In Memoriam - Dr. Cleofe M. Bacuñgan

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  • 24 Apr 2014 2:53 PM
    Reply # 1542737 on 1541124
    Henry Gerald Ysaac, Jr. Batch 1981
         Farewell and thank you very much, our beloved Director, Dra. Bacungan!

         You will forever live in the hearts of your Science Scholars!

         To her family:  Please accept our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers.  We thank you for sharing Dra. Bacungan with us and with the PSHS.  She truly is God's gift to us and to our beloved alma mater.
  • 24 Apr 2014 10:54 PM
    Reply # 1542885 on 1541124
    Anonymous

    Thank you so much Director Bacungan for all the advices and memories during our younger years in Pisay. You inspired us to be humble and to strive for our dreams. You have left a legacy which we need to continue. May you find rest and peace with our Lord Jesus Christ.

     

  • 25 Apr 2014 12:20 PM
    Reply # 1543220 on 1541124
    Mila Lynne Floro
    I have such fond memories of Dra. Bacungan.   I am grateful for all her work and commitment to the growth and development of young science scholars.  She will be sorely missed.  My sincere condolences to Linda and Irving (my batchmates) and the entire Bacungan family.
  • 26 Apr 2014 1:47 AM
    Reply # 1543468 on 1541124
    Rebecca Domingo-Neumann '73
    Dr. Bacungan, thank you for nurturing us in our formative years.  We promise to pass on the flame of excellence and values that you instilled in us.  You will not be forgotten.  May our Lord grant you welcome and eternal peace.  My sincere condolences to the family and friends.
  • 28 Apr 2014 11:23 AM
    Reply # 1544141 on 1541124
    arnie.azcarraga@delasalle.ph

    “Romancing the gifted – ode to a spinster”

    "Romancing the Gifted" is a strange title for a book about PSHS. Based on what we knew about Doctora Bacungan, the title was quite out of character.

    Saddened by her demise last Easter, I spent the early morning of Easter Monday flipping thru the book. I had read mostly only those parts written by Pisay students, and the replies written by Doctora. That morning, I chanced on the post-script. Pages 225-227 were wow-pages! Doctora for sure was self-less, but she was not “lifeless”!

    She wrote that there were at least three “men in her life” – the romantic kind of “men in her life.” One an American soldier, who was married, with kids, in Florida the last time they spoke; another a Filipino residing in California. The first two, she named in the book. The third one, that one, she just described.

    She was adventurous. She was fond of writing, and of poetry. She was tenacious. She was full of humanity - and much of that had been shaped by major events in her life, including the heart-wrenching episode of a love that never was to be.

    This third man that she did not name was a Filipino poet, writer, and artist - four years her junior, a Fulbright-Smith Mundt grantee. She wrote that he broke her heart big time! --- which she said was partly why she pursued graduate studies in Iowa in the early 60’s.

    A poem "Ode to the Spinsters", appeared more than two decades after that love affair, and Doctora had reasons to believe that the poem, signed “Cosmos”, was written by that ex, and written about her. And even, maybe, for her. Reading between the lines, Doctora may have found in that poem a closure in whatever it was that stirred so much of the humanity in her. She wrote of the poem : "So that's it. We have both survived”.

    Last week, a batchmate googled the names of former Fulbright grantees in Literature. The list intrigued me, since I knew some people in that list. I could not help but do my own googling. Key words like “poetry”, “Cleofe Bacungan”, “Fulbright”, “Ilocano”, “La Union”, and so on …. Et voila! I think I have found the name of that enigmatic poet. But because Doctora had chosen not to mention his name, I would not divulge it either. Anyway, I can never be 100% sure. But his birthday seems to match the “four-years-my-junior-year” clue, and his birthplace, and profession seem to confirm that he, indeed, was him. Somewhere in the Web is this sentence “Alxxxxxxxx G. Hxxxxx was the mentor-poet from my hometown whom my high school physics teacher, Dr. Cleofe Bacungan, thought the world of.  She commended his work for me to study if I wanted to become a writer…”.

    The puzzle continues. The "Ode to the Spinsters" was dedicated to "Alexis Carla". Who might “Alexis Carla” be? If this poet is indeed him, and if, in fact, he was Cosmos, then “Alexis Carla” becomes quite obvious. A… C… refers to the first letters of their first names. But could it be that “Carla” was a typo? Because if it were “Clara”, then “Alexis Clara” would then have the first 2 letters of their first names. Such are the subtle messages of poets. ‘Comes the thought, Cosmos may have been dedicating the poem not just to CLeofe, but also to himself. As another batchmate pointed out, why was “spinster” in plural form?

     

    Ode to the Spinsters

    (to Alexis Carla)


    Bloom ...

    Come and see

    what pretty lives are meant to be.

     

    Reach out...

    Know and feel

    by the other's love

    you are but free.

     

    Give...

