Jimenez, one of them was from Reghis Romero who was together with Katrina. Now when she asked me I said look you know national paper now needs a whole lot of money INTERVIEW PAUSE (phone call) I checked his financial records he looked like he had the money, looking at his key people, his key people were Ramos boys not Estrada boys. And then seeing his big contracts, his big contracts, his good profits came from projects undertaken during the Ramos' administration. So, I, I didn't believe this Mark Jimenez thing, plus Robina had told me that another offer was from Mark Jimenez so, this was a different from the Mark Jimenez. So, I agreed, I got one share of stock, so I said here's my one peso give me one share of stock, anytime I can afford to lose one peso, nobody can accuse me of having been bought by a one peso share of stock, so, I said anytime that I feel my company in the board is not to my liking I can suggest my one peso, goodbye, because without a share of stock you cannot be a board member, you cannot be a chairman unless you're a board member. So, when Reghis Romero was seeing that the progress of the company is not according to his projection and he was wanted to sell, his natural guy to offer it to was another guy who had wanted to buy it before, so he sold it to Mark Jimenez. But when I heard that he was gonna sell out and then, here is my one share, bye bye.
Q: But it was like to be, ah, a fast transition from Reghis Romero to Mark Jimenez that made it controversial?
A: No, it was several months but basically what happened was what I was telling Reghis Romero, I said you know publishing especially when you start, unless you start like Inquirer did during EDSA Revolution, publishing is a slow process. You cannot make your reputation that quick because newspaper is not like Coke or Purefoods you can produce under the same quality control standards everyday because the quality of the news is not the same you can only establish your credibility and your style over time. Now because, also because it's your people that determine what you produce. You could, you can make all the policies in the board, your editor can put all of these instructions in a manual but what you produce really depends on your people, how you're able to manage them. You cannot develop a team, cohesive style right away, kasi beginning with a whole, completely new people, so it takes time. So I was telling, you know, it'll take you usually three years. But in his type of business I guess he was used to a much faster and he thought he could sell Manila Times much faster than I knew a publication would be sold. So, he was getting impatient
Q: But sir it didn't comes in your mind getting the, the paper? I mean for your clan even
A: No, ah, before Ramon sold it to Gokongwei several cousins including the Prietos, primarily the Prietos who bought the Inquirer, wanted to buy it. But Ramon did not have as much confidence in his, the next generation as he had with the Gokongweis, he thought that you know, the organization of the Gokongweis, with their connections etcetera that they could make a more success, better than the next generation, so
Q: Sir, lastly, what message can you say to aspiring journalist or publisher, or any, um, the younger generations who want to venture into the world of journalism?
A: Well, you have to the realities of life as of now is that the national dailies already is very big business. You are gonna be fighting people with fantastic investments in equipment, linkages and people. It will be difficult to break the competitive, to get over the competitive edge of the top three or four daily newspapers you gotta AUDIO DUBBED FROM VIDEO FOOTAGE have a lot of fund and a lot of determination and ability, you have to be able to sustain that effort at least three years or else you, you just can't make it. But there are a lot of other opportunities, there are a lot of niche markets that are available so, if you don't have, if you're not a multi-millionaire or billionaire then you choose a, a niche that is more according to your budget. But there is a lot of there is still a strong demand for print media, of course print media has to adapt to the competition of the electronic media. A lot of the magazines are losing out to the electronic media, like, why do you the weekly magazines that, ah, make analysis of the story, news past will have difficult time now because you are, you're getting these analysis free, many of the TV stations we got the Probe, the Insider, the Magandang Gabi Bayan and, ah, you're getting it with moving photos. It's very hard now to compete with just black and white, even photos that are not as current. So, you have to go to niche market but there's a lot of space in the specialization, like computer magazines are there, you got sports magazine, you got community papers there's still a lot of demands still for print media. What's gonna happen is you're now you are gonna be looking at, aside from the big dailies, you're gonna be looking at more editions of less circulation but more editions. So, you'll still have the same number of paper or print area but you just have to be in a different manner.