By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2014 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – Even when she was already dying inside the intensive care unit (ICU), Luz Diaz Agustin-Mella was still craving for chicharon (friend pork rind).
Her daughter, Heidilynn Mella-Equina, told the Journal GlobaLinks that aside from crediting her mother as having full of “faith and (being a) spiritual woman,” her Mom’s fondness for chicharon might have helped her extend her life to live more than a hundred years.
Ms. Mella-Equina, a general practicing nurse, said part of the food servings of her Mom had been chicharon at breakfast, lunch and dinner despite her and her family members’ warning her Mom that too much chicharon could be very fattening and would merely increase her cholesterol intake.
A Baptist, Luz Diaz Agustin-Mella would quote Psalm 9:10, which says, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years.” She would say, she had outlived the 70-year biblical injunction’s life span, “Am I not entitled to indulge in chicharon thru the remaining days of my life?”
Ms. Agustin-Mella, a home economics teacher and native of Bulan, Sorsogon in the Philippines, succumbed last March 4 at the age of 100 years and 18 days to complication from surgery to remove a blood clot from her large intestine in the Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center at 5645 West Addison Street in Chicago’s near northwest after eight days of confinement.
“She had continuous vomiting but had continuously prayed for two hours and gave up her fight for her life only when she realized that all her loved ones were by her bedside. She died peacefully,” her grieving daughter said.
“My Mom died a very happy woman. She was able to eat her favorite chicharon, would be very comfortable cooling herself off with a Philippine-spun pamaypay (fan) and would drink three cups of coffee everyday,” Heidilynn said.
Except during her birth deliveries and her last surgical operation and her regular doctor’s check ups, Luz Mella had never been hospitalized. Her only medications were eye drop as she had eye cataract and glaucoma, and Ibuprofen. She did not have any “maintenance medications.”
BAPTIST CHURCH IN LAS PINAS STARTED IN HER GARAGE
She had no high blood, no diabetes. She did not complain from anything.
Her body might have deteriorated causing her to use a walker for mobility. But her mind was still very good as she prayed and sang her favorite Gospel songs, “In the Garden,” words and music by Austin Miles, and “I Surrender All” by Judson W. Van De Venter that she learned as a Baptist, a Christian denomination she joined in 1968 in the Philippines seven years before immigrating to the United States.
A growing Las Pinas, Metro Manila Baptist church started in the garage of her home in 1970 as she loved to be a missionary to spread the Gospel.
She was fond of listening to Moody Radio, a 24/7 radio broadcast that “produces and delivers compelling programming filled with solid biblical insight and creative expressions of faith that helps take to the next step in your relationship with Christ.”
When Luz turned 100 last Feb. 14 (she was born Feb. 14, 1914), she got centenarian certificates from birthday greeter host Willard Scott of NBC Today’s Show from Washington, D. C. and from the National Centenarian Awareness Project founded by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D., of Redding, Connecticut.
Heidilynn expects some institutions in the Philippines to send her mother centenary greetings when her family plans to hold a memorial service on her behalf on May 4, 2014 at the Manila Memorial Chapel in Paranaque, Metro Manila. There, Luz’ ashes urn will be buried together with her late husband, Vigor De Castro Mella, Sr., of Magallanes, Sorsogon, a civil engineer and a World War II guerilla member under the Escudero Guerilla Unit, who preceded her in death when he met an accident in 1960 while he was a provincial treasurer in Catarman, Samar, and their son, Roland Mella, Jr., an industrial engineer, who drowned in a boating accident in Cedar Lake, Indiana in 1967 at the age of 26.
Luz was cremated Monday, March 10, after funeral wake and viewing last Friday, March 7, at Cumberland Chapel at Norridge, Illinois.
An alumna of Far Eastern University, Luz graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Home Economics and worked for three years as a nutritionist starting at the outbreak of World War II in 1941 at the U.S. Public Health, an agency that offered her to immigrate to the U.S.
After the war, Luz worked at the government’s Bureau of Printing, Department of Finance, taught home economics at the Sorsogon and Goa, Camarines Sur Provincial High Schools, employed at Government Service Insurance System and last taught at Muntinlupa High School for three years after which she revived her U.S. immigration application and immigrated with her family to the U.S. in 1975.
In Chicago, she worked for about five to six years at the Bunilsor Medical Clinic in Chicago before she retired.
