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May 30th
Home Sections Obituary-Memorial Park PACITA laO MANGLAPUS: The Perfect Wife
PACITA laO MANGLAPUS: The Perfect Wife PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Benjamin G. Maynigo   
Friday, 30 July 2010 21:25


Raul Manglapus’ widow, Pacita laO-Manglapus, passed away peacefully at 7:30 a.m., on July 27, 2010, (Philippine time) with family members by her side. She was a great woman, wife, mother, grandmother and friend! The final mass and memorial services will be held Saturday morning, July 31, 2010, at the Sanctuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati City, after which her remains will be brought to the Manila Memorial for cremation. Her final resting place will be at the Church of St. James in Ayala Alabang, where her husband’s ashes are entombed.




By Benjamin G. Maynigo

K nown as Las Hermanas, they belonged to that rare breed of elegant, regal, brainy, courageous, and classy ladies. Their radiant and exceptional beauty could have easily launched more than a thousand ships and their images and smiles spoke not only a thousand words but moved the hearts, and turned the heads of an equal number of men. They were the most sought-after women in their generation. Men of wealth, men of wit, men of wisdom, and men of wonders pursued them relentlessly, absolutely convinced that any of them would be “the perfect wife.”

The laO sisters, Nena, Pacita, Techie, and
Chita were Las Hermanas. Their husbands, Ding Manotoc, Raul Manglapus, Jimmy Velasquez, and Eugenio Lopez, Jr., respectively, were considered by many as the luckiest guys during their time.

My exposure to the lives of Tita Nena, Tita Techie, and Auntie Chita were limited. Even with such limits, I know they were as described above. Tita Nena’s life as the mother-in-law of two famous women (1970 Miss International Aurora Pijuan and Imee Marcos) and having to deal with the Marcos couple during the kidnapping of her son, Tommy; Auntie Chita’s ordeal during Tito Geny’s detention during Martial Law, and the now historic and famous escape from the Marcos dictatorship; and Tita Techie’s life as the wife of the most honest and most successful Customs Commissioner in Philippine history, and also known as the Master Planner of Makati City, could be subjects worth writing about.

But the case of Pacita laO Manglapus is very different. She is my mother-in-law—the woman who gave birth to the love of my life, my wife Tina—the reason why I consider myself the luckiest human being on Earth. For this alone, I am forever indebted!

I have known my mother-in-law longer than I have known my own mother, who died in 1975. Based on my knowledge of the former, and based on certain objective and subjective standards, I venture to say that Pacita laO Manglapus could be appropriately described as “the perfect wife.”

Many are of the belief that “there is no such thing as a perfect wife. There never was and it was all a figment of someone’s imagination. Women, despite what some men would like to believe, are human and therefore imperfect. Too many women still try all their lives to be this impossible and non-existent ideal.”

I could have easily be counted as one of those disbelievers—that is, until I met, observed, and came to know my mother-in-law. To begin with, and on the exterior side without much effort, she was extraordinarily beautiful, with a great sense of humor; classy, elegant, and regal, but down to earth; and very smart and wise. She could count (Math major) and she could sing (Music minor); she was economically upper class, cultured, well-educated, and very sophisticated. That’s womanhood in the most objective superlative sense.

But Pacita laO Manglapus became a wife, married to Raul S. Manglapus, who had strong beliefs, hopes, dreams, visions, missions, ambitions, and goals. Without the former, the latter would not have become the man he was. First, she had an undying love and total devotion to an equally loving husband. Second, she believed in him. For better or worse, she stuck with him, became part of his visions, dreams, and all that he was fighting for. Third, she was committed to a lifetime partnership that entailed struggles, risks, challenges, and sacrifices. A strong believer of the God Almighty, she was the dependable wife and partner in both their life endeavors.