    Be not trifled

    by thoughts that

    when you do extend your

    innermost desires,

    some other human has

    for one reason or another

    believed that then it was love,

    then it was for naught...

     

    And yet both of you survive...

    wistful be. 

     

                                        -- Cosmos

    What about “Cosmos”? This time, this would be pure speculation or sheer coincidence. But I have gone this far, let me share. My batchmate remembers distinctly that the PSHS campus in the mid-til-late 70’s was full of cosmos flowers … Was the flower a shared symbol? Did she have those Cosmos “weeds” planted? Did he visit the campus and notice the Cosmos in bloom? Was there ever a bouquet of Cosmos flowers? Was there a poem about them? We will never get to know for sure …

    Doctora used some sentimental, powerful language to describe that “love affair” that was not meant to be. She opened up : But I believe that in everyone's lifetime, there comes a time when one finds a true love". She describes briefly the beautiful relationship they had, but ends it quickly with “My love for him was real. His love for me was real, too – or so I thought”.

    Over time, it seemed that she did get some closure. "As the lengthening shadows of my twilight years crept upon me, I could not help but be very thankful for what had been. God in His Infinite Wisdom knows what is best."

    The real closure, however, came when she found her “true love”: "YES, I SURVIVED because I found a more enduring love affair - my love affair with the PSHS community". Then she goes on to talk about the long, arduous, fulfilling life she had, for the next half a century, dedicating her life to PSHS.

    Once you get to this part of the book, the title “Romancing the Gifted” becomes apt and clear. It was an enduring and romantic love affair – with no longer just one person, but with an entire community of gifted scholars. Doctora was certainly not all Physics and Chemistry. “Romancing the Gifted”, is not out of character after all.  Perhaps it is not even far-fetched to imagine that Doctora had been tickled pink by the 1984 movie “Romancing the Stone” --- starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. In that movie, Kathleen Turner was playing the role of romance novelist Joan Wilder.

    As an afterthought, Doctora quoted Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all". By 2006, she could have googled the exact line "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all". She may have liked that line so much, and had said this in her heart over and over until she got the words re-arranged somewhat. For sure she wrote the line from “memory”, hence the deviation from the exact quote.

    Of her life’s dedication to PSHS, Doctora could have also quoted Tennyson’s “Ulysses”, like the cold, blunt, fearless “M” defending her cause in “Skyfall” by disarming everyone with poetry.

    So there. I am just so glad I got to read about that part of Doctora Bacungan’s life. May we forever have fond memories of you, Doctora. And may you continue to always inspire us all.

                                                                                                   --- ARdent Recto '79


    Though much is taken, much abides; and though

    We are not now that strength which in old days

    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

    One equal temper of heroic hearts,

    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

     

    from Ulysses - Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

  • 01 May 2014 10:59 AM
    Reply # 1545725 on 1541124
    Marissa Pantastico-Caldas
    In our freshman year, we occupied Rm 206 right above DraBacs Rm 106 at the Girl's Residence Hall. I am just now realizing how patient and understanding she was not to have had me kicked out. I treated our room like a gym, practicing dribbling basketball, bouncing it on the walls sometimes while  using it as a dancing/concert  hall other times (via loud guitar playing)...yet, she still smiled at me and was nice to me (in a kind of strict manner you all know about). It  is amazing how clueless I was about how precious she was at being our guide, mentor and. kind of, away-from-home parent, especially to us, her "dormmates" in the Residence Hall. Thank you, Ma'am, for being such a great influence in our lives. Thanks too for the fond memories!    
  • 01 Sep 2014 2:59 PM
    Reply # 3089971 on 1541124
    Iye Coronel Ferrer '77

    Thank you to Arnie and/or Ardent in Reply  No. 1544141 for the mini research paper you submitted on the loves of Dra. Bacungan (somehow "Drabacs" isn't appropriate right now). Somehow I missed reading those pages in Romancing the Gifted but will certainly do tonight when I get home. You've whetted my appetite! And you certainly made Dra Bacungan more whole and alive to us. I just wish somebody asked her about these things when she was still here in pisay (which was a long time), and gotten wisdom from her too. We should have known she could teach us a thing or two over and beyond  how to run a school in good and bad times,  how best to cope with moping gifted youth, and the gentle ways to instill the sense of giving back.

    Thank you to Arnie and/or Ardent in Reply  No. 1544141 for the mini research paper you submitted on the loves of Dra. Bacungan (somehow "Drabacs" isn't appropriate right now). Somehow I missed reading those pages in Romancing the Gifted but will certainly do tonight when I get home. You've whetted my appetite! And you certainly made Dra Bacungan more whole and alive to us. I just wish somebody asked her about these things when she was still here in pisay (which was a long time), and gotten wisdom from her too. We should have known she could teach us a thing or two over and beyond  how to run a school in good and bad times,  how best to cope with moping gifted youth, and the gentle ways to instill the sense of giving back. 
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