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Colleagues to pay tribute to Chit Estella, veteran journalist and UP professor
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATE  14 - 3:30 p.m., May 14, 2011)

MANILA, Philippines – Colleagues will gather to pay tribute to respected Filipino journalist and educator Lourdes E. Simbulan, more popularly known by her byline, Chit Estella, on Sunday.

The tribute will be held at 6 p.m. at the Arlington Memorial Homes on Araneta Avenue, Quezon City.

It will be led by Simbulan’s colleagues at VERA Files, the investigative journalism group she helped found, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and former co-workers from the Manila Times, Pinoy Times, and Malaya.

Organizers are also calling on Simbulan’s former co-workers at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Tempo and Evening Post to join the tribute to one of the country’s most outstanding journalists.

Simbulan, who was also a professor at the University of the Philippines, died Friday, May 13, 2011 when the taxi she was riding in was rammed by a bus in front of the UP-Ayala Technohub in Diliman, Quezon City along Commonwealth Avenue.

Hours after her death, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it "(mourned) a great loss in the Philippine media family."

"Notwithstanding the name she had made and the respect she had earned in the profession, Chit was never one to stint at sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others, especially journalists of the emerging generation," it said.

"Her passing will leave a void in Philippine journalism that will be hard, if ever, to fill," it added.

Simbulan is survived  by husband and fellow UP professor Roland G. Simbulan, author of the anti-US bases book, "The Bases of Our Insecurity."

Dead on arrival

Simbulan was on board Abu Addey taxi with plate number THX 532 when it was hit by a Universal Guiding Star bus with plate number UVC 343 at about 6 p.m., according to reports relayed by authorities to TV5 Rescue emergency medical technician Mary Ann Estrada.

Simbulan was rushed to the city's General Miguel Malvar Medical Foundation Hospital along Commonwealth Avenue and was declared there dead on arrival. Her remains were brought to Prime Funeral Service also along the avenue.

Estrada said her team was able to talk to at least four people who said that they were waiting for Simbulan at TechnoHub. She said it was the four who identified the victim. They told Estrada that Simbulan called them on her cellphone minutes before the mishap to say that she was already near their meeting place.

Estrada's team confirmed the victim's identity when they went to Station 5 of the Quezon City Police District  where they saw two IDs of Simbulan - a UP ID and a VERA Files ID.

It was later learned that Simbulan came from Tandang Sora and was on her way to meet her friends from high school when the incident took place. The car's trunk was in total wreck. The impact of the crash apparently killed the victim on the spot.

A Mass was held for Simbulan at 10  a.m. on Saturday at the Arlington Funeral Homes along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., a memorial will be held for Simbulan at the UP College of Mass Communication in Diliman, Quezon City.

Investigative journalist

Aside from teaching journalism, Simbulan was also one of the founders and a member of the board of Vera Files, an investigative-journalism outfit that has recently produced some of the most important and controversial exposes in the Philippines, among them the discovery that Mikey Arroyo, the son of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had bought houses in the US under questionable circumstances.

Simbulan was managing editor of The Manila Times when the paper came under fire in 1999 from the administration of then president Joseph Estrada, who filed a libel suit against the paper for calling him an “unwitting ninong” (godfather) to a fraudulent deal. When the Gokongweis, who owned the Times, apologized to Estrada, Simbulan, along with associate editor Booma Cruz, resigned from the paper, a decision that strained her relationship with her friends and colleagues.

Simbulan was subsequently tapped as editor-in-chief of the now defunct Pinoy Times, a newspaper that helped expose the many scandals that led to the popular uprising against Estrada.

Simbulan had also worked or written for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

She started out as a writer writing mainly on human-rights issues after graduating from UP. She later worked as reporter for the Manila Evening Post, Tempo tabloid and Malaya. She was hired as a desk editor by the Inquirer in 1994.