338 - 4th Avenue North | Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
Obituary of Rosita Mediavillo Ulrich
Rosita died in her husband, Alvin’s arms, from cardiac arrest on the evening of November 8th after returning home from dialysis.
Rosita Mediavillo Ulrich was born September 15, 1948, in Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines. She attended the same school for 12 years and hence had many long term classmates who always kept in contact with her. She finished a degree in Education and taught for five years at Rizal High School, the largest high school in the world. Rosita then went to teach Home Economics and English in Papua New Guinea for six years at Kerowagi, Kainantu and Muaina Secondary Schools.
While there she met Alvin Ulrich who came as a CUSO volunteer to help set up village cardamom, coffee and chili plantations. After 15 months, they married in Manila, worked another year in PNG and then came to Canada where Alvin completed his MSc degree in Agricultural Economics. For five years, Rosita volunteered by teaching English at the Open-Door Society and worked part-time for Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan. She enjoyed staying at home, visiting friends, gardening, cooking huge meals and entertaining visitors with her stories, funny questions and comments and laughter. She travelled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia by herself and with Alvin, who had consulting jobs overseas, including working in Zambia for two years.
About 10 years ago Rosita was diagnosed with kidney disease and had daily dialysis at home or tri-weekly at the Kidney Center. In spite of this, she still travelled and continued to brighten people’s days with her smiles, humour, conversations, food, flowers and stories.
Rosita leaves to mourn her loving husband, Alvin, a brother, Dr. Rene Mediavillo (Eileen), several brother and sister-in-laws (Paul and Judy, Florian and Zinnia) and 12 nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, two brothers and their wives.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Holy Guardian Angels Parish, Englefeld, SK S0K 0B2 (write cemetery fund on bottom of check) or to the Salvation Army or to a charity of your choice.
Prayers and eulogy is Friday, December 8th, at 7:00 PM, and funeral is Saturday, December 9th at 10:30 AM, both services will be at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church - 1902 Munroe Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Interment will be in Englefeld (90 miles east) between 3:30 and 4:00 PM the afternoon of December 9th. Arrangements and live streaming are with Saskatoon Funeral Home.
ROSITA MEDIAVILLO ULRICH
Good Evening and thank you for coming! It is very comforting to me and to Rosita’s family and friends!
Rosita did not write books or journal articles; she did not design street sculptures or solve people’s health problems; she did not seek political offices or start a company, but she had a profession as a teacher and, best of all, she had a vocation and goal in life and she did that with flying colors. Her vocation was to give joy and happiness to others! She did this by giving food and drink and humour and laughter and big smiles to those around her!
Rosita often had novel, clever and or funny ways of putting things. She told me, years ago, when I die, just put a picture of me in the Obituary section of the paper. You don’t have to tell them I died because if I hadn’t died, I wouldn’t be in the Obituaries. You don’t have to print my name because people either know me or they don’t. You don’t have to write about how wonderful a person I was. They would know that and if they don’t know, reading a paragraph won’t change that. Just put down, under my photo, where and when they can get some free funeral food. People should eat and have good time remembering me!
So...I won’t tell you how wonderful Rosita was...you either know that by now or you don’t. Instead I want to share a few stories about her that will, I hope make you smile or maybe even laugh. Rosita would have loved that!
First, a couple stories from Papua New Guinea. Rosita and I met for the first time on Sept 29, 1978 on the grounds of Kerowagi Secondary School in Papua New Guinea, part of the second largest island in the world, between Australia and Indonesia. Miss Mediavillo had been at this school almost 4 years and lived in a duplex on the school grounds. She was attractive and still single and she had been told by Canadian friends that a young, single Canadian guy would be coming to live in the town next to the school.
I, on the other hand, had come ten days before as a CUSO volunteer to spend two years helping village groups set up cardamom, coffee and chilli plantations. I was told there was this attractive single Filipina teacher at the Secondary School in Kerowagi. On Sept 29th, we drove to the school and saw Rosita walking to a classroom. We stopped, opened the window and the Canadian driver said “Hi Rosita, this is Alvin, that young Canadian we told you about.” I quickly said “Hi Rosita, I have heard a lot about you!”. She answered “What have you heard? Do you want to see my pubic hair plant?” I was stunned and I am sure my open mouth revealed that fact! Of course, I soon learned that Rosita loved to say outlandish things that left people open mouthed and speechless.
Then she quickly said “It’s beside my porch, three houses down and on the left side. I have to go to class now but come for a visit when you move into your house.” Next week I moved to Kerowagi town and, of course, I had to go and see the pubic hair plant. How could I not? You see, beside Rosita’s porch there was a very large bush with very fine stems and leaves like a young asparagus plant but much, much bigger. Her English friend started calling it Miss Mediavillo’s pubic hair plant. The students heard this and it became kind of a school landmark because it was a unique plant on the school grounds. I am not sure if the students even knew what pubic hair was but it had a nice sound. Of course, when I visited Rosita she plied me with food, smiles, stories and laughter and the rest is history. She hooked me in big time!
As a Home Economics and English teacher Rosita was very innovative. She could easily organize a special lunch at 3:00 in the afternoon for 300 people when there was a special school function. She started the first Home Economics classes for boys in a culture where women do all the cooking. She never stopped cooking classes even if there was no budget for ingredients or gas for the fancy gas stoves. Instead she would tell the day students to bring raw foods and wood from home and she would teach them cooking on several stoves that burned wood.
