A loving Mama and lola, Alicia Cailipan Buñag
a tribute by children and grandchildren
Editor's Note: Dr. Alicia Cailipan Buñag would have celebrated her 87th birthday on July 10 and would be celebrating her one year death anniversary on August 26. In loving memory, we are publishing this tribute, as we also extend our congratulations to her son Jojo on his promotion as BIR commissioner.
Born in Infanta, Quezon to Leonila Ortiz, a native of Infanta, and Catalino Cailipan of Tikay, Bulacan, Alice, which means "noble," grew up with her older sister, Ester, and younger brother, Catalino (Nenong) jr. Alice spent high school in Calapan, Mindoro, because her father assigned there as a prosecuting attorney.
Alice studied premed at the Philippine women's University in Manila, then finished her degree in medicine at the University of the Philippines, Class of 42. She married her classmate, Primo Carag Buñag of Tuguegarao, Cagayan on May 9, 1943.
After their first born son, Jojo, was born in 1944, Alice and Ester's families were able to escape the Japanese massacre in Infanta, but their parents and Ester's eldest daughter, Sonya, were capture and killed.
Alice worked for the American Red Cross in Manila after liberation and the birth of second child Marilyn. Then came Shirley, and soon after, Primo and Alice decided to start their private practice in Infanta, next to Ester's drug store. Alice was the first (and for a long time, the only) lady physician in Infanta. She was called on almost all deliveries of babies and always asked to suggest a names. She would get up at different hours of the night to go to far barrios by foot or calesa if there was an emergency. She and Primo dedicated their services to all whether they got paid (money or in-kind) or not. They would even take serious cases to Manila when trips then took eight to 10 hours drive one way.
All along, Primo and Alice were both active in civic and church activities, starting a group for married couples. Alice was in Catholic Women's League, the Sagrado Corazon Rosary Group. she was a devotee of St. Joseph, wearing green on Sundays, while her daughters would wear while and blue sash in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. She gave a huge statue of St. Joseph to St. Mark's Cathedral.
Primo and Alice wanted the best education for their children. After graduating from Infanta Central all went to the the best schools in Manila. Jojo went to Ateneo (HS/law)m Marilyn to Maryknoll (HS/AB in business Administration), Shirley to Maryknoll (HS) and UP and UERM (medicine) and hector to Ateneo (HS/Economics). They would be in Manila just to attend all school activities and would never rail to take them to movies or shows in Araneta.
The Buñags also tended their investment in education to children of their domestic help who were willing to study. Bayani, now a principal; Girlie, a teacher and Yorlinda, a commerce graduate; are all doing well in their fields.
Alice and Primo may not have assets or properties to brag about, but they improved upon the ones they inherited or bought in order to help out. However, t hey made sure the children can brag about their happy childhood: memories and photographs (most were burned in the 1980 fire), piano and violin lessons, school dances, contests, parages, church programs, summer trips to Baguio, visits to relatives in Bulacan, parties, swimming, picnics on the beaches and along rivers nearby with all relatives to came to visit. Imagine the shrimp (padjao), crabs, suman, fruits, young coconuts.
Fiesta and Christmas time mean all were welcome at home to eat anytime. Trips to Manila meant lots of food pasalubong from Infanta to folks in Manila, then fruits from Manila as pasalubong to neighbors in Infanta.
Having completely finished their children's college education, Primo entered politics as council member, then vice mayor, and eventually mayor for a long time during the Marcos regime. Alice became the sole breadwinner. Primo's patients would be mostly freebies, and his salary as a public official was not enough to cover the cost of being a wedding sponsor and numerous fundraising events. They kept busy improving the town even started a basketball tournament.
Alice immigrated to the United States in 1977, and sponsored Hector soon after. She lost her immigrant status in order to take care of Primo's lengthy illness. Primo died on January 18, 1987. In 1991 Alice decided to give up her practice and moved permanently to the United States where her three children reside.
Alice kept busy with the children and grandchildren, waking up early to do her daily prayers and going to Mass. She also learned to cook and bake and enjoyed gardening. She also made rosaries, which she sent to the Philippines or the missions. She would also contribute generously to church and to her favorite charities, including Metro Infanta Foundation. Her favorite TV shows included the Lakers, tennis, Olympics, Price is Right. Of course she loved paying mahjong even though she would always lose. She just loved to be around friends and relatives.
It's no wonder she would never miss special family events -- birthdays, baptisms, weddings and graduations, even if she had to travel far. She was there for her apos and great apos.
One thing she enjoyed was traveling -- the United States, Europe and Asia. She went on pilgrimages to Fatima, Lourdes, Rome, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, and the Holy Land.
Alice had a full life indeed. But most of all she was loving wife to Primo and mother and lola to her children and grandchildren.
Posted July 15, 2005