Romeo Joaquin Lombo

3/26/1946 - 1/4/2021

Celebrating the Life of Romeo

On behalf of the Lombo family, we thank you for joining Romeo’s virtual memorial service and celebration of life on January 23, 2021. A replay of the service is available below for those who were unable to attend or who would like to revisit the beautiful memories shared live.

We also invite you to post your memories of Romeo in our Guest Book. If you would like to contact the family privately, please contact Veronica at mvclombo@gmail.com.

Play Video

Order of Service

Greeting and Introduction — Chris Downey
Opening Prayer — Rev. Efrain Flores, Pastor St. Joseph Catholic Church
Remembrances — Vince “Bong” Regala, Gloria Lombo Chen
Slideshow
Remembrances — Vicky Lombo Northup, Veronica Lombo
Slideshow
Remembrances — Grandchildren (Mason Chen, Drake Chen, Lenox Chen, Owen Northup, Evan Northup)
Open Remembrances
Introduction to Salamat Sa Iyo — Vince “Bong” Regala
Salamat Sa Iyo Open Singalong
Closing Prayer — Rev. Efrain Flores
Reception

Obituary

Romeo “Romy” Joaquin Lombo, husband of Nenita “Nellie” Collado Lombo, died aged 74, on January 4, 2021 at 7:53pm from complications due to COVID-19. He passed peacefully at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA surrounded by love and held by family members, while his favorite Elvis songs played in the background. 

Romeo was born on March 26, 1946 in Hermosa, Bataan, Philippines, the only son and youngest child of Hilaria Joaquin Lombo and Elizeo Lombo. His father passed when he was nearly a baby, so his mother raised him with the help of her sister, Julie, and his older sister, Mely. 

In school, Romeo played saxophone in the marching band. During a phone conversation with his daughter Veronica, he recalled that some of his fondest memories as a child were watching movies on the public television in the town square. He also told her a story about walking barefoot for hours with his friends to go to the mountain to pick fruits. He was so poor he could not afford shoes, but that didn’t stop him from having fun and enjoying life. 

In order to support his family, Romeo began working at the age of 16. In lieu of college, he attended trade school to become a carpenter. Years later, he left his hometown of Hermosa and moved to the island of Guam to work for his uncle Pantaleon Vicente’s construction company. Romeo relished in the disco age and embraced bell bottoms and dancing. While in Guam, he met the love of his life, Nellie Collado, in 1973. When asked by his daughter, Veronica, how he knew he wanted to marry her, Romeo replied, “Some things you just know, Vee.” Nellie and Romeo wed in Manila in 1974.

They gave birth to their first daughter, Gloria, in the Philippines in 1974 and their second, Victoria, in Guam in 1976. After discovering that Vicky was born with a thyroid condition, they traveled to Detroit, MI, where Nellie’s sister Mila lived so that Vicky could receive medical treatment as an infant. Shortly thereafter, Romeo and Nellie moved to southern California to be closer to members of Romeo’s extended family and live in warmer weather. His youngest daughter, Veronica, was born in California in 1986.

Romeo spent most of his career as a skilled carpenter at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, from which he retired in 2012. He was renowned for designing and building nursing stations at the hospital where everyone knew his name, his warm heart, and his smile.

A proud and involved father, Romeo was determined to provide for his family and give them opportunities he didn’t have and the life he felt they deserved. His family meant more to him than anything else in the world. He often helped his daughters with their homework, making sure their handwriting was perfect and their numbers were placed in the correct place value columns. He also enjoyed chaperoning their school field trips, attending their extracurricular activities, and taking them out to eat after school.  When asked months before his passing about his regrets in life, he said he had none — being father to three beautiful and accomplished daughters brought him happiness beyond words.

Romeo was one of the founding members of the Hermosa Bataan Association of California, an organization dedicated to keeping the spirit of Hermosa alive since 1977. He served as President from 1989 to 1990 and received the Dugong Hermosa Award in 1999. Romeo was proud of being from Hermosa and proud of his Filipino heritage. He took pleasure in sharing Filipino food and culture with all those who knew him. He loved watching TFC (The Filipino Channel) and telling his daughters which celebrities were Filipino.

