On August 12, the pall of gloom starts to cover the Mariners System and allied operations. At 93, Matriarch Eliza Lazaro Jimenez has joined her Creator leaving a legacy of a simple life within a complex of public service and personal charities.
Then, flowers were every where, coming from people whose lives she touched. The prayers and supplications for her eternal repose in heaven were ever more than candles lit. The school band performed, even her grandchildren. Yes, it was a sad day. But really, a joyous journey.
The wake was extended for thousands of mourners and beloveds. On August 16th, the mortal remain was transferred from Funeraria Imperial,Naga City, to the MPCF chapel at Canaman Camarines Sur campus. On August 21st, a Roman Catholic Mass was offered at the Penafrancia Basilica Minore. Interment followed at the Sto. Nino Memorial Park, Naga City.
At the family mausoleum, Madame Eliza reunites with dearest husband, Commo Jaime C. Jimenez. And beloved son, Engr. Jaime Jimenez, Jr.
She is mother of six: Dr. Gabriel, Commo. Dante, Engr. Jaime Jr., Dr. Evita, Dr. Marillissa and Ms. Merle. Plus thousands more children from the whole Mariners System she and her husband founded in 1975 on the slogan, “Sarong Marinero sa cada pamilyang Bicolano” (one seafarer for every Bicolano family).
She was an ‘institution’ within the Institution even after her retirement. In the first few months of this year, she was still attending major school events such as the graduation rites and the first Friday Masses at the chapel of the campus.
She will be missed, lovingly remembered as Educator, Professional, Caring Mother, Loving Wife, and Public Servant — Madame Eliza Lazaro Jimenez, Chair Emeritus of Mariners Polytechnic Colleges/Foundation.
The maritime school started with just makeshift classrooms. But the Founders were adamant, despite the community’s apprehension on a school for seafarers far from the sea.
The Mariners System now has three campuses: Naga City, Canaman-Camarines Sur, Rawis-Legazpi City, with allied and complementing operations such as the Mariners Polytechnic Training Center (Manila and Cavite), Unlad Ship Manning & Management and Global Manpower & Development both based in Metro Manila.
Through these educational portals untold thousands have graduated; through the allied operations thousands more have jobs and enviable careers. It is not surprising that eulogies speak well of the Institution within an Institution — Chair Emeritus Eliza Lazaro de Jimenez.
Hon. Fortunato Pena.
The Vice-Governor was also speaking for the Governor of Camarines Sur who is engaged in Manila. While Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte does not personally know Mam Eliza, he fully acknowledges the reach of her works with Commo. Jimenez in the economic growth of the province, the entire Bicol region.
VGov. Pena expresses gratitude, assures continuous provincial support on MPCF and extended the common condolence of the provincial leadership and entire civil service. More importantly, Pena declares, “We need more Lola Eliza in the province and in the country today.”
Mr Joseph Tabarera, Batch 1988.
Son of a farmer/fisherman from Virac, Catanduanes; an in-house working student trained in all aspects of canteen operations; Madame Eliza even sharing her own baon (food provision) to give Joseph opportunities to excel. He now owns a school in Olongapo City, offering nine CHEd programs and some TESDA courses.
Joseph recalls Mam Eliza works in silence; focused, humbly solving problems without the usual babble of superiors. She is a devotee of the Lady of Penafrancia, whose image she carries barefoot during devotional processions.
The four years Joseph stayed on the tutelage of the Mam Eliza defined his future: discipline, clear head in facing challenges. These lessons Joseph cannot define but knows he cannot get even from the best universities of the world.
He sees Mam Eliza when he admits, “I learned to dream something more, aim high!”
Rev. Fr. Alfred “Pido” Baysa.
Now a priest at San Fernando, CamSur, he presided over the Roman Catholic Mass at the wake of Mam Eliza at the MPCF chapel. He was a working student, assigned as gardener, then posted at the canteen; finally, at Mam Eliza home as all-around help.
Mam Eliza always has flowers for the Virgin. Each time she comes home from the office, her first concern was whether everyone has eaten, truly a caring mother. While then on a maritime course, he collected courage to tell he wants to answer the call of the seminary. Surprisingly, Mam Eliza was even happier as she confesses she had a son aiming for priesthood (now, Dr. Gabriel). She believes this is now her mission to support another, instead.
