29 years
of
Community Service
MUNTING NAYON
News Magazine
Operated by couple Eddie Flores and Orquidia Valenzuela
News and Views of the
Filipino Community Worldwide
A Tribute to a Remarkable Lady-FELISA RAMOS VALENZUELA



By Wilfredo Valenzuela
Reprinted from original hardcopy publication
Munting Nayon News Magazine
Issue: November-2003


 
 


To our Nanay…. Love always


Nanay approached life’s challenges with strong will and determination. Hardship was part of her youth. She spent her childhood in the remote Philippine town of Kalibo, Aklan. The World War II years were harsh times in the Philippines, especially for a mother of four little daughters living in the province of Bulacan in the outskirts of Manila. Although Nanay could have been a career woman, she devoted herself instead to us, her eight children. She learned to put every penny to good use.

When Nanay came to America later in her life, she never stopped mentally converting every dollar she spent to pesos, which made everything appear expensive to her. (A dollar is worth over fifty pesos). Her favorite place to shop in the United States were garage sales and 99-cent stores, where just about every item can be purchased for 99-cents.

It was also amazing how creative Nanay got with cooking, able to convert and reinvent several dishes out of the same potatoes. On my fifth birthday, she transformed ensemada (Philippine pastry) to a birthday cake, a feat of creativity that my older siblings still talk about.

Nanay dreamed of completing a college education, becoming a trial and criminal lawyer and perhaps earning a seat in the Supreme Court. She was preparing to enter law school when she met Tatay (father). Tatay was already a medical doctor then and was treating the members of Nanay’s family. They got married when Nanay was 17 years old. She gave up pursuing her dream and instead lived the life of a devoted housewife and mother. But late at night, she spent hours reading and living her dream of becoming a criminal lawyer through mystery novels by Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie.

After Tatay died, Nanay decided to go back to college at the age of 62 to fulfill her lifetime dream of a college education. She reasoned that she had put all her children through college and it was her turn to get a college degree. Obtaining admission in a university turned out to be an ordeal for her because all her academic records were lost and burned during World War II. But she was determined to get her college degree. She proceeded to contact old professors and classmates, some of whom have become respected leaders in the country. Attesting to their recognition of her academic excellence as a young student, her old professors and classmates certified, in writing and in person, her academic achievements before the war.

So 45 years later, Nanay eagerly became a college student once more. As a student, she spoke her mind, competently debating and arguing with her professors on issues raised in class, thus further earning their respect as well a scholarship. With her extraordinary drive and intelligence, she earned her college degree with high honors (magna cum laude) at the age of 65, a unique accomplishment that was written up and published in Philippine newspapers. Right after her college graduation, she taught for several years at colleges in the Philippines.

Even before deciding to retire and spend the remainder of her life with her children and grandchildren, Nanay frequently traveled to visit her children who by then have spread out to three continents. During those visits, she would be unable to keep herself from doing household chores, much like she had done for many, many years as a housewife. She would cook, clean the house and do yard work. With her green thumb, she planted different varieties of trees and plants in my yard during her visits. Those plants have continued to bloom, beautiful flowers year after year, adding to the many lasting and wonderful memories she left behind.

I have fond memories of Nanay telling us bedtime stories when we were children. We knew all the classic fairy tales because of her. Her bedtime stories were usually followed by a short prayer. I still clearly remember one night when she asked me after she had told me one of those bedtime stories, what I wanted to pray for. I asked her to pray for us to live forever. As a four-year old, I thought that through prayers, it was possible to experience forever the happiness, love and comfort she gave. Now, a half century later, Nanay had passed away. But I now realize that the Lord granted our prayer that one night long ago by letting the feelings of happiness, love and comfort she gave me as her child live in me forever.

Goodbye, Nanay. We miss you so much. As you signed countless letters and greeting cards you sent us, your children over the years, “Love always.”





Dear Nanay,

In my early teens I used to envy girls of my age because of their pretty looks. I felt cheated. One day, I can’t contain my emotion anymore and blurted out to you, “why didn’t you marry a good-looking guy, then I would have been pretty.” The expression on your face was full of tenderness and your voice quivered with love and sincerity when you answered, “to me you are beautiful.” It was the one thing I needed at that stage of my life. You made me feel very precious.

When it was time to go to college, I could not decide what course to take and I sought your advice. You simply told me:  “take a course you believe you will be good.” You left the choice to me but your message was clear: go to college.

Thank you Nanay, for your scary stories of the witches in Kalibo and the beautiful fairy tales; for your determination and untiring energy so we can finish our schooling, helping us with our homework; for setting an example to your grandchildren and others, that time is not a barrier to pursue an ambition; and most of all for more than 60 years of love, care, patience and understanding.

We are honoured to be your children. We confer you the “Summa Cum Laude” honours.

Love and prayers,
Ne (ed’s note: “Ne”as Nanay called Orchidia)









    Add a Comment


    Tess Mercado
    DC
    Mon 9th October 2017

    I am Tess Cagungun Mercado. 

    My sister Nennette sent me the link to the article about Lola Ising. 

    She used to visit us weekly at our home in San Francisco del Monte.  I have fond memories of her. 

    I also remember Lolo Maring's booming voice and his expression "putarakla".

    I remember all of you especially Auntie Miniang who I hanged out with in Washington DC.

    The article brought back good memories of my childhood.

    Thanks.

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