Ciriaco Luvije Ladines—affectionately called "Tatay" by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his children’s friends—passed peacefully on Sunday, January 22, 2023 at age 95, surrounded by family and friends.
Ciriaco was born on June 18, 1927 in Mauban, Quezon Province in the Philippines to his parents, Cayetano Ladines and Cornelia Luvije. Part of a large extended family, he was the fifth of 12 siblings and was adopted and raised by his paternal uncle. He attended school in Mauban and aspired to study medicine but WWII shuttered his educational plans. In his duty to country, and barely 16, he joined the Philippine Guerilla Forces in 1943 under the command of American Colonel Bernard Anderson. He fought until the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, at which time he was honorably discharged as a sergeant. He would later relish regaling his grandchildren with his war stories, attesting to his bravery and compassion as a young soldier.
After the war, Ciriaco worked with his adoptive father on the family farm in Mauban. Eventually, he acquired his own farmlands together with his wife, Florencia, who he married in 1952. He was a tireless, diligent farmer. He cared about and deeply respected the farmhands, and paid more than the equitable share of the farm’s revenue.
Ciriaco and Florencia had three daughters and three sons. They remained married and dedicated to their family and friends for 68 years, until Florencia’s death in 2020. As a father, Ciriaco was a stern disciplinarian, yet deeply loving and generous. He passionately believed in the value of education and worked long days on the farm in order to send his children to school. With modest resources, he did not hold back, spending everything he could for his children’s education so they could eventually establish successful professional careers.
In 1989, Ciriaco immigrated to the United States to join his three daughters, and became a U.S. citizen in 1992 on account of his WWII service. Together with his wife, they spent the remainder of their lives in Maryland and Florida. Later, two of their sons and their families also came to the U.S. to settle in Maryland, bringing them great joy to have their family closer together. As their children worked long hours to build their careers, Ciriaco and Florencia often became the primary caretakers of their grandchildren, who came to love his cooking, especially pandesal, and his playful humor. And just as he supported his children’s education, he also took great pride in his grandchildren’s accomplishments, attending every graduation from grade school to graduate school.
At heart, Ciriaco was a devoted follower of the Catholic faith in which he was raised and raised his family. His belief in the good of people and their salvation in the next life was the foundation of his many brilliant qualities: his generosity, his compassion, his sense of justice and duty, his boundless curiosity and joyful wonder. Yet perhaps his greatest quality was his sheer, profound love and devotion to his loved ones.
In 2017, thanks to the advocacy of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, he and other Filipino WWII veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service, which he carried proudly with him until the end of his life.
Ciriaco was preceded in death by his biological and adoptive parents; his 11 siblings; his son Danilo; and his wife Florencia. He is survived by his five children and children-in-law (Juliet Duran, Blesilda and Joseph Lim, Medel and Esperanza Ladines, Melanie Pangilinan Ladines, Cecilia Ladines and Wayne Atzrodt, and Alejandro and Lani Ladines); 14 grandchildren (Jacqueline Duran, Joahnna Fournier, Joseph Ladines-Lim, Julius del Rosario, Andrew Ladines, Justin Ladines, Julian Ladines, Meilin Ladines-Lim, Julia Ladines, Sofia Atzrodt, Jian Ladines, Cassandra Atzrodt, Jio Ladines, and Joshua Ladines); and six great-grandchildren (Andrei Ladines, Juvia Ladines, Clara Fournier, Joaquin Natacio, Asa Fournier, and Nolan del Rosario).
He will forever be achingly missed, cherished, and loved.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) in his memory.