Mr. & Mrs. Eliseo & Eleanor Zia
It was love at first laugh. Or so it seemed to him, the quiet type who found her too lively to ignore. Her joie de vivre was a force of nature that filled everything around her, including the silent longings of his heart. His dignified silence bespoke of a heart that cared ever so deeply.
(Never mind how her black pencil skirt shaped her legs, or that his abs showed through his shirt. Forget about the glitter in her eyes when she smiled at him, or how his back muscles rippled whenever he turned away from her. Levity aside, as she loves to put it, this is a wholesome love story.)
Mr. and Mrs. Eliseo and Eleanor Zia met at one of Silliman’s dorms. Exactly where, they no longer bother to recall, only that sometime in 1974, fate first tangled their skeins during a meeting of dorm managers. He was lord of Molave Cottage, she the matron of Occidental Hall. They came for their weekly meeting, but instead found themselves being drawn to each other.
But destiny zigzags to the hum of its own whims and fancy, and Ate Ely eventually married the more gregarious Pastor Generoso Jadloc, a mutual friend, and bore him two sons – RenClar and Joshua. All the while Sir Ely was a close friend of the family, and even became the de facto Dad of the kids when the pastor passed away in 1983. He made the void that the latter left behind feel less empty and, despite having no previous spell as husband or father, his winning ways with the kids won the admiration and eternal gratitude of Ate Ely.
They tied the knot seven years later. Theirs is a union whose roots run deep and sustained by a common faith that naturally adheres to Silliman's motto of Via, Veritas, Vita. Sprung from an eternal well of mutual affinity and respect for each other, it need not defy the stars, but still must bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
And the arrows did come. Thrice in a row. In 1990, 2000, and 2011. In the form of a debilitating medical condition that sent Sir Ely to the emergency room. And every time Ate Ely stared at the speeding shaft without blinking. To this day, Sir Ely always comes to the verge of tears when he talks about how Ate Ely cast everything else aside to be by his side throughout each ordeal.
Most members of the Silliman community know them as Sir Ely and Ate Ely, but close friends call them Ely Boy and Ely Girl. Both started out as Guidance Counselors while being dorm managers, and eventually rendered varied services in their long careers in Silliman that have touched the lives of countless students and colleagues. Many high school alumni would remember Sir Ely as the kindly teacher who taught them gardening, carpentry and ceramic-making, while those in College would fondly recall Ate Ely’s seeming omnipresence in their campus affairs as head of the Student Housing and Scholarship Division.
Sir Ely retired in 2004, Ate Ely in 2011. They now live in their new home in Banilad, happy as ever, but still as quiet and lively as the day they first met. And still very much in love.
For this week, to add zest to Valentine’s Day, we interviewed Ely Boy and Girl for a closer look at what makes them tick.
Describe yourself in three words.
Ely Girl (EG): Jolly. Person-oriented. Helpful.
Ely Boy (EB): Honest. Industrious. Considerate.
What is your mantra in life?
EG: Live simply and make the most of life for self and others.
EB: In doing things, be sure that nobody is hurt.
What makes you laugh?
EG: My silliness.
EB: Her laughter.
What makes you cry?
EG: Seeing estranged family members – or friends and lovers – getting reunited.
EB: Seeing the aftermaths of tragic events.
What is your favorite time/day of the week?
EG: Night and Sundays because I can read with less distractions.
EB: Mornings and weekends because those are the times I spend tending to my garden.
What do you love doing when not working?
EG: Gardening. Cooking. Reading.
EB: Gardening. Doing fine woodwork. Solving Sudoku.
What is your favorite hangout in the university?
Silliman Beach and Camp Lookout.
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
EG: Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts
EB: (the late) Fernando Poe, Jr.
Tell us a fact about yourself.
EG: I’m not computer-savvy.
EB: I still do sit-ups at 4:30 in the morning.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
EG: Patintero on moonlit nights.
EB: Playing the “kasing” (wooden top)
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
EG: Reading a book.
EB: Tending my garden.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
EG: I can easily adjust to different kinds of people.
EB: I still exercise regularly.
What songs best describes YOU and the life you have now?
EG: “Top of the World” by the Carpenters
EB: “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray
What is the first thing you do after waking up in the morning?
EG: Say a prayer of thanks, then feed my pets.
EB: Turn on the radio, then do my exercise routines.
What is your idea of a family?
EG: Happy and harmonious.
EB: People living together in harmony.