Born and educated in the Philippines, Quintin Yuyitung was the eldest son of Yu Yi Tung, who founded the Chinese Commercial News in 1919. He was in his senior year as a student in commerce at the Far Eastern University when World War II broke out in the Pacific. The Philippines was invaded and occupied by the Japanese military. The elder Yu closed his newspaper and refused to allow it to be used by the invaders. For this he was court-martialed and executed in 1942.
At the end of the war, Quintin Yuyitung decided to continue the work for which his father had given up his life. He reopened the Chinese Commercial News in 1945, and built it up to become the most widely circulated Chinese-language newspaper in the Philippines, respected for its independent positions and coverage of the news.
Quintin and his younger brother Rizal, who was editor of the newspaper, were advocates of closer integration of the local Chinese community into mainstream Philippine society. At the time (the People’s Republic of China had been established in 1949), this was considered a ‘subversive” idea by the Philippine authorities and the conservative leadership of Chinese-Filipino businesses in the country. In 1962 the brothers were arrested, detained and threatened with deportation but eventually released.
Still they were fearless in reporting the news as it was happening, covering the accounts of fraud that marked President Marcos’ reelection in 1969, and the series of protest actions of the First Quarter Storm. Together with other leaders of the Philippine media, they defended press freedom and warned against the looming possibility of martial law.
Late one night in May 1970, Quintin and Rizal Yuyitung were picked up by immigration personnel and sent off to Taiwan on a military plane. “Now we have an undeclared state of martial law,” Senator Jovito R. Salonga said of their abduction.
Although the brothers had renounced their Chinese citizenship and had never set foot in Taiwan before then, the Kuomintang regime in Taipeh subjected them to a military trial. Quintin was sentenced to imprisonment of two years, and Rizal, three years. In Manila, their friends took over the newspaper’s operation.
Shortly before the declaration of martial law in the Philippines, Quintin Yuyitung had been released and allowed to leave Taiwan after serving his sentence. He proceeded directly to Jerusalem where an annual convention of the International Press Institute was being held. There he denounced the Marcos dictatorship and its suppression of press freedom.
He spent his exile in San Francisco, California, participating in many activities alongside other anti-dictatorship activists based in the United States. His brother went to Canada.
After the Marcos regime fell in 1986, the Yuyitung brothers returned to the Philippines and revived the Chinese Commercial News. In 1990, Quintin Yuyitung died in San Francisco after a stroke. Rizal Yuyitung died in Canada in 2007.
In his life, Quintin was also noted for his dedication to the welfare of Manila’s urban poor who had been resettled in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. For many years, he spent weekends helping them, contributing substantial personal funds and soliciting donations from friends and the public through his newspaper.