What's behind the PNA logo?

By Severino Samonte

August 28, 2023, 8:36 pm

MANILA – What does the "tambuli" or horn-like shape in the logo or graphic representation of the identification or business name of the government-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) signify?

That question was relayed to me through the telephone one recent afternoon by a staff member of the PNA, one of the four divisions of the News and Information Bureau (NIB), an attached agency of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), now known as Presidential Communications Office.

PNA, which turned 50 years old on March 1, 2023, is the oldest among NIB's four divisions -- the three others being the Media Accreditation and Relations Division (MARD), Presidential Press Staff (PPS) and Financial and Administrative Division (FAD) which were created together with NIB in 1987.

The editorial offices of PNA are located at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building at the Media Center along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.

The question was sent to me since some of the present PNA people are aware that I was one of the 11 original PNA staff members when it was inaugurated as the national government's official news agency 50 years ago.

The unexpected query actually came from the former director of the NIB, Raymond Robert C. Burgos, a former member of the Board of Directors of the Manila Economic and Cultural Council (MECO), member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Journalists Inc., and vice president and publisher of the Journal Group of Publications.

Burgos also wants to know who conceptualized the PNA logo, who actually drew it and when it was first used.

It was the first time that I got such questions about the PNA's logo, which can also be considered as the news agency's identification or business card.

I am very glad that I still remember what veteran media practitioner and editor Jose L. Pavia, founding general manager of the PNA, told me about the logo in 1984, or 38 years ago. My only regret was that I failed to ask him about who conceptualized the logo and who actually designed it. It was too late now to ask him because he died in 2011 at age 73.

According to Pavia, the PNA logo is supposed to contain information gathered for dissemination to the public. He said the first three letters of the proper name "Philippine News Agency" or the acronym PNA have been embedded in the graphic presentation, together with parts of the four major human senses such as eye for seeing, ear for hearing, nose for smelling, and mouth or lips for speaking, which are all necessary in news gathering and dissemination. There is also a "tambuli" or horn for best audibility.

Backgrounder on PNA:

The Philippine News Agency was created through a Special Order issued by former Department of Public Information (DPI) Secretary and later on Senator Francisco S. Tatad after then President Ferdinand E. Marcos proclaimed a state of martial law in the entire country on Sept. 21, 1972. It replaced the privately-owned Philippine News Service or PNS, the country's first news agency established in 1950.

At the outset, the infant news agency used the old equipment of the old PNS such as teletype machines, typewriters and cameras located at the second floor of the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines building along Magallanes Drive in Intramuros, Manila. It was also in that building where PNA operated for several years before moving in 1996 to its present site in Quezon City.

PNA was designated as the national news arm or division of the Bureau of National and Foreign Information (BNFI) headed by Director Lorenzo "Larry" Cruz of the Office of Media Affairs (OMA) under Minister Gregorio S. Cendana (RIP). BNFI also had its foreign information division staffed by Filipino information or press attaches based in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Canada, Tokyo and other key cities of the world.

There was a time when then noted newspaper columnist and radio commentator Teodoro F. Valencia contributed his popular column "Over a Cup of Coffee" for PNA subscribers and readers.

Former United Press International (UPI) Manila Bureau Manager Vicente Maliwanag also served as general manager of PNA before he died in the early 1980s.

After the People Power Revolution of February 1986, the succeeding administration of President Corazon C. Aquino reorganized the entire government bureaucracy, abolished the OMA and DPI and created the Office of the Press Secretary or OPS headed by then Press Secretary Teodoro Benigno.

The abolished BNFI was replaced by two new bureaus: The present News and Information Bureau (NIB) and the Bureau of Communications Services or BCS. PNA has been retained as one of the four divisions of NIB until today.

Incumbent President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., shortly after assuming office on June 30, 2022, issued an executive order returning the name Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) from the previous Presidential Communications Operations Office or PCOO.

Meanwhile, for about two years after PNA's birth on March 1, 1973, its editorial offices virtually became "a gathering place of the media eagles" or top staff members of the pre-martial law press.

Since all newspapers were closed down, many of the deskmen, reporters, photographers and other staff members of such outfits applied for work at the PNA and were accommodated provided they could present the required government clearances from the authorities.

Such a situation ended only after some of the closed national newspapers eventually were allowed to resume publications and many new ones opened under supervision by the government-organized Media Advisory Council composed of representatives of the private sector and chaired by the National Press Club president.

Aside from Pavia and Maliwanag (both deceased), others who had served as PNA general manager included Vegel O. Santos, German C. Galian, Guillermo H. Santos (RIP), Ernesto Banawis (RIP), Jorge S. Reyes (RIP), Casiano A. Navarro (RIP), and Vittorio "Vot" Vitug. (PNA)