When Anna Sobrepena asked me to write about Mom for the 30th Anniversary Issue of Lifestyle Asia, I was a bit apprehensive. I didn't know what else to say about her that people/writers have not yet written about. After much thought, I agreed. Perhaps this would also be therapeutic in a way. It has been 9 years since she left but it still feels very raw in my heart.
With a week to work on it, I thought I could take my time but on the deadline, I found myself with nothing. Every time I started to write something, I would tear up, wouldn't be able to see the screen. I would eventually stop and delay it. This happened every single time I tried to get something written down.
I took myself to the last few days of Mom in this world. And there I started with my story....
God took her away too early. There was still so much I wanted to learn from her, and I am sure that there was still so much she wanted to do. But what Jul B. Dizon wanted, she got.
By the age of 35, Mom already had five children. It would have been six if one of her daughters, Joan, did not pass away due to bone cancer at the young age of 12. I was six when this happened. I clearly remember my ate's last day on earth. She was on my mom and dad's bed, and the house was filled with so many family members who came to say goodbye. I was by her side and heard my Mom ask, "If you are to be reincarnated, what would you like to be?" Joan said, "A boy."
After this, my Mom told my other sister, Janina, and me to go to the alter and pray. It was her way of shielding us from having to see my sister draw her last breath. My older brothers, Chad and Cedric, remained by her side. A year after her death, on Christmas Day of 1978, my youngest brother Christoffer Jonathan was born.
It was also this year when mom wanted a shop bearing her own name. She was after all, trained by her mother, Paz G. Bañas, since she was 12 years old. Opening up her own shop was a way of moving on and fulfilling her dream of making a mark in the jewelry industry.
She was strict, the scary kind of strict. An hour-long lecture awaited us if she felt we needed some straightening out. When we were teenagers, we would be required to work in her office after school, whether it be making calls for her, doing inventory or typing up a letter. She was training us the way she was trained. Although back then, I didn't much like it because it is not what teenagers did, now, I understand why she pushed us to learn the ways of her business.
In 1984 to '85, she expanded her name and opened Jul B. Dizon Jewellery in Beverly Hills, California. She flew back and forth to Manila to make sure both branches were running smoothly. At the same time, she was a wife and mother raising four teenagers and a toddler without a yaya.
It was in 1990, after moving back to the Philippines with all of us in tow, when the business truly became a family-oriented one since we were now all fully-involved into making it what is it today. We also gained wonderful in-laws, who are substantial to its growth.
However, Jul Dizon's training did not stop there. She continually taught us the importance of integrity, honesty and hard work. She was not only a wife, mother and the boss, she now also took on the roll of being a grandmother. On the side, she worked hard on making the industry globally acknowledged, and at the same time, became a founding member of the Foundation for the Musical Filipino, a force in People's Patriotic Movement, and a silent philanthropist.
More than a dozen local and international design awards later, Jul B. Dizon Jewellery is now located in three 5-star hotels/resorts, namely the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel and The Peninsula Manila and Amanpulo Resort in Palawan.
Sadly, she developed cancer. I vividly remember watching over her in the hospital. When she would wake up, she would ask me to get paper and write down a list of names that we, her children, should thank for supporting and patronizing her jewelry shop. She made me repeat this list out loud just to make sure she didn't miss anybody before she fell back to sleep.
One night, she kept asking me if I saw the number three and eight written on the wall of her room. I repeatedly said no but tried to make sense of these two numbers with her. Perhaps, it was because it had numbers from my dad's birth year? Maybe it was because they were her favorite numbers? We couldn't figure out why she constantly saw these numbers in her mind. The answer was then realized by all of us when at 3pm of December 8, my mom, drew her last breath. She was 66 years young.
Often, before I sleep, I would think about our relationship. Yes, she was a strict boss but she made sure we experienced everything a wonderful life had to offer. It was her rule to not work on weekends because family time is a must, not just for her family, but also for her staff. She and my dad bought a mini bus so that when we go out of town, we are all in one vehicle. She filled our memory banks with so much love and compassion. Just before I shut my eyes, I realize why she trained us at such a young age. It was because she also left us early.
Yes, it may have been too early, but we were prepared. Jul B. Dizon knew what she wanted. She always got what she wanted and that included having us continue her legacy even after she was gone. And that, is exactly what she is going to get.
Thank you Lifestyle Asia, specially to you Anna, for always paying tribute to
Grab your copy now!