The USA Publications is the official student press corps of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, Philippines. Originally a high school publication of Colegio de San Agustin de Iloilo (former name of USA), it was founded on 1928 with its first recorded publication released on August 1928. It is the oldest Catholic campus publication in Asia outside Manila. The press corps publishes The Augustinian Mirror (magazine), The Augustinian (newspaper), Irong-irong (literary journal), Dingding ni Gusting (community wall newspaper), and other special issues.
Today it is one of the most awarded college press corps in the Philippines. It has received its first national distinction when The Augustinian Mirror was adjudged as one of the three best-edited school magazines in the country during the late 1950s.
The USA Publications started out as the official school organ of the old Colegio de San Agustin de Iloilo (now University of San Agustin). The need for a school publication was felt as early as 1927. The idea to have a publication came from high school students, Jose Mijares and Jose Sanchez. These students presented their plan to the school’s rector that time, Fr. Vidal Yraeta, O.S.A. who approved it without much ado. Jose Mijares was appointed as the first editor-in-chief with Jose Sanchez and Eduardo Campos as associate editors. Fr. Mariano Sapiña, O.S.A. was its first moderator and adviser.
The staff members were able to release the first issue of The Augustinian Mirror on August 1928. It came out in a 8-page tabloid form with its masthead using Old English Text font face.
Early International Exposition
Despite an early age of establishment, the USA Publications had fast upgrades and was not only circulated in the school, rather, it reached the national and international scenes. The fast upgrades were characterized by great improvement in terms of equipment and library building.
Jose Sanchez, associate editor that time, gained distinction as the best national short story writer in a national contest. In April 1936, The Augustinian Mirror was exhibited in the exposition of Catholic press at the Vatican.
Post World War II
The USA Publications had to stop its operation during the Second World War. The Colegio was also closed for the same. However, in the second half of the 1940s, the resumption of the operations of the Colegio and the press corps were characterized by the evolution of The Augustinian Mirror from a tabloid form into a magazine. The first woman editor in the person of Josefa Contreras led the staff from 1946 to 1948.
It was on March 1, 1953 when the Colegio de San Agustin de Iloilo was granted University status by the Philippine Government making it the First University in Western Visayas. In 1954, during the Golden Jubilee of the University, Primo Esleyer became the editor-in-chief. Under his leadership, he was able to come up with a 110-page magazine which contained most of the events during the said anniversary.
On September 15, 1954, the first issue of The Augustinian was released during the rectorship of Rev. Fr. Isaac Insunza, OSA. The Augustinian was a monthly newspaper that was conceived to enable students to have more prompt appraisal of the happenings in the University.
In 1956, The Augustinian Mirror was a winner in a competition for school publications when it was given awards as Best College Magazine, Second Best Newspaper, Best Editorial Page, Best Sports Page, Second Best Literary Page. It was then adjudged as one of the three best edited school magazines in the National Collegiate Press Contest. The same title was awarded to the USA Publications in 1958.
In 1962, the USA Publications and other departmental publications of the University of San Agustin hosted the delegates coming from 22 campus publications in Western Visayas in celebrating the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalism. Fr. Rafael Lopez was the moderator.
In 1966, The Augustinian Mirror editor-in-chief Wilfredo Segovia was elected national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) alongside with Daniel Florida Jr. of The Quezonian (official publication of the Manuel L. Quezon University). Segovia was one of the only two past national presidents of the CEGP who came from outside the Luzon.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines was a national organization of campus journalists founded in 1931 by The Varsitarian of the University of Santo Tomas, The National of the National University, The Philippine Collegian of the University of the Philippines and The GUIDON of the Ateneo de Manila University.
The Marcos Era
No issue of the publications came out in 1972-1973 during the first year of Martial Law declared by the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. The youngest editor of the USA Publications, in the person of Ma. Leah Rosana Ravena at the age of 16, led the staff in 1973-1974.
From 1976 to 1991, Anita Bellosillo served as moderator of the USA Publications.
In 1976, the first Regional College Press (COPRE) Conference and Awards was organized by the Ministry of Public Information VI (now the Philippine Information Agency Regional Office 6 or simply, PIA-6). It was first facilitated by the USA Publications and The Central Echo, the official school publication of Central Philippine University. Various colleges and universities from Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental participated the event. Today, it is now solely organized by PIA-6 and is sponsored by Smart Communications, Inc. and the Canadian Urban Institute.
Since the beginning of COPRE, The Augustinian Mirror won Best College Development Communication Magazine; thus earning them the first Gawad Graciano Lopez Jaena Award for winning the said distinction for five consecutive years (1976-1981). The staff members were awarded a presidential trophy. The Augustinian Mirror also won the Antonio Tagamolila Award for its intelligent discussion of socio-political issues during the National Collegiate Press Conference organized by CEGP. The Augustinian, on the other hand, won Best Tourism-oriented Paper in Western Visayas from 1980 to 1982. It was awarded by the Department of Tourism.
In 1983, Raul Anlocoton and Jobert Yap received the Golden Presidential Awards for being part of the Outstanding Campus Writers in the Philippines. In 1984 and 1987, The Augustinian Mirror again won best magazine in COPRE.
The USA Publications editors monopolized the championship awards in the National Rizal Essay Writing Contest for seven consecutive years. Moreover, the “Most Outstanding Graduate” award of the University of San Agustin was also monopolized by its editors from 1977 to 1990.
