A Very Long Thank You Note from Ephraim’s Angels <3

WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THOSE WHO JOINED US IN REMEMBERING DAD on the occasion of his first year anniversary in Heaven.

June 21, 2016 was when my dad, Ephraim Salcedo,  joined His Creator.

In the days that followed his passing, while I experienced grief for the first time and finally understood what the word meant – you never do until you lose a loved one (!) – we also experienced a tremendous outpouring of love and friendship for my dad and for each member of our family that brought comfort and even joy to our hearts, in spite of our grief.

On June 21 this year, we felt this outpouring of love again as we hosted a Memorial Service and dinner to remember dad and commemorate what Filipinos call his “babang luksa” (the end of the grieving period). The Union Church chapel and Fellowship Hall was filled with family and friends, all showing and sharing their love for dad Ephraim and our family, again eclipsing our grief.

While I join my sister Goldee in saying that our grieving cycle will probably never end when it comes to my dad, we take comfort in the words of our officiating Pastor Noah Kennedy, who noted that we grieve with hope.

In fact, we grieve … with gratitude.
Because dad died … with faith.
And so he lives … with love … in Jesus Christ and in our hearts.

***

The Jamoras

First of all, thank you to Dr. Eduardo Jamora, our other Superman.

Dr. Jamora is the country’s No. 1 pulmonologist. At almost 80, he still holds clinic and makes rounds at Makati Medical Center, mentoring interns, residents and fellows, and being on top of every medical situation that he is presented with. He is also proud father to restaurateur Gary Jamora, finance guy Carlos Jamora, and lawyer Jon Jamora, who also joined us Wednesday night. Thank you, Jamoras, for always being there for us! ❤ (In the top picture, Dr. Jamora gamely wears my dad’s hat!)

***

Dr. Batara

We would also like to thank Dr. Julette Feliciano Batara for joining us as we remembered dad.

Dr. Batara was an answered prayer.

Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. Dr. Jamora, then our lead doctor, called in hematologist Dr. Rosalio Torres, with Dr. Claver Ramos (“kailangan natin siya even if your dad’s kidneys are okay kasi genius ‘yun eh,” Dr. Jamora explained), Dr. Von Gonda (the best cardio to my mind, may he rest in peace) replaced by Dr. Anthony King to watch dad’s heart, Dr. Aragon to keep his sugar in check, Dr. Lu for pain management. That was in March 2014. By October, dad was driving again, traveling to Mindoro, joining his BMI friends on his own (we were so nervous we would literally stalk him to check if he was wearing his mask!). We had a wonderful Christmas as he was pronounced clear of the lymphoma!

By May of 2015, however, the lymphoma had come back, this time breaking the blood brain barrier and entering dad’s brain. The doctors at MMC said that we needed to deal with just palliative care (hate that word – palliative! – sounds like the end of hope!). But our hema-onco cousin from the US said that according to his mentor, there was a new procedure using high dose methotrexate that they were using in the US. Our doctors in MMC, however, refused to perform this because of the toxicity of methotrexate. We were lost as we could not find a doctor who would perform this procedure.

At this time, very randomly, my lawyer friend Atty. Jojo Bondoc invited me to lunch with a visiting priest from the Padre Pio Chapel in San Giovanni. Would I help them spread the word on their efforts for another Padre Pio Chapel in the Philippines. Of course, I said, with pleasure! A few days later, they very generously brought a Padre Pio relic to our house, and my dad, who is a staunch Presbyterian who refuses to step inside the Catholic Church, let alone believe in the communion of saints, joined us in prayer with the relic, asking Padre Pio to intervene.

A few days after that, we were in Baguio, where we were visited at The Manor by our neurologist family friend, the best friend of my mom’s sister, Dr. Ina Hernandez. She said, have you consulted with a neuro oncologist? We had, all this time, been in search of a hema onco who would perform the procedure. She suggested Dr. Batara. Turns out, Dr. Batara’s specialty was just that – high dose methotrexate. And even if all our doctors were in Makati Med and she practiced everywhere else (PGH, St Luke’s, UERM), she welcomed dad as a patient.

