Cebu photojournalism icon Tonee Despojo dies at 60

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VETERAN Cebuano photojournalist Antonio "Tonee" Despojo passed away at 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 18, 2022. He was 60.

According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the cause of his death has yet to be announced by his family, but persons close to the photographer said he was dealing with prostate cancer and a slipped disc. He also underwent a blood transfusion last week because his platelet count went down.

In a statement, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she is saddened by the untimely demise of Despojo and has extended her condolences to the bereaved family.

"He was the recognized 'Tatay' of all Cebu media practitioners, being a cut above the rest -- a primus inter pares... Tonee was an extremely good person and the best in his field. He will be deeply, sorely missed. I can only hope that the legacy of his talent, creativity and eye for detail in photography will be a standard by which others will aspire for," Garcia said.

From cartoonist to photog

An architecture graduate, Despojo began working for The Freeman in 1983 as a cartoonist before realizing he had a knack for photography.

In 1998, Despojo became one of the pioneers of Cebu Daily News (CDN), where he served as chief photographer until 2018.

Following the closure of the print run of CDN, he was hired in 2019 by the Cebu Provincial Government as its lead photographer.

The seasoned photographer was beloved by peers in the media for being kind and helpful to numerous photographers in their early photojournalism endeavors, which was why people called him "Tatay."

During his stint as a photojournalist, Despojo won several awards locally and nationally for his photographs and artworks.

Despojo left a wife and a daughter. (JGS)