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A birthday full of memories for Rosie Osmeña Valencia

Birthday celebrant Rosie Osmeña Valencia with her amigas Lulu Tinio, Offie Recto, Lorna Laurel and Elo Fernan

Rosie Osmeña Valencia turned 90 years old, but if I did not know her real age, I would never have suspected. Rosie gives new meaning to aging with her youthful face and vibrant outlook on life. It also helps that she remains active and productive.

Having been in the public eye ever since her father President Sergio Osmeña was in political office in the 1940s, Rosie was raised in Manila and finished high school in Holy Ghost College, proceeding to Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York and Palos Verdes, California.   She was a head-turner and soon caught the eye of her father’s junior aide-de-camp, the dashing and eligible Dr. Elpidio Valencia, who was 11 years her senior.

It was a long-distance courtship since Rosie was then based in the US for further studies. But when the time was right, the UST graduate and US-trained doctor visited Cebu to ask for the hand of his bride-to-be from then retired President Osmeña and her mother Titay Limjap Osmeña.  They happily agreed because they knew Elpi well. This marriage was a long and blissful one, lasting almost 65 years until Elpi passed away last year at almost 100 years old.

In keeping with the times, since the country was rising from the ashes of World War ll, the 1948 wedding in the UST chapel was an elegant yet simple affair even if the nuptials were the highlight of the social scene as it is not often that a beautiful (former) presidential daughter would marry her good-looking groom. The young bride was dressed in a white terno by her friend, the legendary Ramon Valera. My grandmother Andrea R. Aguinaldo was the sole madrina and my father Francisco R. Aguinaldo was the best man since the Valencias were extremely close family friends.

Rosie was a devoted daughter to her parents and a supportive, gracious wife to her husband who was later appointed Secretary of Health by President Carlos Garcia. She is loved by everyone, especially by her children Sergie, Mariza and Lia,  their spouses Tina Revilla and Carlos del Rosario and her grandchildren Miguel del Rosario, Gio and Jana Valencia

Rosie is an active member of the Mother Butler Mission Guilds, Catholic Women’s League and Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

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And since she’s also part of the Philippine Game Fishing Association, Rosie could be found in the waters criss-crossing  the Amazon, Palau, Hawaii,  Batangas and Cagayan where she caught three gigantic sailfish, which now hang in her living room as well as that of her grandson Gio Valencia.

Visiting the Valencia’s lovely Makati apartment, one will find numerous framed needlepoint that Rosie painstakingly worked on for decades, covering the living room wall with themes that range from religious and floral to Philippine historical events such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Leyte Landing  and President Osmeña’s induction into office that are patterned after her family’s Amorsolo paintings of these important historical eras.   

For her 90th birthday dinner at the Manila Polo Club, a Mass was celebrated by Salesian brother priests Fathers Ely and Elis Santos.  Guests included special friends who were in the original wedding entourage such as Lulu Tinio and Marilou Tuason, her 1942 Holy Spirit classmates, dancing mates in the Smiles Club, co-bridge players, socio-civic group mates plus her ahijados who have remained close to her throughout the years.  Everyone felt special as they celebrated a super milestone of a lovingly vibrant and caring lady whose message that evening was, “Make time for friends and family. Love them dearly.”

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For comments and ideas, please email the author at: jacinto.fa@gmail.com.

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