by Myrna Aquitania
Celebrating her blessed 95th birthday last Saturday, September 28th was an honor for the children, family, relatives and friends of Mommy Cora as we all call her. Relatives from Wyoming, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, North Dakota, Northern California and Oregon came in droves to pay tribute to this “extraordinaire” woman as what she was described in the video presentation meticulously done by her nephew Hector Poblete from the Bay area. Not to be missed among Mommy Cora’s guests were her friends from Manila Hotel where she was once the personnel director and her students at the Mapua Institute of Technology.
Highly attended and filled to a capacity of around 200 guests at the well-appointed David Dreir Hall in Rancho Cucamonga’s Central Park, we were mesmerized by the FIlipiniana decor brought in by Grace (one of Mommy Cora’s daughters) who specifically made a trip back home to purchase their Filipiniana outfits as well as the authentic decor of abanicos (fans) laid out on the reception table and the colorful salakots (hats) dangling from the ceiling.
Though we thought we arrived promptly at 7 p.m., guests were surprisingly already seated when we came in and after half an hour, Brandon Lim, one of Mommy Cora’s great grandsons recited the invocation, followed by a champagne toast of well wishes hosted by emcee/entertainer Joseph Gelito.
In order to ensure an organized line at the buffet area, each table was announced by Joseph and to maximize time, we were all requested to have our group photos taken with the celebrant while on our way to the buffet area.
The bountiful buffet table catered by an old friend, Neri’s Catering was brimming with a whole Lechon and an array of choice Pinoy dishes such as: roast beef, pancit, lumpiang sariwa, fried shanghai egg rolls, chicken barbecue, sweet and sour fish, chicken relleno, mixed vegetables and desserts such as: the Red Ribbon birthday cake, leche flan, sapin-sapin, yema, fruit salad and sans rival baked especially by niece Evelyn Poblete who drove in with sisters Aleli, Joy and Nina from Northern California.
The entertainment portion started with Joseph Gelito’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s song “When Somebody Loves You,” followed by other songs such as: “Memories,” “ Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” “There’s A Place For Us.” and “Evita..” Collective performances of grandkids included a piano solo by a great grandson, Ryan Dogoldogol and great granddaughter, Pamela Poblete who sang “Ikaw Ang Tanghal Ng Buhay Ko.” Other dance numbers were presented by grandkids: Justin Lim, AJ Dogoldogol, Peter and Jonathan Cruz.
Soon after, a native folk dance was performed by two of Mommy Cora’s relatives, the Dogoldogol (Juliet & Virginia) sisters, followed by one of her sons, Edmonchito who stood to lighten up the guests by describing his “not too perfect” Mom as: “she’s not the best, she’s not perfect, she’s not a homemaker but a career woman and a jetsetter.” Further he said if all of us “didn’t mind, it really didn’t matter.”
The video presentation detailed Mommy Cora’s extensive biography and achievements. She was born in Pateros, Rizal on September 25, 1918 to parents Feliciano Concio and Matea Rosales. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree as well as a masters degree in Psychology from Centro Escolar University. She was married to the love of her life, David B. Cruz who was the former Naval Attache to President Macapagal. As an entertainer, she had unforgettable performances both in community and school events such as dancing like Gypsy Lee Rose or impersonating the comedian Dona Buding. She was once photographed dancing the Rigodon de Honor in Malacanang, greeting dignitaries at various Palace receptions, including a memorable photo with then Cardinal Sin or singing a duet with famous singer, Anthony Castelo.
A woman of many talents, Mommy Cora on the other hand had a fruitful family life along with her husband David and together, they produced six children: Edmonchito, David Jr., Virgilio, Cesar, Lorna and Graciella. Currently, Mommy Cora has 15 grandkids and 15 great grandkids as well.
Having lived a full life at 95, all of us are so smitten and beholden by the strength of this most charming lady not only for her warmth, sincerity and graciousness but for her great sense of humor. We all left the affair feeling priveleged for being invited by our high school classmate Lorna, in honoring Mommy Cora’s vibrant life and wishing her many more birthday celebrations to come!