Issue of November 4, 2018

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Farewell, Lita

Farewell, adieu, my good friend.

Looking back, wasn’t it only three months ago when Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera Director Helen Tibaldo, Nonnette Bennett, and I visited you at the hospital and you were so happy and carefree with that usual saccharine smile you were so famous for? And wasn’t it only November of last year when we had “A Thousand Memories in Photos” tourism reunion celebrating years of friendship and memories with our colleagues? We even planned a reunion in Banaue amidst the majestic rice terraces you so tirelessly helped to be inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 1995.

I remember our chats with titas Gay Gomez and Director Helen as we shared experiences about bosses, work, happy times, and frustrations. “Optional” retirement from the Department of Tourism brought us to the door of teaching tourism so we could share our wealth of knowledge and experience in one semester – tough job! You even went to Manila to continue your mentoring. But we were glad we did, because we now see the fruit of those mentoring years in our students who have blossomed into multi-awarded mentors and professionals themselves. Our children even grew up together, now ensconced in their respective fields.

Director Fred, Abby, Director Timmy and Dr. Ars, Meg, and Alfredo, your loved one – former Department of Tourism-Cordillera Director Carmelita “Lita” Apilis-Mondiguing – once Ms. Banaue 1969, now sleeps in the bosom of the Lord. She had prepared you all and shortcut your grief straight to acceptance. Our warrior Lita has done it again. And though everything may seem vague and fast, it was her way of showing her love, with many fun memories to share. Even in your last moments, you made everything fun and light by thinking of the comfort of your family and friends. Hay Lita, ikaw na!

Be comforted that many friends, colleagues, and relatives loved her as well. “Godspeed, my dearest friend, you were the closest thing to a family, when I was working there. You will forever be our Ifugao queen and warrior. Thank you for showing me the beauty and heart of the Cordilleras,” mentions Marian Catedral-King.

Ruby Gonzalez says, “I will always remember her calm and collected ways. Some of our most memorable travel coverages with unique experiences happened in her turf.”

“She was such a gracious lady with a big heart, and she was always very kind to our group of travel writers. Her passing is a big loss,” states Sandy P. Diez-Sesdoyro.

Many remember Lita for her graciousness and for being a dedicated public servant who would walk the extra mile to give the best service just like a true tourism public servant and to help a friend.

Mozart Pastrano remembers her as the one who organized indigenous games in Banaue, a true advocate of local culture. Red Samar remembers her as a great host who made sure “everyone was asikasong-asikaso.”

She brought up a loving and caring family, always at each other’s side when something is wrong.

Each of us has our own memories to share about Lita. She was always so animated and malambing. At the moment I will stop here and quote, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Farewell, Ifugao queen Lita. The dash in your life will be forever etched in the loving memories of your family.

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