Grandparents: Devout and Charitable

Both sets of her grandparents exemplifeed the quintessential grand love story.   Interestingly, both her grandfathers passed on at a young age.   Her grandmothers never remarried.  With enormous strength of character, both her grandmothers independently raised their children to be accomplished individuals, one had seven children and the other had eight. “Behind every great man is a great woman”, can be aptly said of both her grandmothers.  

Elisa Angeles Santos was her maternal grandmother; a devout Catholic, she was a dedicated and loving mother to her seven children and was an active social figure in Philippine society.  General Douglas MacArthur and (then-Colonel) President General Dwight D. Eisenhower were frequent guests at ther grandparents’ home.  President Eisenhower’s personal diary attests to the mutal respect the generals had for each other.  Cecille vividly recalls walking into the room of her late Grandma Elisa and saw her sobbing in front of a picture of her husband.  Upset, Cecille ran to her mother and told her what she had just witnessed.  Her mother then whispered to her that it was her grandfather’s death anniversary.  The decades did not wear down her Grandma Elisa’s great love for her husband, General Santos.

Her paternal grandfather was Dr. Jose S. Villacorta, (a blond blue-eyed Spaniard whose family from Seville settled in Manila) was a highly accomplished scholar, an intellectual genius, and the first Filipino malariologist. 

Known as a “woman ahead of her time”, her paternal grandmother was Matea De Sequera Villacorta, a successful entrepreneur and avid traveller.  Cecille’s Grandma Matea was also known for her fine fashion taste, her magnificient jewelry collection and her charismatic  joie de vivre (joy of life).  She often took all her eight children, seven beauteous “mestiza” (Eurasian) girls and her only son, Cecille’s father, on annual trips to Europe.  With her characteristic foresight, she sent her youngest fifteen year-old daughter to the US for her high-school education, which was unheard of in 1930’s Philippine Society.  This daughter is Cecille’s only surviving aunt on her paternal side of her family; she is a proficient golfer and tennis player.  Cecille enjoys a warm relationship with her vivacious aunt.

Her much revered Grandma Matea, was a very pious and charitable Catholic; the order of nuns she supported surrounded her in prayer (along with her family) whilst she received her Last Rites.   She passed on in peace to the sound of the soaring voices of the nuns around her who sang all her Grandma Matea’s glorious favorite Church Latin hymns.