SAMAL, Bataan – A World War II (WWII) veteran with eight children, 23 grandchildren, and 36 great-grandchildren celebrated his 100th birthday in a simple party at a resort in the middle of a ricefield here on Monday.
The birthday celebrant, Onofre Buan Bugay Sr. of Barangay Sta. Lucia, this town, who was born on Sept. 12, 1922, was a war post commander in Samal.
He is currently the Vice District I commander of WWII veterans from the towns of Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay, and Morong.
Together with Filipino–American soldiers, Bugay fought against Japanese invaders. After the war, he went into farming and later drove his own passenger tricycle.
Bugay became a widower but found new love again after several years. At 70 years old, he married 20-year-old Luz Aquino on March 4, 1990.
He has six children with his first wife Fely Poblete and two children with his present wife Luz.
Aside from close relatives, friends, and neighbors, Samal municipal officials including members of the Sangguniang Bayan headed by Vice Mayor Ronnie Ortiguerra greeted the centenarian at his birthday party. Mayor Alex Acuzar also sent his greetings.
“Napakahalaga at napakaligayang kaarawan ito ni Mang Onofre dahil napakabihira ang ganitong umaabot sa 100 years kaya sa mga anak at asawa, ito ay malaking biyaya na galing sa Panginoon (This is very important and very happy birthday of Mang Onofre because it is very rare to reach 100 years. That is why to the children and wife, this is a big blessing from God),” the vice mayor said.
According to his wife and children, the secrets to the centenarian’s long life are prayers and discipline.
“Ang paboritong ulam ng asawa ko ay mamali sinigang sa bayabas, mga pangating isda at gulay at ayaw nito ng karne. Wala itong bisyo, hindi naninigarilyo at hindi umiinom ng alak (The favorite meal of my husband is either fish and vegetables and he does not like meat. He has no vices, does not smoke nor drink liquor),” Luz said.
“Napakabait nitong asawa at napakasipag at nasa kanya na ang lahat ng aking hinahanap sa isang lalaki. Napakabait niyang asawa at ama ng aming mga anak (He is a very kind husband and industrious and has the qualities I am looking for a man. He is a very kind husband and father to our children),” she added, describing her husband.
One of the centenarian's children, Pastor Alberto Bugay of the Jesus the Strong Tower Church, said it is a blessing from the Lord that his father reached 100 years old and is still strong. He said his father is healthy and only has only a problem with hearing.
“Ako ay nagpupuri at nagpapasalamat sa Panginoon dahil umabot sa 100 years ang aming ama dahil bihira ang umabot sa ganitong edad at sabi sa Bibliya na kapag ang tao ay umabot ng 70 years old o higit pa sa 80 years old, siya ay pinagpala ng Panginoon (I am praising and thanking our Lord because our father reached 100 years which is unusual and according to the Bible, if a person reaches 70 or more than 80 years, he is blessed by God),” the pastor said.
Onofre, for his part, expressed his gratitude to all those who attended his birthday party.
“Sa aking mga kamag-anak, mga kakilala, mga pamangkin, mga apo, mga konsehal, vice mayor at mayor maraming salamat. Unang-una, ang pasasalamat ko sa Panginoon na nagbigay sa akin ng lakas at sigla ng katawan (To my relatives, acquaintances, nieces, grandchildren, councilors, vice mayor and mayor, thank you very much. First of all, I am thankful to the Lord who gave me strength and physical vitality),” he said. (PNA)