LOURDES J. ASTRAQUILLO
Lourdes J.Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D., calls herself a child of World War II as soon as she saw how it announced itself in her native Philippines. She was a first-semester public high school sophomore at Baguio City High School, Northern Luzon. War announced itself on December 8, 1941, through what was later identified as carpet bombing. Likewise known as Ludy, her dad's nickname for her, that name has identified her officially: as a journalist, educator, and author. In her 6th grade English class, her teacher submitted an essay written in class, "My Hometown," which he submitted to a nationwide competition. It won the first prize of P50.00 pesos. She proceeded, on to further schooling: receiving honors not just through her writing, but likewise through her academic and oratorical skills. Liberation arrived in early 1945: and the country would return to normalcy. Ludy's parents decided to enroll her in Manila, the nation's capital, the central site of the University of the Philippines. In eight semesters, she completed all requirements for her Bachelor of Science and Arts degrees earned as a college scholar.
That early university accomplishment led to her acceptance as a reporter on the beat at the Manila Daily Bulletin in 1949; too, she contributed to other metropolitan publications.
Even as a very young writer, Ludy considered the significance of Valentine's Day were she to think of a life partner. On February 14, 1952, Ludy exchanged marriage vows with Hermie T. Ongkeko, class '51, the first
postwar class of the Philippine Military Academy whom she heard from in 1948. As an editor, he asked her to contribute to the cadet publication without ever meeting him. Writing has kept Ludy alive despite her widowhood. She lost her husband after a little over a six-decade marriage. Writing has remained her universe. She has been a columnist for the Philippine News, an almost 60-year-old coast-to-coast weekly of which she has rendered a more than five-decade affiliation; she is a regular contributor to The FilAm, a New York monthly. Her late husband was also a writer who, while in his homeland's active service's armed forces, authored several pieces of national renown. Ludy speaks six foreign languages, aside from eight Filipino homeland dialects, all different from night to day. As a mother of three, grandmother of six, and great-grandmother of seven, Ludy has remained thankful that writing has remained a virtual plus of her life. She calls writing a main challenge.