Luisa Coloma

Luisa Antolin Coloma

Friday, August 19th, 1921 - Monday, December 21st, 2020
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No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart, so it is only fitting that on the day our beloved Luisa went to be with God, the Christmas star appeared in the sky. Just like Luisa, the star shined bright, and from the inside out. It brought joy, comfort, and togetherness to people who were able to experience its beauty. On December 21st, 2020, after 99 beautiful years, Luisa, of Wailuku, HI, passed peacefully in her granddaughter’s arms as she sang “On Eagle’s Wings” at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Luisa, also lovingly known as Feling to her peers, “Mamang” to her children, and Grandma or “Ama” to anyone she considered family, was born on August 19, 1921, to Emerenciana Reyes and Romualdo Antolin in Camarao, Narvacan, in Ilocos Sur in the Philippines. Her mother passed away when she was young, so she learned very early on how to take care of a home, work hard for everything, and how to rise above her situation and be stronger than anything she went through. Because of circumstances during her era with the war, she was only able to finish elementary school, but she was a determined young girl who quickly learned the wisdom and work ethic that books cannot teach. Some may remember her as having a tough exterior and personality, but it was just a façade to hide her huge heart. She was the fifth of seven siblings: Aquilino, Luis, Reymunda, Eusebio, and two half brothers named Hermehildo & Pido.

During a vacation in Alcala, Pangasinan, she met a humble man named Florentino, who was enlisted in the Philippine Army, whom she eventually married on October 4th, 1943. They had a daughter named Josephine “Jossie” together but, because of the immense love in their hearts, they also adopted Carlito “Lito” or Carlos (the son of her sister, Reymunda) and Sonia (the daughter of Florentino’s brother, Francisco), who they loved as their own to the very end. Florentino’s military assignment moved the family to Camp Olivas, a military base in San Fernando, Pampangga, where the children grew up. She was often misunderstood, as she was stern and hard on the children, but her acts of service (i.e., child rearing, providing, and making sure the children always had a good meal and were kept clean) were some of the ways she showed her love. Her son, Carlito, has fond memories of them playing Scrabble, playing cards and Bingo together, and watching TV—in black and white, of course. When Josephine began college, the family moved to Manila, where Florentino retired. Unfortunately, his health worsened because of a kidney condition and, in March of 1969, 2nd Lt Florentino C. Coloma passed away at the VA Hospital in Manila. She would never remarry and would get offended when people asked her why. She would always say to her daughter, “There is only room in my heart for your Papang.”

As her children grew older, the opportunity to come to the United States presented itself. Jossie traveled as an exchange student to the East Coast in the late 60s and, in October of 1970, she married Norante in San Francisco, CA, and they eventually welcomed Luisa to live with them. Luisa briefly worked at Agnew’s Developmental Center, where she cared for and fed children in a psychiatric facility. As she worked, she realized her daughter was struggling to have a child, so she helped her begin the process to adopt one from the Philippines. In 1984, the family of three welcomed Heidi home. During this process, her son, Carlos, arrived in the United States, and that began the building blocks of calling San Jose, CA, home for the family. In 1986, Carlos had a daughter named Janeth who became very ill and needed to be hospitalized. Luisa would stay at the hospital for long hours to help nurse her back to health, and hold her when she cried. She wanted to make sure that the nurses were addressing all of her needs because that is the kind of person she was. As Janeth recovered and Heidi grew up, she decided to stop working, and would dedicate her life to her family and her home.

She enjoyed many happy years of growing vegetables in her yard while smoking a cigarette, and seeing her family grow. She was always in attendance at every birthday and milestone, and when her grandchildren grew up, she never forgot to give them a birthday present, even if it wasn’t always much. In 1997, her son-in-law, Norante, had a debilitating stroke, and she helped her daughter, Jossie, provide 24/7 care. In order to help supplement her daughter’s income, she would help raise two little girls who she loved as her own grandchildren. Until both her son-in-law and daughter passed in 2005, she stood by their side. She loved all of her children the same, and though most of her life was spent helping her daughter, she missed them all deeply and would always ask how they were doing and write letters home to the Philippines. The mirror in her bedroom was surrounded with pictures of all of her children and grandchildren through the years, and she would kiss them every morning when she woke up before praying her morning rosary. She would also collect clothes and items to put in boxes to send home. Even in her later years, there was never anything too hard for Luisa, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do without her family in mind. She had an unshakeable faith.

On Christmas Day in 2018, she joined her granddaughter, Heidi, on Maui, and resided at Hale Makua of Wailuku. She enjoyed reading magazines, drinking coffee and eating sweets, cruising around in her wheelchair, and playing her favorite game of all time—Bingo. She loved being able to see her great grandchildren everyday and, even though her memory worsened towards the end, she would always ask about her son, Lito. Although she couldn’t always remember their names, she recognized who her family was. When she was told about her new great grandchildren, she would delicately examine the photo before kissing it with a smile. As we would prepare to leave at night, she would always remind us to be kind to one another and to say our prayers no matter how old we were. Ama would always be scared at night, so she would hold her rosary and pray herself to sleep. “Always pray,” she’d say.

Though she was tiny in stature at only five feet tall, she lived a huge life. Her choice to love and honor family has affected so many lives. So many of her relatives wouldn’t be where they are if she didn’t choose to love. Her small act of kindness to love her children created an endless ripple. Though she had her “grumpy” moments and, at times, we even wondered about why she did things the way she did—one thing is transparent: her service and loyalty to her family are how she left a mark in this world. It was how she showed love. In her honor, please call a parent or grandparent and catch up today. Let them know how much they mean to you because tomorrow is never promised. Leave nothing unsaid. Ama would tell you, “Let bygones be bygones.” Whatever is holding you back from telling a family member that you love them… let it go.

Luisa is preceded in death by her husband, 2nd Lt Florentino C. Coloma, her daughter, Josephine, & son-in-law, Norante Bungcayao, her siblings, and great granddaughter, Laura Jean Digno. She is survived by her son, Carlos (Maria) Blanco of Henderson, NV; her daughter, Sonia (Warlito) Cabrera of Alcala, Pangasinan; and her grandchildren: Mary Grace (Anthony) Do, Earl (Jesselle) Blanco, Janeth, Bianca, and Kevin Blanco of San Jose, CA; Heidi (Jonathan) Acosta of Wailuku, HI; and Magie Cabrera, Pamela (Leo) Digno, and Mark Dave Cabrera of Alcala, Pangasinan. Her great grandchildren are: Melanie & Marc Do, Emily & Jaelyn Blanco, and Niccolai Frenza of San Jose, CA; Sherlyn, Sheena, Hanz, Hendre, & Halden Lucero, Lance, Lourd, & Luke Digno, Arvie, Andrei, & Fritzy Cabrera of Alcala, Pangasinan; and Gavin, Ehren, Micah, & Nixon Acosta of Wailuku, HI.

The family would like to thank Matthew (ICU nurse) & Chaplain Amy for their compassion and dignity during her final hours; Ashley S. & the Island’s Hospice team; Kathy T. & Celeste from Hale Makua Kahului for helping bring Grandma to Maui; and Hale Makua Wailuku’s Lanai North & Activities Staff for bringing aloha to her life (and keeping her nails pretty).

* We will hold a small memorial service at Norman’s Mortuary on Monday, January 4th, 2021, but her wishes are for her to be buried in the Philippines with her loving husband of whom she is now reunited with. Once travel opens up, her family plans to bring her remains home so that we can honor her wishes. Flowers and donations can be sent directly to the family.
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