#15YearsofBulatlat | How Bulatlat got its name


Of the all the options in the world, why would any sane person name a news agency Bulatlat?


MANILA – Porn site? No. Bulatlat is a news website.

Bulatlat reporters each have their own share of, well, “difficulty,” explaining to their news sources, perhaps even to their relatives, what the news agency is all about. There is, after all, a double-edged charm that comes with the name Bulatlat.

Some years back, a foreign news correspondent visited Bulatlat’s office. As he gave the instruction to bring him to a certain “boh-laht-laht” office, the taxi driver returned a dark, tight, and mischievous smile. When editor-in-chief Benjie Oliveros explained the meaning of Bulatlat, or at least what it insinuates in the very rich and colorful Filipino language, he almost died of laughter.

This reporter is not spared, and often gets asked how it is related to a tabloid paper, why its report is in English when the name is not, and, most importantly, why on earth would any sane person name a news agency Bulatlat, out of all the choices of name in the world?

Its managing editor and cartoonist Dee Ayroso said she first learned of Bulatlat when she was interviewed for the enforced disappearance of her husband Honor Ayroso back in 2002. She said, “I remember thinking, ‘What a weird name for a magazine!’ But when I checked the site, then I realized, the name serves the magazine well.”

So who is to blame for all these brouhaha?

Jose Enrique Africa, who is currently the executive director of Ibon Foundation, said the names that cropped up during the brainstorming for the news website was even more, well, less exciting. Among them were “maghimagsik.com” and “lumiliyab.com.”

Then “lamok.com” became the strongest contender as part of its heritage of the mosquito press back in Marcos dictatorship. But Rowena Carranza-Paraan, one of its founding editors said in her “Bulatlat turns 1” entry that “unfortunately for the name’s proponent, it now reminds people more of dengue than the power of the press.”

But Africa said they were persistent in finding a name that was most appealing without compromising the sharpness of the message they want to convey.

“I showed the list of possible names to Wokie and she laughed at the names we came up with,” Africa recalled, referring to wife and cultural activist Marilyn Miranda.

It was Miranda who later on came up with the name Bulatlat. Africa, for his part, said they were already nearly past their deadline and the founding editors agreed to this name.

Bulatlat, despite whatever connotation, means “ang pagbubukas o pag-aalis ng pagkakabilot” (uncovering or removing the cover), according to the Diksyunaryo ng Wikang Pilipino by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.

Meanwhile, the “.com” was added due to what Africa said as “cluelessness” of the founding editors that it meant “commercial.” He said the more fitting, top-level domain would be “.net”.

Today, Bulatlat is the longest-running online alternative news media in the country. It relentlessly covers issues that concerns and affects the Filipino people. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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