Farewell, our dearest friend.
Thank you for your care and generosity
In memorium: Tatiana Cordero Velásquez
By Mary Jane Real and Virisila Buadromo
“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” — John Steinbeck
On 13 April 2021, the Urgent Action Funds lost a key pillar of their sisterhood. Tatiana Cordero Velásquez, the Executive Director of Urgent Action Fund — Latin America & Caribbean, passed away due to complications while undergoing medical treatment. In her passing, we lost an activist, scholar, mother, who had a unique ability to bring spiritual care into feminist practice
As Tatiana joins the ancestral world, we know she is caring for us. UAF A&P’s Lead Virisila Buadromo and former Co-Lead, Mary Jane N Real reminisce about her life and the enduring legacy she leaves behind.
What a welcome gift — that Viri and I encountered you as we nervously navigated our entry into the UAF sister funds consortium. We were the newest kids on the block, and at a quandary how best to relate with all our formidable sisters. But it was not as scary as we thought it would be. All of you welcomed us with open arms, and you helped guide us along the way….
It’s not easy to gloss over you: you wear that distinct shade of red lipstick that lights up your face, matched with your necklace, yet in another deep shade of red,… a gift from someone special. The color becomes you. You are beautiful — outside and inside, we were drawn to the beauty you radiate.
In one of our many UAF sister funds’ meetings, Kate, our sister from UAF, gave us another precious gift and arranged for you and I to share the room at Tofino on the West Coast of Canada — this special, sacred place that the Ucluelet First Nation shared with us. There, we sheltered our weary souls, and nurtured our sisterhood as we weave the song lines of UAF’s collective dreams.
There, I got to know you more deeply as we told stories into the starlit nights of our own personal triumphs and travails in our shared activism for a more caring world. We consoled each other over wounds from feminist collectives we consider our kin; we laughed and rejoiced too at the many wonderful friendships and intimate relationships with comrades in our movements at different moments in our lives. And at this juncture of our journey, we affirmed each other’s commitment to shift the politics in our activism to encompass the expansiveness of our spiritual awakenings. And we pledged to call each other every month, and be a companion to each other in this spiritual journey.
So I feel so bereft when I heard about your passing…. When I last talked with you a few weeks ago, you sounded hopeful that the treatments were working. Your voice was full, radiant, and had that fierce passionate ring to it….So I wasn’t expecting you to go so soon….Who will accompany me now as I stumble along this spiritual path of my activism? My heart is heavy with longing — yearning for your wise counsel, your humour and easy laughter, the joy of splitting a delicious meal with you, our shared solitude in honoring sacred grounds…all I have now are precious memories….
I mourn your passing…just at the heels of my grandmother’s passing only a few weeks ago. She lived to be 105, but precisely because she has been a sustained, stable presence in my life, I miss her sorely. I hope you meet her in the afterlife, you are kindred spirits. She embraced me and showed me what unconditional love feels…Like her, you wrapped me in your embrace with much love and care….
So farewell my dearest friend… paalam sa isang pinakamamahal na kaibigan…mapayapa kang humimlay sa iyong kinaroroonan….rest peacefully in the sacred place where soul finds its home.
Tatiana Cordero Velásquez — feminist warrior, spiritual guide , sister, colleague and a bad ass witch.
I met you four years ago and you intimidated me. I felt you could see to the depths of my being. I felt you knew me better than I knew myself.
Over the short human years we journeyed together, as we got to know and understand each other better- I realised that you and I had met in a previous lifetime. This reconnection was us, continuing the work we started in our last reincarnation. You changed me this time round by reminding me of my ancestors, my indigenous identity and the knowledge it carries for me and the feminist movements we both passionately support and are part of.
You taught me to listen to the wind, the earth, the trees and the ocean . You taught me to advocate for all living beings and Mother Earth because we are all interconnected. You taught me about pausing, going slow and deep on work. You reminded me that we are part of the collective and that we all need to support each other with compassion, dignity and empathy. You also emphasised the importance of having feminist rituals to celebrate, to grieve and for gratitude.
So yesterday with a heavy heart, I went to the Pacific Ocean, built an altar of gardenias, tiare and sinu with a coconut and some seashells I found on the beach. I celebrated and grieved you listening to our own ReSisters soundtrack. I called on my ancestors…and asked that they welcome you on other side. Please say bula to my dad, my gentle grandfathers and my feisty grandmothers. One is a healer and one is a storyteller. Trust me you will be in good company.
Sota tale Tati ! Ma’Lo na veikawaitaki kena veiqaravi. (a bare bone translation sans the rich nuance of my language — See you soon Tati, thank you for your care and generosity)
To read the Urgent Action Funds collective message on Tatiana’s passing, follow this link