From Mari: Remembering my sister, Malu

Shared by Dina Maravillas on January 29, 2011

It was the end of July 2008 when I last saw Malu in person, a day before I left Manila for Toronto, Canada to pursue a future  with my family. Though it was another busy day for her as head of the Metrobank branch at San Agustin corner De la Costa Salcedo Village in Makati, she still found time to attend to me and my requirements.

Banking was her life just as it was for our Dad.  In the times I was at her office, I never saw our sister lose her smile, humor, composure and gentle voice when dealing with clients or her staff.  If there was any one thing that completed Malu when coming to work, it was her signature tight blouse and tight skirt that were neatly well put together all the time.  Only the slight suggestion of a spare tire in her mid-section, something I'd tease her about, marred the ensemble. 


Because my office was just a few blocks away, she and I met occasionally over coffee and lunch to talk about her family and Metrobank where I too had worked for some 6 years.  After she was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, our conversations increasingly focused on the progress she was making in fighting the Big C using alternative healing protocols.  She also shared her experience talking to other cancer victims who needed hope and encouragement.  More importantly, she spoke to them about having faith in God as the foundation of the healing process.  

Proclaiming the Good News of our Faith was not new to Malu.  As many of you know, serving God goes back decades earlier.  During her younger years, she was a member of the church choir.  When mid life set in, she joined our mom as mass lector. It was at the Fatima community where Malu developed meaningful and enduring friendships.  

Though faced always with a busy schedule, Malu's priority was her children, her life's purpose.  From the time she gave birth to Dennis, then Joey and finally Andrea, she tirelessly made sure there was food on the table and her children were receiving proper education.  She also made sure that her kids were as talented as she was in singing and dancing so they can perform in front of "Familia Maravillas" gatherings.  Above all, she did as our parents taught us which was to always go to Sunday Mass as one whole family.

Our sister Malu went through life perhaps more challenged than many of us.  Yet, what kept her whole and able to endure tons of difficulties, as well as, embrace endless sacrifices to becoming the loving wife, mother, sister, in-law and daughter that she had become, was her Catholic Faith which we so dearly received from our loving parents.  

In one of my last overseas phone conversations with her while she was in her hospital bed at Cardinal Santos Hospital in April last year, she affirmed to me that she was also praying for those suffering like her.  And I affirmed back by saying that she was blessed by God for becoming the reason for those of us whose faith in prayers were renewed.   

I left the Philippines hopeful that my sister was on the road to getting rid of her disease.  But as it turned out God had other plans.  She was privileged and blessed to walk along side her loving and forgiving Christ on the road to Calvary.  I believe that for each vital organ she lost to cancer forgiveness flowed out from her heart.

 

My dearest sister,

 

Dina, Jade, Lace and I, in unison with everyone here today especially mommy, your siblings and your children will miss you very dearly.  Let not sadness fill your soul but rather eternal joy that comes only when returning to Him, our Creator.  Do not worry for Andrea.  Along with Dennis and Joey, she now has 9 parents and a loving Abuelita who will look after her as she enters womanhood.  

 

Do kiss and hug Daddy for us. 

 

To those who have been a part of our family especially during these difficult times and who had prayed for Malu, thank you so much. We can never thank you enough. 

 

Eulogy by Butch

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 23, 2011

MALU – OUR SAINT

(A Eulogy by Butch Agnir)

Tita Lulu, Dennis, Joey, Andrea, Anna and family, Ria and family, Betty and family, Willy and family, Cali and family, Tetchie and family, friends, good evening.

 Looking at all of you here tonight plus the multitude of friends and relatives who have arrived since Saturday to pay their last respects to Malu only serve to strengthen the realization of how much Malu has touched all our lives. In my case, Malu was my best friend in the world – she was my confidant, she was my partner. In the course of our long friendship (although now I sadly realize how short it was), we shared so many moments of fun and laughter, things we shared with friends very dear to us.

I first met Malu in May of 1998, something which I vividly remember but, funny, she could not. Months after that, I joined her bank, the now defunct Urban Bank. We were casual acquaintances since she was with Branches while I, in Private Banking. When Urban Bank went under, all of a sudden, we didn’t have much to do. In the course of all the chaos her barkada suddenly became one with ours and that began the start of a wonderful friendship. As I moved on from Urban Bank, to Bank of Commerce to Global Bank, and eventually to Metrobank, our paths would always cross. Looking back, it was apparent that it was meant to be that way. In the process, our friendship only grew stronger.

