The Chronicles of Jose T. Vitug
Jose Tiongco Vitug— was Born May 8, 1918; a veteran of World War II, a Philanthropist, and a Journalist, to name a few. The family name Tiongco is somehow related to the De La Rosa family from Lubao, Pampanga, to wit, the late actors Rogelio and Jaime De la Rosa.
Joe, as his close friends called him, was also a good friend of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, together with Rogelio de la Rosa, who was related to President Macapagal through his first marriage with Rogelio’s sister Purita. They all grew up together and became performers in a Vaudeville as stage actors. When President Macapagal entered his candidacy to run for President of the Philippines, Senator Rogelio de la Rosa also entered his candidacy in 1961. On the other hand, Joe was the adviser for the two candidates. So much was involved during the campaign, eventually leading to the withdrawal of Rogelio de la Rosa’s candidacy. Mr. De La Rosa withdrew from the presidential race, and his retraction was carried out by the authoritative decision of Joe Vitug, who was one of the instruments for the major decision.
There were no other parties involved with the decision. Still, these three individuals from Lubao, Pampanga, made the major decision and perhaps may have added to, if not changed, the history of the Philippines. Mr. De La Rosa’s reasons behind his retraction remained unknown to us; however, it gave him a big chance for President Macapagal to win the seat for the presidency, and the political history from then started a new beginning.
In his early journey in Manila, he landed a job as a Photo Journalist at the Manila Times and later in the Evening News. He became a very close friend of Arsenio H. Lacson, who was a news reporter then, and became a famous mayor of Manila. Joe was a very active Philippine National Press Club member during his prime.
Joe attempted to run for Congressman in the 3rd district of Manila. Still, in the early part of the campaign, he gave way to another friend, Ramon D. Bagatsing, who became a Congressman and then Manila Mayor.
He founded The Blazer, “The paper with a creed,” a tabloid newspaper that served as a watchdog to dishonest government officials. He founded the Northern Luzon Voters League (1960). He was one of the founding fathers of Philippine Independent Newspapers, an association of tabloid newspapers in the Philippines, with Eddie Infante (former actor and movie director), a Journalist, and Remedios Morales, a Columnist. Joe is a friend of then Vice President Fernando Lopez and former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
Joe was the man who walked with the Presidents of the Philippines, from President Manuel L. Quezon to President Ferdinand E. Marcos. He was born on May 8 and went home to the Lord on July 14, 1998, a date that we will never forget because it is the birth date of one of my sons, Jason. Joe lived as an honest person, a loyal friend, and a public servant who served in the government for decades with unstained records. Some tried to tarnish his record, but the truth prevailed. He did not use the public office to gain wealth. He was by nature sufficed having little. His family inherited nothing of material things but a peaceful and honest living.
As his family, we proudly walk, talk, and look anyone straight in the eyes without fearing being condemned for ill-gotten wealth. The foods he placed on our table were the fruits of his unblemished and hard labor. That’s how proud we are. He may not be perfect and had flaws, but his legacy will remain throughout our generation.
In memory of his brother, I want to take this opportunity to mention him in this memoir to give honor and respect to my uncle, Honesto T. Vitug, the Dean of Philippine Photo Journalism. He is also known as the man who authored “I Shot the Presidents of the Philippines” and the father of the lifetime known “Master of Cinematography” and Hall of Fame Romy Vitug.
Joe Vitug, a civic, meek, and liberal-minded individual, desired to do good things for others, and gaining new friends was his treasure. He was ordained as Bishop in 1965 by Msgr. Ciriaco S. Yumul, Supreme Bishop.
We are proud to be a Vitug, are you?