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Apr 01st
Home Sections Obituary-Memorial Park POMPEIA D. LAVADO: Chicago’s Oldest Filipina to Be Buried Finally
POMPEIA D. LAVADO: Chicago’s Oldest Filipina to Be Buried Finally PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 24 October 2010 14:19



Journal Group Link International)


C HICAGO (jGLi) – When Pompeia Diaz Lavado was alive, she gave everything she got.  And she forgot to save some money to pay off for her own funeral.


Fortunately, upon representations of some friends within the Filipino community, a funeral parlor in Chicago, Illinois, that caters to the Filipino community would like to return the favor to the community by offering a complimentary wake and funeral service for Mrs. Lavado, whose remains was unclaimed for more than two months from a government morgue.


A spokesman of Drake & Son Funeral Home on 5303 North Western Avenue told this reporter over the phone that the funeral home is waiving the $8,000 service charge for a one-day wake on Wednesday (Oct. 27) and funeral service the following day because of the exceptional case of Mrs. Lavado, who died penniless at the age of 94.


The spokesman, who only identified himself only as “John,” said that his funeral home gives this complimentary service only “on a case-by-case basis.”


Mrs. Lavado was found dead by her grandson, Don Ponce, in her rented condo at 6141 North Seeley Avenue in Chicago on Aug. 10.


Mr. Ponce notified the Fire Department about it. But Mr. Ponce never claimed her remains from the Cook County Morgue to have a proper funeral service for his grandmother.


When word of her death circulated around the Filipino community, her best friend, Constance “Connie” V. Santos, mobilized her connections to start a fund-raising drive to finally lay her friend to rest.


Since only a relative or relatives can claim the remains from a Cook County morgue, the first order of business was to locate Mr. Ponce or any of Mrs. Lavado's relatives. It took nearly two months for Mrs. Santos to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Ponce thru information provided her by Mrs. Lavado’s landlady, Ms. Amor Santos, who is not related to her.


C onnie Santos said that had the community delayed in locating any of Mrs. Lavado’s relatives for another month, the remains of her friend would have been buried in an unmarked “common” pauper’s grave, when remains are unclaimed after 90 days by the remains’ next of kin.


A concerned Filipino community advocate, Elsie Niebar, columnist of Chicago’s monthly, Via Times, caused the publication of the search of Mrs. Lavado’s relatives thru the Chicago’s Philippine Weekly, whose editor-publisher Orly Bernardino, devoted a full-length column on the matter. The column led to the location of Mr. Ponce.


Although, Mr. Ponce admitted that his “grandma had helped me a lot when I was down,” Connie Santos said Mr. Ponce told her he is “penniless to give his grandma a decent burial.”


Ms. Niebar also made representations with the Drake & Sons Funeral Home to extend a “pro bono” wake and funeral services for Mrs. Lavado.


Ms. Niebar would later learn from Don that his grandma was first married to a Mr. Saturnino Ponce. The union had two sons – Tommy and Don – who both preceded their parents. When his grandma became a widow, she married Mr. Amado Lavado, who had also died. They had no children.


Don had a sister, Kim Ponce. Their father was Don Ponce, Sr. They have cousins, who were children of Tommy, named Brian, Tommy, Jr., Kirsten Ponce Rodriguez, Renato and Ronnie.


Mrs. Santos said the grandchildren of Mrs. Lavado “are not really that close” to Mrs. Lavado and they are “scattered.” The causes of death of Mrs. Lavado “are internal complications due to old age.”


“With the death of Mrs. Lavado, I become the oldest Filipina living in Chicago,” according to Mrs. Santos, who did not reveal her age.


Born in Tagudin, Ilocus Sur in the Philippines, Mrs. Santos, whose maiden name was Valencia, came to the United States in 1929, three years earlier than Mrs. Lavado, who arrived in the U.S. in 1933 at the age of 16.


Mrs. Santos said that although, Mrs. Lavado was from Pangasinan in the Philippines, the Ilocus Sur Club of Chicago had also embraced Mrs. Lavado as its club member. Mrs. Santos is the current president of the club founded in the late twenties.


In her heyday, Mrs. Lavado was also “instrumental in the purchase of Rizal Center some decades ago,” according to Mr. Bernardino, who urged the officials of the Filipino-American Community of Greater Chicago to champion the fund-raising drive for Mrs. Lavado. The FACC owns the Rizal Center.


Mrs. Santos said Mrs. Lavado was a retired bank employee while she was a postal employee.


“My best friend was so generous to people when she was alive. She forgot to save some money for her own funeral service,” a grieving Mrs. Santos whispered.  “I just want to give my best friend a decent burial.”


Wake of Mrs. Lavado is Wednesday (Oct. 27) from 4-9 p.m. and a prayer will be held on Thursday (Oct. 28) at 10 a.m. at Drake & Sons Funeral Homes. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum at Belmont and Cumberland Avenues at River Grove, Illinois. Reception follows at the Rizal Center at 1332 West Irving Park Road, Chicago. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (



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Last Updated on Sunday, 24 October 2010 14:22

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Benjamin Franklin said in 1817: In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. But never in his wildest dream did he realize that by 2010, death would be synonymous with taxes~Bobby M. Reyes