Ninfa Leonardia, 89

Photo from Evelio Leonardia’s Facebook.

VISAYAN DAILY Star (VDS) co-founder, president, and long-time editor-in-chief Ninfa Leonardia passed away in the early hours of Tuesday, August 23. She was 89. 

News of Leonardia’s passing was announced in the Bacolod-based newspaper by Evelio Leonardia, her younger brother and former Bacolod Mayor, who confirmed that Leonardia had died of a heart attack at Riverside Medical Center in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. 

Convinced that “Bacolod needs an alternative paper during those times,” Leonardia co-founded the multi-awarded Visayan Daily Star on April 12, 1982 with Primo Esleyer and Modesto Sa-onoy. 

She left her job in banking and went on to serve as the newspaper’s longest serving editor-in-chief, a position she held full time. She was also the Visayan Daily Star’s treasurer, chair of the editorial board, and president. 

Leonardia was a mentor to reporters and staff and is regarded by many as an icon and pillar of journalism in Negros. Carla P. Gomez, an editor of the Visayan Daily Star recalled Leonardia’s telling young journalists in a piece for the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “You are as good as your last story.” 

In announcing her passing, her brother recalled other career highlights of the veteran journalist. Leonardia was the first woman provincial press club president in the country: she served as president of the Negros Press Club from 1965-1966 and again in 1979-1980.

The distinguished community journalist was also a recipient of the Outstanding Journalists of the Philippines Award from the Rotary Club of Manila in 2003 and the Outstanding Negrense Award. 

CMFR’s executive director Melinda de Jesus saw her as part of the national press community. “In those heady years from 1983, those of us working in the alternative press sought out other kindred journalists working around the country. As one of the editors of Veritas NewsWeekly, I welcomed her visits to Manila. She was always so happy to touch base and talk politics. I think we agreed about the role of journalists. In the political ferment, it was important for our reports to be credible and to assure our readers we had all our facts right.” 

Relatives announced that interment will be at the Bacolod Memorial Park after a funeral mass at the Sacred Heart Shrine of Lupit Church at 2:00 PM on Sunday, August 28, following a wake at the Acropolis Gardens at Bata, Bacolod City until August 27, Saturday.