Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya: Lipa’s contribution to Philippine journalism

After Lipa’s liberation from the Spanish forces on June 18, 1898, the town underwent a cultural renaissance. It was during this time of revolutionary fervor that the newspaper Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya was born, marking an important, yet largely unrecognized, contribution to Philippine journalism and history. Fernando María Guerrero, a renowned Filipino poet, and writer during the golden age of Philippine Literature in Spanish wrote the following in praise of the said publication.

“¿Cuantos de la presente generación filipina están enterados del papel heroico que desempeñó, en aquellos días de lucha, “Columnas Volantes”? En realidad, muy pocos. Sólo contados bibliófilos tienen noticia de ello. Y tan cierto es esto que muy rara vez-por no decir nunca se ha hecho mención de la labor meritísima realizada por aquel haz de claros talentos y almas vehementes que fueron ayer y siguen siendo aún orgullo, prez y gloria de la provincia de Batangas en particular, y, en general, del pueblo y la raza filipina.” Prologue of Fernando María Guerrero, Columnas Volantes, Max Bernard Solís, published in 1927 [How many of the present Filipino generation knew of the heroic role played by the Columnas Volantes in those days of the revolutionary struggle? Actually, very few. Only a few bibliophiles knew about it. And so true was this, that very rarely – if ever – mention has been made of the most meritorious work done by that bundle of distinct talents and passionate souls that were yesterday and still continue to be the pride, glory and honor of the Batangas province in particular, and of the Filipino people and race in general.]

The Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya issue no. 15 of July 9, 1899, printed in Lipa, Batangas
from the Philippine Revolutionary Records of the National Library of the Philippines Collection
Courtesy of Jim Richardson

Don Gregorio Aguilera y Solís with the support of the Club Democrático Independista, a group of young and talented editors from Lipa, fresh graduates of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, and Universidad de Santo Tomas, embarked on a patriotic mission to publish the Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya. This weekly newspaper, published in both Spanish and Tagalog, made its debut on Friday, March 24, 1899. The newspaper’s name drew inspiration from the lofty goal of seeing the Philippines not only independent but also leading and united with all other Malay people.

Teachers and students of Instituto Rizal, members of the Club Demócratico Independista

FIRST ROW SEATED: (L-R) Pablo Malabanan Dimayuga, Simeon Katigbak Kison, José Dimayuga, Teodoro Manguiat Kalaw, Carmelo Malabanan Reyes, Mariano Katigbak Kison

SECOND ROW :(L-R) Isabelo Macarandang Katigbak, Emiliano Mendoza Katigbak, Edilberto Latorre Mendoza, Francisco Dimayuga Bautista, Fidel Malabanan Reyes, Leon Mendoza Katigbak, Bartolome Mendoza Katigbak, Mariano Dimayuga

THIRD ROW STANDING : (L-R) Dionisio Latorre, Primitivo Recio Kalaw, Tomas Recio Umali, Rufino Katigbak Roxas, Herminio Kalaw Silva

The Columnas Volantes boasted an impressive editorial staff, led by Gregorio Aguilera y Solis as director and Pedro Laygo as editor-in-chief. Dr. Baldomero L. Roxas served as the society columnist, while Fidel Alejandro M. Reyes provided critical commentaries. José Petronio M. Katigbak was the features and poetry columnist, Tomás R. Umali wrote about military strategy, and Albino C. Dimayuga edited the Tagalog section. As a journalistic custom of that period, they all used pseudonyms such as “R. del M.” for Aguilera, “Dr. Pangloss” or “Lumiere Rouge” for Roxas, “Negro” or “Fin de Siecle” for Reyes, “Hamlet” for Katigbak, “Florete” or “Adonis” for Umali, and “Albicus” for Dimayuga. Other notable Lipeños, including Emiliano Manguiat (writing as Emilman), Don Bernardo Solis (B.S. Metra), and Don Manuel Luz, also contributed their literary works to the newspaper.

The Columnas Volantes newspaper was not solely a product of Lipeño writers, but rather a collaborative effort among Batangueños and correspondents from various parts of Luzon. The June 18, 1899 issue even published the names of its correspondents:

Balayan – Sres. Cipriano López y Vivencio Ramos
Batangas – Sres. José Argüelles, Potenciano Hilario, y Pedro Pastor
Bauan – Sres. Diego Gloria, Eusebio Orense, y Sebastián Brual
Calaca – Sr. Lorenzo Fenoy
Calatagan – Sr. Simeón Elzegui
Carmen y otros pueblos – Sr. Félix Marfori
Cuenca – Sr. Martin Marasigan
Ibaan – Sr. Lucino Reyes, presbítero
Lemery – Sr. Agapito Panganiban
Lian – Sr. Gregorio Limjoko
Lobo – Sr. Celestino Gutiérrez
Nasugbu – Sra. Emilia Villamarín
Rosario – Sres. Melecio Bolaños, Vicente Luna, and Luis Greñas
San José – Sres. Luis Luna y Ambrosio Makalintal
San Juan de Bocboc– Sres. Gregorio de Villa, Esteban de Villa, Santos López, y Ángel Maralit
Santo Tomás – Sr. Apolonio Teruel
Taal y San Luis – Sres. Martin Cabrera y Ramón Atienza
Talisay – Sr. Basilio Masajo
Tanauan – Sr. Cayetano Laurena
Taysan – Sr. Vicente Reyes
Tuy – Sr. Vicente Almanzor

