My mom, Corazon de Jesus Obligacion, was born on July 19,1918.
She married my Dad, Irineo “Bill” Obligacion Jr. on Jan. 22,1941. They had five children: Bong (born in 1942); Coralis (1947); Myrna (1948); Cleotilde (1950); and I, Irene (1954).
Corazon passed away last July 2.
In 1936, after studying in Centro Escolar University, Corazon studied Beauty Culture at the Realistic School (at that time, was one of the best beauty schools in the country).
During the Japanese Occupation, my parents with my brother Bong hid in the mountains as part of the guerilla movement, together with the Roces brothers and family.
Can you imagine the hardship Corazon endured trying to make a family life, cooking, washing, taking care of a baby, and at the same time always aware the Japanese soldiers could hit them anytime?
When the family finally came down to Manila, Corazon began cutting and curling the hair of her neighbors. Word got around, and before she knew it, Japanese women, wives of Japanese soldiers and officers, came for her for services.
After the war, my parents ventured into several small businesses such as putting up a beauty parlor, crayon-making, and mannequin production. They put up Oriental Machineries on Evangelista Street, Quiapo, Manila. The company sold gas engines and agricultural equipment.
Before going into the crayon business, Corazon had to study the art of mixing colors in a laboratory with a chemist from the University of Sto. Tomas.
When they went into the engine business, Corazon didn’t know anything about how to operate and sell engines. But she was a resourceful woman. She studied how engines work and demonstrated it to buyers.
Throughout the years, I saw how my mom would always serve the family first. She would take care of my dad’s food, his clothes. When he would get sick, my mom would not leave his side.
If any of us children got sick, mom would stay up all night just to make sure we were all right. And when we all got married, she treated all her apos with the same love, care and concern she showered on us her children.
About six years ago, my mom had an accident. She broke her left hip and had to undergo an operation to insert a titanium brace in her hip. She had difficulty standing up and walking even during therapy. She had been wheelchair bound since then.
Even if my mom couldn’t walk, every time we got home, she would ask my husband Dante and my son John if we had already our supper. When I was sick, she would try to massage my head even if her hands were painful due to arthritis. She would always remind me to rest, get enough sleep, and not work too hard.
Corazon might look small and fragile, but underneath she was a woman who survived World War II as the wife of a guerilla.
Corazon was a beautician, crayola-maker, mannequin producer, a self-taught gas-engine entrepreneur. A wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who showed her family strength when they needed it and gave them love each and every day of their lives.
This is my tribute to Corazon, I am so proud to be your daughter.
The author is the chief communications officer of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.