I take particular pain on Anthony Bourdain’s death because his beautiful and fabulous and now famous Filipina nanny is my friend, Evangeline Tagulao Sojonas, or Tita Vangie to us.
By Mona Lunot Kuker
New York – I was shocked when my friend Marilyn Zarabi texted me that Anthony Bourdain died in France, in an apparent suicide. My knees trembled because it reminded me of my first cousin Ireen when she died more than two decades ago.
Depression is terrifying. It can control you at some point when it is not addressed in a professional and proper way. It is brutal, tragic and sad for families and friends who are left behind to comprehend and fathom why a loved one could take his or her life away.
I take particular pain on Anthony Bourdain’s death because his beautiful and fabulous and now famous Filipina nanny is my friend. Evangeline Tagulao Sojonas, or Tita Vangie to us, was the baby nurse of his daughter Ariane. They eventually hired her as Ariane’s nanny with a fat salary.
Tita Vangie told me how the Bourdains treated her like family. She joins them for dinner and Mr. Bourdain would readily give up his morning papers for Vangie to read on.
I used to hang out with Tita Vangie and Ariane at the Bourdain residence a few times in a luxurious condominium on the upper East Side. His daughter is so beautiful and pretty much resembles like her father. I remember that their house was simple, minimalist, yet elegant.
As an artist, I could tell from the artworks on their wall that Bourdain has a progressive outlook. One artwork struck my attention which was about the war and people in Vietnam.
I must confess that I didn’t know how popular Mr. Bourdain was in those times since I rarely watched television. But after being impressed with his progressive mind, I became interested to know him more. In 2011, I got married and resigned from my full time work as a babysitter. But Tita Vangie and I remained friends.
One time, she told me she wanted to buy one of my paintings for Mr. Bourdain. She bought one of my works of art but I am not sure if she gave it to him.
She invited me to her birthday dance party. We also talked about Bourdain’s project in Downtown Manhattan. We dreamt of opening a small Filipino restaurant there with the help of her boss, wishfully.
I admire Bourdain’s love for different cultures. He opened the eyes of many to respect all kinds of people, no matter what is their culture and religion are. I know he was very generous to Tita Vangie, and truly appreciated her hard work for his daughter. As I write, my heart bleeds for Ariane who is distraught over her father’s demise.