Nanay Fely passed away peacefully on May 19, 2019 surrounded by the family in their residence in Daly City, California.
She was born in Binan, Laguna, Philippines on March 21, 1928, the second child of Ignacio De Guzman Hirang and Irene Castrillo. In 1950,
she married Felix Reis Desuasido of Sorsogon Bicol, who had settled in Binan, Laguna after escaping from the Bataan Death March.
She and Felix were hard-working, successful store owners in the Binan Public market.They would later build and operate a rice mill, which was considered the most efficient and advanced at the time it was completed. Aside from being a passionate businesswoman, Nanay Fely was a schooled dressmaker and was also an excellent cook. Her children would swear by her “morcon.”
In 1982, they obtained their U.S. residency status. They would travel between the Philippines and the U.S. many times to make sure they spent time with their
grandchildren and great-grandchildren on each side of the ocean.
She was preceded in death by her son Joel, her brother Ramon, and by her husband Felix. She was loved by their 7 children, Chito, Ivan, Joel (+), Socrates, Israel, Alexis “Echit” and only daughter Joselita; and by their spouses and in-laws: Gloria Mae, Tina, Myrna, Angie, Celia, Ana, Lorna, Cynthia and Onie.
After the death of Tatay Felix in 2001, one year after celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary, Nanay Fely continued to oversee the rice mill. In 2013, her U.S.-based children requested her to stay permanently in the U.S., when she could no longer travel by herself. At age 85, Nanay Fely had lost most of her central vision due to macular degeneration. She spent her last 6 years at Ivan’s home. The family took turns caring
for her. Thankfully, except for her vision problem and dementia, she did not suffer any major physical illness.
Nanay Fely was very proud of the size of her family. From her 4 children residing in the Philippines, she had 13 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. In the U.S., she enjoyed the company of her 3 sons and their spouses, 13 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. She taught the younger kids native songs and regaled them with stories of her life in the Philippines. Despite her deteriorating eye sight, she enjoyed making “pasyal” (gallivanting) with her grandchildren, who drove her around the city.
The family would grieve and miss their happy and caring Nanay and Lola, but they would be comforted by their Catholic faith and by the knowledge that they have done their best to reciprocate her love and her generosity. The family is consoled by the thought that truly “...grief is the price we pay for love.”