‘Superb storyteller’: Journalist, ex-Inquirer editor Alabastro; 83

‘Superb storyteller’: Journalist, ex-Inquirer editor Alabastro; 83

/ 08:14 PM June 21, 2024

Ruben “Tata Ben” Alabastro

Ruben “Tata Ben” Alabastro

MANILA, Philippines —Prominent journalist and former Philippine Daily Inquirer editor Ruben Alabastro, remembered for his love of the craft, died on Thursday (June 20), He was 83.

His daughter, Rachel Alabastro-Federez, confirmed the news in a Facebook post on Friday (June 21): “It is with a heavy heart to let you know that our Tatay passed away yesterday. Please pray for the repose of his soul.”


The cause of death of Alabastro, fondly known as “Tata Ben” in his years in the Inquirer, has not been disclosed yet.


The veteran journalist, whose career spanned several decades, worked in several news wire agencies before becoming an editor for the Inquirer in 2004.

In addition to his journalistic pursuit, Alabastro also co-edited the book “The Boys from the Barracks: The Philippine Military After Edsa,” which examined the military’s role and transformation following the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Two years after graduating from the University of Santo Tomas, he got his first break as a correspondent in Agence France-Presse from 1962 to 1978.

He then worked at the now defunct United Press International from 1978 to 1980; Associated Press from 1980 to 1986; and Reuters from 1987 to 2003.

During his time in Reuters, Alabastro had prepared obituaries for famous personalities, like Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos, which had been published when they died, according to Alabastro’s colleague in Reuters, Manny Mogato.

While no pre-writes were prepared for Alabastro, there was an outpouring of tribute for the veteran journalist best remembered for dedication to his craft.


“He was a legendary journalist,” Mogato said in a Facebook post on Friday.

Mogato continued: “His eye for detail was impeccable, grilling news sources for the smallest detail of an event, asking stringers the source of information, and always aiming for accuracy, fairness, and impartiality.”

“His flowery prose was much better than that of the English writers and poets. The news stories he wrote read like a fiction story. He was the most superb storyteller,” said Mogato.

Inquirer correspondent Julie Alipala expressed admiration for the veteran journo she described as someone who was emphatic.

“He goes with your story really understanding the realities from the ground,” Alipala said.

“Walang drama, walang mema (No drama, no unnecessary talk). If you say one click, he knows the meaning of this and doesn’t need elaboration,” Alipala said.

“Even with a bad cough, he’ll talk nicely about how to improve my work. He understands when a journalist is writing a story from a hostile community. So long, Tata Ben,” Alipala said in a Facebook post on Friday, partly in Filipino.

“You were among the best journalists that I’ve had the pleasure to meet,” said Asahi Shimbun reporter Johnna Giolagon in a Facebook post on Friday.

Giolagon added: “Your eye and attention to detail and how to weave these details into the story is one of a kind.”

“Thank you for your many lessons, Tata Ben.”

He spent his final three years of media work from 2016 to 2018 at INQUIRER.net, where he post-edited stories and mentored reporters.

The wake for Alabastro will be at St. Luke Room of Loyola Memorial Chapel in Guadalupe, Makati, according to his daughter Rachel.

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Viewing will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday (June 22), Rachel said.

TAGS: Journalism, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Reuters

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