My grand-aunt Dolores Panlilio, aka Lola Loleng, passed away last weekend. She was 96.
We all wore bright colors with floral prints at her funeral because that’s the way she would’ve wanted it. Exuberant and full of life. Just the way she had been.
Six things I learned from Lola Loleng, who from my childhood, was the epitome of the Town&Country woman.
1. Always look your best. You never know who you may bump into.
Lola Loleng was always pustura. That’s the word her generation used to use. Always elegantly dressed and made up. She believed that looking good was being respectful to others too, to be pleasing to the eye of the beholder.
She loved being photographed for the society pages and had albums bursting with clippings from the time she was a teenager.
Even when she was sick, she had a hairdresser get her ready every day. Because she never knew who would come to visit.
Her casket was taken to her final resting place in a horse-drawn carriage. She would've loved that. She enjoyed making a grand entrance.
2. Elegance need not be expensive.
Lola Loleng loved a good bargain. She mixed and matched high and low. Many of her colorful, chunky accessories were from flea markets around the world. But she wore them all very well.
She also bought her accessories in multiples, so every time anyone complimented her on any of them, she would send them one of their own.
3. Reach out to people.
It was a running joke that Lola Loleng looked through the obituaries every morning to see who had died, and then she would go and condole with the families at their wakes. Even people she didn’t know.
She believed that people who were grieving were at their lowest and needed to be lifted up and be surrounded by people who cared about them.
4. Never abandon your friends.
Lola Loleng stuck by her friends even when they had fallen from grace. She had friends who were first wives, second wives and mistresses. She was never judgmental. At her wake she had flower arrangements sent by politicians—and former ones—from different sides of the political fence.
5. Be nice to the people who work with you.
Whenever we had parties at her home, the household staff had a party spread of their own downstairs too.
I loved how at her funeral, when the priest called on her immediate family to bid their final farewell, it was her children and grandchildren, and then her nurses, helpers, and drivers who had been part of her family all through the years, who went up to her casket to pay their last respects.
6. Live life to the fullest.
Lola Loleng had celebrated happily with old friends and family members on the Wednesday and Friday before she slipped away on Saturday night. Even she had no idea she was ready to go.
Every Sunday for months before she left, we would have Zumba and dance classes at her house, and then mah jong and poker sessions too. And there would always be lots of spirits. Just because.
Life is good.