Mommy and Sam I never heard Mariel laugh so heartily, except on the day when I had told her at the UST hospital that I have decided to make her quit her job at the Bangko Sentral, so that she can finally pursue her passion for flowers. I said that she can have her flower shop and maybe her little garden too as soon as she gets well. We were at the hospital because Mariel had just been diagnosed with interstitial lung issues brought about by an undifferentiated connective tissue disease a few weeks back.

Was Mariel’s exuberance out of a sense of relief that she can at last follow her dream career? Or was it simply because she knew that perhaps I was just idly boasting? For she can plainly see that at that moment, I had neither the resources nor the know-how to make her dream come true. And I think it’s probably more of the latter. But I guess I will never really know for certain, because Mariel had passed away four days later on Sept. 20, 2007. She however left me with the only joy of her life and life-long vocation, our talented and lovely daughter Samantha.

Some people would say that no one can live forever. But I know that wonderful memories left behind by someone so special as Mariel, seen through the many stories of people whose lives she had touched, shall always remain with us all.

Mariel’s Garden is the place for this. A place to share or to receive. A place to grieve, because Mariel’s life was much too short for what she can give. To heal, as it could eventually lead to our acceptance of God’s perfect plan for her and us. In Mariel’s Garden, one may find some comfort in celebrating a life that really knew how to love. One which explains”finding one’s happiness in the happiness of another.”

I lost a partner, a teacher, my best friend and exceptionally loving mother to our 9- year old daughter to a strange and cruel illness. But I want the world to know that while Mariel had left us for a far better place, her spirit of giving lives on through her words, deeds and the countless individuals touched by her unwavering spirit of generosity.

Mariel’s zest for life and love of flowers continue to live through this garden. A promise made, a promise kept. For Mariel is just too well- loved to ever, ever be forgotten.

24 thoughts on “About

  1. vdybuncio

    i never really got to know mariel that close or intimately except for the few times that we would bump into each other. you see, mariel is one of those things that bong kept to himself, at least to me. but i however was not lacking in knowing how much my friend bong loved and admired his mariel. in fact, the few times that we got to talk about her were filled with stories and anecdotes of how she has changed him for the better. i guess it is in God’s perfect plan that bong met mariel – in the perfect time and place. it is such a shame that her time here on earth was cut short by something that we still do not fully understand. but then, who can comprehend God’s plans for us and our loved ones. as the lyrics of kenny rankin’s song goes “it’s not how long we’ve known each other…it’s how much we loved one another…what matters most”. that for me is what mariel is to bong…not the time but the love that they shared. i have known bong since college days and he has and will always be a dear friend of mine. his loss is our loss. his pain is our pain. but in due time, his happiness and acceptance of things we can never explain or understand will be our happiness and joy. for mariel will always be with us. as the video i made ends, we love you mariel…till we meet again.

  2. joylorico319

    I would like to thank you Bong for this very wonderful act of love for our dear friend, Mariel. I know that wherever she is, she is beaming proudly at you. Through this medium, Mariel’s memories on how she touched our lives will be etched forever in our hearts. I hope also that all stories that we have of Mariel will be stored in Sam’s heart and mind, for Mariel loved her so dearly.

    Mariel’s Garden is indeed a perfect choice. I first witnessed her love of flowers when we were in our early 20’s, about a year or so working together in the bank. Our “barkada” once visited the apartment she shared with her sisters in Mandaluyong. It was there that I witnessed how good she was in making a small place so cute, warm, homey, and fresh. There were fresh flowers in a corner. I remember her telling me that she preferred fresh flowers rather than buying the plastic ones.

    She also liked to cook. Though I couldn’t recall anymore what we ate that time, I could vividly recall that she was such a perfect hostess; always making sure that we were enjoying the day and comfortable, too.

    Her table in the office would always have a vase with yellow/tangerine roses. Pinky, the flower vendor, would always bring her ration every Monday. That would last for a week. Our work deals with handling complaints from the public. At the end of the day, we got no more strength because of all the problems and dealings with angry/irate people. To top it all, there would be other RUSH jobs that would be assigned to us. But each morning, we would have a fresh start because as we go past Mariel’s table, we couldn’t help but quip how the flowers do energize us. Mariel’s roses would always perk us up like the warm rays of the sun. Those flowers would give us the needed zest for work and help us get though another hectic day.

