Eulogy for Mariel




Mariel’s “sangko”, Sonny wrote the following for Mariel as he was unable to go home before we laid her to rest last September 20, 2007. Mariel spoke fondly too of her brother Sonny to me when she remembers how dutifully he had provided for her needs when she was still studying at UST. She told me that she traveled all the way to Makati, to where her brother worked to get her monthly “allowance” and even then, was very, very proud of his many accomplishments. Sonny eventually moved to the “States” where he until today works as a professor in Computer Studies in Alabama. Mariel also tried very hard to get to see him when we once traveled to the U.S. as he was truly one of her favorite persons.

So here is Sonny remembering her beloved “little sister”.

Eulogy for Mariel by Sonny A. Francia

Mariel Gina is Mariel’s full name. The name is as modest as the way she lived her life. Among the nine children, she is the one who managed to always stay inconspicuous-always staying out of trouble and never had raised a major concern. When we were young, I used to tease her and called her “Intsik”—an unofficial nickname bestowed on her by Mommy because of her chinese-like features. Of course, we all have our unofficial nicknames: hapon, bakbak, Negro, pudpud, sato, pungok, etc. On these occasions, I always find myself frustrated and at the losing end because I cannot irritate her. She was just too tough for me! And I said to myself “Mariel will never get fooled by any male suitor!” I decided enough of that—I’ll just tease Joy or Jay instead. Chinkie was just a baby then and I’ll get in big trouble if I do that to her.

Mariel’s uncanny ability to speed read is amazing. She once read a book overnight. The same book took me two weeks to read! And I said to myself “Mariel is most likely the smartest among all the Francias.”

On my wedding day in 1983, I vividly recall her calling me and asking me to sit in front of the mirror. She pulled out her makeup kit and started working on my face. I told her that I don’t need any makeup but she insisted that she would just highlight my nose because that is my facial’s best feature. Wow, I did looked good after that! And I said to myself “Mariel will be a great makeup artist as well as an excellent accountant.”

When I was told that Mariel is getting married, I frantically made several inquiries on “who the hell is Bong Bello.” After separately talking to Mommy and to Mariel, I said to myself “Mariel, I am so happy for you—You finally found your prince charming who you waited for years!” Bong, I am so grateful to you for making Mariel’s short life full and satisfying.

The last time I saw Mariel was in 2003. She can’t stop talking about Samantha, her daughter. Rightfully so, Sam is incredibly smart that I started to think that there may be the slightest validity to the theory that old cells produce kids that are intellectually mature than their peers. And I said to myself “I wish that this couple have more of the old cells to reproduce more of my nephews and nieces.”

Here are three verses from Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” which I thought Mariel would like to be read to all.

“Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be moaning of the bar,

When I put out of sea,

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness or farewell,

When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crossed the bar.”

Goodbye my dear sister Mariel. We love you and we’ll miss you until we see each other again.

To Bong and Sam

Bong, Mariel and Baby Sam

TO BONG AND SAM By Henry Lopez

I talked to Bong last night. The grief that Bong showed as well as that of what I learned of Sam’s is truly heartrending. The agony that Bong and Mariel went through during those harrowing three weeks seem far, far worse than the plight of that proverbial Kafka character. The unfolding of events was just too surreal and staggering. Pardon the drama. I just found it truly that. I, myself, have been in and going through similar ordeals that I found myself totally immersed in Bong’s emotion. Life can be cruel at times. To some, constantly that one wonders how much of it can one take.

But there seems to be something there gleaming behind the cracks of the ruins. And that I thought was something very plain, very simple– very clear. It’s love. Mariel’s remarkable devotion to Bong and Sam– love. Sam’s irrepressible sense of loss– love. Bong dedication to extolling the memories of Mariel– love. And during the moments leading to that cruel day, love may have been just the sole impetus that made the family push on. At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, I dare say that love is what is going to lift Bong and Sam up and out of this painful time in their lives.

Bong, you know what I mean. Continue to love Mariel and listen to what she maybe telling you. Your bond is strong that she will continue to speak to you from the past as you confront situations day by day and in so many other ways yet to be revealed in the future.

Mariel’s Garden will live forever. It is a magnificent tribute to Mariel and her life. It is a tribute to you too, Bong. To your eternal love for her that transcends all barriers, even death. Mariel’s Garden simply breathes love. But it won’t be the last garden you’ll build in your life. If you haven’t yet noticed, you have started a new one. It is Sam. Sam will now be your new garden. The new celebration of your love. Your’s and Mariel’s. Sam is going to be BONG’S AND MARIEL’S GARDEN.

Mariel will always be there by your side helping you. And you know what great inspiration that is. Nurture Sam. Nourish her with love and care. And she will bloom much richer than all the flowers in any garden on earth. Perhaps, this is the garden that would bring eternal joy to Mariel.

We, your friends, will always be there for you, Bong. At any time you’ll need us, we will be willing tillers of your gardens too.

Bless you, pare. Give our love to Sam.

Mariel’s drive time playlist

Mariel with baseball cap

The past few days were indeed rough patches. I missed Mariel so badly that I had some difficulty focusing at work. She still is after all my life’s only “anchor” and nothing would seems worthwhile without being able to share it with her. Good things, bad things only made any sense if she was there with me. And I loved her so much, more than life itself.But matters eased off a bit today though. I guess it helped that she had “told” me something I needed to hear, more so now that my life’s in the doldrums (I’d blog about this more in days to come, when I’m ready). I felt a little better tonight enough to open her favorite CD music wallet in our car. It’s a first. I could not attempt to play any of her familiar songs since she passed away because they’d open floodgates of memories. Much more than I can handle.