For many years, it was Romeo’s Saturday morning ritual to go for an oceanside jog in Newport Beach and pick up crabs from the local fish market for Nellie to cook at home. He had a black belt in Kung Fu, enjoyed playing tennis, and liked watching NBA games and cheering on his favorite team, the LA Lakers. 

He was also an adoring lolo (grandfather) to five grandchildren: Mason, Owen, Drake, Evan and Lenox. When his grandkids spent the night at his house, Lolo gave them full rein of the television and bought them McDonald’s and treats from the ice cream truck. He loved seeing them eat Filipino food like lumpia and spam and rice. 

As a man of faith, Romeo worked hard to send his children to Catholic school and attended rosaries with his family on weekends. He spent the last fifteen years of his life serving as a Eucharistic minister and assistant sacristan at St. Joseph Church, which he considered an honor and a blessing. 

Everyone who knew Romeo remembers him for his radiant smile, love of storytelling, welcoming demeanor, and sense of humor.  

Romeo is predeceased by his father Elizeo; his mother Hilaria; and his three sisters, Mercedes, Lucia, and Carmelita. 

He is survived by his wife, Nenita; by their daughters, Gloria Lombo Chen, Victoria Lombo Northup, and Maria Veronica Lombo; and sons-in-law Anthony C. Chen, Geoffrey Michael Northup, and James Henry Winslow; and by their grandchildren, Mason Julia Chen, Owen Lombo Northup, Drake Anthony Chen, Evan Michael Northup, and Lenox Paige Chen. 

Salamat Sa Iyo

By Vince "Bong" Regala

Salamat sa iyo literally means “thanks to you” in Tagalog. It is a song of praise, expressing thanks that is beyond measure, in appreciation of God’s unconditional love. This song is a favorite among Hermosa prayer groups that is typically sung at the end of the rosary.  Romy loved this song.

Eulogies

By Vince "Bong" Regala

Ating ipagdasal, kapatid nating namatay,
Romeo Lombo ng Burgos-Soliman.

I would like to thank the family for giving me the honor of speaking about Romy. I find it sad and disheartening, that this pandemic is depriving Romy of a traditional and personal remembrance that he deserves. If these were normal times, this memorial will be packed with people because Romy is respected and loved by so many.

We have lost a good friend in Romy. But the grief we feel pales in comparison to the sorrow of Nel who has lost a loving husband… Ria, Vicky and Veronica who have lost a caring father, and the grandchildren Mason, Drake, Lenox, Owen and Evan who have lost a super hero. Our hearts are deeply bruised, because he touched us with his humility and humanity. Our only solace now is to keep his presence in our memories. 

Romeo Joaquin Lombo was born in Hermosa, Bataan, on March 26th, 1946. He and older sister Mely were children to Eliseo Lombo and Hilaria Joaquin. Romy grew up without his father who passed away early. They did not have much, so even at a young age Romy was compelled to help provide for his family. He joined the local community band so he could help put food on the table. And since going to college was not an option, he went to a vocational school to learn a trade.  He worked in construction for several years until he was recruited by his uncle who was a contractor in Guam.  He worked there for a few years, met Nellie, and got married. 

Just like the stories of other first generation Filipino immigrants, Romy’s story was no different.  He and Nel left Guam to pursue a better life in America. Their first years were underscored by struggles and challenges.  Romy continued doing carpentry work, a field, I must say, that was thrust upon him, not by choice, but out of necessity. But with hard work and tenacity, he excelled at his field, achieving not only success but respect, recognition, and gratitude. Romy and Nel remained undaunted and unshakeable in their dream to give their children a better life than theirs.  And I firmly believe…they resoundingly achieved that goal!  

