(First of two parts)
Lita C. Perez-Credi, 74, was content with her life and could not ask for more.
She had everything she wanted. She and her better half, Farid Credi, were healthy.
The most important wish she had— the education of her three children — had been fulfilled.
Maribeth, the eldest, attended Lyceum in Batangas for a degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) and was working as a caregiver in Broussard, Quebec, Canada.
Victor, who was born in Los Angeles, California, United States, obtained a college degree in Chicago, Illinois and had a successful career in cinematography.
Fady attended Concordia College in Montreal, Quebec for a Mechanical Engineering degree and was doing well in his career.
Seated at the balcony of their eighth-floor condominium unit along Boulevard Marie Victorin in Montreal, overlooking the big and placid St. Laurent River, Lita looked at the urban sprawl with neatly manicured grass, fashionable homes and gleaming tall buildings.
She appreciated the clean and modern ambiance, then looked westward at the waning sunlight that created a breathtaking scenery of the sky, its color changing from crimson to purple and almost imperceptibly receding into darkness.
She could not see or hear beyond the horizon but Lita, using reason and logic that she was wont to do as a young girl, imagined it was the other side of the globe.
She thought it could be the crack of dawn or early sunrise there and people were in a hurry to go to work or wherever they were headed for. It could be around 5 or 6 a.m. in Dagatan and Bolbok in Batangas.
Her mother Saturnina Comia came from Dagatan where Lita and her siblings grew up although she was born in Bolbok. Lita and her siblings lived in Dagatan because their grandfather built a house there before their father, Luis Perez, died. Lita was only 15 years old when her father passed.
Her life was what the famed American novelist Nicholas Sparks, author of such best sellers as “A Walk to Remember”, “The Notebook” and “Message in a Bottle”, loved to write about.
Lita had become a jet setter. She travelled to different continents over the course of a year.
She stayed three months in Cairo, Egypt where her family owned a third-floor apartment. (At one time, she also owned a chalet intended for the kids, but she had to sell it as they were not interested in staying in it.)
From Cairo, she flew to the Philippines where she stayed in a house, she owned in Bolbok, five kilometers away from Batangas City.
She took time to bond with her siblings and other relatives, making up for her long absences because of the life she led.
Two of her brothers, Ruben and Herminigildo—seventh and ninth siblings, respectively—had passed on. There were nine children and Lita could still rattle off their names.
From the Philippines, she returned to Canada where she had to stay for six months as required of her being a Canadian citizen. They had acquired the eighth-floor unit in the condo along Boulevard Marie Victorin in Montreal because her son Fadi decided to study and stay there.
The enchantment of Lita’s life was ramped up by the fact that while she was in the three countries mentioned, she tooled around in her own cars. In Cairo, she drove a Hyundai Matrix; in the Philippines, an owner-type jeep; and, in Canada, a Volkswagen Beetle.
As a young girl she used to walk the dirt roads of her hometown or rode dilapidated passenger jeepneys or buses.
What she had become was in stark contrast to what she was in the 1970s when she was already teaching, hoping to provide her mother and siblings a better life.
“Leaving in 1980 for an overseas job as a mathematics teacher in Bodinga Teachers College in Sokoto, Nigeria, was the start of a new life for me,” the way she said hinting at the difficult life she and her family experienced. She closed her eyes tightly and the past came to mind like a cavalcade of events.
At age 20, she graduated from the West Philippine College (WPC) with a Bachelor of Science Major in Mathematics degree, following in the footsteps of a relative, Abelardo Perez, who also taught at the WPC.
With a combination of luck and intelligence, she got her first teaching job as mathematics teacher at the Mabini Academy in Lipa City owned by Don Jose Katigbak.
But she resigned and went to Manila after seven years when she got pregnant. She had earlier met Beethoven Macatangay who was not ready to assume the responsibility of a family man. A medical student, he belonged to a family with a rubber plantation in Zamboanga del Sur.
After giving birth, Lita returned home to teach mathematics as a substitute teacher at the Dagatan High School in Taysan.
“I stayed there for two years, then transferred to Roosevelt College in Lamuan, Marikina,” she said. She was at Roosevelt College when she was recruited to teach in Nigeria.
She was amused that, at her age, she could still remember even the minutest details. She had been like that since she was still a young student at her native Bolbok, the repository of her hopes and dreams, and in Batangas City.
It was probably one reason why young men her age gravitated towards her, in addition to her good looks, fair complexion, clear and pleasant voice suited for radio and television and determination to succeed.
As to why the Cairo-born Farid Credi was attracted to her before he got to know her, she did not have an explanation except perhaps love at first sight. She was his senior by five years. Lita was born on Sept. 3, 1948, in Bolbok; Farid on Dec. 20, 1953, in Cairo.
This just showed that age does not matter in love.