    Our office has just been transferred from the 8th to the 10th floor. Since Mariel left us, our workplace had looked so gloomy. So, as my anniversary gift to our group (we turned one year last Oct. 16), I had some flowers (yellow/tangerine tulips, roses and white lilies) arranged and put them as a centerpiece facing the entrance door. Everytime we enter the 10th floor office, those beautiful flowers (Mariel’s chosen colors) will always greet us and bring rays of sunshine into another hectic and tension-filled day.

    God bless you, my friend, for bringing sunshine into our workplace. I miss you.

  3. Annie

    Open Letter
    (my thoughts after I learned about what happened to my dear cousin Mariel; as I cannot be there during her funeral, this letter was read by one of her sisters, Atching Gertie)

    Dear Mar,

    You know, I am not much of a writer, not as good as you were. At times, words become elusive and I cannot express myself clearly enough but bear with me please as I try to share some of my thoughts about the best person I had the good fortune to know and love.

    Where do I begin? Shall I start with the gamut of feelings that took my breath away when I was told of what happened to you? Devastated… Unbelieving… Angry… Scared… Mournful (crying myself to sleep which eluded me for sometime; and when finally it came, it was one of restlessness knowing that comprehension still escapes me).

    Then, I realized as the days passed by, these could precisely be the same feelings you were experiencing before Acceptance set in as the final answer to all our questions and a yearning for some sense of fairness for what happened. Knowing the kind of faith you have in the Lord, you succumbed to His Will with the certainty that He will make everything all right.

    Those you left behind, including me, are still trying to grasp this truth. Please pray that God will bless us with this kind of faith that will eventually bring us peace of mind.

    To everybody who were lucky to have been touched by Mariel as a relative, co-worker or friend:

    Let me describe her, as she is perceived by me and, I’m sure, by most everyone who have known her. She is beautiful inside and out; she is the perfect hostess and organizer – if things might not go as planned as some things do go wrong sometimes, she remedies the situation by thinking and acting on her toes for she always wants things to come to a happy ending for everybody. In that, she is like a Princess, very serene, graceful and subtle but can still maintain a commanding presence, although, she is certainly not one to go against the common good — always thinking of everyone else, even if she has to sacrifice some conveniences for herself. She welcomes everybody into her home which for some has become a refuge at one time or another. She is a hard worker, always trying to achieve an ideal balance between family and career. Her generosity is boundless.

    Did I mention PERFECT? She is that to me – she has flaws, naturally, she is human after all, but these, too, are PERFECT flaws. She is TOO kind… she works TOO hard… she doesn’t give enough time for herself and is most happy when she is giving, giving AND giving.

    Bong, if you consider Mar as your soul mate, I’m sorry but I must tell you that you don’t have the sole ownership of this sentiment. You see, she IS my soul mate cousin; she is a soul mate sister to each of her siblings; she is a soul mate godmother and aunt to my daughter Erika; and most of all, a soul mate Mom to Sam. I know you won’t begrudge us this feeling and would gladly share this angel who graced us with her love.

    To you, my beloved cousin Mar, I must tell you that distance can be painful most of the time but is the one thing that is helping me right now. I refuse to think of the time when I come home to the Philippines and you are no longer there to meet me and bring me to all the wonderful places to see and good food to eat, to chat the night away and still have energy the next day to go shopping in the best bargain places in town.

    I shall miss you dearly but in my heart, you will always be there. Please save a place for me beside you the next we meet again for we will surely have a lot of catching up to do… as always.

    Thank you for sharing with us your wonderful self. We love you.

    PS. A little history: Mariel’s mother and my mother were sisters. I have known Mariel most of her life since we grew up together (we were actually neighbors). After I graduated from college, Mariel and her sisters welcomed me to stay in their place as I was still struggling to get a job and be independent at that time. We have grown closer as ever through the years and more so when motherhood has set in for both of us. I will always cherish her memory.

  4. claire espina

    Dearest Sam: I am still trying to fashion the words in my mind as to what I remember of your mother, Mariel when we were in elementary school and high school. I will post separately on that topic once I am ready. For now, I just want to share with you how beautifully and authentically your mother wrote about another woman close to my heart – my grandmother – who was their neighbor in Tarlac and one of your Lola’s bestfriends.

    Mariel wrote this email to me in 2003 on our class listserve – and I shared it with my entire family. What she gave to us is a gift which is immeasurable in value. I hope to be able to do the same for you, Sam.

