Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honoring Manang Ruth and Manang Loreto

Journalist writer Jane Howard once said, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one”

I needed one and I have one. And that one I am joining with the rest of the members in Las Vegas, Nevada for what the clan’s younger generation described as “The Monumental Maynigo / Gal-lang Family Reunion”.

Coordinated by my niece San Diego native Mary Euleen Maynigo Torres Napper, and actively assisted by her cousins Lillian Maynigo Danao Espanola, and Rochelle Maynigo Barbiran, and her brother Dean Maynigo Torres, the reunion promises to be momentous and guaranteed to be monumentally filling, fulfilling and fattening depending on how each one would face the challenges.

Now advised and fully supported by my youngest sister, Mila Maynigo Denton Goldberg, they came up with an exciting program. From Friday (15th) night to Sunday morning (17th), it would be “All You Can Eat”, “Eat All You Can” or “Buffet of All Buffets” depending on your perspective. Of course, in between meals would be Shows offered by Las Vegas Entertainment and by clan members who plan to show that the family has talents and hope to be the new idols. Golf, games, and gambling are inevitably included but as a family, GOD is never excluded.

A Catholic mass will be offered and officiated by a clan member and the family spiritual adviser, Father Victor Arenas Maynigo on the second and principal day of the reunion. Main feature in the mass is the offering of prayers for the souls of members who have joined the Lord. A special tribute for the late Manang Ruth Maynigo Danao and Manang Loreto Maynigo Bernabe will also be made.


Manang Ruth was a very smart, beautiful, humble, wise and honorable lady. As a young boy growing up, I used to think of her as the First Lady of the Maynigo clan. She was the first lady in the family to attend an American university, the University of Washington, as a Full Scholar after briefly teaching English at the Rosales Municipal High School, Pangasinan. She was the first lady founder of the school organ, The Rosal and the first lady writer of the lyrics of the school song. She was also the first to coach a cousin, Manang Nelly Maynigo Rabara for her winning oration in high school.

When I came to America as an American Field Service Scholar, I had to live with an American family while finishing my Senior year. Prior to my arrival, she wrote a letter to my foster parents introducing herself as my cousin describing to the latter the kind of family I belonged to and how good a boy I was expected to be. They had to use a magnifier to read her letter as the words were written so small. They were so impressed not only on how the contents were structured but most especially on how perfect her English was. They had never seen someone from a foreign land who wrote English the way she did. It was indeed a very good intro for me.

While in Huntington Beach High, I won a few oratorical contests which earned me a feature in the Philippines Free Press Magazine as a Champion Orator. I was very proud of one original oratorical piece which brought me to the Southern California Finals. The title was, “Moral Integrity: Imperative for Survival”. Prior to the finals, I happened to visit her and Manong Greg in Reno, Nevada. I got the benefit of her editing and coaching prowess resulting in an eventual First Place trophy finish.

A few years later I attended the first United Nations World Youth Assembly in New York as a delegate of the Philippines. Invited as a speaker in another conference of revolutionary movements that included Gloria Steinam’s Women’s Liberation Movement and the Black Panthers’ Party, I met Eldridge Cleaver who invited me to  his office in Oakland, California. On my way back to the Philippines, I visited the home of Manang Ruth and Manong Greg in Daly City. Of course, I requested that they bring me to the headquarters of the Black Panthers’ Party and Manong Greg did. Little boy Danny came along. In hindsight, that experience made me realize two things. One was that it was dangerous to go to the Black Panthers’ headquarters at that time. Second, I was escorted by a retired member of the Navy Seal Manong Greg who was instructed by Commander-in-Chief Manang Ruth to accompany me. The fact that Manong Greg parked several blocks away and stayed in the car was just a precaution.:)

When my youngest sister Mila got married in California, the main sponsors were Manang Ruth and my father-in-law, former Philippine Senator and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raul Manglapus. In one of our conversations a few years later, the latter was telling me how impressed he was with Manang Ruth. For somebody who was used to meeting and conversing with Kings, Heads of States, high-powered politicians and intellectual giants, Manang Ruth impressing him was a real feat.

