Every time we've gone to the Philippines for a visit we've been greeted at the airport by a group of smiling family members who are so happy for us to be there! They drive up from Los Banos in a van, spend a few hours at the casino, and then pick us up at whatever ungodly hour our flight arrives. Almost every time, a face among those we see upon arrival is that of our Tita Joy.
On Thursday, 1 November near midnight, Tita Joy left this world for the next.
One of my first and most vivid memories of Tita Joy is the first time Rex took me to the Philippines for Christmas in 2008. We were living in China at the time so the flight was just a hop. There were so many different parties, but there was a very lively one at Tita Ycel and Tito Ike's house, that involved karaoke (as you do... always), more food than I could imagine, carolers from the nearby church, and Tita Joy dancing in the living room to "La Isla Bonita." To this day that song reminds me of her dancing and singing along on that night.
Tita Joy (actually Jocelyn, but nobody calls her that informally) embodied her name. Always smiling, ready for a good time, cracking jokes (usually in Tagalog), and putting smiles on the faces of those around her. Her Facebook feed is full of posts using "Joy" in some way, always a play on words with her own name. It is also filled with pictures of her posing with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and so many awards!
Yes, Tita Joy lived an extraordinary and in my opinion full life and while she will be sorely missed (and already is) the world is a little better because of her being a part of it. Dr. Joy Eusebio worked in agriculture with University of the Philippines, Los Banos, doing some life-changing work. I don't know all of the details, but I often had conversations with her about her part in researching and testing golden rice (rice modified to produce extra beta carotene/vitamin A), and only last week she posted photos from another conference in which she was recognized for her contributions in sustainable agriculture in the Philippines. Last time we were visiting we were watching the news one evening and an interview with Dr. Jocelyn Eusebio was featured. She was well-respected in her area of expertise. Tita Joy traveled all over Asia as a consultant and expert on agriculture. If I ever saw a post with about 10 pictures of flowers, I could usually count on it being by Tita Joy, traveling to another new area and admiring nature and its beauty.
Thank you for all the smiles, the laughs, the travels, the conversations, and may you rest in peace, Tita Joy. For Rex and me, visits to the Philippines will never be the same. For the world, you have left more than your share of positive marks.