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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 1, 2012

An Amazing Woman We Met In Tacloban: Viring Valenzuela

WE MET AN amazing woman in Tacloban, Tita Bernardita “Viring” Valenzuela, media officer of Mayor Alfred Romualdez. She’s 82 years old but is still so energetic she’d put younger women to shame with her zest for life.

“I was 18 and taking up philets in UST when I eloped with my husband,” she says. “I’m from Tacloban and he’s from Cebu, so we lived there and I thought at the University of San Carlos for 17 years. It was the late Doy Laurel who got me as his campaign manager and I was fighting the Marcoses during the martial law years. But when Imelda ran for congress, she got me to work for her even if she knew I used to be against her. She’s not vindictive at all. We’re born in the same year. She’s turning 83 on July 2 and I’m turning 83 in September. Now, I’m working for Mayor Alfred and I’m so amazed with how much Tacloban has improved under him.”

She lives alone in Tacloban as her three children all live with their families in Cebu. “Every day, they call me up and tell me to retire, but I refuse to be idle. I have 7 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. I’ve been separated with my husband for 20 years now. Kasi babaero. When he threatened to hurt me, I got the biggest knife in the kitchen and chased him. He locked himself in the bathroom and called his brother: ‘Lumabas ang pagka-Waray-Waray ni Viring!’ But now, we’re friends.”

She has so many good anecdotes about a lot of famous people but the one we find most interesting is that of taipan John Gokongwei. “He used to rent our place downstairs sa bahay namin in Cebu. He started getting rich when he put up the first ukay-ukay in Cebu. Now, he owns the only mall here in Tacloban and up to now, he has not forgotten us.”