Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Losing One of Us: Milette Estrada's Passing

We had lunch for some Maryknoll classmates at my house in January, and we had wondered why we didn't hear back from one of our classmates, Milette Estrada. Since she was a travel agent who organized pilgrimages, we thought she was away on a pilgrimage, and thought nothing of her silence. It was only recently when we heard, in a round about way, that she had passed away. For the longest time, we did not know when and how exactly she died. It was strange how disconcerted we, her classmates, felt being in the dark like that. The feeling of wanting to blame someone lurked about, not full-blossomed, but it was there: how come those of you in Southern California didn't know? How come her sister said nothing to us? Why?  What happened?

Milette Estrada is standing, right

Eventually we learned this:

On December 17, 2014, Milette Estrada (or Carmencita Estrada) was the lector at the 6:30 a.m. Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa. Six priests were present because it was the earliest of the daily Masses. As lector, Milette read the Gospel, and suddenly, when she finished, she fell backwards, hitting her head on the marble floor. Her head was bleeding; she had no pulse; the emergency/paramedics were called. Father Godfrey gave Milette the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. When he finished, the priest said he felt a mild pulse on Milette's wrist and heard her say, "My Lord."

The Mass was stopped and Milette was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced Dead on Arrival.

We also learned that Milette is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial in Cypress at 4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630; tel: 888-204-3131.

Milette Estrada is standing second from right

We, her classmates in Southern California, are stunned and have not fully taken in this tragedy. Milette was one of around 156 graduates of the Class of '68 at Maryknoll College in Quezon City. Like me, she was a Communication Arts major. There were perhaps 50 of us in Communication Arts, and we were a tight little group. Milette, Marily Ysip Orosa, and I had a singing group (called the Rainmakers), and we even performed in some places. One of the class pictures of Milette shows her holding a guitar.

I attended the celebration of her marriage years ago, although unfortunately, that marriage did not work out.

Milette Estrada, right

After that we lost touch with each other for years, reconnecting for our 25th class reunion that was rife with petty quarreling, the undertones of which lingered for years even when the parties involved had already resolved issues. (There were people who kept the gossiping going for years, like beating a dead horse.)

Milette Estrada is standing, left

It was just recently at Tina and Andy Heiter's Palm Desert house, when I saw Milette once again. It was just like the good old days at school, as if time hadn't passed. We just picked up our conversation once again. I had not known, until that time, that some ancestor of hers had left Syria (I think she said Syria or some place from the Middle East), and with one ship went to the Philippines, where the ancestor started a shipping business. I thought that was very interesting and we spent some time talking about that. She also talked of the pilgrimages she conducted. She mentioned that she was a member of a Tertiary Order, which in my eyes, indicated her religiosity.

Milette Estrada, seated, right

Some time after our reunion at the Heiter residence, I contacted Milette to see if she could help arrange for travel tickets for me and my son. She called back and told me it would be cheaper for me to buy the tickets directly from the airline, and she gave me the telephone number. I appreciated that gesture.

Milette Estrada is fourth from left

Those of us in Southern California are planning a commemorative Mass for Milette, after which we will visit her grave site. We are still all in a dither, in fact, and it will take time to assimilate the fact that Milette is no longer with us, that one of us is gone.

Rest in peace, Milette Estrada.

Read also
Remembering Milette Estrada - Memorial Mass and Pictures
Maryknoll College '68 Reunion in Heiter Residence
Heiter Cinco de Mayo Celebration - Maryknoll Reunion in Palm Desert
School life in the Philippines in the '60s
The Schools I Attended, STC
The Schools I Attended, UP and Maryknoll
The Schools I Attended, UCLA

Tags: Maryknoll College, Maryknollers, Milette Estrada, friends, college, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines

This is all for now,

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