Mariel listened to music mainly to relax and sometimes to help focus at work. Her musical tastes were truly eclectic. Ranging from Classical symphonies to Broadway to Jazz standards and late 70’s disco. She welcomed them all. She adored Sinatra and mellowed Rod Stewart. She listened to Astrud, Satchmo, Ella, but enjoyed Hagabis, Apo Hiking Soceity, Hotdog and Cinderella too. She often asked me to make her song compilations for her notebook computer or mobile phone music player. She was constantly surrounded by beautiful music which I surmised rubbed into our daughter Sam, who now shows great musical abilities. In fact, she would even try to appreciate my own somewhat “unique” musical tastes, let alone tolerate the raucity on my electric guitar noodling. That’s why she’s an angel, nothing of my “noise” fazed her.

Tonight I randomly pulled out one of her compilations, played it on the car’s CD changer and just decided to “chill” while driving home tonight. I know Mariel was with me, hugging me and telling everything will be all right.’Love you Mommy.( Here’s “Of All the Things” by Dennis Lambert from Mariel’s playlist. This one contains only pictures, but the music should be good enough because it speaks of finding one’s true love)

Thank You Jesus For This Day

I have taken sometime to post something on my friend Bong’s blog because I was still searching for a fitting tribute for Mariel who I’ve known as long as Bong has (or maybe even a few hours earlier). Sometime in November, I finally decided to write an original musical composition for Bong and Mariel, as songwriting is one of my recent discoveries. The song is called Thank You Jesus For This Day and I’m publishing the lyrics and music for your enjoyment. The song is daily reminder to Bong as well as all others who might be reading this blog, that despite all of life’s challenges, we still have a lot to be thankful to Jesus for. So Bong, take a break from your grief and enjoy this song with my God daughter Samantha. I’m sure, that knowing Mariel, she would like to see you smiling and having fun again. God bless bro.

Thank you Jesus for this Day(composed by Ramon Serrano, BCBP- Angeles Outreach)

I When you’re feeling down inside, Keep your faith in Jesus ChristWalk with Him, He’s your guideAnd when trials come your way, Lift your hands to Him and prayThank you Jesus for this day


You are my saviour oh Lord, You give me love, peace and comfortAnd even if I will walk in the dark, I will have no fear because you’re on my sideII Sing with joy unto the Lord, Praise His name and all His worksHe’s with us, hear His wordsEvery second of the day, I will praise you Lord and sayThank you Jesus for this day

Repeat ref

III To the marketplace we speak, Of the best gift we receivedJesus and the Holy SpiritAs we do our part we pray, Father bless and guide our way

(And) Thank you Jesus for this day (3X)

My life in a flash

If you find absolutely nothing useful with the video I posted today, I’d also be very happy. Because at least you would’ve understood a bit how my life is now. It’s one that alternates between gnawing boredom and absolute panic. Since Mariel passed away, I find myself unable to plan farther than a couple of days. I guess it’s only now creeping that her loss is one that is final and irreversible.

I find no joy in “malling” anymore. When before it was Mariel’s and my national past time, I’m absolutely unaffected now by any advertising hype (some will say maybe thats for the better). While I want to enjoy things like I used to, I seemingly cannot find enough good reasons to really want to, when the very person with whom I love to share everything with, is no longer there. Of course, I try to live my life for Sam as she’s my last remaining hope. But I just had to go out alone today January 20 and lick my wounds in Bonifacio High Street, Makati because people had reminded me it’s four months since Mariel left for God’s bosom. And time again stood still.

I miss you Mariel. I love you so much.

Sam at Avilon

It’s been another week and I can’t really say this one has been much different from the others. Days seem to just whiz by when you’re grieving. Nothing makes it exciting even with Terrell Owens hysterics or Britney breakdowns in the news. Of course some days are better than others, but the little glimmer of sunshine you get, if any, are plainly unremarkable. And I can’t seem to get that “old” joy back into my life because Mariel’s not there anymore to share it with me. So at times, I just try to imagine going out on carefree adventures with Mariel and Sam as we would usually do on Sunday afternoons. And that’s exactly what I did in the last one. Oh, to be our family once again.Sam and I went to check out the new Avilon Ark in Ortigas. I was a far cry from the real deal in Montalban, but ‘ey it’s 15 minutes from where we live so I shouldn’t complain. It’s of course a petting zoo so the usual suspects are there. Miniature horses, exotic birds and certainly highly paid rabbits who get to eat from you for a fee. Sam, as some of you know, loves animals but only to look at from a distance. Yes, she was even scared of the nosy Ringneck Hens lurking around. But she had fun overall because it was definitely different from the accustomed mall fare. Mariel would have enjoyed the day with us. It would’ve been as always another opportunity to bond with just the three of us. And, I guess that it really may have been. I knew we were a family again at Avilon.Let me share some snapshots on January 13 at Avilon Ark with Sam, me and surely, Mariel too.

Phuket Revisited


Today being January 8, I thought that I might share some photos from our lovely Phuket, Thailand wedding some ten years ago. On this day we were married in a memorable Catholic ceremony midst the pristinely beautiful Promthep Cape near Nai Harn Beach. We had our civil wedding vows in the Philippines a few days back, then flew to Thailand for this one. It was something that was surely made in Heaven. Mariel and I had our whole life ahead of us… and had many, many dreams.

And I now promise to Mariel that I will try till my own last breath, to fulfill most of them for her and Samantha. I hope I can make her proud on that day that we again meet. When once more I can have her “to love and to cherish”… forever. I love you Mommy.