|Posted by jefp on May 22, 2009 at 11:47 AM|
Joji Felix Velarde
October 4, 1935 - May 22, 2009
It was a sunny afternoon. The November sky was blue with blotches and wisps of white clouds. The afternoon sky was still high and the charcoal shadows and shades of trees were still short. Beneath a tree that lined the pavements of the Finance Building of the National Museum complex in Rizal Park sat an old mestiza, Coke in can on one hand and a cigarette on the other. This was how I met Joji Felix Velarde.
That first encounter in November of 2006 would soon be a twice a year occasion as I entered the world of beauty pageant as a writer for Ms. Philippines and Ms. Earth. Tita Joji as we fondly called her was Vice President for External Relations of Carousel Productions and was the mother hen of the Ms. Philippines and Ms. Earth candidates. She always brought laughter with her during meetings and had many anecdotes and funny stories to tell. Her lightness and her light, she brought with her at all times.
But Tita Jojie was more than a wrinkled smile, fashionable clothes and a hearty laughter. In the recently concluded Ms. Philippines pageant, we paid homage and honored her great contributions not only in the pageant world but more so, to the world. It was an honor to be able to interview her as she told the story of her life. I learned that she was a child actress. At the age of three, she was the daughter of Fernando Poe Sr. in a movie entitled ?Punit na Bandila.? She also became the first Ms. Caltex and Ms. Aviation. She was a prima ballerina, one of the first Filipinas to study ballet abroad. She was a model and a painter in her younger years and a valued adviser of Filipina beauty queens in the Ms. Universe, Ms. World, Mutya and recently the Ms. Earth pageants.
"I am a Filipina, and I want to help my fellow Filipinas to reach their goals" she said with great love. Her eyes reflected the light in her heart as she said this. She molded thousands of young Filipinas, thought them everything they had to know in beauty contests and in a bigger contest we call life. For me, that was her legacy.
A devoted artist and a lover of all things beautiful, Tita Joji remained an epitome of grace and elegance, of beauty and femininity to the very end.