Romy was a happy man with a good sense of humor!  One of my favorite Romy story was when he went back to Hermosa for a vacation. He took home two boxes of pasalubong. The news spread like wildfire that he had arrived. They all rushed to Romy’s house, dead set on picking whatever goodie they could get their hands on.  Romy untied and opened the boxes and…one by one, the California t-shirts, the shoes, the corned beef, the M and Ms, the soap bars, and other items were quickly snatched away.  And when the smoke cleared, one slow elderly neighbor came… but Romy had nothing left to give him.  Romy said, “Aruy Tata Inggo paano ba yan, naubos ng lahat ang pasalubong, itong tali na lang ang natira.” But the old man quickly said, “Oh di yan na lang tali ang ibigay mo sa akin,” which Romy gladly obliged, with a big laugh!  Romy’s candy store had closed, but everybody in the whole neighborhood was happy, including the neighbor, who found use for the rope as a tether for his carabao. That…was pure, vintage Romy!  His core being was always defined by his big, generous, and giving heart!

Romy was a helpful person who always found time for others.  I am only one of the many recipients of his free and personalized service. He helped install my bathroom glass door, helped build my patio, and other carpentry work. To this day, I’m sure, you can still find Romy’s imprints in many Hermosa households.

When Romy left, a significant piece of us was sadly taken away because Romy represented the best in us. He embodied our good Hermosa values… like love of family, devotion to our faith, altruism, humility, and decency.

As we say goodbye to Romy, let us thank him for having brightened our lives, with his love and friendship. As we say goodbye to Romy, let us   honor him by not allowing his humanity to get lost in time and be forgotten.

So goodbye Romy… have a happy and wonderful reunion with your family.  Feel…at last, the tender embrace of your Tatang Eliseo, Nang Yayang, and Ating Mely.  But best of all, cherish a beginning of eternal rest, peace, joy, and glory with our Lord.  We love you… and we will miss you dearly.

By Gloria Lombo Chen

Thank you all for coming today. My Dad would have been really pleased to see so many of you here. He always did like celebrations and it is right that, on this day, of all days, we are celebrating him and his life. 

I admired my Dad on so many levels. As a father to a daughter he guided me down a righteous path, not only showing me the way but living it as well.

He would call me several times a week and the phone conversations always started with “Hi Dad, Hi Ri. How are you?” Then we would continue with family news. From there, my Dad would always ask how people in my life were doing. He always cared about others before himself. 

If I needed to learn the act of giving I just needed to watch my dad.

When my Dad would go on trips to his homeland, the Philippines, he always brought gifts “pasalubongs” for his friends and family. He would empty out his closet. As my Aunt would say “your Dad was friends with everyone. He never had an enemy.”  He would arrive with a full suitcase and come home with just the clothes he was wearing.

If I wanted to know the right thing to do, I only had to see my dad live his life.

He worked hard from a young age. “We came to the United States so you and your sisters can have better lives” he would say. As children, going to a university was always a given. It wasn’t something you questioned. My sisters and I were brought up to do well in school so we could be more successful than the last generation. Today, my husband Tony and I have continued to teach that message to our three children.

My Dad instilled in me so many great qualities, he especially taught all of us kindness. Pretty much anybody who encountered him could always see that there was still good left in the world. He was always smiling and everyone knew him as a jokester who was always willing to help someone in need.

I loved my Dad, and he knew it but I don’t think he knew how much he and our relationship meant to me. Let me just say, it meant the world to me. Without a doubt, my Dad was taken too soon. It devastated and shocked us all. But we can, we are and we will take comfort in the love that we share for each other as a family and that, my dad died with no regrets, a very loved man.

If you’re fortunate enough to be here with your dad, hug him, tell him you love him. If he’s not here with you, after this, call him. If your father has passed as mine has then feel every ounce of love he has surrounded you with. 

Dad please watch over us. We miss you. Mahal kita.

By Vicky Lombo Northup

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the gift of education.  They sent me and my sisters to Catholic school because they wanted us to learn about Jesus’ love.  The elementary school that we attended, St. Joseph, stressed that a child’s primary teacher was their parent, and my dad, along with my mom,  took on that role. Although he himself did not have the opportunity to have a formal education, he instilled in my sisters and I lessons that we would use throughout our lives.

