By Reeda Bantug
Who was Lola Idiong to us? How do we remember her? For my brothers and sisters as well as my cousins, she was our second mother. She was someone who we could run to not only when times were good but also when difficult moments arise. She was always concerned about our well being and wanted us to have the best of life. To be able to do all these, she had deep faithfulness and always seeked the right path through prayer.
When my mother passed away when I was only 5 years old, she took over our household and acted as our mother. She made sure that we were raised up as normally and not having to feel insecure. She wanted us to not only enjoy and experience the best of life. Thus, she showered us with the nicest toys and took us on vacations.
Our best memories of her are our travels. She once brought seven of us, her grandchildren, on a trip to the US, without our parents. The eldest, Albee was 13 yrs old and the youngest was Kai, 7 years old. She wanted us to be independent, to be able to take care of ourselves with minimal supervision. Even when Jun-B got lost in Disneyland and all of us had to look for him, she turned this situation into a learning experience for us. This somehow taught us to look after each other, as well. These moments also formed some level of trust, confidence, and importance of our family relationships. For all of these, we have Lola Idiong and her faithfulness to thank for.
As most, if not all of us who have known her can attest, she had a big heart especially for those in need. Her doors were always open to provide help to those who seeked it. She also didn’t run out of patience in giving advice and stern commands on how to straighten out one’s wayward path. She was always in the center of where the action was, be it family businesses, local politics, and her chosen advocacies.
We all have stories to share about Lola Idiong, of how she touched each one of us. One of my favorite is stories of her people (there are many of them), those who worked for her. They would say that Lola helped them in sending their children to school. They would all be grateful to her perseverance and dedication in helping uplift their lives. These and more were made possible as she also seeked guidance in our Almighty God, through as what she believed in the intercession of Blessed Mother Mary. Truly, she could not have achieved so much in her life, had she not practiced her Christian faith and lived it to the fullest. Because she believed in what she prayed for, most, if not all were granted to her.
One of her greatest legacy, which still lives on up to this day, ten years after her passing, is building a hospital for the less fortunate in the community. She had a passion in taking care of the needs of the less privileged, and she found joy in serving others. She saw the importance of health, thus she established Kaayong Lawas Foundation, together with other like-minded individuals. She set up medical missions and feeding programs, and spent time and resources in achieving her goals.
She lived a meaningful and fulfilled life, not one without challenges as she carried out duties and responsibilities to her family, relatives, friends, employees, partners in business, government, social institutions, and the residents of her beloved City of Victorias. A woman of substance, that who Lola Idiong was.