Chit Estella: Life-changing teacher, editor, journalist, pal
By Julie M. Aurelio
May 15, 2011
MANILA, Philippines?Her colleagues have fond memories of journalist Chit Estella?that she did not enjoy the lavish lunches hosted by government officials and preferred bringing her own food, and that she was insulted at the very idea of being offered a bribe.
Her husband, Roland Simbulan recalled his wife’s horoscope (for the zodiac sign Leo) on the day she died: Something will happen today that is not only evolutionary but revolutionary, and will be life-changing.
“Chit said something like, “So maybe I will win the lotto today,””Simbulan said. “I thought it was going to be an ordinary day that day.”
As a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines-College of Mass Communication, she was a popular teacher well-loved by students.
“She was held in such high esteem by the students that she served as student adviser for two organizations,” UP-CMC dean Roland Tolentino said of Estella, who died in a road accident in Quezon City on Friday night at 53.
Tolentino said that when Estella’s body was taken to a morgue from the hospital where she was declared dead on arrival, he received text messages from her students asking if they could see her.
“They were disappointed when I told them that they better proceed to Arlington Memorial Chapels [for the wake],” he said. “But when I got to the Prime Funeral Parlor, there were 15, 25 students who braved going to the morgue to see her.”
Tolentino, other faculty members, Estella’s students and colleagues in the media gathered Saturday at the Arlington to pay their respects and to condole with Simbulan, a professor at UP Manila.
Simbulan, who was composed and accommodating to both friends and strangers, said his wife was to have met with her high school friends at the UP-Ayala Land Technohub that Friday night.
“I was supposed to pick her up after their get-together. It was a regular thing with her high-school friends,” he said.
Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas recalled how she, Estella and other colleagues from the newspaper would “pamper” themselves and make the rounds of the restaurants near their office.
“We all loved to eat, so we made it a point to eat out and try out the new places. We also went out for massages,” she said.
Another habit of her old friend, according to Tordesillas, was checking her horoscope every day.
At the time of her death, Estella was working on a book on whistle-blower Rodolfo “Jun”Lozada, according to her husband.
Tordesillas said Estella also left behind a project at Vera Files concerning educating civil society organizations on human rights investigative stories.
Rapport with the young
Dean Tolentino said that in students’ exit interviews, Estella was often named as one of the teachers they preferred.
He said it was Estella’s decades-long experience as a journalist, as well as her rapport with the younger generation, that drew students to her classes.
At Christmas parties, Estella was game in joining in the fun and games, even in the dancing, he said.
Tordesillas recalled that as a journalist, Estella frowned upon “overly generous” lunches from sources and would often look “worried” whenever a lavish spread was before her.
“Chit was very ethical, very firm,”Tordesillas said. “What she taught, she really lived. She didn’t like it when there were too lavish lunches; she preferred bringing her own baon.”
And for the simple, unassuming Estella, being offered a bribe was an insult, offensive, and “not something you appreciate,”Tordesillas said.
She also said Estella’s strength of character seemed to perfectly complement her good command of the English language: “a very good writer who had depth as a person.”
Estella’s colleagues in the media are to honor her Sunday at 6 p.m. Her UP colleagues and students will hold a similar tribute for her on Monday.
Her remains will be cremated on Tuesday morning. The ashes will be brought the following day to the UP CMC auditorium for a final tribute, according to Tolentino.
From Philippine Daily Inquirer