First of three parts
Close to 200 kilometets south of Bacolod City, in a village in the city proper, neighbors of Olivia Villaflores Yanson in Bantayan, a city in Negros Oriental province still remember her as “Inday Love.”
It is in this once dusty and faraway place, a street called Bollos intersects from the main road that runs in front of the public plaza.
It is here in Bollos that OVY grew up, in an ancestral house that still stands to this day.
Bacolod City is the highly-urbanized center of Negros Occidental province, the Sugarbowl of the Philippines. It is here where OVY celebrated her 90th birthday last night, 23 January 2024.
“Ah kay Mommy Love,” Efren (not his, real name), a tricycle driver tells this writer as he points to a house on the right side of the road to the east only a few meters away.
The white two-storey house is a “karaan,” an old one that was one of the few built in that part of the barangay (village) called Poblacion when Bayawan was still a dusty, faraway town in Negros Oriental province served by only a few private bus companies before Mrs Yanson, known by her initials OVY, quit her job as a nurse to build with her husband, Ricardo Sr, the bus fleet that has become almost synonymous with Negros island: Ceres Liner.
Angie Zuniga is a health worker of poblacion whose elder brother is a classmate of OVY whom she also knows as a neighbor, “a kind and gentle woman” who goes home to Bayawan when “somethimg” happens to her relatives or when there are events involving them, classmates or friends.
This willingness to come back for one’s neighbors or friends and to help when one’s lot in life has improved is a trait highly valued here where being a “silingan” or neighbor is not just some title but one that carries with it some responsibility.
In fact, Angie believes Ceres Liner is partly responsible for the growth of Bayawan that became a first class component city of Negros Oriental close to 24 years ago on 23 December 2000.
As Olivia Villaflores Yanson turned 90, now recognized as the matriarch of a clan that not owns and operates a giant fleet of oublic transport buses but is also reputed as the island’s largest private employer.
It is important to pount out though that the Yansons are embroiled in an intra-corporate dispute that has led to the filing of charges and countercharges between the group led by OVY herself and her two children, Ginette Dumancas, and her youngest, Leo Rey – against that led by her eldest, Roy, and three others known as the Y4.
OVY celebrated her recent birthday amid a series of courtroom victories – the approval by Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Judge Ana Celeste Bernad on 31 August 2023 of the probate of her last will and testament thst effectively stripped the Y4 – Roy, Ricardo Jr, Maria Lourdes Celina, and Emily.
The court resolution also strengthened the decision of OVY to name Leo Rey and Ginnette as universal heirs of her properties.
About two months later, on 21 October 2023, the Ninth Divisuin of the Court of Appeals ordered the lifting of the suspension of an arrest warrant by a Bacolod lower court against Emily, the eldest daughter, and directed it to carry out its proceedings on the perjury charges against her.
The Appeals Court also cited the findings of the lower court that Emily made untruthful statements as corporate secretary of Ceres Transport nd falsified entries in the General Information Sheet of the firm in 2017, 2018, and 2019, in all of which she made it appear that she and Celina are stockholders and directors of the company while OVY is not.
According to the CA, Emily could not simply declare herself a stockholder of Ceres Transport, having only as basis the stipulations in the extrajudicial settlement deeds. It said only corporate documents such as the stock transfer book and certificate of stock, among others, can be considered relevant to a claim of stock ownership.
(To be continued)