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Pioneering court interpreter passes on after lingering illness

05 May 2018

Menchu Rivera with her closest friends among the interpreters:
Jo Ann Bautista, Yollie Santos and Gigi Wearing-Smith

A well-loved member of the Filipino community who spent nearly four decades working as a court interpreter in Hong Kong, died in Manila early on Apr. 24.

Carmen Eizmendi Rivera, 75, who was fondly known as “Menchu” in the community, passed away due to bladder cancer. She left behind two children, Louie and Socci. A third, her youngest son Ramon, died from drowning three years ago.

Socci said in a message to Menchu’s friends in Hong Kong that her mom passed away peacefully after fighting a “very painful battle.” Socci said Menchu was cremated on the same day that she died, and her remains interred at the St. Therese Columbarium in Pasay City on Apr 29.

Mercifully, Menchu’s last hours were reportedly “filled with laughter, love and prayers.”

Menchu with Jan Yumul, who became close to the affable
interpreter while covering court stories for The SUN
The jovial and sharp-witted interpreter was known for her fluency in Filipino, English and Spanish, and was often called upon to handle difficult court cases. She was friendly with many in the community, and was known for always turning up smartly dressed and well-coiffed for any occasion.

Told of how saddened people in the community were on hearing of her mother’s death, Socci said: “We all miss her. Her smile, her colourful and matching accessories…that's my mom!”

A longtime Hong Kong resident, Menchu joined the interpreter’s office of the Hong Kong Judiciary in 1981, and served until November last year, when she had to go home for medical treatment. She had noticeably lost weight by then, but remained her funny self that many of her friends were shocked to hear of her untimely death.

Several masses were offered for Menchu in Hong Kong, including one on Apr 21 by her interpreter-friends, shortly after news about her deteriorating condition was relayed by her son Louie; and another at the Philippine Consulate on Sunday, Apr 22. More masses were offered after she passed on. – Daisy CL Mandap
Louie Rivera (leftmost, on the floor) and Socci Cristi (in pink dress) were joined by relatives
at the inurnment of Menchu's ashes at St Therese Columbarium on Apr 29.
A memorial mass for Carmen “Menchu” Rivera will be held on May 19, 2018 (Saturday), 6pm, at the Catholic Centre on the 18th floor, Grand Building, 15-18 Connaught Road, Central. Join her family, friends and colleagues in commemorating Menchu’s life and passing.

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