Emmeline Alegre Pablo
My University of the Philippines Preparatory School ‘65 batchmate Emmeline Alegre Pablo died last March 15 in Manila due to complications of a stroke she had two years ago. I was asked by Pat Pascual Mangonon to do a brief message to be read, among others, at the necrological services last March 17.
Thus, this piece, which is my humble tribute to an incredibly loving and nurturing woman who chose to “live, love, and laugh” all her life.
Thank you Pat for inviting me to say a few words about a dear classmate and friend whom I fondly call Hops, but whom you all call Emmeline.
In the world of Prep 65 exist barkadas, or closer friendships among already close friends, drawn together by common interests or circumstances. Everyone knows about these barkadas, and everyone clearly knows which barkadas each one belongs to. But what was and what is not known to everyone are the little barkadas formed out of quite unique and unusual circumstances fondly shared by only a few.
Well ours — our little barakada of three, composed of Emmeline, Arlette Aquino-Umali and myself — was one such group. We called ourselves Hops, for Hopia, because all three of us loved Kim Chong Tin hopia during our high school years, and in my case, up to now.
I remember how the three of us would relish going home together after school from Padre Faura to Quezon City, but not before stopping by the famous Chinese bakery in Quiapo where we would buy our favorite hopia. So from Padre Faura, we would take a jeepney to Quiapo then get off just to buy hopia which we would eat with gusto on our way home — which for Emmeline and me, was still another jeepney ride from Quiapo to Roxas District where we lived. This happened so many times and we reveled in that secret gastronomic experience we shared with a lot of fun, stories and laughter, that we just started calling each other Hops, with not so many classmates knowing why. The Hopia experience was our intimate little secret that bonded us for a long time, that we never stopped calling each other Hops, even after we had lived our lives separately without seeing each other for more than 30 years or so.
Hops had this special ability to heal decades-old hurt feelings no one else would ever dare or even attempt to try. With her amazing candor, sense of humour, perfect timing, and infectious laughter, she did something remarkable not even the most skillful conflict resolution mediator would achieve. During our 50th anniversary reunion when we had our sharing at Ericson Marquez’s Batangas resort, Hops unburdened to classmates a deep hurt she had felt for many years. She confided to everyone how she wished through all her married life that her husband Ino (Rizalino Fonacier Pablo) and his cousin Ling (Ambassador Linglingay Fonacier Lacanlale) would finally talk to each other and become friends, but she could never muster the courage to ask either of them what caused their estranged relationship in the first place. With her amazing candor and genuine desire to resolve the issue, the truth was finally revealed and the cause turned out to be a case of childhood “tampuhan” over an unshared “banana-cue.” Hops’s efforts worked like magic, as the two cousins, Ino and Ling, hugged as friends after more than 6 decades of avoiding each other. For me, that was a shining highlight of our 50th anniversary reunion sharing. It showed the kind of person Hops was to her husband, her cousin, her classmates, and I’m sure, to her family too.
Hops shared a very endearing story of her life in her entry to our UP Prep Class 65 50th anniversary souvenir book, which she had aptly titled “Live, Love and Laugh.” She had started by saying: “I am Emmeline Rue Alegre. When I grow up, I dream to be a teacher,” Then she went on to relate how that dream became a reality when she became a teacher in Japan,, and how it was cut short without any regret on her part when her childhood sweetheart, Ino, followed her and married her, and together raised with her six wonderful children. She described her life as a fulltime mother busy caring for the children, and in the process “living (her) dream as a life-long teacher to her dream team” but adding she always made sure that in the midst of her hectic life with the kids, she would always spend precious time with Ino, the love of her life. With the following words, she expressed her passionate love for and commitment to her husband: “As I continue my journey through life, I commit to LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE always, just the way it was during our Prepian years.” She ends her piece with the quote: “I am Emmeline Rue Alegre, all grown up, living my dream as a life-long teacher to the ‘dream team’ I built.”
A classmate calls Hops a peacemaker, and for everyone in Prep Class 65, that incredible feat she did during our reunion sharing may forever be etched in our collective memory. Her “dream team” of a family may always call her their best teacher. Ino may always call her his true love and lover. I, however, will always call her Hops, my admirable and unforgettable hopia-loving friend.
Rest in peace dear Hops!
March 17, 2017