Remembering my late husband

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Monday, August 25, 2014


WHENEVER I read the column of my co-columnist, friend and my doctor, Nina Custodio, Doc@XXL about her personal experiences, I feel these with sentiment and emphatic reaction.

August is an eventful month for me and my husband, the late Virgilio C. Hidalgo. We celebrated his 15th death anniversary last August 12. We had 37 years of married life. He died of diabetes complications at the UP infirmary. We were living then at the faculty housing village. He was a professor in the College of European Languages teaching German, Latin, and Spanish. How dramatic that he died on the day he was to sign his official retirement documents for May 2000. I was beside myself with grief.

We have two grown up children, Francis, an architect, and Hattie, a mass communication graduate both from UP. I live with Francis in Davao now. Hattie lives in Fairview, Q. C. My closely knit family has 12 members to date.

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The writer in me inspired me to write about my life with my husband in my book, Light of My Life. This happened when a year after my husband's death, August 12, 2000, I exhibited for my guests eight blackboard full of pictorials with annotations from the time we met to this year. My son, seeing the exhibit, said, "How about writing a book about this?" I thought it will be like a novel which materialized one year later. Ask any wife who is widowed, the feeling of loneliness seems endless.

Finally, I finished my book. Friends appreciated it. They ask me how I had my married life like that. Oh I did not do anything spectacular. I lived my life in an ordinary way but as they would say, in an extraordinary style. Getting through married life is not a "bed of roses". It should be a life with the eternal triangle - God, husband and wife. God is the sturdy base and the two slanting, equal and equidistant lines are the husband and wife.

August 26 this year, we would have been celebrating our 52nd wedding anniversary. All the memories, happy, sad, trying incidents come back. Just like my friend, Nina felt when she celebrated her Papa's death; I felt the same and permit me to share the highlights of these now.

My late husband and I met in St. Louis University in Baguio City. We were both professors and Virgilio was also the executive secretary of the Rector. We met on May 1962 and got married at the Baguio Cathedral August1962. Yes, about 40 days inclusive. We called it a tornado romance. After some suitors and boyfriends, I made a list of must have qualities for the man, I will marry. He must be more intelligent than me, older than me, with a good sense of humor, tall and slim. One more is quite funny, he must have slightly curved lashes. Virgilio qualified except for 2 and 4. He was a genius; his IQ proved it. I was a scholar and very diligent. He was younger than me. Our looks deceived us; I was 32 looking 28 according to him. He was 28 looking 34 because of his matured face and rounded body. We knew this while we were filling up our marriage certificate.

He was in his last semester of law when he changed his mind. Taking one final exam, he got this comment from his professor, "You have a lot of common sense but too little of law. That cannot be."

This time, he got the approval of a scholarship to Germany as a government scholar . He readily pursued this and dropped his law studies. He had a three -year scholarship to study German language and culture. This was Dec.31. 1969. He left this day for Germany. The trip was eventful. He celebrated New Year's eve with every time line the plane crossed. There was a toast with all passengers each time making them tipsy when they reached Germany.

He knew no German word. He was in a class of 23 students of different nationalities. They travelled North to South to enroll in the universities found in the place. Studies were hard and needed patience coupled with homesickness. We wrote each other twice a week and photo albums sent monthly to see how the kids were growing. No IT gadgets yet except cassette recorders.

Virgilio finished his studies on Aug.1972. When he reached the Philippines in a Luftansa plane he was surprised to see the whole Luzon flooded. There was continues rain on August of that year. He was stranded in Manila. A friend asked the favor from the plane company to permit my husband to fly with the relief goods. He finally reached Baguio 3 days after landing in Manila. People at the airport rushed to get the relief goods. We, my kids and me, rushed to meet my husband. Hugs, kisses, crying after 3 years and 3 days. Many were looking at us. OA naman they might say. If they only know why .After this Virgilio had to travel 7 more trips for refresher courses as a scholar. He got the dream of his life to see the whole Europe -- Rome, Vienna , Austria , Belgium , London , the theatres , the operas, dancing to the waltzes at Vienna, Cruising in the Blue Danube with the music Loreleigh. I filled 10 albums of his travelogues.

In Baguio, Virgilio opened his Phil - German Center where doctors, nurses, and teachers study and earn diplomas to qualify them for jobs in Germany.

He went back to UP to teach. My late husband was a multi- faceted artist to the core. He was an operatic soloist when he sang the lead role in Mikado. He was a resident actor at UP Diliman theatre and acted in Street Car Named Desire, Beatas, The Boor where he played a gambler, a monk, a boor proving his versatility. He sang with the Metropolitan Choral group as tenor. He had two movies shown in downtown theaters. He was in TV to explain the Latin Words in the 'agimat' medals. He was a sought after speaker to wayward girls in the Good Shepherd Convent, the Rotary, and scripture reader at masses.

He was loved by his students and co- professors in UP. After he died, tidying up his things I saw endearing letters from students, our 3-year letters while he was in Germany his poetry dedicated to me. I legally donated all his European Books to UP. Legally so that no one of my clan can reclaim the books. The life of my husband had been so colorful. Now, at 83, widowed , a heart attack survivor, living in Davao with my son's family I feel I have gone full circle in my life with all the blessings, love, and care of my families and friends, still up and about writing my weekly column ; I cannot ask for more.

For comments pls. text cp no. 09202112534.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 26, 2014.

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