    Your tita Claire (Espina)
    of the Class 1978 of College of the Holy Spirit, Tarlac


    SEPTEMBER 24, 2003

    Dear Claire,

    Hi! Mariel Francia-Bello here. I saw a picture of your lola (Apung Idang as we call her while its Mamang for you) among the bunch of pictures that Marni had with her when we had a meeting in Tarlac. Your mamang was so young in
    the picture and so beautiful but I should say she is even more beautiful inside. Seeing that picture brought back memories when she used to live in front of our house and would share everything from the guavas that grew near
    her backdoor to the sans rival that your tita would bring as pasalubong from Manila. We, the kids in the Francia household would look forward to the visits of any of her children since half of the pastries and other yummies
    would surely end up in our house even before her visitors would have left her house.My mom loves to have a chat with her since she’s the only one who really made sense in the neighborhood. She’s very intelligent, gentle, kind and generous that my mom said it was a joy to have her not only as a neighbor but more so as a friend.

    She made such an impression on me that I said to myself back then that I hope I could grow old as gracefully as she did. Well, I just want to say thank you to her through you since I wasn’t able to do so when she was still
    with us.

    Warmest regards,


  5. Mariel’s Garden is a perfect place for pouring out our love to our beloved Mariel – a love we share with you, Bong, and your sweet daughter Sam.
    In a few days, “the day” that our good Lord blessed this world (6 November) with one beautiful person (inside and out) will come… on which date I regularly texed her to wish her all the desires of her heart to make her birthday always a truly happy one. But for this year, “the day” will be different. A piercingly silent difference.
    Bong, as I’ve written in the note (containing anecdotes) I left for you last 21 September, I believe that Mariel has now joined our good Lord because, in Mariel’s own words, “the Lord deserves the best.” Truly, Mariel IS one of the best — A person who never fails to see the good side in every person she met.
    I remember the time I texed her to congratulate her in her job promotion and told her that it was long deserved — Mariel, the truly appreciative person that she is, not just simply thanked me but added this line that made so much impact on me: “Your congratulations mean so much to me, coming from one of the persons I truly respect and admire.” That’s Mariel for me — A person who, in her unique way, would grab every opportunity to make others feel good about themselves.
    Just as she once said to me that you, Bong, is the “love of her life,” the one “she chose above the rest,” I have been witness to how she proudly declared and showed her love to others. In the special times I’ve spent with Mariel in our officework and MBA course, she never failed, in her own little ways, to show that truly, she is the “Lord’s gift” to us all.


  6. Wally Buhay

    Bong and I went to school together. From 1st grade we had known each other and for a few years in grade school we were best of friends. I remember Bong teaching me how to read the bible.

    I never met Mariel. I only learned of her today. I only learned of Sam Today. But it seems I know enough of her (Mariel) now. Maybe, during the days Mariel was around, she chose to keep to herself because it was Bong who would share her now to us (Don’t Keep The Good Things…). It seems that GIVING is a family trait with the Bellos. And despite her keeping to herself, Mariel gave and unselfishly shared lovingly to others. And Bong is the same. In grade school, Bong would share his sandwich with me and now he shares his wife, Mariel, with us, despite his pain.

    Bong, we will always keep you in our prayers, so that God will continue to bless you and Sam with the grace to turn grief into happiness, to turn sorrow in to gladness. We pray that you continue to help enlighten couples who are uncertain of what they feel for their spouses, who mistakenly choose to sacrifce their wives and children to give in to those weaknesses. May your pain slowly turn to delight as you see how blessed you are to be able to change the hearts of those who are falling out of love so they can turn back to their partners in a sweet and loving embrace.

    Just like the flowers that made Mariel happy, I am sure this will make Mariel very happy. As it will God.

  7. Felix L. Santos, jr.

    To my memory Bong and I were seatmates in San Beda Grade School.
    I never met his wife Mariel or her daughter. But having noticed in Mariel’s photo the same kind face of my classmate Bong. I have this sure feeling that Bong and Mariel have that ‘Godly Bond’ in them with their daughter.

    My prayers go with your family, Bong.

