More on Betty

THIRD EYE - Ramon J. Farolan - The Philippine Star

February is a special month for the family. Last Feb. 15, Penny and I marked our 64th wedding anniversary. The following day, Feb. 16, was the 119th birth anniversary of my mother Filipinas Farolan, who passed away at the age of 32, a few months after giving birth to her youngest son. Yesterday was the 63rd birthday of our eldest Miguel. The day coincides with the 37th anniversary of the EDSA revolt. Miguel was able to visit us with wife Leslie for the first time since the start of the pandemic. They reside in Woodridge, Illinois, a small community in the suburbs of Chicago.

We have three grandchildren, one now a lawyer with the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office. Another is a medical student at Emory University in Atlanta, taking up physical therapy. And the youngest among them is a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy who, after graduation, will serve the nation as member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Almighty has truly blessed our lives and we are most grateful.

*      *      *

In the 1930s, when much of what is now Quezon City was largely fields of cogon grass, my in-laws Pacifico and Mary Morales Joaquin built their home along a creek in Cubao which ran all the way from Antipolo and emptied into the Pasig River. The creek flowed in the middle of a depression which resembled a valley located between two elevated areas, and the dirt road that was carved out of the wilderness was called Valley Road.

In those days, the creek that flowed by the house was crystal-clear, and one could even go wading and small-time fishing at any time of night or day. Valley Road was a one-lane dirt street connecting España Extension (now E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard) to Aurora Boulevard, with only a few streetlights, giving the area a spooky air, what with bats coming out in the evening.

A European-style country house with brick shingles for roofing served as the Joaquin family home, the only one in the entire neighborhood, if not the city. The style was part of the legacy of their English mother, Frances Alden, who married Eusebio Morales. They met when he was taking up engineering in London. During Christmas break from the Philippine Military Academy, it was here where I would spend most of my time getting to know my future wife.

It was home to the Joaquin girls, Sonia and Connie, both active members of their sorority Delta Lambda Sigma; Penny, Molly and brother Quinito, as well as to their many friends from St. Theresa’s College and the University of the Philippines. Connie and her mom Mary Morales Joaquin were both sweethearts of the UP Engineering fraternity Beta Epsilon.

Over the years, Valley Road was asphalted and a few more street lights added, as more houses went up along with a number of informal settler colonies. After my in-laws passed away, Penny and I moved in and here our kids grew up. At the E. Rodriguez Boulevard end was located the family compound of Uncle Jimmy and Auntie Fely Go. Eldest daughter Betty, who was my classmate in UP High class of 1951, was raised here, eventually settling down with hubby, Speaker Sonny Belmonte, in their own place within the Go compound.

Last Jan. 28 was Betty’s 29th death anniversary.

In 1997, the City Council of Quezon City passed Ordinance No. 570 S-97, renaming Valley Road as Betty Go Belmonte Street. In making the change, the City Council under its presiding officer, Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista, noted that:

“Betty Go Belmonte was a person who was loved and respected by all who knew her, from the powerful to the lowly, for her boundless faith in God and abiding concern for her fellow men, as manifested by an outpouring of love and testimonials on her untimely passing away in 1994.

“Betty Go Belmonte touched the lives of many, not only by her selflessness and steadfastness as a friend, but by her active involvement in numerous humanitarian activities among the youth, the disabled and the needy.

“Betty Go Belmonte transcended the confines of the Filipino-Chinese community from which she sprang, drawing it closer to the mainstream of Philippine society, becoming a positive factor in Philippine life and, in the words of a noted Filipino writer, ‘a Filipino extraordinaire.’

“Betty Go Belmonte immersed herself in the problems of the nation, helping to found and manage two of the country’s leading newspapers, The Philippine STAR and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. As a journalist, she championed fairness, accuracy and objectivity in the presentation of news and was honored for her relentless fight against all forms of social immorality.”

The City Council also took note of Betty’s 48 years as a resident of Quezon City, and her abiding commitment towards the progress of the community and its inhabitants. The ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the council, was approved by Quezon City Mayor Mel Mathay. Today the City Mayor is Joy Belmonte, Betty’s only daughter.

On the occasion of Betty’s fourth death anniversary in 1998, in simple ceremonies held just a few meters from our home, Valley Road became Betty Go Belmonte Street, a concrete two-lane thoroughfare, with lighting bright enough for pedestrians to enjoy short walks at night. In attendance were Auntie Fely, Betty’s mother, Speaker Sonny and the whole Belmonte clan, Quezon City officials led by Mel Mathay and Herbert Bautista, friends from the University of the Philippines including president and Mrs. Emil Javier (Betty was a Regent of the University.), Betty’s sorority sisters from Sigma Delta Phi, close family friends and others who were the beneficiaries of Betty’s love and concern.

For the rest of our lives and that of our children, it can be said that the Farolan residence is located on Betty Go Belmonte Street.

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