Julia Jill Iturralde's Memorial

Julia Jill Iturralde
(1931 - 2015)

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General Details

Name: Ms Julia Jill Iturralde
Nick Name: Dada Nings
Maiden Name: Alvaro
Gender: Female
Age: 83 years old
Lived: Wednesday, 7 October 1931 - Monday, 9 February 2015

My Story

February 8, 2015. Rome. I just received word from my mom that my father’s only remaining sibling, Julia Alvaro Iturralde just passed away. In a way, I was relieved. She had been ill for a very long time, her brilliant mind long gone, her once robust body withered and thin. She still managed a cherubic toothless smile whenever I would visit and remind her that I was Monette, her niece. Sometimes she would remember me. The last time, she did not, and it saddened me greatly. She asked why it was taking her parents long to fetch her.

Julia was born on October 7, 1931 to Jose Manalo Iturralde and Dominga Alvaro. The youngest in a brood of six, Julia or Jill as she was fondly called, was an extremely intelligent individual. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with an AB-BSE degree from Holy Ghost College, and finished two masteral programs: Master in Sociology from Ateneo University and Master of East Asian Studies from Radcliffe, where she enjoyed a scholarship. Jill held the deanship of the Liberal Arts Department of the College of the Holy Spirit for 23 years. She was also moderator of Action, Veritas and The Profile from 1964-67. A prolific poetess, Jill expressed her emotions in beautiful words.

My first recollection of Tita Jill (and later Dada Nings), as we fondly called her, was playing in my grandmother’s warm kitchen with a white porcelain tea set decorated with flowers that she had given me. I must have been less than three then. Pouring real milk tea in the tiny cups, she sat with me on the floor, and we pretended that we were having guests over. Sometimes, we would collect the moss in the garden, place them on the tiny plates and pretend it was salad. Other times, I got lucky and we actually ate food that had just been cooked in the kitchen.

When she came back from taking her masters at Radcliffe University, she brought home a huge walking doll for me. Oh, how I loved that doll with curly blonde hair! It was almost as tall as I was. 

Tita Jill taught me how to pray before I slept: “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love entrusts me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take. Amen.”

Summers, when we were growing up were spent in that kitchen. She would teach us how to bake, decorate cakes, and then let us experiment in the kitchen. I remember crying when my cake didn’t rise because I had forgotten to put baking powder in the mix. My brothers and I would fight as to who would clean up the leftover fudge in the bowl.

I loved watching how she cooked, and she would let me be her little assistant, though I was not allowed to wield a knife. I was assigned to mixing food. Getting egg whites to stiffen up was the hardest task ever. “Whip it 100 times, Monette, and don’t lift the spatula up or the air would escape,” she would admonish me. I would try valiantly to soldier on even if my arms felt like they were about to fall off. Looking back, I realize now that she had nurtured my interest in food.

Dada Nings taught Asian Studies at the College of the Holy Spirit, and to drive home learning, she would host parties at our ancestral home in San Sebastian for her students. They would cook Asian dishes, and wear dresses from the different countries they were assigned. My personal favorite was her sukiyaki. I loved watching them prepare the food, and then perform Asian songs or dances after. Oh, that was a lot of fun! 

And she made life fun for her nieces and nephews. On Holy Saturdays, she would herd us into the dining room, give each of us a brush, and we would paint dozens of eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt the next day. I guess she must have hidden the eggs in the garden while we slept because we had fun hunting for them after mass on Easter Day.

We would have our own version of Flores de Mayo. We would dress up as saints using her clothes and stack of ribbons and scarves, parade up and down the house, then have a raffle of little knickknacks that she would collect. Oh, and we were not the only ones who had fun dressing up under her guidance. Her students were also in on it. I remember one Marian festival where she had her students dress up as different versions of Mama Mary and stand up like statues around the garden by the CHS Mendiola chapel. 