Her survivors are her children, Romeo (Ophelia), a nautical engineer; Dr. Lourdes “Ditas” (Jaime) Hilao; Ramon, a retired American Red Cross nurse (Mila Texon); Heidilynn (Elson) Equina; and Vigor, Jr., retired medical clinic network worker (Josephine Belleza); 24 grandchildren; and great grandchildren and numerous nephews, nieces, grand nephews and grand nieces. Two other children preceded her, Roland (who died at the age of 6 years old) and Roland, Jr., who died in 1967. (email@example.com)
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY!
Luz Diaz Agustin-Mella (seated second row, third from right) is surrounded by her grandchildren from left to right (back row) Miguel Equina, Penny Mella, Mary Foster, John Mella, Jamie Hilao, Karen Mella and Jay Hilao; second row, from left, Roy Mella, Rocky Mella and Ramil Mella; front row are Kaleya Equina and Lynn Hilao-Tubalinal at her 100th birthday celebration last Feb. 14 at Georgio’s Banquet Hall at 8800 West 159th Street in Chicago’s suburban Orland Park. Luz Mella died last March 4 and was cremated March 10. A memorial service for her will be held on May 4, 2014 at the Manila Memorial Chapel at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines. (JGLPhoto courtesy of Katleya M. Equina)
WITH FOUR YOUNGEST GRANDCHILDREN:
Luz Diaz Agustin-Mella (seated right) is surrounded by her four youngest grandchildren from left to right Ramil Mella, Ramon Mella, Katleya Equina and Miguel Equina during the celebration of her 100th birthday last Feb. 14 at Georgio’s Banquet Hall at 8800 West 159th Street in Chicago’s suburban Orland Park. Luz Mella died last March 4 and was cremated March 10. A memorial service for her will be held on May 4, 2014 at the Manila Memorial Chapel at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines. (JGLPhoto courtesy of Katleya M. Equina)
Joseph G. Lariosa
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)
CHICAGO (jGLi) –
In a span of less than a week, my fellow Bikolanos lost their two favorite sons – Congressman Salvador H. Escudero III of Casiguran, Sorsogon and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo of Naga City.
While Congressman Escudero lost his battle with colon cancer at the age of 69 and Robredo lost his life to a plane crash at the age of 54, both certainly died ahead of their time.
Of the two, I had a close-up look at senior Congressman Escudero, a classmate of my elder sister, Dona L. Hernandez, in the college of veterinary medicine at the University of the Philippines in the 60’s.When Dr. Escudero became Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, my sister worked for a few months as a Sorsogon provincial veterinarian, where she met her future husband, the late Jose E. Hernandez from what used to be Bacon and now part of Sorsogon City as a district.
My sister, Dr. Hernandez, parted ways with Dr. Escudero when she immigrated to the United States in the late sixties.
Dr. Escudero’s work ethic and being workaholic served him well him and had not gone unnoticed by the martial law government of President Marcos, who later appointed him as Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry and later as Minister of Food and Agriculture, not Minister of Education as listed in the House of Representatives’ press release. He also became Agriculture Secretary from 1996-1998.
Because of his incorruptible image and as my role model, I sought him out as one of my wedding sponsors.
MADE IT TO THE FIRST DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN PH
Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Escudero attended my wedding sometime in 1977 on the day that the Marcos government adopted the first daylight saving time. Making it to an early appointment was no stranger to Ninong Sonny Escudero, who as a teetotaler, usually reported to work at 7 a.m.
Less than two months before his death, I got word that he was very sick as his mobility was confined to a wheelchair. My nephew, Manuel Villamor, in Sorsogon City, told me in a Facebook message, “your Ninong wants to say hello to you. But he is now in a wheelchair.”
But I was surprised that he died so soon last Aug. 13. I wish I could have reached out to him sooner as I emailed his son, Sen. Chiz Escudero, to condole on his father’s death.
The email messages I sent a number of times to some members of the Philippines House of Representatives had never generated a response. I suggest the HR should investigate the inefficiency of its Webmaster, who should be replaced if HR wants to receive feedbacks from the public.
Ninong Escudero has sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills. But one that left a lasting impression for him was HR 01135, which he authored in his capacity as chair of the Committee on Basic Education and Culture. HR 01135 is a resolution, urging the Administration of President Benigno C. Aquino III to allow the burial of the remains of former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The bill never gained traction in the House. But one of these days, if my research will check out, this resolution might see its light of day. If I find out something compelling that will vindicate the House to pass the resolution, I will dedicate my effort to the memory of my Ninong Sonny. For now, goodbye, my Ninong. May you rest in peace!
