|By RICHEL G. DOROTAN|
FROM the very first day it saw print in the annals of Philippine publication history, Bisaya magazine has been a vital force and catalyst of Cebuano-Visayan Literature. Spearheaded by the great Vicente Padriga, more than seven decades ago, Bisaya magazine is a true milestone of publication success considering that it is issued in a regional language— a language spoken by many but became marginal due to the country’s language policy. Until today, the magazine serves as a faithful chronicler of the Cebuano experience culled from the Cebuano writer’s creativity.
But why does Bisaya magazine survives through time, a question might be thrown in. Several factors would likely come to one’s mind.
From the literati’s point of view, Bisaya magazine is considered the barometer for Visayan literary artist. Cebuano literary stalwarts flourished and made names in the pages of Bisaya; popular names such as Natalio Bacalso, Severino Retuya, Marcel Navarra, Piux Kabahar, Sulpicio Osorio, Estrella Alfon, Lina Espina-Moore to name only a few. Even president Carlos P. Garcia, in one time, before he catapulted at the helm of his political career, wrote for the Bisaya. And these hosts of writers are now considered institution, as Bisaya itself is an institution.
Similarly, contemporary Cebuano writers who are currently making waves are writing in Bisaya magazine too. A fine example are the writings of Gremer Chan Reyes, whose historical novel about Cebu entitled "Ang Ugma Walay Pag-abot" (Tomorrow Will Not Come) is currently serialized in Bisaya magazine. This novel is considered first in its kind in Cebuano literary history as nobody venture such devotion and passion in writing a novel that weaves into seven volumes of fiction and history into one coherent whole. The novel narrates about the plight of small town of Bogo ravaged and torn by war and how war affects people’s lives.
And from the reader’s perspective, Bisaya is a weekly dose of entertainment like no other. Its well-balanced content (40% literary and 60% popular) satisfies and challenges the reader’s depth of imagination. From Atty. Ver Quimco’s legal column to Prof. Amelia Bojo’s bowl of opinion, and a host of others, Bisaya offers a variety of write-ups that deliver reading pleasure the magazine is proud of. It enriches and widens the reader’s horizon vis-à-vis the complexity of the modern world. Eversince, Bisaya magazine is a reader’s magazine. A magazine they can call their own for it speaks in the language they know best.
Like its sister regional magazines, Bisaya remains steadfast in promoting the Filipino art of comics. Despite the threat of digital media, the old school of comics production is very much alive as evidenced in readers’ response of Bisaya.
Another greatest contributions of modern Bisaya magazine is its standardization of Binisaya spelling. The editors observe the need for such cause for the purpose of Cebuano language intellectualization. To date, Bisaya editors follow certain spelling standards based on studies of the academe, tradition, and other linguistic considerations— a step never undertaken by other Cebuano publication.
Until today, Bisaya magazine continues to command respect from all sectors of Cebuano society as a prime pillar of Cebuano culture contributory to nation building. One of the latest accolade the magazine received together with its other sister regional publications is the "Diamond Cultural Award" presented by Publishers Association of the Philippines on December 12, 2008 in the City of Baguio.
Some say it is very impossible to imagine Cebuano culture without Bisaya magazine. The passing of years, instead of making it older each issue, does magic on its pages. It is constantly ready to serve generations of readers. Bisaya magazine is a living monument to, and a true ambassador of, Cebuano literature and culture. And the tradition lives on.
We think this is true. —
(First published in Manila Bulletin 109th Aniversary Special, Feb. 2, 2009)