Rina Jimenez David, 68

Photo from Miya David’s Facebook post.

PHILIPPINE DAILY Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David died on Sunday morning, November 12. She was 68.

“We are saddened to announce the death of our mother, the indefatigable Rina Jimenez David, who passed away this morning from an illness,” her daughter Miya said in a Facebook post.

Jimenez David was best known for her column “At Large” which she wrote five days a week for nearly three decades for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. A stalwart advocate for women’s rights, she wrote on feminist issues but also freely challenged politicians on other current concerns. She joined the Inquirer in 1988 and retired in 2021.

She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where she was editor-in-chief of The Varsitarian, UST’s campus publication. She was among Felix Bautista’s “angels” in the information office of then Jaime Cardinal Sin, M.E.D.I.A. Cardinal Sin would play a significant role in the political crises that culminated in the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986. Bautista was known as the prelate’s speech writer. 

Rina was among the staff Felix Bautista brought in when a group of businessmen launched Veritas Newsmagazine, which he was asked to head as editor-in-chief. The publication was on the forefront of the alternative or “mosquito press” from 1983 to 1987 that provided news that could not be found in the crony press. 

Melinda Quintos de Jesus who was associate editor and columnist for the weekly publication remembers Rina’s ease at putting a report together, given her remarkable gift for words. She also recalls her readiness to go out into the field, taking on provincial assignments and not complaining about facilities and accommodations. “She was a team player, with a spirit for fun and an appetite for food and adventure which”heightened the happiness that raised the happiness quotient in our newsroom.” 

Her feminist advocacy was recognized with a TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) Award for Women’s Rights Advocacy in 1995. A former national chair of the feminist group Pilipina, she also received a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

She was named best columnist thrice, by the Global Media Awards in 1994 and 2004. The People Management Association of the Philippines Makatao Awards in 2019.

Her columns were compiled from 1989 to 1994 in “Woman at Large,” a compilation of her columns from 1989 to 1994 which became a finalist in the National Book Awards, and “Nightmare Journeys,” which told the stories of women survivors of trafficking. 

Rina applied her different skills and lent her deep knowledge of gender issues to various efforts, including media development. 

CMFR called on David-Jimenez regularly as a resource person, specifically assigned to handle sessions in its nationwide program on gender-based reporting. She also contributed to Philippine Journalism Review Reports with an analytical study of tabloids. She wrote a CMFR guidebook for NGOs to help them work with the media as allies in their advocacy. Conrado de Quiros, who had organized PRESS for NGOs asked if he could have it translated to Filipino and used it for their training programs. 

“Indeed, for David, the personal was political and vice-versa,” Pennie Azarcon-dela Cruz wrote. David along with Azarcon-dela Cruz, former Sunday Inquirer editor Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, and Inquirer union representatives, helped draft the company’s anti-sexual harassment manual in the mid-1990s, the first in the industry.

David, the sixth of nine siblings, was born on January 11, 1955. She is survived by her husband Rafael David, their children Raphael and Emilia Narni, daughter-in-law Therese Marie, and grandson Lucas Anakin.

There will be no wake upon the family’s request, although there will be a Mass open to the public after her inurnment on November 22 at the Shrine of Jesus in Christ the King Church in Quezon City. Novena prayers will start on November 14, Tuesday, until November 21. Zoom link is now available on Miya David’s Facebook post.