Manila Times columnist dies of heart attack

Samahang Plaridel

Posted at Jun 23 2009 04:13 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2009 12:13 AM

Journalist  Julius Forlales Fortuna died of massive heart attack at 9 a.m. Tuesday. He was 61 years old.

He left behind wife Sabina and two children, son, Amilkar ‘Shotti” and daughter, Jillian; brother, Edmund, sister, Ma. Victoria F. Tobari and brother-in-law Chizuka Tobari.

His wake will be at the Paz Memorial Chapels , Araneta Avenue , Quezon City . Interment details will be announced later.

A founding member and vice president of Samahang Plaridel, he was also one of the founders and host of the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo since its inception more than a decade ago; alternate-host of the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel  and was a regular at the Ciudad Fernandina Forum hosted by the late Ambassador Noel Cabrera.

Fortuna, a staunch nationalist, was one of the leaders of the historic First Quarter Storm Movement (FQS Movement) in the 1970s. He studied in UP Diliman before transferring to Lyceum of the Philippines , where he became one of the top student activist leaders of the time. He  was a member and officer of the militant Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and was secretary general of the pre-martial law Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP0, the umbrella organization of all militant student, worker and peasant activist organizations in the country which opposed the Marcos regime.

Captured in Central Luzon, he was subjected to severe anguish and languished for eight years in martial law prisons, including the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa and Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig. He was the longest-held prisoner of the Marcos martial law era.

Released in 1981, Fortuna soon plunged into journalism, joining The Observer Magazine, for which he covered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and soon became acknowledged as the dean of diplomatic reporters.

After EDSA 1, he  worked for the defunct Philippine Tribune, then joined the Daily Globe. With the closure of the Daily Globe, he joined the reestablished Manila Chronicle. He also wrote for Sun-Star Manila .

Later, he wrote columns for the People’s Journal and the Manila Times. At the time of his passing, he was writing for the Manila Times.

Regarded as a commentator of high repute, he wrote on a variety of raging nationalist, geo-political and diplomatic  issues affecting the Philippines , the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the internal squabbles in Malacanang, the Senate and the Lower House.

Known far and wide for his insights into the events of the day and the political possibilities in the future, Fortuna also became an officer of the National Press Club of the Philippines for several years and assisted other organizations of journalists in pursuing welfare issues.

He also represented the NPC in the Confederation of Asean Journalists (CAJ).