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Chit Estella Awards for Journalism launched

VERA Files and the family of UP Professor Lourdes "Chit" Estella Simbulan have launched a journalism awards for the late journalist in commemoration of the 40th day of her death last Tuesday. VERA Files president Ellen Tordesillas, who unveiled the awards, said the Chit Estella Awards for Journalism will honor the year's best journalistic report and a photo essay in print and online starting next year. "The awards are intended to keep alive the excellent and principled journalism Simbulan had always engaged in," Tordesillas said during Simbulan's interment at the San Agustin Church columbarium last Tuesday. Tordesillas said the award-giving body shall be composed of veteran journalists and journalism teachers and trainers. She said the awarding shall be held every August, which is Simbulan's birth month. Simbulan, who was killed in a vehicular accident along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City last May 13, would have turned 54 on August 19. Tordesillas said Simbulan's family will be providing the seed funding for the awards that will be administered by VERA Files in cooperation with a university. But she said that the mechanics of the awards are still being finalized. On Tuesday, the late journalist's family and friends also held a running activity for safe driving in Quezon City. Legacy Simbulan was a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines and a co-founder and trustee of VERA Files at the time of her death. VERA Files is a news website that produces in-depth reports on current events, many of which have been published on GMA News Online. Simbulan also served as managing editor of the Manila Times and later, as editor-in-chief of Pinoy Times, a Filipino-language tabloid that published critical stories about former President Joseph Estrada. She played a key role in one of Philippine journalism's gravest crises. In 1999, she resigned as managing editor of the Manila Times along with other editors after then-President Joseph Estrada filed a P101-M libel suit against the newspaper and the Times' publisher apologized on the front page. Other Times editors decided to stay, including editor-in-chief Malou Mangahas and news editor Glenda Gloria, creating a division in their heralded generation of UP-educated journalists that continued for years. She was also a former editor of the Philippine Journalism Review Reports, which is published by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. - Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News
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