Veteran newsman, author Amando Doronila; 95
Former longtime Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, veteran newsman and author Amando Doronila passed away on Friday in Australia at the age of 95.
The death of Doronila—”Doro” to his friends and colleagues in media—was confirmed to the Inquirer on Saturday by his brother, lawyer Cirilo Doronila, and his eldest son, Agustin.
His brother said Doronila succumbed to complications from pneumonia at a nursing home in Canberra, Australia, as his immune system “weakened due to old age.”
Agustin said a Requiem Mass for his father would be held on July 14.
Next year, his family will bring home his ashes to the Philippines, as it was Doronila’s wish to be interred in his hometown of Dumangas, Iloilo.
Agustin said his father had received care at the nursing home since February 2020.
“There were a lot of Filipino nurses caring for him. They called him Tatay,” he said in a phone interview with the Inquirer.
The younger Doronila expressed gratitude to the tributes from his father’s colleagues in the Philippine journalism community.
Amando Doronilla, ‘a true journalist’
Vergel Santos, the former managing editor of the defunct Manila Chronicle where Doronila served as editor in chief and also wrote a column, expressed a sense of loss.
“It’s a pity,” he said. “So far as I know, he remained fairly clear-minded. After all, he just brought out his last book this year.”
Former Inquirer opinion editor Rosario Garcellano said Doronila was then a “young man making waves in reportage” when she was his student at the then Institute of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (UP).
They became colleagues at the Inquirer where she worked as an editor and Doronila wrote a weekly opinion column.
“Doro was a true journalist. He asked officialdom the difficult questions, relayed the answers to his reading public, and explained why these answers were correct or erroneous. And gave hell to those who hedged or altogether refused to answer,” Garcellano said. “I am honored to have been his colleague and friend.”
She recalled Doronila striding into the Inquirer newsroom one evening, asking who wrote the editorial for that day.
When another editor informed him that it was her, “Doro nodded and said it was good.” “Behind my usual indifferent stance, I was thrilled,” Garcellano said.
When she took over as opinion editor, Garcellano found that Doronila had the “infuriating habit” of submitting his column beyond the 5 p.m. deadline.
This “invariably set my teeth on edge,” she said. But she learned that the “annoying wait” for his opinion piece was “worth it.”
Manny Mogato, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, said Doronila “coined the term ‘demarcosify,’” in reference to then President Corazon Aquino’s drastic efforts to “repudiate repressive policies and demilitarize the bureaucracy” under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“I was awed by his sharp and incisive political analysis, following his daily columns and wondering if I could be as good as him someday. I did not measure up to his analytical prowess and flawless prose. He was truly a class as a journalist,” Mogato said in a post on Facebook.
Doronila wrote his column “Analysis” for the Inquirer from 1994 to early 2016.
Journalism, to him, is a lifetime profession and not for the faint of heart.
“Newspapermen are a class of people who are considered by insurance underwriters as occupying one of the most stressful jobs in industrial societies, next to soldiers and policemen,” he wrote in tribute to his colleague, the late Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot, who died on March 2, 2012, at age 77.
More than a decade ago, he already sensed the emerging challenges to newspapers from the internet.
“Newspapers today are flooded by social media stories from Facebook or Twitter which are hard to verify and authenticate,” said Doronila who served as chief editor of the Chronicle before it was shut down by Marcos and after Marcos was toppled.
“Cyberspace journalism gives us an oversupply of information from impressionable citizen journalists. And this Internet journalism poses a threat to the survival of the newspaper as a medium of information,” he said. Martial law detainee
Born on Feb. 6, 1928, in Dumangas, Iloilo, he began his career as a reporter and columnist for the Manila Bulletin and was a political columnist for the Daily Mirror from 1963 to 1972.
When Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, Amando Doronila and other journalists like Luis Beltran and Maximo Soliven were arrested and detained.
He went into exile in Australia after his release and returned to the country in 1985 to cover the expected downfall of the Marcoses.
Since then, he has published several papers and books, including the bestseller and the “big-time scoop” called “The Fall of Joseph Estrada: The Inside Story,” in which he dissects the events that led to Estrada’s ouster in “Edsa II.” The report was published by the Inquirer as a front-page series from Feb. 4, 2001 to Feb. 6, 2001.
He also authored “The State, Economic Transformation and Political Change in the Philippines,” which was published by the Oxford University Press in 1991.Memoirs
In February, on his 95th birthday, he launched the second volume of his memoir titled “Doro: Behind the Byline,” which featured his insights into his upbringing, his early days as an investigative reporter and his time as a political detainee.
Much of Doronila’s memoirs covered his early days as a journalist, which was not his original career choice as he obtained a bachelor of business administration from the University of East (UE) Manila in 1953 and almost took over the management of his family’s bakery in his hometown.
It was his appointment as editor in chief of the UE’s school publication, “The Dawn,” however, that opened the path to journalism.
He served as president of the National Press Club of the Philippines and as part-time journalism lecturer at UP.
Amando Doronila received multiple awards, such as the 2002 Chino Roces Freedom Award and the 2003 Rotary Club’s Journalism Hall of Fame. The first volume of his “Afro-Asia in Upheaval: A Memoir of Front-line Reporting” won in the 28th National Book Awards in 2008.
—WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
Source: Inquirer Archives, hrvvmemcom.gov.ph, officialgazette.gov.ph, books.gov.ph, cids.up.edu.ph