Sunday, October 17, 2010
NONOY MENDOZA (April 16, 1935-Oct. 16, 2010)
Veteran public relations practitioner and journalist Nonoy Mendoza, who helped conceptualize the Balikbayan program and adviser to American presidents and legislators, passed away Saturday in Fairfax, Virginia.
Mendoza ran the Twenty Outstanding Filipino Abroad (TOFA), one of the oldest Fil-Am award giving bodies in the United States, and the online news service PinoyGlobal.com.
He was in frail health since suffering a series of heart attacks earlier this year. We last saw him at the TOFA awards gala in Washington DC last month.
He suffered another attack last week and had been confined at the Virginia Hospital Center until his demise early Saturday morning. He had a history of heart ailments. He was 75.
Ambassador Willy Gaa said he was saddened by the news, noting that “Nonoy used his talents to promote the Philippines and the interests of Filipinos and the larger Asian community in the United States for many years.”
The last time we got a chance to shoot the breeze was at a dinner he tendered for Ben Cal, an old friend and comrade in the Defense Press Corps (DPC) which he covers for the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He was among the first Fil-Am community leaders we met in Washington DC. Nonoy and my father worked in the pre-Martial Law Manila Chronicle, where he was Pacific Northwest and Canada bureau chief in 1960-65.
Over a slow, leisurely supper overlooking the Potomac River marina, he pressed on the need to highlight the positive aspects of Filipinos and the Philippines.
He prided himself as a journalist (he’s been a member of the National Press Club since 1993) although much of his accomplishments revolved around thinking up ways to boost Filipinos as well as the Asian-Pacific Islander community.
He revealed how he first broached the concept for a “Balikbayan” program to then Tourism Secretary Jose Aspiras as a way to entice Filipinos, especially those who’ve done well in the US, to go back, relax and enjoy, rediscover their roots, and more importantly perhaps, to see how they could help the Philippines.
The government formally launched the Balikbayan program in 1989. It provides incentives for all Filipinos who have been out of the country for a year or longer, including those naturalized in another country.
Nonoy was appointed to then President Gerald Ford’s advisory board on Asian-American affairs; served as public relations assistant to then Congressmen Matthew Martinez of California and Ben Blas of Guam. DC Mayor Marion Barry Jr. appointed him to the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs in 1996. And he served as an Asian American specialist in the 1984 Reagan-Bush presidential campaign.
He established the TOFA in 1990 after surviving his first heart attack, convinced God had spared his life for a purpose. The roster of TOFA awardees is a virtual who’s who of outstanding Filipinos in the US and Canada.
More recently, he started PinoyGlobal to practice his concept of positive reporting, convinced that news should be a source of information as well as inspiration.
“That is something our people yearn for, especially for those who’ve been away for so long. Living in a different country, we want to be proud of the country of our birth, and I know there is plenty that we can be proud of,” Nonoy declared.