Nestor Mata

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Nestor Mata
Born(1926-01-16)January 16, 1926
DiedApril 12, 2018(2018-04-12) (aged 92)
EducationUniversity of Santo Tomas
  • journalist
  • professor

Nestor Mata (January 16, 1926[1] – April 12, 2018[2]) was a Filipino journalist whose writing career spanned six decades. He was also known as the only survivor of the 1957 plane crash that killed the President of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay, and 24 others.[3]


Nestor Mata graduated from the University of Santo Tomas where he obtained a degree in philosophy and letter. He has also had masteral studies on foreign affairs.[4]

Journalist career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Mata worked with a government radio station before becoming[4] a reporter with the Philippine Herald newspaper and covered the Korean War as a war correspondent.[1] He covered topics which involved politics and foreign affairs.[4] In 1953, he was assigned by his newspaper to cover the then-newly elected President Magsaysay.[1]

Surviving the 1957 Cebu Douglas C-47 crash[edit]

On March 16, 1957, President Magsaysay, accompanied by several government officials and journalists, flew to Cebu for a speaking engagement. Later that evening, the presidential party took off for the return flight to Manila. Their plane crashed in Mount Manung-gal in Cebu at around 1:16 a.m, March 17, 1957.

Mata had been seated near the presidential compartment[3] and was half-asleep at the time of the crash.[5] He was initially rendered unconscious after the crash, and came to a few hours later. Mata later recounted:

I found myself on the side of a steep cliff among dried bushes…. Agonizing with pain, I was completely at a loss what to do. About three meters away from me were parts of the plane. They were still burning. Meanwhile, I heard the distant howling of a dog. It was only then that I felt hopeful of being rescued. Thinking that there were probably people living not far away from where I lay moaning with pain, I made an effort to shout. I noticed that my voice echoed in the nearby mountains.

After that, I began shouting, "Mr. President! Mr. President! Mr. President!" When no answer came, I shouted for Pablo Bautista, the reporter of the Liwayway magazine. "Pabling! Pabling!" Still no answer. It began to dawn on me that there was no other survivor except me.[3]

Mata was rescued by Marcelino Nuya and several other farmers residing near the crash site.[6] He suffered second and third degree burns all over his body[3] and would be hospitalized for the next six months.[5] It took eighteen hours to transport the injured Mata down the mountain.[3] Upon his arrival at a Cebu City hospital, Mata was able to dictate through a nurse a press dispatch to his newspaper. It began with the sentence "President Magsaysay is dead."[3]

Together with Vicente Villafranca, Mata penned One Came Back (1957), a memoir detailing the last moments of President Magsaysay and his own ordeal after surviving the plane crash.[1]

Post-crash career[edit]

After surviving the crash, Mata continued writing for the Philippine Herald until it was closed down in 1972 following the declaration of Martial Law by then-President Ferdinand Marcos. He then served with The Daily Express until Marcos' ouster during the People Power Revolution of 1986.[7]

From 1986 to 1999, Mata penned as a regular newspaper column for the Manila Standard and from 1999 until his death wrote for the Malaya.[7] He also acted as a co-executive editor for the magazine Lifestyle Asia from 1986 to 1999.[8]

Career outside journalism[edit]

Mata worked as an associate professor who taught subjects on politics such as the creation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and talks on resolving the North Borneo dispute. He taught until 1972.[4]

He was also involved in chess having won executive chess events in the 1970s. He also became a board member of the now-defunct Philippine Chess Federation and led the Philippine delegation to the Chess Olympiad in 1994 in Moscow, Russia.[4]


Mata died on April 12, 2018 at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital in San Juan, Metro Manila.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Mata had five children.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Florentino B. Valeros; Estrellita V. Gruenberg (1999). Filipino Writers in English. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. p. 151. ISBN 978-971-10-0286-2.
  2. ^ Aric John Sy Cua (2018-04-12). "Veteran journalist Nestor Mata writes 30". The Manila Times. Retrieved 2018-04-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Leon O. Ty (1957-04-06). "Nestor Mata's story". Philippine Free Press. Archived from the original on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2008-03-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Nestor Mata,veteran journalist, dies at 92". Manila Standard. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Julie Yap-Daza (2004-09-04). "The one real born-again". Manila Standard Today. Retrieved 2008-03-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Miguel Bernad, S.J. "Tragic Mountain: Manung-gal". Mountain Essays of Miguel Bernad. Archived from the original on 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2008-03-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b "Journalist Nestor Mata dies at 92". ABS-CBN News. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Nestor Mata: After Falling from Heaven, a Passionate Life of Music, Journalism, Chess, and Art". Manila Bulletin. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]