Norma Manalo Agatep
June 30, 1940 – September 15, 2021
Norma Manalo Agatep, 81 years old, entered into eternal rest on September 15, 2021. Norma was born on June 30, 1940 in the city of Pasig in the Philippines, to Pedro Manalo and Paceña (Pagaliman) Manalo. Her father notably served as a major in the 45th Infantry of the Philippine Scouts. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March; but, unfortunately, died in 1942 at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac as a prisoner of war. Norma became an orphan at the age of five after her mother tragically died from a bombing in a marketplace during WWII. She grew up in Cubao as one of twelve siblings and was raised by the oldest sister.
She graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Banking & Finance. She met the love of her life, Jovencio “Benny” Agatep, while staying with her brother, who was then renting the upper floor of the same two-family house. The young man was smitten by her beauty and simplicity. They were married on January 18, 1964 and lived in Bantay in Ilocos Sur, where they had their three children Joseph, Mary Jane, and Benjamin. Norma became a widow in 1993 and later immigrated to the United States in 1999. Despite having lost both parents at a very early age, her loving and nurturing nature extended past her children. She spent many years, up until her last months of life, dividing her time between New Jersey, California, Florida, and the Philippines to care for her six grandchildren.
Norma lived her life in service and devotion to others, from her family to friends, even to strangers. She always put others’ needs above her own. She was known by many for her thoughtfulness and gracious hospitality. She loved to cook your favorite meals. It was not uncommon to find her offering whatever snacks or sweets she had in her handbag; sharing thoughtful gifts to friends for no special occasion; or sending care packages (“balikbayan” boxes) not only to family, but to anyone in need in the Philippines.
She was a devout Catholic and sought to deepen her faith as well as those of others. She was known as the loving “Nanay” to her weekly Our Lady of Fatima prayer group and enjoyed attending Marian retreats. She also had a profound devotion to the Divine Mercy and would start and end her day reciting both the Rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy multiple times throughout the day, praying for the intention of others.
She loved tending to her beautiful garden and would often share her flowers and home-grown vegetables to bring happiness to others. She would spend hours cultivating her plants. She loved walking, especially at the beach, finding peace listening to the waves, smelling the fresh air, and feeling the soft sand between her toes.
Norma will be missed dearly as she has left an indelible mark on everyone she met. She was a woman of many virtues, including steadfast faith, compassion, and humility. Her deep-rooted devotion to Mother Mary was admired by all who were made witness to it. It was extremely fitting that she passed, due to complications following a heart attack, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, commemorating the sufferings Mother Mary’s heart endured. Norma was a loving mother, grandmother, aunt, and sister, as well as mother figure to those who needed one. She accepted the trials of motherhood with courage, love, and trust. To bookend her beautiful life of selfless love and devotion, her memorial service will be held on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
As heartbroken as our family is to be without her, we are at peace knowing she is no longer in pain. Norma is survived by her children Joseph, Jane, and Benjamin; her grandchildren Michael, Arianna, Alyssa, Gabby, J.V., and Isabella; and her sister, Josephine.
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In Memory Of
Norma Manalo Agatep
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