Malu was a very headstrong lady. When she felt right about something, she would be very persistent till its conclusion. She was a very passionate worker, a very caring and devoted banker to her clients and a very loyal friend. She was the best sister to her brothers and sisters and tried to be the good and loving child that she was to Abuelita, her mom. Most of all, she was a protective mother to her children. She would see all their good qualities and consider only as temporary their shortcomings. And you know what? She was 100% correct. She loved her children unconditionally. For most of their lives, it was mommy who was always there. Up till her death, her primary concern was the welfare of Dennis, Joey and Andrea. Most important of all her traits, however, was her being a true Christian. Her love for her fellowmen and her service to God exuded in her daily life. I remember the few times that we would go out-of-town with friends, the first thing she would do was to ask where the nearest local church was and, without fail, she would attend mass.

 Malu loved her life as she lived it to the fullest with people close to her. For those of us who knew her, her life was filled with pain, trials and hardships and, up till the end, this proved to be true. Despite all these, she never complained. Even when she was deeply hurt when she was unfairly removed as Branch Head of San Agustin Branch, she kept most of it to herself. She would tell me how painful it was and how she missed servicing her clients – clients who have already become her friends. Largely due to this, a few months after, her health deteriorated.

 I entitled my eulogy to Malu as, Malu – our Saint. For me, she is the closest person I know to being a saint. In fact, I was just telling Anna, her sister last Saturday that, if ever there should be one more saint, it should be our beloved Malu.

In Paul’s 2nd letter to the young Timothy as he neared death, he said in chapter 4 verses 7 and 8 and I quote, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid for me the crown of righteousness which my Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me.

 Malu, you have indeed fought the good fight, you have finished the race and you have kept the faith. And while we grieve by your departure from this earth, we are comforted by the knowledge that the good Lord has finally allowed you the peace and rest that you so richly deserve in His eternal kingdom.

 Goodbye. We love you. Till we meet again.

From a very dear friend BECKY who stood by her

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 22, 2011

I was having difficulty deciding what to say here today because I can not find the right words to express my feelings for Malou. I share with you the sadness of losing someone who is so dear to all of us.

As I was trying to remember when we met, it did not take us long to develop our friendship which, up to her last day continued to be so strong. Our experiences in the past bonded us together.

I remember her as a strong and determined person. A hardworking, single MOM trying to do everything just to make sure she can provide the best for her family. She would never stop thinking of what else she can do to make things better.

When I decided to leave for the US in 1987, I assured her that I will never forget our friendship. Years had passed with no communication between us. But when I came back to visit after ten years, she was the first person I called. From that time on, I made it a point to see her everytime I get the chance to go to Manila.

The first time she told me about her illness, I felt I have to do something. Something to make her feel that I am always behind her. It is through my loving and devoted sister, Emy, who made things possible for me to communicate and give Malou the help that I can offer. I wanted to share with her all the blessings that I have now.

For so many months and days I cried and scared of losing a very GOOD, BEST friend I ever had. But through prayers, I have learned to accept and understand that some things happen for a reason.

I will surely miss you, Malou. All the memories that I have shared with you will always live in my heart. I admire you for facing all the challenges with a strong mind and heart.

You are indeed an extraordinary person, friend, mom and a sister.

Death is a heartache no one can heal, but LOVE is a memory no one can STEAL...

Loving you always,

Becky Concepcion Aquino

from your friend Gugu Garcia

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 22, 2011
Malu and I shared many wonderful singing memories. I don't read anyone mentioning her voice. We went to St. Paul QC and met in Glee Club. She was a great alto with one of the best vibrato I have ever heard. We continued to be back-up singers for one of the most popular male pop singer at that time. Then we signed up with Vicor to become the first all-female trio singing OPM. Malu you are now with the greatest choir..... The Choir of Angels. My friend, you fit right in. As before, save a slot for me. I will miss you Lulay. My deepest condolences to the children and family of Malu.

Gugu

Memories of Malu from Dina

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 22, 2011

She would answer to the nickname Malunggay as if it was really her name. She would laugh when Mari chided her for tiny love handles, which for me, really meant there was more of her to love. She would sigh when problems set in, but faced them headstrong. And, mind you, her problems could have caused anyone to go overboard. But not Malu.

Malu was strong. She already mastered the skill of "multitasking"long before it became a by word. She was a diligent student, a patient wife and a very loving mother at one point of her youth. She moved on to become an excellent banker always putting people's needs before hers. Because her family was all she had in mind and heart, she worked beyond her 9 to 5 job and put on another hat as a businesswoman. She dressed well, and so creating and selling hair accessories was a passion she executed with perfection. Malu must have baked enough bibingka cassavas to fill a 40-footer container. However, these were not for her benefit but for mommy Lulu's. I remember calling Bacood late one eveningwhen she was already stricken with cancer, and she was baking cassava in mommy's absence to accomodate the many orders from happy returning customers.

Perhaps we could say that cancer claimed her life. But for me, Malu had conquered cancer. Her disposition did not succumb to its ugliness. Rather, her love for her children made her endure a rather distasteful diet of raw innards, something i cannot imagine ever swallowing. She gracefully hid fear and despair as these progressed along with the disease. She was never cross... always gentle... always full of hope. HER FAITH CONQUERED CANCER.

