Exclusive: A glimpse of Loi Estrada’s upcoming memoir 2
Erap and Loi with Jinggoy Jude and Jackie

First look! Former First Lady Loi Estrada is releasing a memoir—here’s a taste of what’s inside

In “Love, Mommyla: My Memories of 9 Decades,” the one-time senator looks back on her Zambales roots, talks about life as politico’s wife among others
ANCX Staff | Jun 01 2022

Former First Lady of the Republic Luisa Fernandez S. Pimentel-Ejercito, more popularly known as Loi Estrada, is releasing her memoir this June. Entitled “Love, Mommyla: My Memories of 9 Decades,” the 104-pager is published by her daughter Jackie Ejercito. “Mommyla” is her grandchildren’s term of endearment for the now 91-year old retired psychiatrist, educator, and former Senator.

The book covers Ejercito’s early years growing up in Iba, Zambales, where her mother Manuela Fernandez struggled to support her and her two siblings following the death of their father Rufino Pimentel when Loi was only four or five years old. During her studies at the University of Santo Tomas, the young Luisa didn’t have much resources. She would copy books by hand, except for her anatomy textbooks because she didn’t know how to draw. 

Loi Ejercito
The child Luisa lost her father when she was only about 4 or 5 years old.

The memoir will also cover her marriage to former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, including their courtship, and her nearly three decades of being in the shadows—she was not introduced as Mrs. Ejercito Estrada until some 30 years after their 1959 civil wedding. “For close to three decades, Mrs. Ejercito did not exist. That’s because I was never introduced to the public,” writes Ejercito. “Not during Daddylo’s (Erap’s) acting career, nor during his 17-year tenure as San Juan’s mayor. But about two years into his senatorial term, the late editor and writer Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, wrote an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer to reveal the facts of our marriage.

“You can probably imagine how liberating that felt, coming out of the shadows and being acknowledged as Mrs. Estrada at last. There was, however, a panic-inducing trade off: I would now have to join the politicians’ wives from the Senate Spouses Foundation in the countless activities and socials they were part of. You would panic, too, if you were basically a shy person uncomfortable in the company of strangers. Besides, I always considered psychiatry to be my turf, not politics.” 

Young couple Loi and Joseph attend a gathering in the 50s.
Young couple Loi and Joseph attend a gathering in the 50s.

But yes Ejercito did dip her toes into politics. “Politics is not her cup of tea, pero tumakbo siya bilang senador pa din,” recalls Loi’s eldest, Jinggoy, just to see, he says, if the Erap magic still works after the patriarch made his exit from Malacañang in 2001 following an impeachment trial and public outcry for his ouster.

“Fortunately, she won. After her victory, I was also elected as senator,” says Jinggoy. “We worked together in the senate. That was the first time in the senate’s history na nagkaroon ng mother-son tandem, and we enjoyed every minute. Pag nag-chime na yung bell sa senado, tatawagan ko na siya. ‘Baka ma-late ka,’ I would tell her.”

“Love, Mommyla” also features recollections from others closest to Ejercito. Wilma Baula, a friend from her childhood days in Zambales up to present, recalls how active, competitive, and athletic she was. “Lahat ng sports and activities, sinasalihan niya. And she’s always a winner,” says Baula in the book. “Nung college si Loi, naging varsity player siya sa volleyball, middle blocker. Basta lahat yan kaya niya. Nuon sa Iba, catcher-pitcher siya sa baseball.”

Joseph and Loi on their 50th wedding anniversary.
Joseph and Loi on their 50th wedding anniversary.

This longtime friend adds that Loi is a very protective mom. “When her children get sick, anduon siya sa tabi, she would sleep with them. Ay, sundo-hatid yang mga anak niya, hindi niya pinag-school bus. Of course may driver na siya at that time,” says Baula. “She would do everything for them. I remember nung binisita ko siya, sa Greenhills na sila nakatira. Naabutan ko siyang naglalaba.”

As a mother, Ejercito is indeed very protective, says daughter Jackie. As for her mother’s great love for her dad, here’s what the middle child has to say: “I really don’t know where her heart came from, her love for my dad is immeasurable and unconditional. Kasi, grabe, sobrang love na love niya talaga si Dad. If ever ma-hurt siya, konting lambing lang ni Daddy, okay na siya.” 

The book cover of “Love, Mommyla”
The book cover of “Love, Mommyla”

The only daughter also comments on her mother’s ability to appear calm while the family faced tough times: “I remember before leaving the palace she told us kids, ‘Aalis tayo dito na naka taas-noo dahil walang ginawang kasalanan ang daddy ninyo.’ All of us left Malacañang with a heavy heart, because they accused my dad of something he didn’t do. Despite that, my mom looked so happy! Everyone was wondering why she was beautiful and beaming that day. It was like, she was saying, ‘Thank God! Haaay, salamat ... kayo na dito!”

[For those who wish to purchase the book, email marefoundationinc@gmail.com, or call Lea Afable at 09266823585/09631777357. Percentage of the sales will go to Dra. Loi’s Mare Foundation now chaired by daughter Jackie.]

All photos from the Ejercito archives.