Cebu

Former ‘The Freeman’ editor-in-chief, publisher Jerry Tundag dies at 70

John Sitchon

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Former ‘The Freeman’ editor-in-chief, publisher Jerry Tundag dies at 70

JERRY. An award-winning journalist and a mentor to many in Cebu's community of journalists.

Cebu Citizens-Press Council

The veteran journalist’s family, describes Jerry Tundag as one who stood at the forefront of Cebu media, 'dedicating most of his life to bringing the truth through his writing'

CEBU, Philippines – Jeremias “Jerry” Suico Tundag, a former editor-in-chief and publisher of The Freeman in Cebu, passed away on Friday, December 8.

His family confirmed his passing on social media on Friday morning. 

“I don’t quite have the words yet but whatever is left of my sanity will ask only this of friends and family: that they pray for my dad’s peace for I know that this eternal rest will relieve him from the human life he has long struggled with,” Tundag’s daughter Nina wrote in a Facebook post.

According to Nina, the veteran journalist had been battling cancer for some time. In an article published on The Freeman on November 13, Tundag chronicled his experience in dealing with the dreaded disease which had taken root in his thyroid.

“I was forced to go to the hospital and subjected to a battery of tests. It was then and there that doctors suspected that I had something more than just a bladder blocked by an enlarged prostate…Now, it is the big C that looms before me,” Tundag wrote.

The veteran journalist affirmed his complete surrender to the will of God and took a moment to reflect on his younger days as a boy scout wiping the statue of the Child Jesus for visiting devotees in Cebu. 

“Growing up, as my prayers started getting complicated, I always invoked the Santo Niño to intercede for that innocent child who completely surrendered to His service. The intercession always came. Sometimes a little 11th hourish but it never failed to come,” Tundag said.

Remembering Jerry

Born September 15, 1953, Tundag was raised in Cabadiangan, a mountainous village in Compostela town, and studied at the Colegio del Santo Niño. 

Later on, Tundag went to college at the University of the Visayas (UV) in the 1980s, where he was a former staff member of The Visayanian, UV’s official publication. It was also around this time that he became part of The Freeman’s editorial team.

“In his prime years as editor, Sir Jerry would have the writer sit next to him while he was editing. He showed, not just told, the writer the hows and whys of the craft,” former The Freeman editor John Destacamento wrote in a Facebook post.

Eventually, Tundag rose from editor to publisher of The Freeman and even worked as a local correspondent for Reuters for around 17 years, bagging multiple journalism awards during his career and attending the ASEAN Editors’ Conference twice as a Philippine delegate.

More than the prestige, Tundag was known for his hard-hitting commentaries found in his column “To The Quick” and his dedication to nurturing the next generation of Cebu’s news writers and editors.

“Sir Jerry handled Page 1 and would remind reporters whose stories landed on the front page to write these first…He told us, you work on the hardest and most important story first so that your mind is still fresh,” former The Freeman reporter and editor Max Limpag said in a social media post.

The Freeman, in a statement, extended its condolences to the family and stated that the veteran journalist “left an indelible mark on the publication”.

“May the legacy and firm contribution he has left to the Philippine news community forever be remembered and cherished,” said the Tundag family’s statement.

As of this writing, Tundag’s remain lie in state at 1050 Mabini Street, in Barangay San Mateo, Carigara town, Leyte. The veteran journalist is survived by his wife Arlene and daughters Nina, Carmel, and Lia. – Rappler.com

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