Through my dad’s modeling and tough love, we learned to work hard and have pride in our work.  I remember him measuring the plexiglass and wood carefully when he built cabinets around our house or for other projects he completed for others.  Before he played kickball with us after school, he helped me practice my handwriting. I remember him erasing a whole line of cursive l’s because they didn’t look like the model and didn’t have enough space between them.  Despite the tears I shed on those days, his insistence on perfection paid off, as people often compliment me on my neat writing to this day.

My dad also had a knack for remembering people’s names, which was helpful in cultivating relationships. One of his favorite activities was walking along the boardwalk at Newport Beach and then buying crabs afterwards. He befriended his favorite crab monger, Crabby Steve, and was able to relay his life story to me. Or, we’d run into people around town, and my dad would greet them by name, and always ask how they were doing, even if he had only met them a couple of times. I’m not sure how he remembered people’s names so well, but I’m grateful that I inherited this ability from him; it helps me as a teacher with over 70 students a year.

He was also known for his sense of humor. Despite having three daughters, he did not deprive us of his fart jokes. At a young age, I learned what “pull my finger” meant. And one thing he told us was  to never take responsibility for passing gas.

But, seriously, he always stressed the importance of family. When my sisters and I would argue, he would remind us not to do so, we’re family and we should always stick together. And, he was right, my sisters are my confidants and support system. I know they will help me, give me honest feedback, and love me unconditionally. I think he would be proud of us for working together and supporting each other during these difficult times.

Dad, I want you to know that I’m proud of you.  You’ve taught me the value of hard work, treating others kindly, and putting our family first.  I love you and will miss you greatly. 

By Veronica Lombo

Dear Dad,

A few months ago Henry and I were interviewed on podcast and the host asked me if I currently had a teacher. I said “No,” but that I learned from people and situations around me. If I could answer that question again, I would say that you are and have been my greatest teacher. 

As a child, you taught me how to do the Sunday morning word search in the newspaper. 

You used your Kung fu skills and taught me how to block and do chicken kicks and side kicks. 

From a young age, you taught me how to use a hammer, a drill, a philips screwdriver, and a flathead. 

Each time you squeezed me, smell kissed my face, and said “Bee, I lab you so much!” you taught me how to express love.

You picked me up from school everyday. You sat through my gymnastics and cheer practices. You came to my yoga classes and always set up in the back corner, giving me a thumbs up or a wink. You even watched my online meditations and messaged “Good job Vee” usually followed by a long string of emojis. Through all these, you were there for me and you taught me the value of consistency and unwavering support. 

When I got stressed out, you’d say, “Bee. You have to relax. Take it easy.” 

When driving in the car, you’d often turn to me at a red light, flash me a thumbs up and a smile and say “Cool man!” or “Bitchen!” 

When Uncle Mario passed, I said that I was sad and I felt like Mom was too. You said “Yeah it’s sad. Healing takes time. Day by day.” 

When we arrived at the hospital on the day you died, the ER nurse, Christine, told me how sweet you were and how your last words were, “Thank you.” Through this, you have reminded me of the importance of gratitude even in the most difficult of moments. Each morning when I wake up, I think of you, and the first words I say in my head and aloud, are “Thank you.” 

That night, I held your hand, played your favorite Elvis songs, and watched you take your last breath. In your passing, you showed me peace and surrender. 

So many friends and family have gathered to pray and to express support and in this you have shown me that love is all around me if I choose to receive it. 

When I read or hear memories people have shared about you, you have shown me how one person can have a profound effect on many people’s lives. 

You taught me that ultimately some things are out of our control and always said “When it’s your turn, it’s your turn.”

I guess it was your turn. My heart hurts that you are no longer with us in physical form, but I know that you are here and that your spirit will continue to live on. 

When I pick tangerines and give them away to loved ones, you give. 

When I make rice and measure it with my finger just like you taught me, you make rice. 

When I dance the hanky panky, the electric slide, or the cha cha, you dance.

When I sing in the shower or the car or use the karaoke machine, you sing. 

When I wear sweatpants, you wear sweatpants.