He life was not a bed of roses, for sure. But i guess it was designed to be that way so that those around her, like me, can draw strength from her example.

Goodbye, Malunngay. And thank you for everything.

Dina M.

from Karen with love

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 22, 2011

1/15/11

Dearest  Malu,

You were the big sister I never had and a sister everyone would love to have.  I have adored you ever since I had the good fortune of being a member of your loving family. We had created wonderful memories together and for all these, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Malu, (as everyone can attest) you are a woman of faith, full of passion, charisma, talent and creativity in every sense..the list goes on and on..  Your beautiful, infectious smile will forever be imprinted in our memories. Every time I think of you, I remember how your enthusiasm and zest for life spread to everyone around you.. From the people who grew up with you – childhood friends, classmates, neighbors and co-workers - to those who were lucky enough to just know you, everyone that you touched was a better person for having met you.

You are now at rest with HIM in paradise. Go well, dear sister. We miss you and will love you forever.

Karen Maravillas

from your brother Bob

Shared by Anna Madamba on January 22, 2011

To my dearest Malu-nggay,

This was how I called you some forty years back while I was called Bob-boy. All we did was giggle, tease cry,fight,play together with Mari, Ana, Glo and Willy.

I just want to remember the good old days and how beautiful a person you have become. Baka kasi multuhin mo ako.

As we grew up in Bacood, life then was easy. After coming from school, all we thought  about was to go outside our house to play in the streets with the neighbors. While we smell “araw”from school, we end up smelling “kachichas” by the time we went home. We played all types of games- shato, taguan, sticks, etc. There were still few houses at that time and the streets were not yet asphalted.  Our shirts and shoes turned from white to  brown.  We were care-free. We would go to our favorite sari sari store Wholesome to buy Tira-Tira which eventually caused Ana’s tooth. We only  had to sign up in the store to buy our favorite sweets. This was even before credit cards were in fashion. At that time, the brood consisted of –Mari, Ana, Glo, Willy, you and me. 

We were together in St Paul. You were in Grade 2 while I was in Prep. I remember crying if I don’t see your face. Since my class ended earlier,  I ended up being alone inside the classroom waiting for you to show up. I would sit in my desk staring at the lady cleaner Salud, not knowing what she will do next. Salud looked like a witch. I have to wait for two hours while you were busy playing with your classmates.

As we entered our teenage life, Mom gave me the responsibility of being your chaperon, bodyguard and look out rolled into one. I guess I was the natural choice being the guy in between you, Ana and Glo. Mari was busy partying and Willy was busy sucking his thumb. Yes,I acted as your chaperon but I did not know what that meant or how to react to your would- be suitors. Honestly, I did not care less as I was enjoying every minute of our outings. Being shy as I was, I enjoyed meeting your pretty classmates or watching Circus Band or going to Bayside to watch you sing as back up to Rico Puno.  Honestly, I was not watching you as I was busy talking to my date. We also frequent the Hare Khrishna Temple in Greenhills introduced by Ray. Not to forget also the time I have to step in to protect you and Ana from being harassed by 15 pangit guys along Fiesta Carnival. Of course, I tried doing Fernando Poe but did not work and in the process, I got more punches. As you and Ana shouted for help, I realized I could not win and so I ran. Of course, this one I did not enjoy. 

While Mom and Dad thought I would be the WIKILEAKS to you and telling them your secrets, I chose not to tell them.  I come to realize later that they never asked me anyhow. They trusted you.     

So at the age of 23, you married Din. I thought you made a choice of your life and I respected that. The thing I learned from you was that when you make up your mind – you stood by it with focus and strong conviction. Again I respect you for such.

As I recall our growing years, you wanted to be friends to everyone. All of them are here now paying their last respects. You always had that sweet smile for everyone. Never did I see you angry, frustrated at times -yes.

Not only were you one of the friendliest, you were also one of the sweetest specially when you sing.

When Din passed away and left you at a young age of 39, I had doubts  how you will manage to be a mother and a father  to Dennis, Joey and Andrea. I know it was difficult  but you pulled it through. You remained steadfast in good times and bad times You put your heart and soul to it and that is who you are.

I saw your dedication and loyalty to family, work and God.  Even when pain was at its most, you never lost sight of our Father.

You as well as the rest of the brood have become my inspiration not to give up in talking to God and asking him all our needs. All the while, I was praying to Him to pick you up and finally give you peace. Last Saturday, He did answer my prayers.

Karen and I will always miss you. Though, I know this will not be the end of our conversation because someday we will all be together once again just like the good old days. Nevertheless, you showed all of us how to be brave and leave everything to Him.

I love you,

Bob

On behalf of my family, Karen and I wish to express our utmost gratitude to all who have supported Malu in anyway most specially the continuous prayers she has received throughout these trying times.

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