Joji Felix Velarde, the Grand Dame of Beauty Passes On at 73

Tita Joji, always the Beauty Queen

Tita Joji, always the Beauty Queen

Photo courtesy of Julles Roberto

I received the shocking news as we were parking at Eastwood Libis.  Lorraine Schuck, founder of the Ms. Earth franchise texted me this – “Tita Joji Felix Velarde passed away. Her wake is at Mt. Carmel Church, Broadway St., New Manila. Cremation is on Tuesday.”  She apparenty had a heart attack.

I replied, “OMG, I can’t believe it! I met her at the recent Ms. Earth Philippines and she was full of life!”

Ballerina dancing in the Tribute to Tita Joji

Ballerina dancing in the Tribute to Tita Joji

Yes, she certainly was so full of life! And what a woman she was!!!  A beauty queen, a fashion model and a ballerina. I shook my head and thanked God that I had the chance to meet her for the first and last time at the Ms. Earth Pageant in San Juan. It was an interesting meeting, at least for me and my husband Ron.

It went this way: we walked into the organizers’ room backstage and saw a buffet table arrayed with food and three tables set up for special guests. She was this little old senora-like lady sitting at the middle table, smoking.  I did not recognize her at THE Joji Felix Velarde of beauty and dance fame. However,  I did have this base desire to tear away the cigarette from her hand but she looked fierce enough to throw me on the floor even if I was a skyscraper compared to her. So I just chit-chatted with some people that I knew in the room.

WHO IS JOJI FELIX VELARDE? Click here to read the Philippines Star’s article on Tita Joji.

Tita Joji with her darling Shar-pei

Tita Joji with her darling Shar-pei

Joji, ever the gracious hostess, turned to my darling husband and said “Red Wine?” then she proceeded to order the waiter to bring out a glass for him and me. Later on, we all went out to watch the pageant and in the middle of it all, they did this lovely lovely tribute to honor her. I wanted to cry because she was and is such a beautiful person who eschewed the limelight preferring others to shine. Although I think she secretly loved the tribute. The video of her tribute is at the end of this blog. (After viewing the video I realized that I was shown by the camera man  – I’m at 8minutes and 25 seconds – and can’t believe that a little bit of me will always be in her tribute!!!!

So sat next to me in the crowd as we watched the girls on stage. She was so small, like a teddy bear that I wanted to turn to her and crush her in a bear hug but, I remembered the fierce look and decided to just have a couple photos photo taken with her. Will upload them later.

My first and last meeting with Tita Joji :(

My first and last meeting with Tita Joji 😦

I just have to say that she is one of the most wonderful and craziest personalities I have ever met. I don’t know how I can love someone after meeting them only once but Tita Joji, I saw your heart that night and fell in love with you. I’m going to miss your presence on earth a lot and will always remember your spunkiness that night. Please save a spot for me in Beauty Queen Heaven!!!

by Joyce Burton Titular, the blogging beauty queen

Some articles on Tita Joji