Former National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairperson Nonoy Espina addressed the crowd at the United People's SONA in 2018. Photo by Erika Cruz.

Manila Today and Tudla Productions condole with the family, friends, and colleagues of beloved former NUJP Chair Nonoy Espina, who passed at 9:20 pm on July 7, 2021 due to liver cancer.

Nonoy was a virtuoso in the field of journalism. And he will be sorely missed.

He was unrelenting in expressing his views on media ethics, to the benefit of press self-regulation. He was unreserved in pointing out the “bad” habits of journalists on the job, but always sensitive to the work and economic realities of being a journalist in this country. His points on issues–be they current affairs or journalism standards and ethics–shared in his social network are a journalist’s essential companion.

He was unfailing in the fight for the rights of journalists, rights of citizens to expression and information, and for the freedom of the press. His words are imprinted on our minds: “We exercise press freedom not because we are allowed to. We exercise freedom because we insist on being free.”

He recognized and never doubted that the alternative media deserves as much space, regard, and freedom as dominant media. He stood against attacks against the alternative media and alerts and actions on these by the NUJP became more prompt and regular under his guiding influence.

He was among the first to contact us to lend help and rally journalists and colleagues to call for the freedom of Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem. We, and the family of Icy, are forever grateful to Nonoy and NUJP for seeing this fight through with us.

He was unflinching in his stand against injustice and human rights violations in this country.

We are always moved with the lens with which he viewed, wrote, and took photos of Negros—of the social volcano and microcosm of society that it is. It reminded us why we wanted to be journalists in the first place: to chronicle, expose, and hopefully contribute to meaningful change.

In serving and leading in campus publications, the mosquito press during martial law, digital publications of this day, community press, and the biggest group of journalists in the Philippines, Nonoy devoted a life in service to journalism and journalists in this country.

From witnessing, experiencing, and surviving martial law then and now, media labor struggles, Ampatuan massacre to ABS-CBN shutdown, he fought on the side of democracy and dignity.

There are many more things we would still have wanted to learn from Nonoy. But we must now be able to draw the many lessons from the life he lived.

And to us, Nonoy lived a full career and life. One that we could only hope to achieve one day and to emulate every day. We are humbled by his life and many achievements and the only way to honor him is to carry on the torch for press freedom and true democracy.

Despite all the horrifying things he witnessed and survived, Nonoy sang ‘what a wonderful world.’ And to have been given the opportunity to fight for freedom and change alongside him, indeed it is.

Rest in power, Nonoy.

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