By Royanni Miel M. Hontucan
The tenuous angel of death shook hands with Ma’am Virgie as her life’s clock came to a stop last Jan. 23, 2013. The compassionate mother by the blessed name of Mrs. Virginia Montebon to Silliman University would not be diminished by the absence of her physical lingering amongst us.
She was not only the former Director of Silliman University Offce of Information and Publications, she was a genuinely dedicated mother of two and a beloved wife to her late husband, as well. Being in service for almost 35 years, Ma’am Virgie was an acclaimed and dependable colleague to everyone she collaborated with.
Ms. Celia Acedo, a very close friend of Ma’am Virgie’s, recalled her with the most genuine descriptions she could draw from her memories. “She was organized, effcient, capable, well-groomed, fragrant, thoughtful but strict, prim and proper lady. She seemed to be the complete opposite of me, yet we worked well together, or rather, I could work well and happily with her.” The undeniable perfectionism of Ma’am Virgie’s management style was a legacy to her assistants as how Ms. Leonora Cedrome, Secretary of College of Mass Communications recalled her days as Ma’am Virgie’s student assistant.
“We would dust her table and made sure the placement of her things would not be changed because she would notice it. I learned to be effcient in my work here in Silliman, I make sure that in what I do, I should make it perfect because that’s what I saw in her,” Cedrome said.
Ma’am Virgie was also admired when it comes to her serene c o m p o s u r e . “What I can very well remember is that not once did I hear Mrs. Montebon raise her voice or say something abusive to her subordinates, even at their worst times,” Acedo said. Being the premiere example of being thoughtful, it was not in her system to forget people especially during their birthdays. “During birthdays, she made sure that she had something for you,” Cedrome said.
Even after the graduation of her former student assistants, the way she remembers sending birthday and Christmas cards have greatly become nostalgic to all of them. “She was strict with our work but she treated us as her own children,” Blen Kinilitan, College of Law secretary said.
Ms. Basilisa Cual, Head of the Scholarship Section at the Registrar’s Offce reminisced the most beautiful moment she had with Ma’am Virgie. “When we visited her during her last birthday last September 11, she could still remember and identify all of us. The most touching deed that she had done was writing a birthday card for me in shaky handwriting,” she said.
Ms. Gloria Moreno, secretary of the PE department said: “Through my experience with her, I learned to be humble, that whenever I become successful, I should not forget to put my feet on the ground.”
Ma’am Virgie’s generous guidance was proven to be exemplary when all of her student assistants reached the peak of their careers with her help. “Duna pa gani nahimong judge nga sa una student assistant ni Ma’am, si Judge Tirso Banquerigo. Daghan pang uban natabangan si Ma’am ug Atty. Joe Montebon,” Acedo said. (One of her student assistants even became a judge. Ma’am and Atty. Joe Montebon were able to help a lot of people.)
Ma’am Virgie was also blessed with successful children: Atty. Riodil Montebon and Mr. Roberto Montebon, Silliman University Medical Center President.
With the intervals of ordinary moments that come in the story of any person’s everyday life, they even become extra special when shared with someone like Ma’am Virgie. Clichéd as it may sound, it is just to be declared that she wasn’t only just a mere boss but also a trustworthy friend and a second mother. Ma’am Virgie, wherever you might be right now, may peace reign over your longest and deepest sleep and rest assured, you will never be forgotten in the lives of the people you’ve touched.