Maria Penaflor Baloy was one of thirteen children born to Macario and Theodora Penaflor on August 28, 1925, in the town of Poblacion in Masbate Province, Philippine Islands. Purisima (or Puring) Penaflor Aster was her identical twin who had four children like Mom. Early on we would mistake one for the other! Mom's father was a superintendent of schools for the province of Camarines Sur. Her mother was a stay-at-home- mom. With that many children, even with a maid to assist which was not always the case, Grandma or "Lola" Duday had plenty to do....
Maria Penaflor Baloy was one of thirteen children born to Macario and Theodora Penaflor on August 28, 1925, in the town of Poblacion in Masbate Province, Philippine Islands. Purisima (or Puring) Penaflor Aster was her identical twin who had four children like Mom. Early on we would mistake one for the other! Mom's father was a superintendent of schools for the province of Camarines Sur. Her mother was a stay-at-home- mom. With that many children, even with a maid to assist which was not always the case, Grandma or "Lola" Duday had plenty to do. I understand that she ran a little mom & pop store on the street in front of the house to make extra money. From what Maria and her mother and siblings later related to us, life was not without the typical challenges for large families especially growing up in relative poverty around the era of World War II.
Mom warmly reminisced of walking many kilometers to and from school each day when we ourselves would not want to attend class. "Education is very important for your future," was a common saying around the house. Mom herself went on to finish nursing school and become a registered nurse in 1951. She did nursing till her 80s working mostly in the Intensive Care Unit and later in convalescent homes. Nursing was her passion, or maybe I should say helping people to be well. Our Mom was recognized as one of the top nurses in her field throughout the length of her career. Later she became a head nurse. She received consistently excellent evaluations in every hospital both military and civilian where she was employed. The many awards she received attest to this fact. Another favorite pearl of wisdom was: "Always take care of your health - it's your prized possession." We would hear this whenever we failed to eat our veggies or were discovered eating too much junk food, or burning the midnight oil. It's a good saying that I have expanded to apply to both spiritual health as well as physical.
Mom met Dad, Guillermo L. Baloy, a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, in Manila when she was already practicing nursing. Dad once asked our uncle Dusey, upon first meeting his newlywed Puring, if she had another sister as nice as her. "Here is her twin Maria, tada!" Dad moved quickly. They were married in Olongapo in Zambales Province on July 3, 1951. This was the answer to Mom's ambition expressed in her nursing school year book, which was to be able to travel. "Marry a Navyman and see the world!" Mom became a U.S. citizen in 1957. Over the next 20 years of Dad's Navy career, we moved back-and-forth from the Philippines twice and lived in California in San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, China Lake, and Orange, and in Beaufort, South Carolina.
After retirement from the Navy, Dad always longed to live in the Philippines or at least in Guam because of its proximity to "home." But the rest of the family, including Mom, wanted to remain in California. With one last free move of our household belongings by the Navy, we settled half-way in Honolulu, Hawaii. The folks had already put a down payment on a house there and Mom got a job at Tripler Hospital, when we pulled up stakes to return to the "mainland." Dad finally retired from active service in December 1966 on the Monterey Peninsula, living first in Marina for two years and then Seaside, where the folks have lived ever since. Prior to their departing to their present residence in heaven, Dad and Mom did live for a short time of five months and one-and-a-half years respectively in San Diego with Gil Jr and Maricar. Mom loved Dad very much. But as all mothers she had her eye to the nest. She was concerned about where a better future would be for us, especially for her children.
Now having said that, her twin's being in California no doubt had a contributing factor in that decision. You can't separate twins (that easily, that is)! The twins had 10 other living siblings through most of their lives. But Tita Puring always won out when it came to frequency of visits and reunions by Maria. For the lion's share of their retirement years, the two families lived within a stone's throw of each other on the Monterey Peninsula. One special hobby Mom and Dad shared was fishing. Dad catches the fish and Mom joyfully cleans and cooks them! They had a system during salmon season. Because there was a limit of two salmon, Dad would call Mom on the ham radio: "Maria, put on your ears, put on your ears!" That means she would drive down to the Coast Guard Pier with a cooler to retrieve the two salmon, so Dad can head back to the hot spot for two more! Recently, Mom delighted to witness a humungous catch I made down Mexico way with some friends. "Wow, look at those fish!" I opted to clean them this time.
There are so many things to share about Mom which would be better told by myself and my siblings and others in person. Let me, however, summarize this remembrance of Mom with a short write-up which I did several years ago for a newsletter of my former company Albertson's Market about a favorite person in my life.
I wrote, " This is an old picture of Mom holding my oldest son Ezra. As a registered nurse of many years, she had to be on hand for his birth. Mom is an incredible lady who has a tender, giving way to practically all she meets, beginning with her four kids. I can't say there was even a moment when she wasn't there for any of us in time of need. She came herself out of a big family of 13 children growing up during Japanese occupation in the Philippines. Difficulties have made her a strong and loving person, and not the other way. I thank God for my Mom."
Mom was preceded in death by Dad, her husband of 62 years, when the Lord took her home to be with Himself on March 4, 2015, at 89 years. She is survived by her son Gil Jr. and wife Maricar, and grandsons Ezra and Ethan, of San Diego, CA; her son Mark and wife Tammy, their sons Garry, Gerald, and youngest Mark Jr. of Salinas, CA; her son Caesar of San Diego, CA; and her daughter Evamarie of Seaside, CA, and granddaughter Heatherlyn Lopez, husband Jose, and great-granddaughter Jaylyn, of Eastlake, CA. She is also survived by her siblings Paquita, Steve, Manuel, Teodora, George, Fe, Jerry, and Bobby and their respective families. She will be missed by her family, relatives, and friends.