When I laugh, you laugh.

And when I smile, you smile. 

Thank you for the blessing of being your daughter and for the opportunity to be a part of your life. 

I love you.

Vee 

PS. I miss you. You always said, “Life isn’t always good time, good time. There are sad times. But when there is a sad time, be happy because the good time is coming.”

By Boy Vicente

Share Your Memories

Reading about your fondest memories of our dad brings joy and healing to our hearts. Please share them below.
Maraming salamat po.

Love,
Ria, Vicky, and Veronica

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46 entries.
Erica Falcis from Long Beach wrote on January 20, 2021 at 8:11 pm
Since the first day I met Romeo, he was shining like a bright light. I know him best through all of my classes he used to take when I first started out as a Bikram teacher. I appreciated the time I spent with him in my classes and outside at the studio, especially because he had such a warm presence and was always overflowing with kindness. In many ways during my interactions with him, he has taught me more about life and Yoga than I would teach my students. It breaks my heart that we lost him, but I’m also thankful for the place he’s in now where there is no more pain. Heaven has gained another angel and Light. I’m so thankful I got to know him during his time here.
Ron Kress from Garden Grove wrote on January 20, 2021 at 6:24 pm
Romeo and I worked in the same department at the hospital for over 30 years. He built, laminated and installed cabinetry throughout the building . He also fabricated solid surface countertops. He had a great sense of humor and work ethic. Always willing to help in any situation and we all admired and respected him. My most sincere condolences
Nestor D. Lim from Hermosa wrote on January 20, 2021 at 4:38 am
Koyang Romy, was what we grew up calling him, our neighbor in Burgos, always very cheerful and never forget his roots and took care of his family. I know he is a very helpful person, for I knew some of them. We were still kids when he left to work in Guam. Last time we met was during the wake of Ate Mely, The news of his death really surprised me and was very sad learning about it. I pray that his soul finds peace and happiness to a place ahead of us all.
Tiffany Yu from Los Angeles wrote on January 19, 2021 at 9:54 pm
I have such fond memories of visiting the house in Santa Ana and feeling the warmth inside the house. Everything from the smell of the kitchen to the sounds from the TV (with a game show on). Romeo Lombo was always so jovial and open from the moment I entered the house. I loved how Vee was always proud of him for attending and keeping with Yoga classes at times. I'm so saddened to hear the news of his passing. My heartfelt condolences to the entire family. Thinking of you all and sending warm thoughts.
Jason Victor Mendoza wrote on January 19, 2021 at 12:51 pm
I always considered Uncle Romy to be one of my favorite uncles. To be honest, I could never remember how our families were related, but he was always Uncle Romy. Even though I was always shy and quiet, he always came around to talk to me asking how I was, how my family was doing, and how my girlfriend was. He always had a very radiant smile and laughter so contagious. When I found out we were going to a family party being held at his and Auntie Nellie's house, I was always excited to go because I remembered there was a fun trampoline in the big backyard! One of the latest conversations I had with him was him asking if I still worked at the movie theater. I haven't worked there in over 6 years, but when he asked, it filled me up with joy because the minor detail I shared with him long ago, he still remembered. To me, he will always be remembered as the very happy, successful, fun-to-talk-to Uncle Romy with a beautiful family. Although I will always miss him, I know his soul will rest easily in peace with God in heaven.
Patrice Simon from Laguna Beach wrote on January 19, 2021 at 3:05 am
Feeling a great loss of a human spirit so full of joy and sweetness, remembering Romeo and his presence as one of my yoga students for many years in Costa Mesa makes me appreciate knowing him and his beautiful daughter and fellow yoga teacher, Veronica (Vee). Romeo's quiet, ALWAYS smiling and infectious laugh often turned difficult days into pure bliss when he came to class, most often late evenings. He was a dedicated student of the Bikram (hot) yoga technique. Kindness exuded from his gentle nature, He was always sweet, caring and never failed to ask how I was doing. A shining light. I'll remember him with great love and gratitude. My prayers are for the family. Love and Blessings, Patrice Simon