In the case of Secretary Robredo, whose tragic death caught the sympathy and interest not only of the Filipinos but also overseas Filipinos and their friends, I still find it shocking three days after his remains was recovered from the bottom of the sea that he died.
Although, he was not known to have a good “pr” (public relations) or sociable with the media, Mr. Robredo made up for this lack of this knack by being accessible and straightforward with full public disclosure of available information at hand. And this demeanor should make him popular to media types.
Never known to take public issue with local politicians, who opposed his confirmation as full-fledged secretary of the department of interior and local government before the Commission on Appointments, Mr. Robredo was a silent worker, who was never distracted by petty politics. He just performed his job while he enjoyed the trust of President Aquino.Unlike Dolphy, whose deteriorating health was detailed in the news on a daily basis and made the people, who are conferring him the National Artist award, appear to be dragging their feet, the members of the Commission on Appointments found themselves being hit by lightning when they procrastinated for two years to confirm Robredo as cabinet secretary with the plane crash on Aug. 18 (Philippine time).
But from all the comments after the death of Mr. Robredo that I find intriguing is that of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who appeared to have dishonored the memory of Mr. Robredo, who was made to appear to be harboring a criminal. Lacson said he tried to seek the help of Secretary Robredo to convince Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to respect a Court of Appeals decision that set aside the arrest warrant against him when he was running from the law.
If what Mr. Lacson was saying was true, I think, Mr. Robredo, being a non lawyer, might have also asked the opinion of his lawyer friends if what Mr. Lacson was asking him to do made sense. I’m sure Mr. Robredo’s lawyers advised Mr. Robredo that complying with Mr. Lacson’s request for help was premature – the Court of Appeals’ decision was not yet final and was still appealable to the Supreme Court!
I just hope President Aquino and the Commission on Appointment will honor the memory of Secretary Robredo by replacing him with and confirming someone, who has no criminal record. How can a once fugitive from the law have moral ascendancy over lawbreakers?
When Secretary Robredo will be honored at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, Aug. 24, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. by his APO-USA fraternity brothers and by his fellow Bikolanos, particularly the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, I will be praying not only for the soul of Secretary Robredo and my Ninong Sonny Escudero but also for President Aquino to appoint an independent-minded Supreme Court Chief Justice, a more sensible replacement for Secretary Robredo, who will be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, who should not be distracted by petty politics. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Journal Group Link International
P.O. BOX 805072
CHICAGO IL 60680-4112
by Michelle Dayrit-Soliven
Her dreams are made of a thousand and one fabrics fashioned out of a thousand and one stitches. This I learned about Cora de Jesus Manimbo.
One of the most meaningful events I was fortunate to attend recently was a store blessing of a newfound friend. More than just a dress shop, this blessed establishment represents a miracle borne from adversity, an answered prayer for Cora and her family.
My scheduled time to meet her was quite unusual. “May I invite you for breakfast to celebrate this happy occasion,” read Cora’s SMS to me. Not wanting to miss it, my husband and I made sure we were at her shop in Greenhills at 7:30 a.m. on the dot. It was a Sunday, otherwise known as the Lord’s day. Truly we felt it was. Families gathered together as Fr. Fernando Suarez thanked a benevolent God who showered this gift unto Cora and her prayerful family. With gentle sprinkles of holy water, Fr. Suarez blessed each corner of the store, the lovely Filipiniana inspired dresses designed by Cora, exquisitely embroidered barongs, fabrics and accessories artistically displayed by her staff. His solemn prayer was, “Lord, please continue to bless the work of their hands and all those who enter here.”
It was a joyful gathering of family, friends and loyal patrons who shared in her joys having witnessed firsthand the difficulties that Cora went through. Judging from the attendance, the Manimbo family is well loved by many.
I spotted a lovely lady in a cloud of pink (my favorite color) fleeting around, warmly greeting her guests. It was Cora elegantly garbed in her own creation.
“Thank you for being here, Michelle and Benny,” she said with a smile.
Like an old friend, Cora continued to share with us her story. “This is a very special day for me. Now I know that God had a secret plan all along. What I considered the most challenging situation in my life turned out to be a blessing in disguise. That powerful typhoon Ondoy struck us full force in Marikina last September. We were overwhelmed by the challenges of rebuilding our home, our business, our lives. But thank God! After eight months, with everybody’s help, including my friends, staff and family, we have been able to relaunch this new and permanent shop for all of us to enjoy. This is a testament of our faith in the Almighty.”
