The Indefatigable Esperanza (Inday) Hilado
…friend, sister, mother, secretary, Sales Executive
By Apolinario Villalobos
For most people who know her, she was “Inday”, although, her other nickname was “Pancing”. She was a centenarian, having reached the age of 100 years last July 22, 2015, for which she was honored with a certificate given by the Quezon City government. She died peacefully just when 2015 was bidding 2016 goodbye, particularly on January 14, at exactly, 11:15 AM. The tragic information that I received came from Gel Lagman and Mona Caburian-Pecson, former colleagues in Philippine Airlines.
Inday came from the well-to-do clans of Fontanilla and Hilado of Negros Occidental in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Her parents were Paz Fontanillla and Ignacio Hilado, and she came third in a brood of seven, such as, Clarita, Florita, Hermenia, Gloria, Enrique and Godofredo. Inday chose to stay single her whole life.
According to Tessie, Inday’s niece, who at 74, looks more like a little more than 50, she immediately came home when informed about the demise of her aunt, as she knew that with her were only her trusted caretakers, Rudy Lopez and his wife, Muding (Modesta). Rudy was her loyal driver since 1975, and got married in 1992 to Muding who in no time treated the former like her own mother. Since the first day of her arrival, Tessie practically did everything with the help of her assistants that she brought from America, as well as, Rudy and Muding.
My fondest memory of Inday was our working together as part of the International Sales-Philippines (ISP) Team of Philippine Airlines (PAL) based at the S&L Building along Roxas Boulevard, in Ermita, Manila. We were under Rene Ocampo and later, Archie Lacson, as the Regional Vice-President of the Philippines and Guam Region. However, due to our well-defined function as members of the Sales Team, we were directly under Dave Lim, Assistant Vice-President of the ISP. Inday was handling the special account of manning agencies for seafarers and despite her age, being the most senior in the team, she proved to be just very effective. She reported to the office before eight in the morning, prepared her itinerary for the day and persistently made follow ups on previously requested bookings for her clients. I also used to help her with her weekly and monthly sales reports by typing them for her. She even stayed late when there were social functions to fete our clients, particularly, the travel agents and manning agencies.
The job of Inday was very critical as PAL fares were comparably higher than those offered by the other airlines for the seafaring segment of the airline industry. But motherly insistence and affectionate cajoling of travel agents worked almost all the time. To show her gratitude to her clients, during Christmas she would give them her own personally-purchased gifts, aside from the standard “give-away” items from our office that included calendars. Being in-charge of the Region’s administration, I would give her extra calendars and “give-away” items.
We were close to each other, such that we sat side by side during most of our Monday Sales Meeting. It was this literal closeness that gave her the opportunity to offer me her share of snacks served during the meeting. She was also very conscious about her health, as she ate only small portions of food during mealtime at the canteen. One time, however, during a party, I admonished her for eating plenty of “lechon” (roasted pig).
A terpsichorean in her own right, she would sashay with graceful cha-cha and tango moves around the dance floor during our parties. She admitted to me though, that she was really fond of ballroom dancing, and even confided the information about the pre-war public dances that she attended at Luneta (Rizal Park) every December, when she was young. Her love for life could have given her the vigor that kept her going even at an age beyond seventy which was the last time I saw her when I left Philippine Airlines.
Inday may no longer be around, but she left a legacy founded on love, as well as, diligence and dedication to job. She was unquestionably unselfish and indefatigable in many ways. She also proved that goodwill indeed works, as her staying “single” did not deprive her of families because of her altruistic ways. She had her colleagues in PAL, and who gave her love in return for her motherly and sisterly affection….they, who have become her family until she left the company. Rudy Kong whom she served with utmost loyalty as secretary in PAL, took her in as part of his own company when she finally left the airline. She also had Rudy Lopez, her loyal driver, and his wife, Muding, who stood by her side till she drew her last breathe. She loved them all, and they all loved her… and, just as what the popular adage says… love begets love.