Mommy Elvie : The Life That Rocks Your Boat


By Jon Verzosa


Who has a perfect life?


I don’t.  And I certainly hope you don’t have one or I’d be selling my soul to the devil to exchange my life with yours.  Truth is, through the years, I have come to love my life the way a father would love his psychotic son.  After a tumultuous time constantly looking for some sense in this life, I simply stopped asking.  This is probably why, amid all the imperfections and flaws of my life, I managed to put a smirk on my lips – if that would be some quirk of fate then let it be – because I have wasted a good amount of time worrying rather than actually living my so-called life.


When I met Mommy Elvie Villasanta that very hot afternoon for a quick talk, I was in the process of degenerating to my wild submissions.  I woke up cranky, inviting a depressive monster to chew my day away and my friend (name withheld) who was supposed to meet me in Makati changed venues on the last minute and I had to walk five blocks under the blistering Ayala sun to grab a bus that would transport me to Ortigas.  I was soaked with sweat and even more soaked with my own bullshits to boot.

Writing this now, I am much enthused with telling a story that should stir my current negativism and somehow ignite once-canopied realm of living a life.  An unfeigned life just as much as Elvie Villasanta has.  A life of comedy – a life of effervescence – a simple life dedicated to career, wifehood and being a mother.


We sat and talked.  My recorder was on but as I am writing this, I needn’t not to open it to reassess what went on a couple of weeks back.  Her words are inculcated vividly.  I simply had to restore the images as I spoke to the mother of comedian Ariel Villasanta, and the aunt of showbiz icon, Joey de Leon.  Both of whom admitted that they’ve gotten their comedic skills from this 84 year old woman sitting next to me.


“What is comedy?” I asked.


“Life itself,” she began, “We’ve all been paralyzed with everyday challenges and somehow forgotten that we all just need to laugh at it!”


Her statements were sturdy and I was enjoying myself.  She continued, “Every time I am asked by reporters what’s my secret to life, I always tell them to simply enjoy it and to be kind to yourself, meaning, if one knows how to forgive someone, then it is also wise to forgive one’s self.”  She continued, “I have state of mind that believes in tradition but also has this belief that everything is changeable and that we all commit mistakes.”


Mommy Elvie had a lengthy career in the government back in the days.  She began as a stenographer at 21 and has rubbed shoulders with political friends in the likes of Justice Davide and so on.  She worked for the COMELEC and told me that she learned a lot from that, especially in dealing with people and their idiosyncratic grooves, “We all have problems,” she said, “The entire country is filled with problems but I guess as Pinoys, we have suffered long enough to know that we can always laugh at our problems.  We have mastered that.  I have lived this long and has outlived presidents who administrated our country.  I am not sure, but I think I have survived 6 (six) presidents already! And the greatest lesson there is to survive!” she mocked, chuckling to her might and covered with much-needed angst that in fact won her an award as Inspirational Artist recently.


When I asked her if she was a political person, she said, “No. Politics is close to me but I am not close to politics.  I even have relatives who are in public office, but I’d rather be me.”


“What is love to you?  And how was your marriage like and raising your only son, Ariel?”  I asked.


Diyos ko!” she sighed with a smile, “Like I said, I am all for tradition.  The tradition that doesn’t just bind the family but keeps the family together.  Marriage for one is something that you fight for.  It shouldn’t be ended when problem arises.  Problems need to be solved and with everything that comes out of marriage like jealousy, financial challenges and the like, partners should learn how to adjust to it, work out the problem and DEAL with it.  Your love for each shouldn’t be compromised by the demands of life.


When Bienvenido, my husband, was alive, I would tease him and ask him, ‘Who runs the family?’ and he would say outright, ‘You!’ but in reality we both run it together.  I had a good marriage.  A very sweet one.  In the late 50s and the 60s, we both painted the town red! We loved dining out and being with friends.  Ariel, on the other hand, being the only son, had his own wicked time but generally was a good boy.  He studied well and had chosen a career path that he truly liked.”  Mommy Elvie’s son Ariel Villasanta is a TV/radio personality, comedian, actor/producer and a businessman and married to real-state mogul, Cristina Decena.


“Love, I guess, especially in marriage, should have friendship and trust and tons of laughter.  The kind of life that rocks your boat and it does rock your boat when laughter in any relationship exists!”


I was half-numbed listening to her, a comedienne at that, ranting about the serious side of life.  Or maybe it is not that serious after all.  In many ways than one, it may have been my calling to do the interview that day to rid of my own dramas and to laugh at myself for simply – being me.


“Are you religious?”  I asked.


“Yes.  I am devoted to novenas and my favourite saint is Saint Anthony.  Dahil siguro makakalimutin ako at madaling mawalan!  I call on to him to make me remember where I lost a thing that I am looking for.  And it does show up!” We both laughed.


“Mommy Elvie, what can you impart to all the readers out there who want to learn something about life?”  I asked.


“Well, life is a gas, so again, LAUGH!  It will make everyone reach my age of 134 !” She beamed and continued, “It is also all about patience.  There was a time in my life when I was down because my husband and I can’t have children.  Ariel was born when I was almost in my 40s but we were patient.  Everything happens at the right time.  God is good all the time and if it takes patience to live as long as it did, then I guess that’s the best life lesson that I can ever pass on.”


“How will you be remembered?”


“I should be remembered as someone who believed that love can be revived.  In my marriage I learned that when you say through thick or thin, that also means knowing what’s in between that phrase.  Life is stressful as it is but you just have to believe in love.  It may have more than four seasons but love is always around.  It is changeable but it is there.  It can be recycled.


Also, I want to be remembered as a celebrity, who, even in her 80s can still do her own eyebrows.”


A few minutes after the interview, my friend who had around the metropolis (name withheld) and I discussed in random his penchant for Korean telenovelas and declared that they make the best storylines, the best biting wit and plot twists, and they know how to formulate migratory subjects that their soaps are being watched all over Asia, if not the whole world.  I agreed.  My friend ranted on about his current favourite, Pure Love, and how much its posthumous trinket serves to celebrate life in a form of a ghost who wants to become human – and a human pessimist who would rather die because of world-weariness.  Where is Mommy Elvie here?  I am not really sure, but somewhere in between life and being an inspiration to life itself.


So I figured I should be ‘that’ as well.  Well, at least, for now.


MOMMY ELVIE @18, the third season will air back on January 28, 2012 on GMA NEWS TV CHANNEL .


The Writer with Mommy Elvie

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