Esteemed journalist, educator, advocate Luis V. Teodoro; 81 | Inquirer News

Esteemed journalist, educator, advocate Luis V. Teodoro; 81

/ 05:15 AM March 15, 2023

Luis V. Teodoro STORY: Esteemed journalist, educator, advocate Luis V. Teodoro; 81

Luis V. Teodoro

MANILA, Philippines — Luis V. Teodoro, a press freedom advocate, educator, political essayist, and former martial law detainee widely esteemed for his uncompromising stand on truth-telling and media ethics, died on Monday at the age of 81.

“Dean Teodoro was pivotal in fostering academic excellence in our discipline, upholding integrity in the practice of media, and defending our freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly,” the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication (UP CMC), where he served as dean from 1994 to 2000, said in a statement.


“Thank you for your service to the country,” the college said.


As a journalist and member of the academe, Teodoro advocated strongly for a free and responsible press—one that “adhered to the ethical values of truth-telling, autonomy, justice, humaneness, and stewardship.” He championed journalism as an advocacy that requires “commitment to the larger interests of the majority.”

In earlier writings, he held the view that maintaining so-called neutrality in reporting “tended to identify with and be supportive of current political authority as well as the economic and social status quo.”


It was the guiding principle that shaped a calling: from his early days as a writer for the UP campus publication, The Philippine Collegian, his seven-month incarceration during the Marcos dictatorship, to his post-Edsa commentaries and eventual founding of the media network Altermidya in 2014.

As he wrote in one of his essays compiled in the 2011 book “In Medias Res,’’ journalism should be “committed to the majority.”

“He believed that this whole ‘objectivity’ framework has put journalism on the fence, which is anathema to its vitality,” said colleague Melinda de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). “To him, journalism was more than just a career, it was a calling — and a calling is always based on a perspective.”

Constancy of insight

“Philippine journalism has been privileged by the constancy of Luis V. Teodoro’s intellect and insight, which will continue to help Filipinos understand fascism, colonialism, and impoverishment,’’ said former Inquirer Opinion editor Rosario A. Garcellano. “What a great loss we are called upon to endure.’’

An English major, Teodoro belonged to a rare breed of journalists who remained prolific even as a teacher. After graduating in 1964, he returned to UP as a faculty member of the College of Arts and Letters, where he taught courses in Philippine literature in English and in fiction writing. At UP CMC, he held classes on ethics and the political economy of media.

Outside UP, he was a professorial lecturer at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Teodoro wrote columns for several broadsheets, including BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Manila Standard Today, Today, and The Manila Times. He was also a columnist and editor of the National Midweek magazine and one of the contributors to the CMFR’s “In Medias Res” blog.

Literary awards

In 2019, Teodoro received the Titus Brandsma Freedom of the Press Award, a biennial recognition of outstanding media and communications practitioners given by the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines.

Aside from “In Medias Res,” Teodoro authored a book on Philippine mass media law and another titled “Divide by Two” (2016), which analyzed the segmentation of the media landscape. He also wrote the lead essay in and edited “Media in Court (1998),” a manual for justice beat reporters.

His 2014 work “Vantage Point: The Sixth Estate and Other Discoveries” was adjudged Best Book in Journalism in the 34th National Book Awards.

Teodoro was a three-time winner in the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature and also reaped prizes for his fiction that appeared in the Philippines Free Press and Graphic magazines.

His collection of short stories, “The Undiscovered Country,” which includes award-winning works, was published by the UP Press in 2006.

His last column — “Hazing and the culture of violence” — appeared in BusinessWorld on March 9.

‘Silent strength’

Ernan Paragas, the current UP CMC dean, recalled that Teodoro “was always open for a conversation, and until our chat last week he was mentoring me on the future of our college and discipline. He was a paragon of virtue, silent strength and stoic caring.”

Many journalism students, even those who never attended his classes, considered “Sir Luis” a guiding beacon and a tireless mentor.

Marjohara Tucay, a former Collegian editor-in-chief and now producer for Altermidya, recalled how Teodoro “always offered sage advice on things we produce. He noticed even minute turns of phrase and taught us how to angle stories to serve the marginalized and underrepresented.”

When Tucay was criticized by veteran journalists for confronting US State Secretary Hillary Clinton at a press event during her visit to the country in 2011, Teodoro wrote of the encounter to call out those who “shielded Clinton from being asked the hard questions that journalists not only can ask, but should be asking.”

True to the mission

De Jesus, who brought Teodoro onboard as a CMFR trustee, said one of his greatest legacies was challenging outdated notions of journalism and how it was taught in schools. “We were advocates, yes, but we advocated based on facts, on the truth.”

UP journalism professor Danilo Arao said Teodoro’s mentorship produced a number of “journalists who remained true to the mission of being a voice for the voiceless, reporting in a manner that is understandable to the broader audience.”

In a statement, Altermidya honored its late founder — “a pillar of Philippine journalism” — for “advancing the ideals of pro-people journalism both as a respected member of the academe and through the alternative media that he helped to organize.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) described Teodoro as the “most savage critic of the worst practices” in the media profession and whose high standards “will remain among our guiding lights.”

“The current and the future generations of journalists have been gifted by Dean Teodoro’s lessons on journalism. We pledge to continue his legacy of wielding the pen in the service of the people,” NUJP added.

Teodoro died of a heart attack around midnight on March 13.

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His remains lie in state at Loyola Memorial Chapels on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, where a 6 p.m. Mass and a program of the UP CMC will be held in his honor today.



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