In June 1991, when Bellosillo was appointed by the University of San Agustin to be the chairperson of the English Department, Flaviano Manalo took over the moderatorship. Under his stewardship, The Augustinian Mirror won its second Gawad Graciano Lopez Jaena for winning Best College Magazine from 1987 to 1992. In 1993, the PIA granted The Augustinian Mirror the privilege of not to compete in the yearly competition for five years. The Augustinian emerged as Best Newspaper in Western Visayas in the November 1995 COPRE Conference and Awards held at Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
After the expiry of the five-year exemption in 1998, Cynette Lovelyn Mirasol, editor, led The Augustinian Mirror to victory of winning again the Best College Magazine title in COPRE held at Roxas City, Capiz.
The New Millennium
The Augustinian Mirror and The Augustinian remained on top from 2000 up to its last reception of the third Gawad Graciano Lopez Jaena Award in 2004 which again gave them a privilege of not joining the Regional College Press Conference for five years. By this time, the USA Publications already had five of the said title, three for The Augustinian Mirror and two for The Augustinian.
On 2002, Diosdadita Arungayan took over the moderatorship. And on 2004, Carlos Palanca Memorial Awardee for Literature John Iremil Teodoro became moderator.
As an indication that the University of San Agustin was leading the way in publication efforts, the USA Publications organized the 1st Gusting Campus Journalism Seminar on October 19–20, 2004 at the campus. It was attended by more than 50 student journalists coming from various educational institutions in Western Visayas. The seminar continued for three years. The San Ag Campus Press Awards was also launched the following year. It was a regional press competition for publications in high schools, colleges and universities all over Western Visayas, both public and private.
The Augustinian Mirror from 2004-2008 transformed into a tourism-oriented magazine which has featured the various provinces in the country such as Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Mindoro, and Palawan. On 2009, it was supposed to feature the Ilocos Region; however, with budget constraints, the staff decided not to push through with the plan. During the later part of this period, Erwin Sustento took over the position moderator when Teodoro transferred to another school in Metro Manila.
Irong-irong, the official student literary journal of the University was launched in 2005 with Arlene Moscaya as the first editor.
The last regional San Ag Campus Press Awards was then held on 2010. The Spectrum of the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental won the title, Best College Newspaper; while The Central Echo of Central Philippine University in Jaro District, Iloilo City won the title Best College Magazine.
The Digital Era
On Academic Year 2009-2010, the USA Publications was the supposed comeback for the Regional College Press (COPRE) Conference. However, the staff decided to hold its last San Ag Campus Press Awards on 2010 and move their participation in COPRE that year. The editors that time were Jefferson Magbanua and Pietros Val Patricio.
On Academic Year 2010-2011, Jefferson Magbanua and Donna Isabelle Fresnido were the editors-in-chief. Gladys Confesor, on the other hand, took the challenge of being moderator of the USA Publications. This year was the comeback to press competitions. Developments were further done in the publications through the efforts of their managing editor, Ray Adrian Macalalag, who introduced the USA Publications to online visibility. The USA Publications joined the 2010 COPRE and the 1st Smart Communications Campus Blogsite Contest. A community wall newspaper was also launched under the supervision of Jerson Elmido and it won second best wall newspaper; The Augustinian Mirror place fifth Best College magazine; and the USA Publications placed fifth in the blogsite contest.
On Academic Year 2011-2012, the editors-in-chief were both replaced after Magbanua and Fresnido graduated. From 2006-2011, the editors came from the College of Arts and Sciences but this academic year came in with editors coming from other colleges. Mary Leslie Eregia, from the College of Pharmacy and Medical Technology, topped the qualifying examination and became the editor of the Mirror, while Ray Adrian Macalalag, from the College of Engineering and Architecture, took the second highest spot in the exam which earned him the title of being editor of The Augustinian. During this period, the USA Publications had further developments such as online edition of the publications they produced. They were able to join two competitions: the Spectrum Fellowship National Campus Press Awards organized by The Spectrum of the University of St. La Salle and the COPRE which is co-organized by PIA-6 and Smart Communications, Inc.
The Augustinian placed fifth in Best Newspaper in COPRE while the entire USA Publications placed second in the 2nd Smart Communications Campus Blogsite Contest. Dingding ni Gusting placed first Best Wall Newspaper. Meanwhile, The Augustinian Mirror participated in the Spectrum Fellowship National Campus Press Awards and reaped Best Magazine, Best Magazine Layout, and Best Magazine Cover Design. Macalalag and Genessa Buenafe, associate editor, were named among the Ten Outstanding Campus Journalists in the national awards.
On Academic Year 2012-2013, the USA Publications was led by Macalalag and Josefa Maria Castro. The USA Publications gathered major developments on online visibility by launching its USA Publications News, a web newscast which is said to be the first ever to be done in Visayas if not the entire country. The web newscast was also part of their advocacy to use lesser quantity of paper. This advocacy was further strengthened by decreasing the size of their newspaper and using less-space-consuming fonts. This academic year was truly blessed after the USA Publications won both Best College Magazine and Best College Newspaper in the 9th Spectrum Fellowship National Campus Press Awards. Castro was awarded Best Opinion Article and Macalalag remained in the Ten Outstanding Campus Journalists. In COPRE, the USA Publications landed in first place in the 3rd Smart Communications Campus Blogsite Contest; Dingding ni Gusting won its two-peat for Best Wall Newspaper; The Augustinian landed as second Best College Newspaper; The Augustinian Mirror landed third Best College Magazine; and Irong-irong which debuted in the competition won third Best College Literary Folio.
Today, the USA Publications remains as one of the leading campus publications in the Philippines having a multifunctional website, and several titles both local and national.