Thank you, Dr. Batara, for taking care of dad and for continuing to be there for us!

***

Mindoro Shepherds

Thank you to the Mindoro Shepherds for coming all the way from Mindoro Oriental!

The Mindoro Shepherds is an organization of professionals and businessmen in Mindoro Oriental founded by my father, Ephraim Salcedo, with founding members Mindoro Bulletin publisher Joe Leuterio, former Judge Godogredo Hernandez, and Pola native and Pinamalayan Judge Harry Jaminola, among others. Other notable members are businessman Sonny Alcancia and restaurateur and resort owner Dennis Alcancia from Calapan. They traveled all the way from Mindoro and also immediately went back after dinner – just for dad’s Memorial Service! Talk about true friends!

Special mention to Tito Joe Leuterio, who surprised us with this giant tarpaulin of dad. He lost sleep choosing the photos for this tarpaulin. And decided to have a life-sized photo of dad printed. Look, Tito Joe, you made dad come alive at this party with this tarpaulin, with everyone having their pictures taken with him!!

***

Baguio Military Institute

Thank you to the Cadets of the Baguio Military Institute for being there, too!

From the final salute at dad’s wake and funeral to this Memorial Service, thank you for always being there for Dad 🙂

***

St. Paul Class of ’67

My mom, Carmelita “Baby” Salcedo, a Paulinian, met my dad while in high school – my dad danced in mom’s cotillion when she turned 18! – so her high school friends have been in on their love story. They also came in full force to the Memorial Service and Dinner.

 

***

4S

As for me, I would like to thank my own high school friends for being there for me 🙂 And also to business strategist Joseph de Leon, who generously offered his driver to send food to Stardust at Better Dog because I was busy entertaining guests!

***

Magallanes 9 o’ Clock Church Group

A big hug as well to our Catholic Church Family from “The 9 o’ Clock Church Group” – Susan de Asis, Ryan Vergara, Nico Garcia (thank you for the super yummy paella!). An extra huge THANK YOU especially to stylist and style icon Pia Garovillo Vergara for being so generous with her talent on the keyboard and playing the piano for the Memorial Service. Missing Tita Mom Loudette Magsino, Father Benny Tuazon, and Tito Anton+ in heaven.

***

Tap Room

Another “family” I must thank is our Tap Room/jazz “family”.

I started singing at the Tap Room around 5 years ago (I haven’t gone back since dad passed) thanks to Philippine-International Jazz Festival founder Sandra Lim Viray. She introduced me to the living legend jazz artists of today such as pianist Maestro Romy Posadas, bassist Colby dela Calzada and her husband, drummer Jun Viray. Through her I also met a singer I so admire, the elegant Megan Herrera. In dad’s last few years, Tap Room became a huge bonding session for all of us. He never missed a show. He came even when he could no longer walk and had to go in a wheelchair. But he always sang. The regulars at the Tap Room were dad, legendary editor and opinion writer Neal Cruz, and former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.  Thank you, Tap Room family, for the music! And extra thank yous to Maestro Romy Posadas who played during dinner even if he was already so tired from his gig at Raffles earlier that afternoon! So honored to have a legend at our dinner!

***

Vargas

Thank you for the music shout out also to my Vargas cousins!

When we were kids, our parents would pressure us to sing at every opportunity. Every family gathering had a “program program” after dinner. I think it paid off! My cousin Maria Celedonia Vargas Franco – Maricel to us, Cel to her friends – pursued music, graduated Cum Laude from the UP Conservatory of Music, joined and toured the world with the Madrigal Singers, and now has her own music school! She helped me get the notes right to The Lord is My Shepherd by Goodall, which we just all sang for the first time that evening! Thank you also to Bunny Vargas Unlayao and Caron Vargas Cruz who found the time to sing with me and Goldee in spite of their hectic schedules as executives!

