Cita, or Lola Sot, as we, her grandchildren, fondly call her, is the most affable person I know, not because she frequented community gatherings, but because people seemed to know her wherever she went. Oftentimes, while on our way home from church mass, a random person would come forward and introduce himself to Lola, relive memories of the time he was her student, and express his gratefulness for the life lessons she taught him. I was always in awe everytime this happened as my Lola was a strict teacher, a disciplinarian. She was feared by students for her authoritarian aura, but through those same people, I discovered that she was as compassionate as her rigidity. My aunts recalled that she would ask them to make cups of coffee, which, they learned later on, were intended for her students who had not taken their breakfast. She would also lend them clothes for a school presentation if they have nothing decent to wear. These little things she did proved how caring she is as a person, what more as a mother.
My aunts and uncles shared that Lola always made sure they had the best clothes for Christmas, and they eat something special on their birthdays. Above all, she taught them the value of education and gave them the freedom to weave their own destiny–one thing, I believe, that honed their sense of responsibility. There were times they felt she favored one of their siblings more than the rest of them, but it was perhaps because she had foreseen that that sibling of theirs would grow weak and would need a person who is both strong and understanding, and that person is no one else but her. Just a week ago, they reunited, together with her husband, our grandfather. My mom recalled Lola saying that when her time comes to enter the gates of heaven, she wanted to have her Olap by her side. The eve before her passing was their wedding anniversary.
It is wonderful how she managed to maintain a healthy, closely-tied family while being a devout Catholic, a mother to ten, a sister to thirteen, a grandmother to twenty eight, and a teacher to thousands. This is something only few people can accomplish, and I am proud to say that she is one of those few.
Farewell, Lola. We hope you are at peace now.