Cebu News

Former Freeman chief editor, publisher Jerry Tundag writes 30

Emmanuel Villaruel, Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  A pall of gloom descended on the Cebu media industry with the passing of one of its strongest pillars—former The FREEMAN editor-in-chief and publisher Jeremias "Jerry" Suico Tundag yesterday morning. He was 70.

Tundag's wife Arlinda confirmed the news on social media yesterday.

"It is with the heaviest heart that we announce the passing of the most loving father and husband, Jerry Tundag," she said.

"Jerry has long stood as one of Cebu media's forefronts, dedicating most of his life to bringing the truth through his writing," she added.

"May the legacy and firm contribution he has left to the Philippine news community forever be remembered and cherished," she further said.

Tundag’s family did not mention the cause of his death. But on November 12, Tundag texted some of his friends that he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“Hey guys, I went to the hospital one day with a blocked bladder and came home another day with a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. So this is it. Please pray for me. Thank you,” Tundag said in his text message.

Rising from the ranks

A proud son of Cabadiangan in the northern Cebu town of Compostela, Tundag was a staff writer of The Visayanian, the official publication of the University of the Visayas (UV), when he was recruited by Jose "Dodong" R. Gullas to join The Freeman in the 1980s.

From his humble beginnings as a reporter, Tundag went on to become managing editor, editor-in-chief, and eventually publisher of the country's oldest existing community-based newspaper, where he devoted most of his life.

While manning The Freeman's news department, Tundag also served as Cebu correspondent of Reuters, a global information and news provider headquartered in London, England, for 17 good years.

Twice a Philippine delegate to the ASEAN Editors' Conference, he represented the Philippines in 1992 in a Fulbright-sponsored International Visitor Program participated in by 16 other mid-level editors from as many countries invited by the United States government.  It was the first and only time he visited the US.

One of the most passionate and bravest journalists of his generation, Tundag received countless awards not only for writing news flawlessly but also for his fearless, no-holds-barred views on various issues that he penned in his column "To The Quick," arguably one of the most-read columns of all time in the history of Cebu journalism.

He was a writer until the end.

One of his last pieces, published last Dec.1 and titled "Cebu at the forefront, like the Marines", tackled if President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., would make good on a late campaign promise to bring down the price of regular-milled rice to P20 per kilo.

The Freeman extended its heartfelt condolences to Tundag’s family.

"During his time, he not only steered our editorial team with unwavering dedication but also left an indelible mark on our publication. His passion and commitment to excellence will be remembered. May his legacy continue to inspire and resonate in the hearts he touched," the paper said, in a statement.

“He is a very good journalist”

Upon learning of the sad news, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday also expressed grief over Tundag’s death.

Because he is still vacationing in Australia, he made an overseas call to The Freeman's office to commiserate with the management and staff as well as with Tundag's family.

The mayor said he remembers how humble Tundag was despite his stature in the local media industry.

“He is a very good journalist…Par excellence, so humble yet profound in his writing,” he said.

He recalled communicating with Tundag during the Covid-19 pandemic and also with his children who were left behind in Cebu City while they were in their home in Carigara, Leyte.

Rama said he and Tundag established friendship through common friend Chester Cokaliong and with other giants in the media industry, the late Bobby Nalzaro and Choi Torralba.

“I consider him a friend.. Constructive friend and journalist..His writing, beyond compare.His demeanor, he was just not a brag …considering he was already the editor-in-chief and publisher of The Freeman…He will be missed,” the mayor said.

Tundag is survived by his wife Arlina and daughters Carmel, Lia, and Nina. His body lies in their residence at 1050 Mabini Street in Jugaban, Carigara, Leyte. /RHM

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with