Sunday, April 19, 2015

103 year old Jessie Lichauco

We had been scheduled to return to Corregidor following our eleven-day excursion with Valor Tours.  However, when given the opportunity that was presented to us, we extended our stay in Manila by two days, giving us the chance to revisit Jessie Lichauco, now age 103.  Her granddaughter Sunshine drove us to Jessie's home beside the Pasig River.
Here's what we wrote almost six years ago after our first visit there:
Today we visited with Jessie Lichauco, age 97.  Her granddaughter Sunshine took us to visit her in her home.  She invited us for lunch after reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer article about our life on Corregidor.  Her beautiful 200-year-old Spanish-era mansion is huge and is on the Pasig River in Manila.  The lunch was the most complete and delicious one that we have had in our eight months here – not that we are complaining about other meals – but this one was out of this world for a Thursday afternoon lunch. We were invited back to her house, and since she is such an interesting woman – she knew Gen. MacArthur and his wife Jean among many others – we will write about her in more detail after our next visit.  She is delightful, extremely knowledgeable about Manila history, and “sharp as a tack”.  She does not need glasses except to read, of course.  However her hearing is not the best and Sunshine thinks she has her persuaded to get hearing aids.  We believe and hope she will get many years of use out of them.
Back in 2009 our internet quality in the Philippines was so poor that we only included a few pictures with each post.  Since that time internet service has greatly improved.  After our brother-in-law Terry told us he never read our newsletters because "they were too long," we moved to more photos and fewer words, which many if not all of you seem to appreciate.
Here are some of the unpublished photos we took during our June, 2009 visit.
Jessie at 97


The house is something to behold.  Jessie's husband, Marcial, was the first Filipino to graduate from Harvard, going on to graduate from Harvard's law school.  He was Ambassador to the Scandinavian countries, an author, and a big-game hunter, as you will notice in some of the photographs.

Back to the present.  Jessie's granddaughter, Sunshine Lichauco de Leon, is a freelance journalist and producer based in Manila.  You can view her website at:

Once again she took us to visit with Jessie at her majestic riverside home.  We shared afternoon tea and renewed acquaintances.  Jessie's mind is still sharp, and she remains opinionated on everything, especially women's issues.  We are so glad that we were able to see her again before our departure from the Philippines in less than three weeks.
Some of Jessie's wit and wisdom:
  • Kids:  I am on a one woman campaign against calling children "kids."  Your wife is not a goat!
  • Paradise:  The Lord did not promise us Paradise for nothing.
  • Writing:  Writing relieves you of what has been stored up.
  • Prayer:  I am quite content.  In my prayer I say to the Lord, "Thank you for the day, and may I see the dawn."
  • Reincarnation:  If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I wish I could come back as a swan, so beautiful, peaceful, elegant...and sometimes honking!
  • Bikini tops:  I don't know why they bother to wear tops at all!
  • Evolution:  Your ancestors may be chimpanzees, but mine are not!
Now for some photos from our visit to Jessie's house today:

Steve is obviously amused by Jessie's stories

Sunshine and Jessie

We presented Jessie with Steve's book, Honor, Courage, Faith: A Corregidor Story.  Jessie said she's sad that she never made it Corregidor while we lived there - so are we!

 We begin the difficult goodbye

As you might have inferred from the last several photos, Jessie is into long goodbyes.  We promised we'd come to see her the next time we're in Manila, whenever that is.
We'd like to recommend three books for you: 
  • Dear Mother Putnam: Life & Death in Manila during the Japanese Occupation 1941-1945 by Marcial P. Lichauco, non-fiction, reformatted and reprinted by daughter Cornelia Lichauco Fung, available in paperback on Amazon.
  • Mabuhay! by Carlos Quirino and Marcial P. Lichauco, a novel (available as an eBook on Amazon)  When we were at Jessie's house we handled the original typed manuscript!
  • Beneath the Banyan Tree: My Family Chronicles by Cornelia Lichauco Fung, available in paperback on Amazon, tells the stories of four generations of this family.
What an honor to spend a couple of hours with such an interesting and distinguished woman.

Tomorrow we finally return to Corregidor.  Yeah!!!
 Steve and Marcia going back to the Rock

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