Father Pido recalls Mam Eliza opened opportunities. Aside from maritime careers, she organized the band with majorettes, as scholars of the school. For himself, Father Pido considers Mam Eliza as God-sent for him to complete the Christian vocation. Not only supporting his material needs, Mam Eliza visits him at the seminary as a mother on a son.
In a broader sense, Father Pido considers Mam Eliza a hero — giving hope to those who dream, “a model mother to all of us.”
Judge Freddie Ampuan.
Husband to Mam Eliza’s daughter Marilissa, the Judge believes Madam Eliza is an “enlightened leader, intelligent and zealous in her pursuit of academic excellence in the mariners system.”
He recalls she is fondly called Elising, “Industrious, nationalist and God-fearing.” She and her husband established the first all-Filipino maritime school in the Bicol region. With such, the Judge says, “you will always be remembered from generation to generations.”
Gabriel – The eldest remembers Mama expects him to be a priest, his champoy (candy snack) shaped as ostia (Holy Host), rosary included and the mantra never to forget God and the Lady of Penafrancia (Mother Mary of Jesus). He did enter the seminary but as admonished, “only a few are chosen” to be doctors of souls.
Gabriel admires her mama’s strength, her unquestioned support on Daddy’s dream education liberating the poor of Bicol from poverty. Indeed, the son finds in his mother the truth of “behind every man’s success is a woman.”
All these efforts for others as we ourselves were facing problems, among which the prospect of stopping in our studies. “She was our strength,” a mother who is also a motivator.
Dante – He finds it so hard to lose his mother, he cries every morning. The sadness is rooted on the fact at three years old, he was still being breast-fed.
It was a stirring moment, seeing the iconic crime and corruption fighter crying as he approaches the casket of his mother. In between sobs, Dante points to the unifying role of Mom Eliza for the family. He accepts the siblings have different advocacy and principles. Yet, he appeals for unity, avoid quarrels — hoping really to be together, as their common way of saying, “Mommy… I love you so much.”
Evita – The eldest daughter spent most time in the hospital watching her mother, even as she was just hospitalized. She is already a senior citizen, but afforded the chance to payback on her mother’s sacrifices. And she had moments to reflect the what-for and the where-for on the future of the closely-knitted family.
She suspects her mom’s 93rd birthday has a meaning for her, like coming back and pitching in more seriously. Among the siblings, Evita alone was born in Naga City. And she believes, “you are rooted where you are born.”
Thus, Evita has decided to return, after doing her things, after serving the movement. She gallantly accepts the demise of her mother for “When something has to go, it will really go. You cannot cling on.”
There may be quarrels and problems. But the safety net are the traits, the legacy of fine breeding from their parents, more so from the mother.
The siblings have common advocacy and also their own. All are strong-willed, with inner strength and assertive, all traits from their parents. Yet, Evita confirms “the one thing that unites us always is love of our people and being deeply rooted with the people.
We wish to replicate that unity in our own families. We shall not conjure what more for us or could be. Rather, what more we can do for others as our final homage to Mother dear.
Marilissa – In appreciation of her excellent rearing, Marilissa gave in to her mother’s request for the daughter to assist in developing the family school in Bicol. She loves her job at UST-Manila and not interested on a maritime career nor relationship. Mama reasons Ate Evita is not available, Merle still a student, Kuya Gabby is in Canada and Kuya Dante in the Navy.
Mother never wavered, risking her retirement money from the Dept of Justice as the school struggled with enrollment and nipa-hut “buildings.” Even with mounting bank loans, she prodded on, Marilissa staying along-side in deference to her mother’s “love and caring.”
“Mommy is an educator, professional.” She would share her last centavo on the needs of her children, with still a large space in her heart for the working students in the school.
Merle – “We call her Mommy dear, words of endearment.” She married a strong-willed man of poor lineage, loud and Protestant as she is quiet and devout Catholic. Yet, her quiet ways were her brand of leadership: making the husband embrace her faith, all the children accomplished in their chosen professions.
She is simple but sophisticated with make-up barely there. She has a favorite gown which she wore on her portraiture in UP in 2014. She raised funds for victims of Super-typhoon Yolanda, an activity she loves for it is for the benefit of others.
Merle felt the pangs of separation from her parents when she was 10 and studying in Manila while they were in Bicol. She was searching for them, only able to cope with “really very strong virtues of love for the family” inculcated in the siblings.