Fondly called Nanay (mother) by almost everyone who knows her, Victoria is also considered as the matriarch of Magdaragat Philippines, a cultural organization founded by her late son Dante Buenaventura in 1982.
Grateful for her mother’s relatively good health, eldest child Makiling said, “It’s a blessing that she’s still with us…at 100 (years of age), Nanay still has a sharp mind… Seldom does a happy event like this happen to any family.”
Although Victoria sat in a wheelchair throughout the evening occasion, it was only to avoid fatigue. Everyone knew that the lady can still walk with the help of a walker. And she responded with a smile and a “thank you” to each guest who greeted her on her birthday.
Her granddaughter Lorelei Buenaventura, the party’s emcee, described in jest that the birthday party was more of a “roast, not a toast” to her centenarian grandmother. Lorelei revealed that her Lola (grandmother), , made her promise prior to the party, though with tongue in cheek, not to discuss her age – to keep her age a “secret.”
Lorelei did reveal that her Lola was a Michael Landon fan, never missing an episode of Landon’s TV series, Little House on the Prairie. Lorelie said that she grew up watching the TV series and as such, developed a certain kinship with TV star Melissa Gilbert (Laura).
The early years
Victoria and her late husband Zacarias settled in Tayuman, Tondo where they raised their seven children: Makiling (Mely), Minerva, Ligaya, Macairog (died in 2004), Dante (died in 1988), Gil and Aida (Aseneta).
Her children described Victoria as a “whiz” in budgeting and a disciplinarian. She was the homemaker while her husband worked as the property custodian of the Rizal Elementary School.
Zacarias passed away in 1970. A year later, eldest child Makiling immigrated to Canada, and settled in Winnipeg. In 1972, the widowed Victoria joined her daughter. Eventually, the six remaining grown-up children followed their mother.
The beginning of Magdaragat
Victoria’s son, Dante, was a teacher at the Philippine College of Commerce (PCC) and soon after his arrival as a landed immigrant in 1974, he began coaching family members and friends the art of folk and modern dance. Dante’s group became known in the community and was always invited to perform at parties and various social events in the Filipino community. In 1982, he organized Magdaragat Philippines Inc. It then became the official cultural group of the second Philippine Pavilion (now known as the Pearl of the Orient Pavilion) of Folklorama.
Being a former teacher, Victoria gave her full support to Dante and the Magdaragat organization – from the artistic design, sewing of costumes to cooking their food. After Dante’s passing in 1988, Victoria never left Magdaragat, caring for them and assisting them selflessly.
“She was a hard worker and she cared for other people, she also loved travelling – Europe, the Holy Land and Medjugorje,” Makiling said.
Makiling or Manang Mely as she is fondly called, said that she takes her Nanay every morning to her brother Gil’s shop (Floral Designs by Gil) so that, “she gets to talk to other people and see the outside world.” Every night, Manang Mely also picks her up from the shop and brings her home.
“She is still in good shape… and we thank God for the blessing… for her good health.”