By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — Filipinos here remember vivacious singer Elizabeth Ramsey fondly as a wholesome comedienne with raw singing talent and tasteful humor. Ms. Ramsey, a native of Negros Oriental in the Philippines, passed away early Thursday October 8, in her sleep.
Born of Filipino and Jamaican parents, Ms. Ramsey earned to be the Philippines’ queen of rock and roll and the original comedy queen. She was excellent in acting and singing whether in English or her native Visayan (Bisaya) language. Her claim to fame was in 1958 when she won a singing contest in Student Canteen, the first noontime show on Philippine TV.
Ms. Ramsey is survived by her four children, Isaac, Ana, Susan, and pop singer Jaya. Her life was a matter of ‘grit and gut’, she revealed one time in an interview with broadcast media in Manila. Her father arranged for her marriage to a Black guy in Cebu at the age 19. She single-handedly raised her children when she became widowed at age 26. Ms. Ramsey said was determined to etch a career in singing to support her ailing parents and children. In her youth, she already had the passion for singing as she sang in a band in her hometown.
New York-based Broadway artist Miguel Braganza, who also has roots in Negros Oriental, remembers “Manang” Elizabeth fondly as funny and very down to earth. “She is a devotee of the Sto. Nino de Cebu. Her house is filled with Sto. Nino icons of all sizes, from the entrance of her house to the kitchen.”
Braganza was invited by a group of producers two years ago to direct a tribute for Ms. Ramsey at the Araneta Coliseum. “She was the one who cooked for us in that meeting. She made a malunggay soup for us,” Braganza recalled. Well, the star bowed out before the tribute could be shown.
Ariel Canoy, Chicago-based Cebuano said Ms. Ramsey will be missed. “The entertainer is a national treasure, unlike those fake entertainers today and rude comedians, she has a real talent in singing and comedy that delighted everyone. She leaves a memory full of fun, laughter, and joy.”