She was a consummate writer, poet and story teller. She wrote plays about the Old Testament which her students performed in school. She wrote poems for the school paper, the CHS alumnae newsletter, and later for the newsletter she and her sister Maria Luz put up. She penned a book entitled "Family Treasures" which revealed all of the Iturralde secret recipes, and which I use to this day. Her friends gathered some of her poems and published them together with pieces written by my other two aunts, Maria Luz and Sister Encarnacion. 

Early on, she encouraged us to perform during parties at home (Actually, I think a better word would be mandated). We either had to sing, dance, or recite a poem to the guests who invariably were their fellow teachers and nuns from the College of the Holy Spirit.

She was a very kind soul, soft-spoken, and yet you knew you were in deep trouble if you ever crossed the line. When I was in first year college, a classmate from elementary asked if she could visit me at home on a Saturday. I had not seen her for some time and was excited to see her. She came to the house with her father who was an advertising executive. A popular soft drink brand was giving away a car to the lucky person who found the tansan (bottle cap) with the winning mark. Apparently, he was running the contest, and he told me that he would make sure I would win the car, but in return I would have to sell the car and split the proceeds with him. I was to let him know my decision on Monday. 

Naturally, I was very much tempted. Since my father died when I was ten, we were hard up. The funds would come in handy so I could pursue my dream of studying law, buy things I’ve always wanted, give my family a more comfortable life. At that time, I was studying on scholarship. I discussed the options with my Tita Jill, who advised me of the importance of being true to the values of honesty and integrity. That night, she gave me two cards she had drawn. Depending on my decision, I was to open one of the cards. That weekend was excruciatingly difficult for me. I decided to turn down the offer, and opened the card. It said simply that she was very proud of me for making the right decision. That for me was the most beautiful gift she had ever given me.

I always wanted to study Fine Arts but we didn’t have the funds for this. But the summer after the softdrink incident, Tita Jill enrolled me in a summer class in painting at CHS. I was in heaven! The next summer, she enrolled me in theatre class, along with my brother Pepito. 

She was always looking for ways to encourage our various interests. I remember the day the encyclopedia set she had purchased arrived. Pepito and I who were in grade school then were so excited, we spent the entire summer reading the encyclopedia from A to Z. We also played Scrabble and Monopoly with her. Tita Jill’s bed could be spotted a mile away because of the mountains of books and papers that littered it. 

College studies was a different matter. Because I was on scholarship (which was the only way I could afford studying at CHS), I had to study very, very hard. It was made more difficult because my aunts worked at the school: Sr. Encarnacion taught Theology, Maria Luz headed the English Department, and Julia served as dean of Liberal Arts. They were stricter with me than anyone else, because they wanted to prove that I could make it on my own. They were thus ecstatic when I graduated with a Summa cum Laude.

Although she was the youngest sibling of my father, Tita Jill appeared to be the head of the family when it came to decision making. She was always protecting her older sister from harm. When Tita Jill and Tita Udsy (Maria Luz) were forced to retire from CHS, they started a newsletter to keep their minds busy. I suspect that Tita Jill used her retirement funds for this as Tita Udsy who had unceremoniously been removed as editor in chief of We, the Alumnae, had gone into deep depression. She wanted to make her sister happy. Tita Jill bought a computer and learned to use it. 

I thank the Lord for the gift of having had her as my aunt. May she rest in God’s embrace forever!

- Monette Iturralde Hamlin
  Niece of Julia Alvaro Iturralde

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Biography

Fathers Name: Jose Manalo Iturralde
Mothers Name: Dominga Alvaro Iturralde
Siblings Names: Angel Rene Alvaro Iturralde, Oscar Alvaro Iturralde, Augusto Alvaro Iturralde, Aurora Alvaro Iturralde (Sr. Encarnacion, S.Sp.S.), Maria Luz Alvaro Iturralde
Country of Birth: Philippines
Country of Residence: Philippines
City of Residence: Manila
Occupation: Education & Training
Marital Status: Single
Religion: Catholic

Interests

Passing

Place of Passing: Iturralde Clan Ancestral Home, San Sebastian, Manila
Date of Passing: 9 February 2015
Cause of Passing: Old age
Place of Burial: La Loma Cemetery, Caloocan

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