The last time I saw her was when I visited her in Las Vegas on my way to the Philippines. She was battling cancer. I brought with me a draft copy of Traci’s book that she wrote while a junior at Yale. She started reading and browsing for a little while then she gave back the book staring and virtually telling me, “Editing not needed”. I  just felt that it had to pass through her.

I know she was a great mother. Just look at how her children Lillian and Danny were raised and have become. Lillian has a B.S. in Occupational Therapy and is happily to married to Edgar Espanola. Danny, the little boy who went with me to the Black Panthers’ Party HQ, has two Masters Degrees (Business Administration and Business Management) to go with his B.S. in Commerce.  I am sure she is proudly looking down at them from heaven.. I know she was a great wife to an equally great husband. While the life of Manang Ruth and Manong Greg together was not as long as expected, it was definitely full, joyful and fulfilling.


I never told her, but I always thought that Manang Loreto was the smartest among all of us in our  immediate family. She was Valedictorian, Editor-in-Chief and a dynamic leader. A Certified Public Accountant who became the head of the Economic Research Department of the Central Bank of the Philippines, she travelled several times to Germany, United States, Singapore and other countries to study the Federal Reserve and Monetary Systems as a paid scholar.

Aside from fulfilling the duties of  a department head, she  handled the books of  one of the Banks employees’ credit union whose members were mostly accountants.

In Sampaloc, Manila was a small house which my mother bought so that students amongst our family, other relatives and town mates would have a place to stay while pursuing college and professional degrees. Until its expropriation to give way to a highway, that house produced  several dozen professionals that included doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, accountants, teachers, police officers, national bureau investigators and many more.

As a student maintaining her college scholarship until she became a professional, she managed that boarding house with competence, great efficiency and effectiveness that all of us enjoyed the orderliness and comfort of a home for economically and sometimes academically struggling students. I was the last in our family to graduate and  to finish my law degree while living in  that house. By then, it was already expropriated and my mother duly compensated. So, strictly speaking, I was a squatter until I  moved to plushy Urdaneta Village in Makati after I got married.

There are many other things that Manang Loreto could be remembered and honored for. She was the able President of the Rizalinian Civic Association (RCA) in our town. She also organized and founded, together with our Auntie retired Judge Lolita Gal-lang, the first conference of the Rosales National High School Alumni Association. But for me, she should be honored and remembered more for leading the efforts to finance the construction of an Alumni Building in our Alma Mater. With the help of her friend, Congressman Ranjit Shahani, funding was appropriated to add to what some alumni have raised for the building. Naming the building as Loreto Maynigo Bernabe Hall would certainly do her justice.

She was not only the smartest; she was also the real politician in our family. At the wedding of her eldest son, Carlo, relatives like me, sisters Perla, Nelly and Mila, cousins Judith Miguel Yoro, Mila Miguel, Dado Maynigo and Bello Maynigo Casanova stood as sponsors. But also marching as sponsors were political giants that included former Senator and then Secretary of Education Raul Roco, Former Senator and then Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Sonny Alvarez, former Quezon City Mayor and now House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, then Congressman Ranjit Ramos Shahani (nephew of President Fidel Ramos), among others. She was also close friend and classmate of Cielo Macapagal, the other but "good daughter" of President Diosdado Macapagal.

Only someone who knew how to use political muscle and connections would actually convince political leaders like the above to march at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.

I also know she was a great mother to three great sons: Carlo, a graduate of San Beda College who now works as a special adviser to the Quezon City Mayor; Jun, also a graduate of San Beda was sent by the Central Bank to the University of Illinois to finish a Masters Degree in Banking and Finance  and also a CPA, he is now employed by the Central Bank of the Philippines; and Aron who works in a Physical Therapy office in San Diego. She was also a great wife to an equally great husband. The reason she achieved so much in her lifetime was because behind her was a very understanding and supportive husband, Manong Yoyong.

Manang Ruth and Manang Loreto: two women in our family with the strongest moral fiber, highest intelligence and highest achievement motivation. They were God’s gifts to our family. For their achievements on earth, they were our family’s gifts to God.

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