Farewell Maria Myrna Sese Panlilio, Bb. Pilipinas 1964
Today, Sunday, July 19, 2009 is the final day of the wake of our first-ever Bb. Pilipinas winner, Maria Myrna Sese Panlilio who died of cardiac arrest at the age of 66. Myrna represented our country in the Miss Universe Pageant in 1964.
Since early Saturday morning, her family has been receiving non-stop, a stream of visitors at the Capilla del Senor in Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes, Makati. Myrna lies in the same room that held the body of another Bb. Pilipinas Universe winner, Chat Silayan, who succumbed to colon cancer a few years back.
My husband Ron and I were warmly welcomed by Myrna’s sister Lou who was with her when the cardiac arrest happened. Lou says it was so quick and unexpected. They were just at the Makati Medical Hospital for a general check-up. Everything was going fine until Myrna complained of a stomach ache then she just keeled over backward and crashed to the floor. All hell broke loose as doctors and nurses tried desperately to revive her but to no avail. They could not bring her back.
Her other sister Teng said that Myrna was one of the warmest people and had so many friends. The first night of her wake, the room was packed to the rafters with all these people who admired and loved her dearly. They expect tonight’s service at 7 to also be standing room only. Her remains are scheduled to be cremated tonight at 9pm.
I also got to chat with her daughter Mitzi Borromeo (whom I had the chance to work with for a season at ANC years ago). Mitzi told me that she and her siblings did not really take their Mom’s beauty queen thing too seriously and were so surprised when beauty queen fans started popping up with trivia on and photos of Myrna’s beauty queen days. I could see the strain of loss in Mitzi’s eyes but she carried it with a brave and bright smile and chatted with me about many things. Mitzi, who is currently doing NGO work, must surely take her strength from her Mom.
I did not really know Maria Myrna Sese Panlilio but as I stood before her lonely white casket I felt like we would have been very good friends. Her beautiful face glowed and I could tell that she was at peace at last. I looked around the Capilla hoping to see some of her old black and white beauty queen photos, but alas, there were none. However, there was a current photo of her and another with her late daughter Patricia Borromeo who passed on several years ago (in 2003 to be exact) after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymmphoma. At the foot of her casket stood a big canvas painting of Myrna and Patricia in elegant gowns.
And so I bid farewell to our first-ever Bb. Pilipinas beauty queen. A woman of grace and beauty who loved God, family and country with all of her mind, body and soul. Myrna, I’ll be especially sad next year at the Bb. Pilipinas pageant because I won’t see you in the first seat of our beauty queen row. But I’m hoping they leave it empty – I don’t think any other beauty queen would be able to take your place, EVER!
by Joyce Burton Titular, the blogging beauty queen