Candelaria – Sr. Aguedo Macasaet
Dolores y otros pueblos – Sr. Moisés Borbon, presbítero
Lucena – Sres. Victor Alfonso y Francisco Bautista
Lucban – Sr. Zósimo J. Badiola
Sariaya, Gumaca, Unisan, Atimonan y otros pueblos – Sr. Braulio de Villa
Tayabas – Sres. Potenciano Malvar, Mariano Castillo, y Teodoro Olgado
Tiaong – Sr. Mamerto Briones

Alaminos – Sr. Marcelo Javier, presbítero
Biñan – Sr. Mariano López Calamba,
Los Baños, y Bay – Sr. Manuel Hidalgo
Cabuyao – Sr. José Bella
Calauan y otros pueblos – Sr. Julio Herrera
Lilio – Sr. Ventura Dimaguila
Lumbang y otros pueblos – Sr. Pedro Paraíso
Magdalena y otros pueblos – Sr. Román Dimayuga
Nagcarlan – Sr. Camilo Lirio
Pagsanjan – Sr. Vicente Llamas
Pila – Sr. Santiago Relova
San Pablo – Sres. Inocente Martínez y Tiburcio Guerrero
Santa Cruz – Sres. Hugo Salazar y Vicente Reyes
Santa Rosa – Sr. Angel Zaballa

Imus y otros pueblos – Sr. Dámaso Ibarra y N. Portillo

MINDORO – Sres. Macario Adriatico y Bernardo del Mundo

MARINDUQUE – Sr. Jefe Militar

ROMBLON Sres. José Arriola y Marcelo López

– Sres. Fulgencio Contreras y N. Villafuerte

The editorial staff of the Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya

For each issue of the Columnas Volantes, the editorial staff convened in an office located on one of the mezzanine floors of the house owned by Señor José Africa Luz, considered to be one of the largest homes in Lipa. Their writings were printed on an old minerva managed by a couple of Spaniards who were prisoners of war in Lipa and were treated chivalrously by the town’s local authorities. The chief typesetter was a sergeant of the cazadores who had worked in a printing press in Spain during his civilian life.

The Columnas Volantes was printed in a small minerva that became a historical memorabilia in the Pre-War National Museum. The minerva was donated to the said institution by the well-known Dr. Baldomero Roxas, a former columnist of Columnas Volantes. A Jesuit Priest Fr. Pascual, who was then a prisoner of war in Lipa, was the jefe compositor (chief typesetter) of the small printing press.

The Columnas Volantes measured about 12 x 8 inches, and typically consisted of six pages printed on an ordinary newspaper. The text was printed on two double-column galley proofs, which meant that only two galley proofs could fit on each page due to the size of the weekly. The articles were quickly printed without being corrected because they needed to be broken down to make up the second page and so on. As a result, the articles would sometimes contain errors.

In 1927, journalist Max Bernard Solís described the Columnas Volantes in an article, saying that the newspaper was eclectic and summarized all the activities of national and Batangueño life, as far as the very defective means of communication and information would permit. The leading article or editorial, which was generally signed, was devoted to commenting on the different phases of national politics and the course of the Philippine-American war. Additionally, the pages included a mix of short stories, poems, journals, art magazines, articles on criticism, satire, military strategy, and general information. Despite its defects, the publication was admired for its cultural and critical breadth, skillful and eloquent writing, and occasionally sharp and aggressive expression of viewpoints. The entertainment sections of the paper also showcased good literary taste, poetic inspiration, witty remarks, and elegant writing.

Lipa during the American occupation

According to the late Southeast Asian history professor and writer Glenn Anthony May, the writers of the Columnas Volantes expressed patriotic sentiments and a fierce determination to resist American forces. In each issue, the editors made clear their intention to continue fighting for freedom, even if it meant sacrificing their lives. In the book, “Battle for Batangas”, May featured a translated excerpt from one of the newspaper’s editorials, which highlighted the apprehension felt by Filipinos at the threat of an American invasion:

“Uneasiness, to some extent justified…, prevails in the populace. Regions that were untouched until recently are being invaded…Where will all this end? Will we succumb to such pressure?… These are questions that one hears frequently, an enigma that every Filipino longs to see deciphered, obviously in favor of our aspirations. But if bad luck sends us precisely the opposite of what we hope for, there are fortunately many mountains and craggy spots (in the province). No doubt it will be preferable to live in such places, sheltered from the opprobrious flag which usurps our rights, than to live in a village with a chain around one’s neck.”

Unfortunately, the Columnas Volantes, after one year of operations, folded its last issue in 1900 when the American troops seized and confiscated its printing press and all its materials in the town of Rosario, near Lipa, where it took refuge from the American persecution. Despite its short existence, the newspaper played an instrumental role in igniting and sustaining the spirit of Filipino nationalism during a critical period in the country’s history.


May, Glenn Anthony. Battle for Batangas: a Philippine province at war. Philippines: Yale University Press, 1991.

Solis, Maximo Bernardo A. Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya: Contribución a la Historia del Periodismo Filipino. Balmaceda Collection. National Library of the Philippines. 1927.

Valenzuela, Jesús Z.. History of Journalism in the Philippine Islands. Philippines, The author, 1933.

Historical Bulletin. Manila: Philippine Historical Association, 1957.

2 Replies to “Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya: Lipa’s contribution to Philippine journalism”

  1. Que tenga mas difusion este blog sobre LIPA y las columnas volantes y que su contenido y fotos se esparzan por separado en oytras partes de bf. yo quiero serializar sus fotos y contendo en mi padina bf, en La Academia Filipina y en Phil. History 101.

  2. Thanks so much, Renz! How are you? And mom? Regards to you both! God bless!

    Sent from *Stella’s* iPhone


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