A Good Life Full of Treasures

Me & Irene

As the book is nearing completion, my relationship with Irene has gone deeper as well. As she reminisces on her life, I take the honor and pleasure of picking up lessons on her life full of treasures.  I am getting excited with the thought that we will go and tour to talk about her book. One evening, she asked me to release the book after her death. I asked her and her response is the sincerest, yet truly worrisome as she said softly, “My family will get mad at me”. The thought of her dying is enough to make me sad. My excitement was suddenly turned off. How can I obey this request? I want to feel and share with her whatever will happen to this adventure. I felt that I have developed a genuine friendship with her. As her Personal Assistant, we became closer. It was a challenge to know what she likes, as I prepare her meals, I should know how many sugars will satisfy her sweet tooth. I must perfect the way she likes her egg over easy, or I will end up eating it. 


I could still picture how she giggles as she recalled how Juaning stole the first kiss; her excitement to ride the Ferris wheel like a kid, while her husband is hiding so hard from his doctor friends; and how she witnessed pregnant Juana gives birth so easy before the midwife comes. As a young girl, she cannot help but laugh naughtily, still irking at the touch of the soft, blood-laden umbilical cords.


She has an excellent knowledge base of medicine, that she takes an active role in her health maintenance and overall health care under Client Directed Personal Assistance Program. She is very sharp, intelligent, and well-read. She belongs to both worlds of the East and the West, and lived four generations, pre-war onto this millennium. She reveres the name "Moraga" and requested me to write it fully as her maiden name. As for technology, I gave her a cheap phone that she treasures as her connection to the world, her friends, and her church across the miles away from home. Like a young kid, she keeps her phone so close as her life’s company and security line.    

Social Justice on Human Rights

She is a just human rights activist who does not want to see anyone being treated unfairly. Once visiting in Kalaca, there was a poor, young wife, around 15 years old, who was victimized with an attempted rape, one night while her husband went fishing. They live by the hut near the sea, so poor. The perpetrator was able to jump out of the window, however he was caught, the son of the local government official. They sought a good lawyer, while I represented the girl. Nobody wants to help her, when I came, I asked what happened. The judge said that on initial questioning, the girl would not speak, I exclaimed, “how can she talk? She’s still in shock!” And I made her speak up. We reached the higher court, without a lawyer, just the Truth and God, the case was won, and the defendant served eight years in prison. His lawyer was so embarrassed to meet the judge, he flew to America to save his face! 

Even if you are poor and innocent, if you have God, you are blessed. 


The Philanthropist


She became the “Social Worker” of Lipa with her genuine desire to help people and share her wealth. Her philanthropy ranged from small personal individualized advocacy to a big scale community project and initiative. Her vision (Pananaw) is beyond what is visible. She knew and understood the plight of the people and the unpredictability of situations arising and needing her help, so she carries her checkbook, and was always ready, like that time when somebody was bleeding and needed blood transfusion immediately, she used her check to buy a pint or two.  

When Peter was growing up, I was invited by a friend to Calaca, Batangas, a small remote area, so poor, no electricity, no farms, no fish in the ocean. There is no sign of progress and bounty, so dead and “dry”. It was called Puting Bato but there was no sign of white stone but rather a very black sand. The fields were barren, with the soil in the fields as white, you will fall in the bottom when it is dry and becomes so sticky when it is wet. Nevertheless, we moved to Calaca from Quezon City after my Divisoria textile business as I do want to take care of Peter myself. I did few businesses there particularly the buy and sell of cows. Like my mother Antonina and my Impong Igmidio, I went into the jewelry business which I bought from distant relatives in Meycawayan to sell in Manila and Quezon City. We lived in Calaca since Boyet was two years old until he started High School in Manila.  

On further exploration I saw a place, an area looking so unique and different, there is only one road through the beautiful mountain peak of Batulao leading to it. I wrote Iglesia and sent them a map to ask them to come and visit the place. I spoke to Ka Erdie as I believed and felt that it needs a blessing, from somebody in the Iglesia to walk through it. Iglesia then bought the land overlooking the bay from the mountain side.  The air is fresh, the view of the surrounding mountains is very uplifting and the beaches, I thought they will make a very nice beach, a tourist haven. And so, it was.


In the beginning, there were only five families and we used to attend Samba under a private house of an old Iglesia couple. I did not like the idea that we were under the house.  Then I asked the owner if we can go up in the house while waiting for the church to be built and accommodate the growing membership to the Iglesia. I bought stones and hollow blocks that will become the foundation of the “Kapilya”. Then I recruited carpenters who have no jobs, and the rest of the Iglesia families joined to build the church. During the inauguration, the secretary of Iglesia came, it was the beginning of the progress of Calaca. The farms started to produce, there were abundance of big fishes caught from the bay. Before Ka Erdie died, he built a new and bigger Church of Christ. Today, Calaca has become a city, with booming businesses. It became the home to an industrial park with several coal-powered plants and home to foreign corporations. There was a very tall falls from the mountains that became a source of electricity. And yes, it has become a tourist spot. When I went home in 2017, I visited Calaca, once more and I was glad. The original families who built the church with me, all became millionaires.


