Josefa was known to her friends as Josie, but to her siblings, she was fondly called “Sepang”. To us, she’s Nanay, and Lola, or Lola Nanay to her grandchildren. Nanay lived a full life. At 87, she went through so many struggles in her life. Having been married to a loving, caring husband at 26, she was a mother of 3 by age 30.
Nanay never finished higher education. Having lived through war and turmoil, education was a luxury they could not afford. For a family of 12, every mouth to feed had to help bring home food on the table – young and old alike. Full-time housewives were the norm then. So when my father died at the age of 45, Nanay dedicated the rest of her life to care for three young children. No one could ever imagine what she had to go through to raise 3 children, alone, at 40. We were 13, 12, and 10 years old.
Nanay was taken in to work at the Social Security System because it was the right thing to do for the widow of a model employee who dies. Despite a mere High School education, she passed the Civil Service examination to qualify to work at SSS, a government establishment. Nanay worked for the next 25 years, not just at the office, but also did so many other odd jobs as selling food and other items just to make ends meet. One story she would always recall was that she was the only one allowed to sell food and other items at the office because her boss explained to everyone that it’s the only way they can all help her. And everyone loved to buy from her.
Nanay never really had a day off back when she was working. She would work the whole day, five to six days a week, then come home and do the chores around the house. Nanay never went on vacation. We do not recall a time when she actually went on vacation. She could not afford to go on vacation, when there were three kids completely dependent on her for everything. Despite these circumstances, Nanay managed to send all three of her children to the University of the Philippines in Diliman and Los Baños. For her, her success was seeing us succeed in life. And we never dared to make waste of all her effort and hard work.
Nanay never grew up Catholic. Before she became Catholic when she married our father, she never knew church. But my father, a man of strong faith, taught her his faith which became her source of strength through all her struggles, especially when she was left alone to take on the task. It was this faith that showed us how we too can overcome all trials. It was through her love that we learned what unconditional love was. It was her life that she lived to show us what her purpose was – to give life, and love, to us her children and grandchildren, to all people whose lives she touched.
Nanay, we will miss you. You gave so much of your life, and we have not even started to give back what we should have, or what we could have. We love you Nanay. Thank you so much for all that you have given us. You will always be in our hearts, and in our memories. Thank you for your unconditional love.
Josefa was survived by her three children, Ericson and Lea (daughter-in-law), Loribelle and Froilan (son-in-law), Irvin and Maritess (Daughter-in-law), grandchildren Jan-Lynden, Jan-Nathan, Jan-Ericson, Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, her sisters Magdalena and Denisia, and brother Jack and Kathy (sister-in-law), and many, many beloved relatives and friends.
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