Monday, July 22, 2024

Pioneer tech journo Joey Alarilla dies at age 52

Jose Maria “Joey” Alarilla, one of the country’s pioneer technology journalists, has died after a bout with an extremely rare form of cancer. He was 52.

His wife, Ericsson executive Ellen Alarilla, confirmed his passing just after July 6 midnight in Kuala Lumpur where the family is currently based.

Alarilla, also an award-winning author, died due to MEITL (monomorphic epitheliotropic intestinal T cell lymphoma), a rare type of illness that involves the malignant proliferation of white blood cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Before moving to Malaysia to join his wife and daughter Niko, Alarilla was active in the blogging and corporate circuits after getting his start as one of the first journalists to report on the then-emerging local tech scene in the mid-1990s.

His first stint as a writer for Metropolitan Computer Times, the country’s first IT publication, was an unexpected detour since he had already passed the qualifying exam at the UP College of Law in the hopes of following the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a lawyer. 

But, he became deeply immersed in tech journalism after transferring to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) where he wrote for the paper’s “Infotech” section. He also covered the science and health, motoring, and real estate news beats.

It was during this time that he became a member and eventually elected as president of the tech media group Cyberpress.

When PDI and broadcast firm GMA-7 formed a joint venture to create INQ7.net, Alarilla became one of the site’s editors, developing content for the newspaper’s online edition.

After almost a decade of working for the Inquirer group, Alarilla made the huge leap to the corporate sector by joining the online gaming firm Level Up! Inc.

He then made the move to Yahoo Philippines, the local office of the US-based Internet firm, serving as Southeast Asia head of social and community. This is where he found and cultivated his passion for social media and “tech-for-good”, as well as for Web3 advocacy later on.

This was followed by stints as social media manager in various companies while at the same time contributing to tech blogs such as e27.co and CNET Asia. In 2020, he founded his own site called Digital Life Asia, “a media startup that covers technology, gaming, geek culture, science, lifestyle, and entertainment in Asia and across the Asian diaspora.”

Apart from his journalistic pursuits, Alarilla also dabbled on literary writing having taken Comparative Literature at UP Diliman. He won third prize in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for his essay “Surviving the Zeroes“. He also contributed an essay to “Tikman Ang Langit: An Anthology on the Eraserheads”.

Prior to his passing, Alarilla also put up another website called “A Life More Ordinary” where he chronicled his journey as a cancer patient.

On LinkedIn, he wrote: “I could have fallen into despair over a cancer that randomly struck me. I couldn’t have done anything at all that would have increased or decreased my risk of getting MEITL. Instead of wasting my time and energy, however, on what was beyond my control, I decided to focus on what I could: how I would react to getting cancer.

“I chose a positive attitude. I vowed that I wouldn’t just be living with cancer. I would live life to the fullest — joyfully and meaningfully.”

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