If there’s anyone who’d decline to R.I. P., I imagine it would be the exceptional Joy or Joya, Ma. Josefina to you.
Joya, 61, passed away on Sept. 7 after a six-hour dialysis session followed by cardiac arrest. She had spent the last few weeks of her topsy-turvy, crazy, merry-go-round life checking in and out of Ospital ng Makati, not so much a hospital as a sanctuary. What she dreaded was not dying but losing a leg. Not one to be afraid of anything but being “useless” and losing her Makatizen ID, she could not abide the thought of living anywhere but Makati, with its freebies and discounts and steady ayuda.
When her mother, or stepmother, or foster mother, died during the incumbency of the first Mayor Binay, Joya received a windfall of P10,000 for funeral and burial expenses. Did Joya make up all those stories about her mother? That she was an ex-nun, that she “adopted” Joya to hide her secret sin? The greatest mystery revolved around her biography. She never talked or asked about her father.
As a professional dog breeder, Joya lived in a two-door apartment with a menagerie of dogs, who were, not strangely, compatible with an army of stray cats, and one solitary beloved pig, Petunia, who was as black as sin and twice Joya’s weight. When Petunia passed away, Joya had mass said for her. But no memorial dinner with lechon.
With a family background as bare as Joya’s, “family” meant outsiders. Her driveway was a kindergarten for urchins who showed up for snacks as much as the coloring books. She was a daily churchgoer but Sundays were reserved for lunch with the kids of her best friend from the congregation. Her vices included visits to Chinatown, her cellphones (two), discovering new restaurants, and nagging, nagging her circle of three friends and a priest for a date to eat out.
That priest, Msgr. Manny Gabriel, administered the last rites virtually, with a nurse and Joya’s Yaya Lisette holding her phone close to her ear. “She was able to follow my prayers,” said Monsignor.
Where she is now, there’ll be no rest for Joya. She’ll be busy reuniting with BG, the love of her life, having the time of her life.