  8. First time kong na-meet si Mam Mariel sa SM Megamall ng mag-treat ng dinner sa amin sa SUKHOTHAI Restaurant after ng kanilang wedding sa Thailand ang first expression ko kay Mam noon mabait, mahiyain at tahimik na tao sabi ko nga sa sarili ko bagay sila ni Sir Bong kasi pareho mabait, kaya magmula noon madalas ko ng makita si Mam tuwing uutusan ako ni Sir Bong sa bahay nila, hindi man kaming ganong ka-close mi Mam pero para sakin matagal na kaming magkakilala at parang isang pamilya na ang turing ko sa kanilang mag-anak, at nakilala ko din ang mother ni Mam at ang kanyang kapatid na si Sir Jay, hanggang dumating sa buhay nila ang isang maganda,at malusog na sanggol na si Sam, isang napakasayang pamilya ang nakita ko ng dumating sa buhay nila si Sam, nakita ko din at nasubaybayan kahit paano kung paano nila mahalin, asikasuhin, at alagaan ang kanilang anak, wala na siguro silang mahihiling kundi ang mapalaki, mapag-aral, maging isang mabait na bata na gaya ng kanilang magulang at lahat ay kanilang ibibigay para sa kinabukasan ng kanilang unica ija na si Sam. Hanggang sa dumating ang oras na kailangan ng bumalik ni Mam kung saan tayo galing at makapiling ang Poong Maykapal ng may likha sa ating lahat marami ang nabigla sa biglang paglisan ni Man sa ating buhay
    ang kanyang pamilya, mga ka-opisina, mga kamag-anak, mga kaibigan at higit sa lahat ang kanyang pinakamamahal na si Sir Bong at ang kanyang anak na si Sam, hindi man natin nakikita at nakakasama si Mam sa ating buhay pero buhay na buhay naman si Mam sa atomg puso’t isipan. nakakalungkot pero kailangan natin harapin ang katotohan na balang araw tayo naman ang kanyang tatawagin at doon makakasama natin ang ating pinakamamahal na kaibigan, kapatid at pinakamamahal na Mommy sa buong mundo na si Mam MARIEL GINA FRANCIA BELLO, Saan ka man naroon Mam nandito ka lagi sa aming Puso at Isipan at mananatiling buhay magpakaylan man… at Salamat Po Mam sa napakabait nyong trato sa akin at itinuring nyo po akong isang kapamilya nyo.. hindi ko po kayo makakalimutan habang nabubuhay po ako We miss You Mam and We love you very very much………

  9. Salamat Dong sa iyong pagmamahal kay Mariel at sa kanyang alaala. Nawa’y palagi mo siyang ipagdasal. Alam kong napakalapit din ng loob niya sa iyo noong siya’y nabubuhay pa.

  10. Such a beautiful Garden you have Given Mariel. I have read a few of the entries and the love you have is that which God graces. Blessings to you and thanks so much for sharing this love with us. Peace, Light and Love to you and yours. . . . CordieB. PS. Thanks for your kind words on my blog. It means a lot; especially from someone who has been blessed with the love of Mariel.

  11. Pingback: Mariel’s First « Mariel’s Garden

  12. Well done, Bong. I still remember, even back when we were in Grade School as classmates and school busmates, you had been articulate. I am sure Mariel must have had the same personality as you, since obviously you were soulmates. You now have an angel looking after you and your daughter. A representative to where we are all destined to go when our turn comes.

    God bless! Hope to see you again!

  13. Jun Mariano

    I have been following this website for more than a year now. I have more appreciation of you now as a person (my good friend and husband of Mariel). Sam too is very fortunate to have looking after her. A lot of fathers/husbands will break on the weight you now shoulder.

    Will try to see you. Will go home from May 22 till June 1.

  14. Manny Aquino

    Hi Bong,
    Thank you for sharing your blog with me. I dont know if its fate but reading this comforts me as I am also facing the yet uncertain fate of some friends and family who are currently journeying through a life threatening path. It really makes one think about how short one’s life is really on this earth and makes one realize that there really is another stage or future waiting for us out there is some other dimension (for lack of a word). It forces one to rethink about their spirituality…hay naku…believe me, through the years…ang dami ng pinuntahan ang aking beliefs…but thats another story.haha. Life really has its way of molding and shaping us into unexpected ‘wonderful’ evolved beings. Pero, we move on…we go with the flow, di ba?
    Im just glad we are all calm and peaceful in the face of all these experiences because our loved ones who have left us will surely wish us to be joyful while we are still here.
    Although Mariel’s passing was a few years back, I know that she is smiling and proud of you and is very much with you and Sam in the present. 🙂

    1. Hi Manny,

      Thank you for visiting our garden. I still come here almost everyday but I had stopped writing for a while. Not that I have nothing more to share, as I can write forever about my loving wife. Only that I had felt a little guilty dragging people into my grief. But your kind words and expressions of kinship in this rather difficult journey, makes the load a little lighter.

      It’s been almost three years, but the memories are just as vivid as like a second ago. I just try to face them with gratitude, for Mariel truly gave me her unconditional love and greatest gift in little Sam. I’d very much love to see you again sometime to tell you more about my beautiful wife and catch on life and things. I’ll always remember you fondly and pray for you too.

