Josephine Petilla (nee Lagumbay) was born March 5, 1918 in Hinundayan, Southern Leyte, Philippines. She passed away peacefully at Chilliwack General Hospital on May 18, 2004 leaving behind her only offspring, Winda (Richard) Redding; an only grandchild Christl (David) McCracken; her beloved great-grandsons, Logan, Duncan and Evan; three younger sisters, Catalina (Bernard) Clarito, Concordia (Delfin) Alpuerto and Julita (Alfredo) Mate; and numerous nephews and nieces. Some reside in germany and the United States with their families and a few nephews are engaged in peripatetic global journeys.
Josephine was Ana’s and Prospero’s fourth of eight children. She was a straight A student throughout school and this accomplishment prevailed over her professional life. Her father moved the proverbial heaven and earth to make higher education possible for her during the great world wide economic depression. An elder sister lived in a dorm run by the Irish Sisters of Mercy while she attended their private school. When Josephine’s turn came she continued her education in considerably less comfortable surroundings.
Josephine was completely devoted to her husband Lupo, whose demise in March of 2000 broke her spirit and spun her into a depression from which she didn’t fully emerge. Their decisions were made together, no matter the issue’s significance. She managed the family finances adeptly, combining frugality without being miserly; her generosity to family members was manifest. Children of the Depression survived knowing the value of money in ways the current generation can’t begin to understand. In the latter part of their lives she and Lupo aided the most needy members of the town without fanfare.
With great reluctance the Petilla’s left the Philippine Islands and her job as the school district coordinator amidst an air of uncertainty and foreboding in the aftermath of the declaration of martial law. They settled in vancouver until retirement, when they sold their house to live in bucolic Fraser Valley. At that time, Josephine’s rheumatoid arthritis of the knees put a stop to their yearly excursions to European destinations. That year, the Petilla’s started their annual trip ‘home’ to the Philippines where they stayed for months at a time over winter. The best of both worlds.
Religion was an integral part of Josephine’s life. Her involvement with church and its efforts to introduce methods designed to improve living conditions of the town’s inhabitants was very much a priority. During the Scarboro Mission Society’s era when Canadian priests worked in the Philippines and made Hinandayan their original HQs, Josephine and Lupo were both tapped to help as liaisons. The co-op and credit union were introduced to the town and eventually to the other provinces that expressed interest. She was asked many times to do the presentations, as well as to oversee training sessions at these provinces. Often it involved travel at the crack of dawn and at times, nerve fraying island-hopping in small aircrafts. But nothing gave her more pleasure than basking among family. One of her biggest disappointments was not being able to go back to the Philippines since her stroke to see her surviving siblings and family again.
This was never felt more acutely than when a sister nine years her junior passed away last August. Josephine became more and more soft-spoken as she mellowed with age and contended with technological advancements and disappointing societal changes. She would concur that she could not fully grasp the mystery of cyber space and light-speed communication. She’d look at a PC screen sent via email and marvel at the technical work that made such a feat possible. With much undisguised anticipation, she read all family email messages which were printed for her. The increasing physical limitations gradually changed her activities until the day when she softly stepped over to the eternal realm. It has been said that when we leave this earth, the love that we have given and received remains to light the lives of those we touch – each memory a brightly burning candle. Josephine left a dazzling array of light.
Prayers will be held on Friday, May 28, 2004 at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 8909 Mary St., Chilliwack. A funeral mass will follow at St. Mary’s Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 10 a.m.. Fr. Eugenio Aloisio Celebrant.
McLean’s Funeral Services in care of arrangements.