Rosie’s rosaries



Jullie Y. Daza

From the time she retired as secretary to a string of ex-journalists who found themselves one after the other as VP of Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) public relations office, Rosie Dizon has been making rosaries — bead by bead, chain by chain, five mysteries at a time — for people who don’t own a rosary or cannot afford one.

In the hustle and bustle of Manila on a Friday, she travels from her house in Caloocan City to turn over her rosaries, from 150 to 300 at a time, to the priests in Quiapo church. There she prays for her own intentions as well as those seeking intercession — her complete list is 180 names long. There are also rosaries for cancer patients of Philippine General Hospital.

Rosie’s ex-bosses were Iking Santos and Doming Abadilla. Both of them signed “30” long ago as editors of broadsheets whose names would not ring a bell with today’s PAL passengers and newspaper readers. Rosie’s most recent ex-boss would be Roly Estabillo, currently publisher of Manila Standard and head of a batch of provincial and community writers and editors that they and Roly aspire to organize into a more inclusive, active press club. 

Roly was president of Plaridel which required its journalist-members to have at least 25 years experience. That rule was to be Plaridel’s undoing; fresh blood was needed but unavailable. Young journalists were just not keen on joining, leading Plaridel’s ageing members to accept the reality that Plaridel had become another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

By then, Rosie had long been fully retired from her PAL job. Thank God for her retirement benefits: “Would you believe most of what I get from my pension goes to buying beads for  rosaries. It’s my only luxury.” The rosary she gave me many years ago has red beads, each one as red as a rose. (Someone once whispered to me that Rosie owns a collection of rosaries, each as beautiful as the last one.)

In her early 80’s, Rosie’s a widow and head of a small household of four family members after she lost her daughter Queenie. Just as important as owning a rosary, Rosie’s message is: “We must pray the rosary.”

Her baptismal name is not Rosario, not Rosemarie, but Rosenda.