By Jay Bolusa

January 13, 2009 – Veronica Matillano Rafols, an icon is gone… gone to the Great Beyond. Here was a Lady herself, from whom many of us learned and whom we imitated. She was the essence of a teacher… always nurturing and sharing her thoughts and knowledge.

I first met her in the early sixties over lunch, when her late husband, Mr. Felix Rafols introduced me to her. Mr. Rafols was a great friend of my father who used to stay with us when he had some businesses in Brooke’s Point, connected with his work with the International Harvester.

Lunch was at the old Rafols building and she would always invite me to stay with them whenever I was in Puerto. I was captivated by this brilliant lady with visions of Puerto Princesa in her mind. When you talk to her you will notice at once her concerned manner of speaking and the penetration of her thoughts.

When DYPR started in June of 1966 at the old Rafols building, I had a radio program “Hoy, Kumare1” from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m., immediately after this program, I would go to the new Rafols Hotel just beside it, where Mrs. Rafols was waiting for me at the dining hall; we would proceed to the kitchen to eat lunch with our bare hands.

Over lunch, we would talk about motherhood and her joys in raising Rey and Roy. Puerto then was just a small town where everyone knew each other, but Mrs. Rafols was the visionary who had dreams of the town being transformed to a great city.

Over those many lunches we had, she imprinted in my mind the Church in San Miguel, the hotel nearby and those buildings beside them. This was at a time when it was grassland over there. She had that remarkable mind to see all these coming. She was the Donald Trump of Puerto Princesa. She made a significant mark in the development of the city. I enjoyed being in her company. She was truly a wonderful person and made a great deal of difference in my life. Over the years, true to her visions the city has developed to what it is today. I heard it first from her.

After I learned of her passing away, I immediately called Rey and expressed my condolences for Roy and him and their families. Lately, a lot of our pioneers from Palawan are leaving us. I guess that is life! We come and go but in the course of our lives we touched the lives of people around us and we never know how much we had influenced that person’s life. Mrs. Rafols touched my life in the most positive way. I could say that for what I am, a part of me came from her… my gratitude and thanks that she came my way.

Mrs. Veronica Matillano Rafols will be eternally missed and will never be forgotten.

Until next week, Ciao and God bless!