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Manong Julius Fortuna, Filipino Journalist And Patriot (UPDATED)

June 24, 2009

jules montage1

Manong  Julius Fortuna has put down his fighting pen, succumbing to his heart condition yesterday morning.

Our brotherhood of journalists has lost yet another irreplaceable pillar: his calm demeanor, his depth of knowledge of Philippine and world affairs, his commitment to freedom.

Most respected and accomplished journalist as he was, Manong Jules was never one to rest on his laurels.

So it was that only last February that Ricky Rivera and I finally convinced him to put East-West, his long-running Manila Times opinion column, on line.


It was just last month that Manong Jules and I spoke at the necrological tribute for another journalist friend, Vic Montero, who was Manong Jules’ comrade in the historic First Quarter Storm against the Marcos dictatorship.

Before that, Manong had occasion to reunite over lunch with former vice president Tito Guingona, Jr., reminiscing about how they were both jailed by the dictator.

But he was ailing.

Just two weeks ago over light snacks at a burger place on Timog Avenue, Manong Jules spoke to us about selling his SUV.

I realize now he was putting together resources for a second angioplasty.

But the Lord beckoned ahead, so Manong Jules has gone to a better place.

His June 19, 2007  column in the Manila Times is a sterling example of his unerring insight on Philippine political affairs as he peered into the mind of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

It was relevant then, and more so now two years since he wrote it:

jules last column june 19 screenshot

Legacy: GMA’s favorite word

You can judge the preoccupation of the President—any president—by the frequency of the word she uses in everyday language and in her memos to the staff. I was told recently—and this was confirmed by a recent memo she sent to all the Cabinet—that her favorite word these days has something to do with the future. That word is legacy.
Building a legacy. Paving the way for legacy. These are the phrases she uses in her memo. For instance, in a recent order for the mass resignation of all GOCCs, the word was mentioned several times. Which can only mean that she wants the next three years to be devoted to creating that legacy.
In comparison, there was a time when the language she used was related to fulfilling “SONA promises.” This means that for the next few months after delivering her routine report to Congress, she would compel her Cabinet to come up with how they can fulfill that legislative promise. One source told that the SONA promises were listed on a cartolina in her office.
Between now and 2010 would be time for legacy building. A Cabinet member told me that President GMA would like to have a balanced budget, a propelled privatization and an infrastructure program that would entice more investments. Tall order, but that is the nature of legacies. They are hard to fulfill, but they create history.
Take note that the “three points of attention” of GMA does not include political reforms. Well, according to Lakas spokesman Heherson Alvarez, the President won’t risk losing her economic reforms just because some people want change before 2010. This may be the reason why Speaker Jose de Venecia had to stop his unpopular agitation for renewed Charter change.
There is, of course, a new element in this coming three years. And this is the overwhelming presence of a hostile Senate. Knowing that this new Senate is now dominated by Erap and composed of many presidentiables, President GMA would have a problem of carrying out an agenda that requires unity on the purposes of the national budget.
But knowing a GMA that is stubborn and focused on her goals, she would treat the Senate as just one of the obstacles. She has two choices: She can either ignore the Senate, or negotiate for power-sharing. But definitely, there is no way she can be stopped on her three main goals.

Manong Julius Fortuna has passed on only filling not only  the tall order of leaving a legacy for Filipino journalists, but he has earned a special niche place in the Pantheon of Philippine journalism.

Paalam, Manong Jules.

Hanggang sa muli nating pagkikita.


The mortal remains of Manong Jule are being interred in his hometown of Odiongan. Romblon today.

I missed his wake at Funeraria Paz as I’ve been nursing a badly sprained ankle.

Last night, long-time friends and colleagues condoled with his family during necrological sertices during which his co elders at Samahang Plaridel took turns eulogizing him.

I am very sorry I wasn’t there but Manong Jules knows that I am raising my most ardent prayers for the eternal repose of his soul to the heavens

Bye, Manong, bye.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2009 10:49 am

    I’ll never forget Julius’ smile and ever friendly grins. Having met him first when I was but the tender age of 18, funny how that has stuck with me through all the years ever since.

    • June 24, 2009 4:39 pm

      In more ways than one, Manong Jules was more than an elder colleague and steady source of insights. He was a brother.


  2. June 24, 2009 9:04 pm

    His column was a favourite reading of mine until a few years ago. I personally didn’t know him at all but it’s always sad to hear about the death of someone you’ve followed for a time even if only on line.

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