By Bobot Estropigan Laguna
GUBAT, Sorsogon – She is single, a college graduate of a reputable exclusive school for girls, has just turned 74 last February 17, a former teacher, former in-bound tours manager for 29 years of a top-notch travel agency and a licensed English tourist guide of the Department of Tourism.
This, in retrospect, sums up the simple life of Ma. Bernardita Bañares Ramos, not Merceditas as she would quickly butt in, Tiya Ditas or Tita Dytes as she is popularly known.
The youngest of six children of the late Philippine Army Colonel Deogracias Pura Ramos Sr. of Gubat town and the former Vicenta Bañares, daughter of the late Judge Donato Bañares of Barcelona, Sorsogon, Tiya Ditas took upgrades 1 and 2 in Gubat Elem School, transferred to Lourdes College in Cagayan de Oro for grades 3 and 4 where her father was assigned and finished grade VI at Albert Elem School in Sampaloc, Manila.
She then enrolled at Sta Isabel College in Taft Avenue, Manila for her high school and college years graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Arts major in English. She cross-enrolled at the Philippine Women’s University ( PWU) for units in drama, speech, and diction.
Returning to Gubat in 1965, she taught English Literature, Speech, and Diction for three years at St. Anthony Academy (now St. Louise de Marillac College, High School Dept).
With the boom in tourism in 1974, she took up lessons in Niponggo, the Japanese language and conducted tour guide seminars for five months with the Dept of Tourism, then headed by Sec. Jose Aspiras, who hired her as an English speaking tour guide.
In 1976, she joined the Sharp Travel Services, a division of CF Sharp Shipping Company and an agent for Lufthansa Airlines and Happag Lloyd Shipping where she was appointed as manager of inbound tours ( incoming tourists).
Her duties include looking for tourist destinations, preparing itineraries, programs, and quotations, travel abroad – Hongkong and U.S., among others, and attend ASTA Convention ( Assn. of American Society of Travel Agents.
In Sorsogon, she produced a program for TV featuring the world famous whale shark Butanding in Donsol town. Herself a cook, she also produced a program for TV featuring Bicol Express, ‘dinuguang‘ Bicol and helped a certain Nimfa, a pili nut candy maker, whom she brought to SM in Manila.
She retired in 2006 at age 60 after 29 years as in-bound tours manager which provided her a vast experience in the tourism industry, brought her to several tourist spots here and abroad, oftentimes conducting seminars aboard luxury ships.
The youngest in the family, Tiya Ditas` other siblings include ( from the eldest) Cong Ding, Atty Joe, Antonio “Bats”, Carmen, a medical doctor married to a doctor from Bulan, Sorsogon and Maria Paz Englis, a chemical engineer divorced from her Greek American husband. They have no child. A prolific writer, Maria Paz or Tita Pat was with the famous Mc Graw Hill publication where she retired as editor of medical books.
Emboldened by what Pto Diaz Mayor and Sorsogon Mayors’ League president Boyte Doma refers to as a ‘’very remarkable performance of Cong. Ramos in Congress, untainted with corruption and a legacy to be proud of ‘’. Tiya Ditas has no qualms she will be able, with fervent prayers, put up a gallant fight for the top plum in the 2nddistrict.
This, despite her being uninitiated into the realm and intricacies of politics.
Truth to tell, it was indeed the unblemished record of Cong. Ramos, 19 years as mayor of Gubat town ( a multi-awarded local chief executive ) and nine years as congressman coupled by his generosity to the needy that endeared him well to the poor and the downtrodden giving him the biggest ever margin in elections over his political nemesis.
Meanwhile , humbly admitting it won’t be a leisurely walk in the park as she vies for the most coveted post in the second district, though backed up by the formidable machinery of TEAM ERAP, Tiya Ditas believes she could muster enough courage to face the uncertainties and insurmountable odds, mount a rigorous campaign and hopefully emerge victorious in the 2019 congressional polls.
After all, there is light at the end of the tunnel, Tiya Ditas concluded. [BicolToday.com]