My dear friend Ditas Gomez just called me after dinner at 9:00 p.m.. Her aunt, Tita Betty Favis-Gonzalez, had just passed away at the Makati Medical Center this afternoon.
“Tita Betty” [ Beatriz Favis de Gonzalez, daughter of Don Asterio Favis y Flandes of Vigan, Ilocos Sur and Dona Ramona Gonzalez y Morales of Bautista, Pangasinan; Dona Ramona “Monay” was the youngest daughter of Don Francisco “Balbas” Gonzalez y Reinado, the “Gonzalez de Pangasinan” patriarch, and his second wife Dona Juana Morales y Mamaril ] was one of my all-time favorite people. I first met her in the late 1980s when she was already in her late 70s but she was as cool and as hip as an 18 year old. Nothing shocked her; nothing fazed her. We may have been fifty years apart in age but she completely understood everything about me. She was as contemporary as the latest gizmo. I absolutely adored her.
As befitting the patrician heiress of a grand fortune, Tita Betty was a fashionable lady. She was a friend and a preferred client of the legendary couturier Ramon Valera. At a time when Ramoning’s evening gowns cost a princely Php 1,000.00/xx, Tita Betty was charged much less because he liked her a lot, counting her among his close circle of friends.
It was Beatriz Gonzalez Favis-Gonzalez who lent the young Imelda Trinidad Romualdez the gown she wore during the “Miss Manila” contest in 195_. Years later in the early 1970s during Martial Law, during a wedding at the Santuario de San Antonio where she was a principal sponsor, someone at the back tapped her shoulder gently. Tita Betty turned around and it was The all-powerful First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos: “Betty, I hope you remember me…”
“Of course.” she answered curtly, smiling.
“Betty, should you ever need something, you know where to find me.”
“Thank you.” she answered, curtly again, still smiling.
When she related the incident to her family, they asked her what she would do with The all-powerful First Lady’s invitation. She answered in her characteristic “cut-the-crap” manner: “Nothing. She… owes me.” Spoken like a genuine lady to the manor born.
She was a trailblazer for the ladies of her generation. In the mid-1950s when bored ladies of leisure entered the interior design and decoration business with no formal training, Tita Betty went to New York city and completed the entire “Interior Design” course at the famous Parsons School of Design. But because she was so rich, she never practiced her profession, limiting her design and decoration to her own residences.
When she returned from her studies in New York, she arrived with suitcases full of the latest dresses, shoes, and bags from the best designers. She was the envy of her social circle. Years later, her nieces were thrilled to see such great vintage pieces in her closets.
In 1958, Beatriz Gonzalez Favis married the widower Beda Juan Medina Gonzalez of Candelaria, Zambales. He was the son of the Spaniard Angel Gonzalez of Asturias, Spain and of the Filipina Francisca Medina. He was first married to Concepcion “Conchita” Oirola of Manila with whom he had two daughters, Nancy and Maribel.
Adios, Tita Betty. Until we meet again.