W hether as a Guest Speaker, Foreign Affairs Secretary, or Senator, Raul Manglapus always required that his wife be included in the invitation. There was absolute dependence. When he had to leave the country without her and Martial Law was declared, he planned to fight against Marcos in exile but he could not launch his fight without her. Since Marcos refused to let her join him the normal way, she bravely traveled through the back door in disguise via kumpit, or pump boat. There she endangered her life, putting herself at risk of facing pirates, pro-Marcos forces, or worse, both. Before she left, I remember reading a letter coming from my father-in-law to her, which my wife Tina showed me. The letter said that he loved her, missed her so much, and that he appreciated her decision to risk taking the perilous journey, and face the drastic life changes that residing in the
United States would require. He was obviously referring to such sacrifices as the absence of maids and drivers, and having to do your own laundry and dishes.

With my mother-in-law by his side, her husband freely and confidently formed the Movement for a Free Philippines—a movement that sought to restore democracy in the
Philippines by advocating changes in U.S. Foreign Policies toward the Philippines. While my father-in-law was aggressively fighting for his causes, their cash reserves were being depleted and, except for some grants, he was not earning enough to cover the costs of living in the U.S. and raising some children who were still going to school. She was good at taking care of her children. She was even better at caring for her grandchildren. She was actually great with children, period. This is when she decided to start a day care center at her home in McLean, Virginia. The earnings paid for the mortgage, the sustenance of the home of political exiles escaping from the Marcos dictatorship, hosting political operators, and, of course, family needs.

The day care was actually a joy for all the residents of the house. My mother-in-law felt satisfaction for being a breadwinner and a real partner of my father-in-law’s visions and missions. The latter actually became a partner of the day care, too. A jazz piano player, his music pleased the babies and children. Boni Gillego, who later became Sorsogon Governor, and then Asian Institute of Management (
AIM) President Gaston Ortigas escaped from the Marcos dictatorship following the route that my mother-in-law took. They lived with us and were inspired by my mother-in-law to help in caring for the children, as was then Mayor Cezar Climaco of Zamboanga City. The visits of the then Senators Lorenzo Tanada, and Ninoy Aquino were not long enough to merit child-care experience, Pacita-style.

P acita laO Manglapus accepted Raul Manglapus for who he was. Although almost flawless himself, there were definitely some characteristics she would have liked to change about him. But she made him feel that she loved him for who he was. She was indeed the wife of Raul Manglapus, by Raul Manglapus, and for Raul Manglapus.

She knew how to smile at her husband’s jokes, even though she didn’t consider all of them funny. She wouldn’t remind him that he had told a joke before, even though he had. She would embrace the old jokes as if they were brand new.

She mastered the art of communications and compromise. In some cases, “silence was the language of her heart.” She knew when to talk and when to just listen. In a compromise, her wishes always got granted. In silence, her views actually prevailed.

Paraphrasing the words in Chapter 31 of the book of Proverbs, the “perfect wife” is one who: is of noble character; brings him (her spouse) good, not harm, all the days of her life; opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Strength and honor are her clothing. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Many women do noble things, but she surpasses them all.

Pacita laO Manglapus was all of them!

Theirs was a “match made in heaven.” Heaven made sure the “perfect husband” married the “perfect wife.” They were a perfect couple.

They were so in this material world. They definitely are in ETERNITY. # # #

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 17:19
Comments (1)
1 Monday, 09 August 2010 09:22
This is a very touching tribute to the Perfect Wife, Mrs. Pacita LaO Manglapus, who happened to be the writer's mother-in-law. I met her on occasions during her husband's incumbency as secretary of foreign affairs. And then again several times during the search for Tommy Manotoc. All those times I worked as foreign correspondent with the Asahi Shimbun and our office was just a few streets away from where the Manotocs and Manglapuses lived in San Lorenzo Village, Makati. Indeed, Las Hermanas were truly the prized catch of that generation. I was so moved by this article that I had to say what little I knew of Las Hermanas. Thank you.

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