Ma. Leny Panhilason Santibanez, the wife of district superintendent Terrence Santibanez (Western Visayas, Philippines) and mother to three daughters, Terlene, Lucellie, and Emiellie, died on January 1. Her daughter, Lucellie, serves as the administrative assistant in the Home Office.
We share in their grief and in their hope of resurrection. The following is the obituary shared with Update from her family.
Born on January 30, 1964, Leny grew up in a shanty by a river in Alijis Bacolod City, Philippines with four siblings. Many might wonder how difficult her growing years were, considering the condition of the environment, but she told many stories of how she loved every single bit of her time with nature. She often told us how she would go fishing, swimming, and do the laundry by the river.
Leny’s life was not easy nor financially abundant, but she was resourceful and creative. Countless stories have been told of how she was an entrepreneur even from a young age. She would sell oysters, mosquito larvae as fish food, or anything that they could sell to supplement their needs at home. She and her siblings would often walk to school for several kilometers because finances were scarce for them to afford public transportation. They believed in and valued education, so they persisted.
As a child, she went to the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, with her aunt. She had more entrepreneurial adventures such as selling Sampaguita flowers at parks just to be able to buy food. She was so selfless that she would extend help to those in need, even with the very little she had.Read More
During her college years, Leny worked as a student assistant to be able to afford tuition at West Negros College in Bacolod City, where she met Terrence who was also a working student. Leny was the first to graduate college in her family.
In the late 1980s, Leny became a member of GCI (then WGC). In December 1988, she and Terrence were married and had three daughters—Twinkle, Lucy, and Emi. She gave birth to the first two daughters at home, without epidural. She has always been a great fighter and would withstand pain for the people she loved.
Leny was a teacher for three decades in the field of Business, and later, Information Technology. As a teacher, she was very motherly. Her students told us stories of how she would buy them meals as they too were struggling financially. Leny knew how it felt to be in their shoes, so she did all she could to help. She was very hardworking as a professor and was always proud of her students.
On top of her busy schedule as a wife, a mother, a professor, and a servant of God, she finished two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree. She believed that we are lifelong learners.
Leny had a big loving heart with a desire to share Jesus wherever she went. She served unconditionally and actively in the local church ministry in many capacities for more than 30 years. She volunteered as activity staff (table skirting, arts and crafts, flower arrangement) and kitchen staff during Summer Enrichment Programs (SEP). She loved serving through food. Leny fed children in the local community, gave out pre-loved clothes, shared Bible stories, and taught life lessons. She was an extroverted nurturer, so full of joy and energy.
In May 2022, Leny was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. Despite multiple surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and extensive medical interventions, Leny was called back home by our Lord and Savior last January 1, 2023. She passed surrounded by her family and was a fighter until the very end. The loving memories, the values that she instilled, and the life lessons that were imprinted in our hearts and minds will always remain in us.
The Santibanez family wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude for everyone’s prayers, words of comfort, and support throughout this time of grief and loss.