      Take care,


  15. nelia pacot

    ate mareil lagi po ktang pinagdasal sa poong may kapal yaya man ako ni sam peru subrang bait nyo po sa akin hnd na iba ang turing nyon sa akin mahal na mahal ko kau ate hnd ko kau makalimutan .sa tuwing napaginipan ko kau,nagpapamessa ako po ako agad .ate alam ko masaya na po kau sa heaven lagi ko po kau kau pingdarasal ,at c sam kuya bong kasama ko sa pagdasal..maraming salamat po ate sakabaitan nyo po..hnd ko kau makalimutan.lagi ko po kau pinagdasal.i love ate mareil!

  16. Heather

    Hi there! My name is Heather and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a question regarding your blog! Please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com 🙂

  17. Manuel Vicente (Noli) Encarnacion

    For sometime, I have been searching for my college classmates & friends – Mariel Francia, Marivic Ong, Medie Velina, Ronnie Altamirano, Ricky Yabut, Nestor Tan, etc. We did not have any communication since the time we graduated from UST (BS Commerce, major in Accounting) in March 1982. We were in the mid-day section (11am-3pm). After college, I think Mariel went to review for the CPA exams at PRTC, while the rest of us stayed in UST. Today I came across this site, and the photos closely resembled of what I remember about Mariel (fairly complexioned, beautiful, perfect teeth & great smile, simple hairstyle, had not changed much). Also the information about Mariel Francia Bello closely matches what I know about my classmate Mariel – from Tarlac, birth year, profession/industry (although I didnt know she joined the Central Bank after college). While in college, Mariel stayed across UST in a ladies’ dormitory near Dapitan (on that street that goes thru the Dapitan UST gate.

    Would you kindly confirm if she is the Mariel Francia that I knew. If so, I would like to let you know that Mariel was a great classmate and friend, quite reserved, very kind and thoughtful, very focused on her studies, and very religious. We did a lot of school projects together. I guess Marivic Ong was her closest friend in class.

    I didnt know she loved flowers. Perhaps she developed that liking over time, etc.

    Anyways, whether or not it’s the Mariel that I know, I wish that Mariel Francia Bello’s daughter Sam and husband Bong are keeping well, fully knowing that Mariel Francia Bello just went ahead of us all, and is watching above. This blog has been very nicely put together to celebrate Mariel Bello’s love and life — a manifestation of Sam and Bong’s love. We don’t know each other but somehow this site made a connection, and my heart & prayers are with you!

    1. Thanks for the very kind words Noli. The Mariel you knew in UST is our Mariel indeed. I wish someday we’ll meet to exchange a few more stories about Mariel. She is truly too special to ever be forgotten. Best wishes to you from me and my daughter Sam.

  18. ellen marfil

    Bong , this is such a touching tribute to your wife. I also checked the video and saw you in your younger days too…suddenly I “see” you more. Here’s my sharing to you in case no one has shared this with you. It is originally in English, but I thought, the Tagalog version is more heartfelt .

    Does one ever recover from grief?. Perhaps the pain subsides but to many, it is always there somehow. So may I share with you this poem, translated into Filipino by my former boss Marissa La Torre Flores of GMA7.

    Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
    (Huwag Mo Akong Iyakan sa Aking Puntod)

    Huwag kang umiyak sa harap ng aking puntod
    Doon, hindi ako nahihimlay

    Nasa paligid mo lang naman ako.
    Ako ang libong hanging umiihip sa paligid.
    Ang tila kislap sa niyebe
    Ang sinag ng araw sa palayan
    Ang mahinhing patak ng ulan

    Kapag ginising ka ng tahimik na umaga
    Ako ang maingay na pag-awit ng ibong nagmamadali
    Ako ang bituing mahinahong kumukutitap sa langit

    Kaya huwag mo na akong iyakan sa aking puntod
    Sa katunayan, wala naman ako doon
    Narito pa rin ako, kapiling mo sa bawat araw.

    Hindi kita iniwan.

    Important Note/Credit: Mary Elizabeth Frye is listed in the internet as the original poem’s author.

    1. Thank you Ellen for this beautiful poem. I take comfort in these words, “Narito pa rin ako, kapiling mo sa bawat araw,” and know them to be true. I’ve always said that grief is the price of love, and have no regrets paying it in exchange for the beautiful life Mariel had shared with me. God bless you.

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