Migrant shares secret to a happy life

This is an article which appeared in a regional daily few years back. Allow me to share the inspiring story of this woman who I had the chance to talk to while she was on vacation from Canada.


Recollection of devoted, untarnished public service makes this woman smile. Dominadora Tordecillas vda de Tumanon Basinan, 96, recalls vividly.

“I am very old but I feel I am young who can easily remember the past.” This is extraordinary but this woman is right. Despite her ripe age, she vividly recalls the achievements of a life well-lived.

“I keep on reading. This maybe the reason why I am completely in touch with my experiences.”

Lomen, as she is fondly called, is a public servant of 7 decades who served during the pre and post war and during the Marcos regime. She spent 34 years as an elected official and now 36 years as a community leader.

The second daughter in a family of 3 boys and 3 girls, she was born on June 2, 1914 to spouses Alejo Tordecillas and Anastacia Estrada. Her siblings are Concepcion Tonel, a teacher; Justiniano Tordecillas, a police officer; Florencio Tordecillas, a Philippine Army soldier; Benjamen Tordecillas, father of professionals; and Nenita Tordecillas Roldan, a teacher.

She laughed at the thought of being part of a big family. All her siblings have 10 children each. Her aunts Maxima and Cresenciana Estrada were old teachers who donated lot which now serves as site of Tugas Elementary School. Her grandfather Felix Tordecillas was a Cabeza de Barangay and another grandfather Tenyente Inot was very powerful.

She finished high school at the Aklan Central Institute in 1933. She took ETC but unlike her contemporaries who went into teaching, she went into business.


She was married and widowed at a young age. She was named Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Aklan Central Institute after the death of her husband in 1947. Their eldest son, Robert was only 10 years old. Her husband met an accident along Aklan River  while transporting copra via a small boat to Kalibo. There was no bridge at that time.

Her 4 children in her first marriage are all successful in their chosen field. Robert is married to Gilda Tropa. Gladys T. Yap, a registered nurse is married to Architect Jose Peralta Yap. Ted is married to Irene Javier and Richard, a lawyer is married to Linda Madriaga.

She remarried Alfredo Basinan. His second husband died in 1956. She was widowed for the second time at the age of 35. She has one child in her second marriage, Pangga Basinan, who’s married to Rey Umlas.

She took over the family business and took responsibilities of her children’s education. She was PTA President at  Makato Elementary School for many years when her children went to school. They’re all successful professionals now.


She was elected councilor in 1938 under the term of Alcalde Nicanor Tesorero when Makato was still part of Tangalan town. She served for 12 years as councilor when Aklan was still then part of Capiz. She topped the electoral exercises in Cayangwan, Tugas and Aglucay.

She’s one of the very few lady legislators to have been elected lawmaker in the early 1900s. She served even during the Japanese occupation when Paterno Tirol was Mayor of Tangalan. She served again under Mayor Augusto Legaspi of Makato for another 6 years and continued until the Martial law years.

One of her projects is the establishment of the Puericulture Center.

Among her distinctions as holder of government positions, she was the first woman councilor of Makato when the town was separated from Tangalan. She is one of the few legislators in her time. She is the longest serving woman legislator of Aklan who served for 34 years as Councilor from 1938 to 1974 under two provinces – Capiz, when Tangalan was still part of Capiz; and Aklan, when it was separated from Capiz in 1956.


She left for Canada in 1978 to join her daughter, Gladys Yap. While abroad, she spent for various charities in her hometown and even financed the education of poor but deserving students many of whom are now professionals.

It is very interesting to note that while in Canada, she worked not for herself but for all people she cares with a mission to send poor children to schools. “What I earn, I send it to the Philippines.”


She showed great strength throughout the trials in her life, “God is power within us. Every time tribulations pass by, I look up and pray very hard for His guidance and support,” she said.

“Many times He failed me. But I did never gave up. I always thought that He wanted me to be strong. Two lost marriages were never easy. I lost my husband not because they went away. It’s God’s will they passes away.” “I never got married for the third time,” she laughed, “although I was then young and beautiful.”

Today, Lola Lomen looks at her children and happy in the thought that they’re all God’s precious gifts. (originally published in Panay News, Iloilo City, Philippines)

o0o —————– o0o

IMG_3984THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique.  While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.


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