Chit Estella, 54
They say the only time you’ll be able to feel a person’s worth in your life is in his/her absence. Saying goodbye is my weakness, more so is death. A college professor of mine died last night in a bus-taxi collision along “killer highway” Commonwealth Ave. She was aboard a cab that got disastrously smashed by a Universal Guiding Star PUB. Lourdes “Chit” Estella Simbulan, a veteran journo and respected professor, was 54.
I only had one class under Ma’am Chit in my entire college stay in UP Mass Comm. I enrolled under her Journ 121 (Newsroom class) which basically introduced me on how the news desks in broadsheet dailies work and operate.
We held our class in the old Luis Beltran Newsroom that was refurbished semesters after. Almost all Journ 121 classes had their sessions in that dingy room then housing a “bipolar” set of air conditioners. Those notorious ACs would either freeze you to death or lead to your asphyxiation every time they bog down. The computers, on the other hand, were arranged on the sides and in the front-center stood Ma’am Chit. I didn’t know it then but I’ve kind of realized that the bulok ACs and the PCs’ setup were such to make every session… intimate.
Going to Journ 121 class has been my favorite part of my day back then—particularly on Thursdays when we held classes for three hours every afternoon. It was siesta time for a lot of people but, along with my blockmates, I was kept awake just by listening to Ma’am Chit’s lecture.
See, Ma’am Chit has always been a talker. She had this distinct flair in her speech and diction that transcended to eloquence. She also used to call her students with a Mr. or Ms. “Mr. Viloria. Ms. Balod. Ms. Suarez.” She would ask you how to do this and that, if you, for example, were a copyeditor. She would swell with her anecdotes every time. Albeit her hard news background, she’d often make every journalism class seem, sound light. Perhaps, it’s on how she’d always end her sentences with a warm ~auto~ smile.
Yes, that auto smile.
Meantime, Ma’am Chit will be missed boundlessly by both her colleagues and her students.
I may not have known the brave Chit Estella who once served both as senior reporter and editor in major publications—the woman who edited Pinoy Times, the tabloid that has fearlessly hit then President Joseph Estrada.
I have known, however, Ma’am Chit—the mentor who had shown exemplary dedication in the craft. One who has never stopped hoping that someday, as she once told several students, WE’ll be able to “turn the country upside down.”
You tend to do more than what is asked for. Keep things simple. Effort is recognized though. (Ma’am Chit to me) 😥