And really what a great address it is. Much more accessible, according to her clients, than the former Marikina location. Her new shop Cora D.J. Manimbo Fashion House is located on the upper ground floor of Swire Elan Suites, a condotel building on 49 Annapolis St., Greenhills in San Juan.
Over a sumptuous breakfast buffet in the hotel café, we got to meet the dynamic couple behind Elan Suites. From architect Ramon Licup and his pretty wife Elena Murillo Licup, I learned that their condo hotel is very popular among balikbayans and foreign guests. Conveniently located right across the lively Greenhills shopping complex, it is a solid landmark in Greenhills. No wonder that this location is perfect for Cora’s balikbayan clients. After getting their wedding ensembles made at Cora’s they can stroll down the street in the company of their family and friends, catch up on the latest movies, shop for pasalubongs and then feast on a great variety of cuisine or just restaurant hop. When they are tired, they can simply walk back to the hotel with all their packages and indulge in the hotel spa which is right by Cora’s shop.
Cora’s proud family was there in full force. Charles Bernard, 19, a freshman in De La Salle University taking up Entrepreneurship, shared, “My mom’s store specializes in formal Filipiniana outfits for men and women. She does fabulous weddings here and abroad. The balikbayans and foreigners swear by her works, profusely giving thanks for they always stand out in their Cora DJ Manimbo originals.”
I also met Cora’s other children Matthew Bernard, a high school senior in La Salle Greenhills and a member of the varsity basketball team; and only daughter Sophia Therese, 21, studying in UP College of Arts and Letters taking up Creative Writing. In that early morning affair, they were upbeat in telling me that their mother “never boasts of her creations but her works become her walking advertisement and always speak well of her awesome talent.”
I asked Cora where she got the talent to make clothes. “As a fashion designer for Philippine clothing, I trace my roots down to my parents. My father, Primo De Jesus, and my mother, Fely De Jesus, are both born artists. Though we were trained to work hard early on in our lives because we were born poor in Marikina, I had a happy and wonderful childhood. My dad who strived really hard to finish school became a working student mechanic and a family man as well. My hardworking mom is a multi-tasker.”
According to Cora, changes in their way of living happened when her father worked abroad as an OFW in Vietnam. At first, as a regular mechanic to being the team leader of their group serving the US Embassy motorpool in Saigon. “With his and my mother’s combined earnings, they were able to send us to college.”
Cora entered UP for two semesters before transferring to Philippine School of Business Administration as a fulltime scholar and finished Business Administration major in Accounting. She eventually became a Certified Public Accountant. While working in Security Bank & Trust Company as a financial analyst, she helped set up a family business, a small pawnshop operation in Marikina and a one-stop printing shop. After four years of banking and family businesses, she resigned and focused in helping her parents send her siblings to college. After a while, she wanted to improve her skills, she accepted an offer to work in a big printing and packaging company, the “Propack Philippines” where she was trained to be an expert in color matching, combinations, separations and lay-out designing. After a year, her boss found a perfect employee who wanted to learn everything about the business, she was promoted to be assistant to the president after two years, handling all of her boss’ accounts. She was hungry for knowledge in everything she did. She excelled in organizing events and trade shows for the company; attending seminars and attending to suppliers and principals. In short, Cora was a superwoman.
In 1986, at the height of the Edsa Revolution, Cora met a gentleman named Bernardito “Bernie” Manimbo, fell in love and they married in 1989.
Cora said it was in 1990 when they first started their business at Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It was a tiangge with a few t-shirts and batik shirt overruns for export to Spain. Cora added: “Eventually, we started participating in bazaars at the American Women’s Club and also in foreign embassies. Though it was hard and much too complex for me and my husband as beginners, we really enjoyed meeting new people and improved ourselves to better the future of our family.”
Because her schedule was flexible, she was able to attend to her growing up children while manning the business, too.
“One good thing about our business is that it was the foreigners who enjoyed our products and began to promote the unique Philippine-made textile and designs that are mind-blowing in terms of quality. We began to scour for suppliers of materials and we also began to teach weavers on what to pursue in terms of color, design, quality, and to advocate the promotion of these Philippine artworks especially to other nationalities,” Cora said, adding that the happiest moments in her life were the times she gave birth to her three children. Cora said she has always dreamed of a better life for their children and that they anchor their everyday endeavours on hard work, love and faith in God.
“My philosophy in life is always to do the right things and pray to God. I’m always grateful to God for all the miracles, the problems and the people around me,” Cora ended. /
Cora Manimbo can be reached at 744-0401