To this day, I don’t know if she ever followed a recipe. She would tell her students the principles of cooking and flavors and then tell them to taste as they are cooking and then to add ingredients until you get something tasty. Everyone loved Miss Mediavillo’s cooking.
Now a couple stories from China. After we had lived in Canada for several years, I started doing consulting work overseas, including working on a huge state farm in China for several months a year for three years. When the project was in its last year, I convinced Rosita she should use my airline points to go to China for a visit to see where I was working. She went to the travel agent and booked her flight on Sept 15th, her birthday and told the travel agent that she would be flying on her birthday and the airline should be told! Something only Rosita would think of saying! A few weeks later, it was Sept 15th and she was on the first leg of the journey, on a flight to Vancouver. They announced it would be 20 minutes before landing in Vancouver. Rosita pressed the stewardess call button. The stewardess came and said “yes, can I help you?” Rosita said “I told the airline it was my birthday today and they haven’t done anything!”. The stewardess calmly replied “Oh, they didn’t tell me, I will see what I can do”. Soon she came back with a package of cookies and a new deck of playing cards for Rosita and said “Happy Birthday”.
An hour latter Rosita was in Vancouver airport and she heard her name being paged, asking her to come to the airline customer counter. She slowly went, thinking she was obviously being bumped to a later flight because she was travelling on points. When she got to the counter, they asked for her passport and asked if it was really her birthday. She said “yes”. They then said “we are moving you to First Class on the 12 hour flight to Hong Kong. We hope you like that better than a cake!”.....and yes, she did fly First Class to Hong Kong because it was her birthday!
One day at the very large but very remote state farm in China, she was attending a banquet. One of the top leaders of the farm came to meet her. This farm was huge with 60,000 people and 200,000 acres of crop land. The main farm headquarters was a town of 10,000 people. We stayed in a guest house. It had been newly built and was surrounded by discarded construction debris and garbage; a common site in the last years of total communist rule where almost all property belonged to the state and not to individuals. Hence no one cared about being neat and tidy in public areas and we Canadian consultants just accepted the circumstances and said nothing.
The big leader asked the interpreter to ask Rosita what she thought of the guest house we were staying in. She said “it’s messy; its dirty, it should be cleaned up!” The interpreter translated that message and the big leader looked stunned and then said a whole series of sentences. Rosita said “what did he say?” but the interpreter laughed and replied “you don’t want to hear what he said!” but Rosita begged and said “you are our interpreter...you have to translate it” so the interpreter replied “the leader said last year some Canadian wives came and they said everything was wonderful. This year, Alvin’s wife came and she said it’s messy and dirty and needs cleaning up!” We should just get Alvin a new wife from China!”
Rosita loved telling this story. It was indeed funny but true. At that time, on that farm, there was a big bureaucratic system in place with almost everything owned by the government. It would have, indeed been easier to assign a single girl to be Alvin’s wife instead of stating a clean-up campaign on the farm! Surprisingly after that, for the rest of the time Rosita was in China being looked after by the State Farm Bureau, people were super attentive to her and would bring her fruit and flowers and take her wherever she wanted to go. They had finally met a super- honest Canadian!
Rosita had many health related stories. About 15 years ago Rosita was found to have diabetes. She changed her diet and avoided the need to take insulin. About ten years ago she was diagnosed with kidney disease and had to start doing dialysis at home or at the kidney center. This, in turn, brought on a number of other health challenges including the need for several surgeries and several years ago, four and a half months in hospital, including 50 days in the Intensive Care Unit. Even during those times, if she could, she would try to inject some joy and humour into situations.
Several times I remember accompanying her stretcher to the door of the operating theatre and then waiting for the surgeon who would finally come, lean over and say to Rosita “And how is the young lady this morning?”. Instead of answering by listing her many pains and worries, she would reply “How are you this morning? Is this your first surgery today? Are you nervous?” The surgeon would look stunned and that’s what Rosita loved to see. After a long pause, the surgeon would smile and say “You are indeed someone very special!”.
One time after day surgery, Rosita was wheeled into a recovery room with about 20 other patients. I was told I could see her in an hour but she and the other patients could not leave the room, unless they passed gas so the nurses would know recovery had been complete. We waited and waited but nothing was happening with all the patients except for a few groans and moans. Suddenly Rosita said, in her loud and clear teacher’s voice “It’s better to fart and stink a little than bust your ass and be a cripple!” Well, that quiet recovery room suddenly burst into laughter and the laughter, in turn, got intestines stimulated and the big booming farts and little rippling farts started erupting all over the room. The nurses were speechless, which, of course, Rosita was happy to see! So many people recovered so fast from hearing Rosita recite that phase she had learned from some Australians years ago.
Many of us have great memories of Rosita full of joy, food, fun, and stories. Her smile and laughter could easily fill a room. A great life lived and a big loss for those who knew her. May her very giving nature and love of making people happy also become part of your life’s vocation.
And now I can hear Rosita saying “that’s enough talking....let these people eat!
Dependable. Committed. Compassionate.
338 - 4th Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
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