I had actually asked Maricel if I could hire a quartet of Madrigal alumni but they were not available. It was a blessing in disguise because it all turned out more poignant and meaningful, with us cousins coming together again to sing for dad 🙂

Thank you, cousins! Really meant a lot to us!

Thank you to the Vargas family for also coming in full force. My mom has 6 siblings. And they always come together. My grandparents “Mamang” (Rosario Reyes Vargas) and “Papang” (Alfredo Deles Vargas) would be so proud. The Vargases have shown us what family is all about. It’s about being there for each other. Through thick and thin. And always encouraging each other for the best, but still being there to lean on during the worst. So blessed to be a part of such a loving family!

Thank you, especially, to Tita Cory (Socorro Franco) for the flowers for dad!

***

Lechon Baka

The Memorial Service was followed by dinner where we served a hearty menu with porchetta, Iberian chicken and paella negra by my favorite caterer White Linen. But someone stole the spotlight from the food spread: lechon baka from one of my dad’s best friends, Erap. The Memorial Service coincided with the beauty pageant Ms. Manila that the Mayor of Manila could not miss … but his representative, the baka, was very much welcome!

Union Church of Manila

Most of all, thank you to the Union Church of Manila.

Our roots in UCM run deep. My grandmother, Salamia “Sally” Salcedo, a graduate of the UP Conservatory of Music and choir conductor, was once upon a time a conductor for the UCM choir. I remember my dad serving as usher during church service when we were kids. (Goldee, whom we tease is his “junior” now serves as an usher on some Sundays as well!) Goldee and I went to kindergarten at the Makati International Nursery School (MINS) at the old Union Church building. We received our first bibles from Pastor Darrel Johnson. And my dad was so proud of us being in the children’s choir with Mrs. James.

Dad also made it a point for us never to miss Easter Sunrise Service. We cherish, especially, the Easter Sunrise services held at the American Cemetery. Back then, we would go for breakfast after at the Intercon’s Jeepney Cafe then when the “jeeps” disappeared, the Dulcinea in the old Greenbelt. Or the Pancake House beside it. When Easter Sunrise moved, first to the Makati City Park then to Legazpi Park, we just maintained the “tradition” of eating at Pancake House after. I remember one Holy Week that we spent in Baguio, we left Saturday midnight, in time to catch the Easter Sunrise service! On dad’s last year on earth, when he could hardly stand or walk, I forced him to get up, even fought with him – he was in pain – but in the end, we were able to still catch the Easter Sunrise service as a family, and it really meant a lot to us. This year, our first Easter sunrise without dad, mom and Goldee continued the tradition, while I caught the sunrise at The Manor in Camp John Hay.

It’s just fitting that his own “sunrise” has taken place at UCM.

Thank you to Pastor Noah Kennedy, for having been there when dad breathed his last, at the funeral service, and again at the memorial service. Our family is so grateful for the gift of you!

Thank you to Mrs. Carminda Regala, my mom’s discipleship groupmate, who led us to Pastor Noah as we cried that night in the hospital.

Thank you to Pastor Steve Ruetschle, though he could not be around for the Memorial Service as he is abroad. Dad loved coming to UCM in his last years just to listen to Pastor Steve.

Thank you to mom’s UCM family, her discipleship group, who constantly prayed for dad when he was sick, when he passed on, and who came in full force as well to the memorial.

Thank you to Tita Fely and Liza, and to the UCM engineering and kitchen teams, for helping make our Memorial Service and dinner so easy to organize!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

***

Superman

Finally, thank you, Daddy 🙂

Thank you for being an ideal dad who loved us unconditionally, moved heaven and earth to give us everything we wanted and beyond, for making us believe that we can achieve anything we set our minds to and for making sure we got equipped with all the tools we would need for success in life. Most of all, thank you for raising us in faith. This is what has helped me most through this “grieving process” – the belief, the conviction, that you are with God, with Jesus.

Happy one year in Heaven!

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