Irene lived with God every day. If she can advocate for Christ in any way, she will do it. As she had helped built this church, she always invites friends to join her in Samba. 

The Healer

As her heart was pure and God-laden, natural healing came unto her, a healing based on science and common sense as she virtually studied medicine with her husband, Juaning.

She cannot forget how she cried with the sight of the child who fell into the boiling pot of hog-food, a child all bandaged up with skin all sloughed from the burn. She prayed to God and asked for divine intervention. She asked the family to be good and sin no more. The burned child lived to become a nurse and now a supervisor in California. The parents succeeded in business and are now retired.


There was a rich executive from New York looking for a companion for her dying sick mother. While she is still in the hospital, they are looking for her companion to recover in the Hamptons. The interview included, “do you have any experience with homecare giving?” I answered, my husband is a doctor. I was warned by the son that the old woman is cranky and hard to please. When she saw me, she is in her good mood and greeted me, “How are you my friend?” With that, the son knew they are ready for me. They took me to the Hamptons. They are extremely rich, she has a nurse, housekeeper, and driver; and my job is to give her company. Our conversation lasted for x years, coming from two cultures, we had a lot to talk about. I took her to the best places she wants, fine dining in restaurants, shopping, and joy riding that I felt like a native in the hometown of the rich and famous. After some time, her daughter-in-law who is not fond of her, noticed that she looks happy and contented, death is not in the picture. My companionship worked for all our favors, as blessed by God. 


Mike Jampayas: A Homerun One More Time

In the serendipitous flow of life, Mike and Josie found themselves as friends, business partners, lovers, and then married couple, living with faith, love, and laughter, constantly streaming through community socials for causes they believe in and support, as they enjoy their golden years. Mike had been a widower for several years before he met Josie who was divorced at that time when they first met during a party of the Philippine Charities of America. On another occasion, when Mike received the Outstanding Father Award, seeing that all awardees were accompanied by their families on stage and Mike would be all alone, she quickly called all her friends present to come up to the stage to join him. It was a gesture that impressed Mike as Josie being “resourceful” and he felt so gratified with her spontaneous act of thoughtfulness and kindness.

With his personal situation, he had been looking for someone after he lost his wife while Josie had no plans. He was looking for a woman who is “intelligent, pretty, and easy to get along with.”  Yes, there are differences between them, such as the 22-year gap in their ages, differences in careers and family, but he had to decide as he was running out of time. Mike has a master’s degree in Public Health at Columbia University (an Ivy league school) and a Master of Science degree at Long Island University. From his prestigious years as researcher and professor in Clinical Pathology at both Columbia University and Long Island University, Mike has concluded that, "Most illnesses are out of loneliness."


Their relationship developed seriously enough for Mike to trust her, saying “Without much thinking I gave Josie my life’s savings, which led us to do business.” Eventually Mike and Josie got married.  As practical people with past marriages behind them, Mike arranged for a pre-nuptial agreement to cover his son and family, a move that Josie thinks is fair. During their life together, each has come to love, admire, and value certain qualities about the other. Mike found Josie to be very caring, loving, young and energetic, with “strong convincing power.”  For Josie, Mike is “good looking, kind-hearted, thoughtful, supportive and successful.”


Like most relationships, there are people around who either approve or oppose it. Mike cites his friend and colleague, Deacon Gary Villanueva, MD, PhD, ScD, as most supportive who helped him to decide on going through with it.  Josie’s six grown children were quite “ok” with it, and that support was important to her in making her feel more at ease and happy about pursuing the marriage. While no one among Josie’s family or friends opposed them, Mike observed that some of his family members and friends were silent about it and left all the decision to him.


The rapport and chemistry between Mike and Josie are palpable, real, and funny. Mike calls her “Sweetheart” and Josie calls him “Brother Mike.”  Mike is the contented spouse as he listens to his favorite praise songs and pours over his endless professional credentials during our visit.  Josie is the energetic busy body, assisting her husband while making guests as comfortable and well-fed as possible. When queried about what advice they would offer to people who find themselves in a similar situation as theirs, Mike quickly replies, “Ask God for guidance.” To which Josie says, “Age doesn’t matter so long as you get along and love each other.”


In retrospect, Mike, and Josie’s “million-dollar baby” turns out to be the priceless peace and contentment they have found in each other’s love.  No better person to quote than Mike himself, upon his appointment as Ambassador for Peace by the global organization, Universal Peace Foundation – Office of Asian Affairs, in March 2015: “To me, being an ambassador for peace means being able to achieve my own personal peace and harmony. I live a life of kindness and understanding within myself, my wife, family, neighbors, and work environment. Being an ambassador for peace means also being facilitative in open dialogue in community of organizations to create a more supportive environment for our youth and older citizens.”


To such profound wisdom we say, “MANO PO, Brother Mike!”


Ludy Resurreccion, 09/23/2018