In honor of my librarian mother

Published August 6, 2020, 9:23 PM

by MB Lifestyle

Teresita Abanilla Mariano joined Manila Bulletin in 1949, leaving only in 1988

By Gary Mariano

REMEMBER HER Teresita Mariano

My mother was born Teresita Abanilla on May 6, 1931 in Pagsanjan, Laguna. She died Aug. 4, aged 89, at home in Parañaque. In 1956, she married my father, Crispin Mariano, who died in 1976.

My mother was not a trained librarian. She was fresh out of high school when she joined the Manila Daily Bulletin in 1949 as a working student. 

Her father, Getulio, was the company cashier. The then-publisher, Carson Taylor, did not find anything wrong in having family members working together.  In fact, according to my mother, Taylor encouraged it. 

At first, she did a variety of things. She even talked of a stint in the clinic, taking blood pressure and giving injections, before Philippine law required that those functions be performed by licensed nurses. 

Taylor later assigned her to the “library,” which journalists called the morgue. Her first boss was Dita Roseburg and later Susie Aunario. Mom took over when Tita Susie (who is 102!) retired in the late 1970s. 

TOGETHER The Mariano Family

As a child, I remember the Bulletin at the Shurdut building (now occupied by DOLE). The basement housed the typesetting machines. 

My mother did not study library science, although it was during her term that her office started hiring Library Science graduates. Two of her assistants moved on to editorial/photo positions: Willie Caballes became assistant sports editor and Albert Garcia now occupies the post once held by his father, Mang Louie

Editors and reporters—she mentioned the names of Kit Tatad, Bing Torres, Tony Zumel, Jake Macasaet, Carmen Perez; later I saw Pat Gonzales, Ben Rodriguez, Pol Batalla, Jess Bigornia, Jun Icban, Al Mendoza, Letty Magsanoc, Domini Torrevillas—visited the library for the morgue, merienda, and all kinds of advice. 

Nobody called my mother Boss or Ma’am because she rose from the ranks. A founding member of the Bulletin Employees Union, she was plain Tess, Ate Tess, and later, Ninang Tess. 

PSALM 91 Gary Mariano (right side) with his mother Tess

I was amazed at how many young people at the Bulletin called her Ninang.

The fact that she stood sponsor at the wedding of so many co-workers is my only indicator of how her younger officemates must have regarded my mother.

My mother completed high school at St. Theresa’s College (her fellow STCM alumnae at the Bulletin included Letty Magsanoc and Ethel Soliven-Timbol) and a commerce degree at Far Eastern University.

She started in 1949 when Mr. Taylor must have been in his 70s. She was there when Taylor sold the paper to Hans Menzi in 1957. She was there when President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 and personally approved the name Bulletin Today. She was there when Gen. Menzi died in 1984 and was succeeded by Emilio Yap. She was there when Mr. Yap renamed it Manila Bulletin in 1986. My mother retired in 1988.

My mother is survived by a brother, Getulio Jr., and sister, Carmelita. Another brother, Vicente, who sold advertising for the Bulletin until the 1990s, died in January. Lyne Alano-Abanilla, former Bulletin advertising AVP, was her sister-in-law. My sister Melinda (husband, Ricardo Domingo), brothers Jody (wife, Bernadette Quintana) and Anthony (wife Annette Cruz), my wife Bel and I, together with mom’s 13 grandchildren—Marla (husband, Macky), Nikki, Gino (wife, Kriz), Lorenzo, Justin (wife, Carla), Nadine, David, Maggie, Annika, Cara, Miguel, Regina and Bela — and month-old great-grandson Gab will miss her terribly. 

She loved to pray Psalm 91.

Gary Mariano was a Manila Bulletin correspondent in the 1980s. He is an assistant professor at De La Salle University Manila, teaching Communication Arts. He credits his early interest in journalism to the stories his mother told him about her colleagues and bosses. The family decided to have her remains cremated and to hold a service at a later date.