I arrived in Ontario in 2002 and settled in Oshawa in Durham Region from Alberta. As a newbie in the area, I normally took a stroll and sat in the food court of Oshawa's only bustling mall. I guess without this mall, this area is like a ghost town except for the sprawling GM plant.

Along those months and years, I heard many conversations as I sat in the midst of many various people of my own colour talking and stabbing others. But what I don't forget is when they talked about organizations and events. Sometimes they vent their discomfort at the classy attitudes of so called 'community leaders' who doesn't even say hi to newbies in the community or the ordinary members, specifically 'Nannies(?)'. I heard them that this and that are snobs, arrogant and unfriendly.

Occasionally, the name Letty Apostol popped up as one of those leaders who 'doesn't even smile....'  to anyone. As a writer embedded among unsuspecting people, I loved hearing stories and stealing them for my blogs. But hitting on people gets to my nerve as an active member of the community. 'Who the hell this Letty is?' and then dismissed it as 'who cares, I don't know her' kind of thing. It does made me aware who the veterans in the communities are.

Who would thought that down the road, the so called Letty Apostol with an attitude will be sitting across the table with me? It was 2014 when I was completely pulled into becoming a member of Oshawa's oldest Filipino organization. The first time they brought me in was also the day they held an election of officers and members of the Board. To make things more complicated, I was listed as one of the candidates to be elected. I thought it was so out of normal but hey, I did won and got elected to the Board of DFCS.

Now seated in the long table of pioneers in the organization, I was like a newly born chick sitting there trying to know everyone. But here was the advantage, I was now face to face with the so called 'unfriendly, arrogant' community leader from the grape vine- Letty Apostol. Right there, we need to immediately elect a president. Who else? They voted for her and installed her as president to DFCS. Why would I not raise my hand when everyone does? I voted for her too. It's like blending in, you don't let everyone know what you're thinking. It keeps you safe. So there I was thinking about being thrown in a very strange dilemma as working for the community with a suspected bureaucrat and indifferent woman.

The first few meetings felt like sitting in a boat gone fishing for crabs. The pincers were always up even on little issues. Tempers flare easily until we moved the meeting venue to the president's address and location.

It was on this slow pace of rebuilding an old organization to fit in with the new era that change came slowly and pleasantly. Ate Letty, which is always a courtesy and respectful name we accorded to her, hosted the meetings at her house. As soon as the door opens, the aroma of a freshly brewed coffee met me at the door including a very sincere smile from my very old suspect. "Come on, welcome to my place..." and so forth. The warmness of her reception was unmistakably pure. As soon as I entered the kitchen, I noticed that her table was overflowed with various foods.

Ate Letty has transformed into a very hospitable and very funny woman before my eyes. I discreetly studied her in case I got duped. Hypocrisy can be so deceiving. There was none at all. Here is a woman who tell tales of misadventures in such a very funny way we all die laughing listening to her. And then, she'll blast open her sound system with disco music and there she was, enticing everyone for some groovy steps.

I said, "Holy shit, I must have been completely dreaming!' But no, it was real. Ate Letty actually acts like a mother and a grown up teenage girl in her 60s who throws caution to the wind. The very kind of people that I loved being with; happy and carefree.

It has since been a very nice group to be with and the DFCS Executive Officers under Ate Letty's leadership became so attached to each other now. I mean, it's always true that we don't judge a book by its cover. As I flipped the pages of this woman's life, Ate Letty Apostol is actually just that- a woman with many virtues.

Happy retirement Ate Letty and I am hoping DFCS Execs can make one road trip together where we can pull over at 7 Eleven and leave our underwear in their microwaves. Retirement after all is all about adventures and misadventures. Remember, the best trips in life are those that are unplanned; minus
GPS and maps. Any rapist will definitely have a second thought. Don't you think so?


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