This woman of elegance came from an era when an acquired privilege found itself curtailed by those in a position of authority particularly the conservative-churchy parents.
But having been educated in Silliman University during the time of the American missionaries, she has redefined her outlook in life: open-mindedness and sensitivity to others’ perception led her to a level of influence that was beautifully subtle.
Evangelina “Eve” Nobleza – Bokingo, professor emeritus in Home Economics, had much to share not just on good housekeeping but of building a more respectable image. Today’s dot-com ladies, who will usually conquer corporate chambers wearing fashion magazine replicas, could have taken lessons from Mrs. Bokingo, and would have developed some professionalism in their fashion sense.
Ma’am Eve’s legacy is much needed in the present altered world. Her former student Joy Arbolado-Kitane has one unforgettable lesson from the quintessential H.E. teacher: “… the universal law of 14 rules that when we dress-up for home, church, school, or any occasion for that matter, the number of visible items or colors in your person in one setting should not exceed 14. Beyond it, you are overdressed. Even the Queen of England follows this rule.”
I remember one time while Ma’am Eve and I were waiting in a lobby looking at people come and go, she whispered to me in a sad voice: “that lady with the choker really looks like she’s being choked as her neck is too short for such for an ornament.”
Fashion was not just an everyday lesson, it was a life lived and defined by modesty and humility.
On my freshman year in the dorm, we had an evening with Ma’am Eve where she taught us the basic things on social responsibility: our presence should not become a visual monster or an air pollutant within and beyond the dormitory.
She also reminded us on the importance of developing a “thinking process in English,” lessons on elegance in language and dignified professionalism.
Even Silliman First Ladies would be delighted whenever Ma’am Eve would visit the President’s Home (now called the University House). Her touch was always a bright wash of glory.
She often shared anecdotes of her precious moments with some of the pillars of Silliman: her unforgettable breakfast with Dr. David and Mrs. Laura Hibbard, the Rosel juice (made of pink petals) and the freshly-baked banana-oatmeal cookies – she learned first hand from Mrs. Dorothea B. Vernon, the Galilean fellowship of Rev. Douglas Vernon, Mrs. Ethel R. Chapman’s story of the ‘good pig’ and the ‘bad pig,’ the pressure from her Bible teacher Mr. Apolonio Molina to deliver a memory verse, Mrs. Edna Bell’s Christian Endeavor Society, Mrs. Metta J. Silliman’s rule for the students to speak only English and how she pushed Ma’am Eve to have her short story published in The Sillimanian, her confidence-building sessions with Mrs. Henrietta H. Glunz, the loyalty and friendship of her Home Economics teacher Miss Frances V.V. Rodgers, her membership to the Costume Ladies Committee in every theatrical production of Mr. William Hamme, her team work with Maestro Dr. Albert Faurot in production designs, the floral arrangements she did with Mrs. Bell and Thelma Appleton in the SU Church Aesthetics Committee, the tips on carpentry and furniture design she got from Silliman’s landscape architect Charles A. Glunz, and the wisdom on how to become a ‘real lady’ from the Dean of Students Mary Winternheimer.
All these and more were the defining moments in Ma’am Eve’s silent strength at Silliman: the rare elegance with her presence.
But the greatest elemental force was her gentleness that stemmed from her faith in GOD, the GIVER of all. Her encounter of Him had planted a seed of generosity and service.
Her home was always open for young people to experience a thanksgiving of a life abundantly blessed by GOD, not of financial harvest but of the joy in the beauty of HIS great faithfulness – this was her constant testimony.
She continued to demonstrate that rare elegance even in those six months she made the SU Medical Center her home, as she was suffering from physical pain. The aura of peace she projected was truly her gift to friends who came to visit.
Ma’am Eve’s faith in God was her ultimate-unfading ornament, and it was always in the right place: within her heart.