by Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam
(CREAM December 2013-January 2014)
“We are rich in love and sharing,” so declared retired college professor Lilia Montefrio-Hisole to best describe the kind of family she and her husband Salvador Cordova Hisole, likewise a retired associate professor, built in the last 50 years. By the grace of God, the couple produce eight professional children: a doctor of medicine–anesthesiologist, two nurses, a physical therapist and four engineers. Indeed, there is solid truth in the old saying (Chinese perhaps?), “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” The Filipino version is “Kung ano ang puno ay siya rin ang bunga.”
Listening to the snippets of stories surrounding the lives of the members of the Hisole family, one discovers the common thread that binds them — i.e. shared family values. Hard work, respect for elders, trustworthiness, family honor and integrity were among the guiding principles instilled on the younger Hisoles by their elders, who themselves strived to live by the same standards.
Salvador and Lilia are natives of of the town of Sta. Barbara and Maasin in Iloilo, respectively. They first met in a common boarding house in Iloilo City while he was in college at the Iloilo School of Arts and Trades or ISAT (now Western Visayas College of Science and Technology, or WVCST), and she, a psychology coed from the West Visayas State University.
What perhaps attracted the teenage lass to the 21-year-old man then was his enduring sense of industry and dedication to whatever he set his mind on. Their courtship lasted for seven years. On May 12, 1963, the sweethearts wedded in Maasin where they lived thereafter. He was 28-years-old to her 23.
There they taught in a far-flung mountain barangay school that required 14 travel hours on foot along perilous trails to reach their destination. Practically dictated that they live in the mountain on weekdays and return their home in the town proper every weekend. It helped a great deal that extended family support was available, which made the situation less unbearable. Lilia’s parents were more than willing to look after the young couple’s small kids.
This unusual set up on which to build a new family finally took its toll on the young couple, prompting them to decide to leave Maasin for the city. “Para makahalin sa bukid,” Salvador told his wife, “maeskwela kita.”
They packed their bags and left for Iloilo City where they once again found employment in their respective alma maters. It didn’t take long before Lilia earned a master’s degree in Psychology and a doctorate degree in Philosophy, while Salvador wasted no effort to likewise advance in his academic path.
To best provide for the growing family’s needs, the couple worked tirelessly. The main breadwinner of the family was occupied from daytime to nighttime while Lilia taught from Monday to Sunday in her alma mater and in the extension schools of the University of San Agustin. Thankfully enough, a coterie of aunts and older cousins — not to discount Lilia’s own mother — took turns to check on the Hisole children at times when both parents were preoccupied.
That said, Salvador thus focused without distraction on his job and responsibilities. “I was able to provide the children the conveniences and comforts of life. I had no vice except family life.”
Notwithstanding his many professional obligations, still he managed the farmlands in Sta. Barbara and Maasin. The produce of these lands after all sustained the children’s schooling when family income was slow in coming. During the leaner times, Lilia showed no qualms of borrowing money from relatives and friends. “Utang-bayad nga sistema,” she confided. If you have a good reputation of paying on time, people will trust you. Next time around, it will not be hard to borrow money once again.
Eldest of the brood Dr. Ma. Lulu Divinah Hisole-Salinas, a noted anesthesiologist and better-half of Col. Cornelio Salinas who heads the Iloilo Province PNP, remembered having had a rather happy childhood with her siblings. “We were not lacking in basic home conveniences. We had a television, a refrigerator and helpers. I did not feel any trauma kay nag-up-and-down (in economic status) ang amon nga pangabuhi because it never happened.
What they also preciously had was an enriching family life thanks to the resourcefulness of her father. Aside from teaching his youngsters different forms of arts and crafts, he brought them to the farm to enjoy the customary activities in the countryside. Planting rice, harvesting the palay, raising chickens, gathering fruits and vegetables, etc., were done more fun rather than for work, Dr. Lulu recalled.
In the meantime, Lilia was a good mother as best as she could. She took pleasure in constantly rearranging the furniture of the house and attending to her individual children’s needs. Because she had such a large broad to feed, she mastered the art and skill of serving simple meals with lot of nutritious stuff.
“Daw naga-catering lang ako,” she laughed at the memory of her regular table setting. “Each child had a plate laden with food on the dining table. Equal and division (of food) kag sharing ang tanan. Nobody sat for a meal with less or more (food) than the others.
Cognizant of how utterly selfless and hardworking their elders were, the children took their studies seriously. The four who pursued medical-related course graduated from UP-PGH, Western Visayas State University, Iloilo Doctor’s College, and the Southwestern University of Cebu. Three male engineers went to Western Institute of Technology and the other at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
“We consider ourselves fortunate because tanan sila achievers even sang gamay pa sila,” Lilia solemnly said with obvious pride in her voice. “Bisan diin mo pa-eskwelahon and imo bata, kon maalam ma-standout gid ina siya. The genes and immediate environment greatly influence the formation of the child. Bata pa lang siya kinahanglan tudluan na kag i-guide sa maayo nga values.”
In the late 90s, the couple retired from their academic professions. By then their children already led independent lives with thriving careers to boot. Except for Dr. Lulu who stayed in Iloilo City, the seven younger one (with their spouses) settled abroad. Electrical and Mechanical Engr. Saldhi Stephen Hisole is in the Middle East; Mechanical Engr. Amando Lyndyl Hisole is in Houston, Texas; Registered Nurse Lisa Mae Hisole-Dizon also in Houston; Registered Nurse James Friole in London, England; Marine Engineer Ponce in Vancouver, Canada; Electronics and Communication Engr. Salvador, Jr. In Vancouver as well; and finally Physical Therapist Leila Hisole-Ceballos in New York, USA. From them all comes 16 grandchildren.
Salvador and Lilia Hisole with their children, namely, Dr. Ma Lulu Divinah Hisole-Salinas, Engr. Saldhi Stephen Hisole, Engr. Amando Lyndyl Hisole, RN Lisa Mae Hisole-Dizon, RN James Friole Hisole, Engr. Ponce Hisole, Engr. Salvador Hisole, Jr., and Leila Hisole-Ceballos.
Salvador and Lilia moved to the United States following their retirement, living in Texas for 12 years. Not one to sit idly and let the years pass by without accomplishing anything, Salvador worked at the Alcon Manufacturing Company for a couple of years before he and his wife decided to come back home to Iloilo City for good.
Today, the distance in proximity between the parents and their children is no obstacle to hinder anyone from checking one another’s progress. Salvador — the ever wise Hisole family patriarch — continues to challenge them to raise the bar of success. “I tell them, dugangi ang steps (of the success ladder) that you will climb para maka tangra gid ako sa inyo. As long as you are living, never stop to dream and aspire to become even more than what you are now. Ngaa buhi ka pa subong? Because God still has a plan for you.”
Where marriage is concerned, ,Salvador and Lilia are a picture of success and blissfulness. Fifty years of togetherness is something to crow about. Lilia puts in that there wasn’t any major issue to squabble about in their married life; hence the children never saw them in heated argument. Salvador on his part is crystal clear on what to avoid to ensure long-lasting marital harmony. “Kakulangan sa kuarta, sugal, babae, inum, remove these and life is smoother,” he knowingly intoned.
Indeed, love and sharing truly permeated the Hisole family. During their parent’s 50th golden wedding anniversary grand celebration hosted by the eight children in Iloilo City, five sons of the couple claimed on the microphone that they felt they were their parents’ favorite children when they were young. It goes without saying that while growing up the daughters must have also felt special in their parents’ eyes. When asked to clear the air and reveal who among them was the most favored one, Salvador and Lilia only smiled. Of course, treasures are all loved and cherished equally!