Some Thoughts From Vincent

New Jersey trip

today, i finally get to write my thoughts on the loss of my friend, bong. i was in the process of finishing my first piece around a few weeks after this blog was set up. unfortunately, my stupid finger pressed something that made what i labored for around ten minutes disappear in internet heaven or hell. i guess it was meant to be since it gave me more time to fully appreciate and share with bong the loss of mariel. well, let me begin by saying that mariel has always been the quiet type every time that i met her. and this will often been mistaken by some who do not know her that well as aloof. but then i got to know mariel through bong. he would spend time sharing with me all the wonderful things she was to bong and sam, their wonderfully gifted daughter. bong would almost always relate stories about his loved one that showed another dimension — one of a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. in the movie, jerry mcguire, tom cruise said the famous line “you complete me”. i guess this would be the best way to express one’s love for his or her soul mate. and now that i see how much of a void mariel has left behind in the life of my friend bong, i realized how much he loved and still loves her. and i am so blessed by the life of mariel who even in the death continue to take care of bong and sam in more ways that one. and i think bong you know what i mean. i am sure the she is your special guardian angel who takes care of the two of you. today is easter sunday and the message in our sunday service is about the two men going to emmaus. and when Jesus joined them, they didn’t recognized him for they were focused on despair and disappointment over the death of Jesus. i guess, at times, bong misses mariel in the physical sense — wanting for her to be with them again. but presence is not the only proof of love. it is when one realizes that a loved one will always be with us — meaning in our hearts and minds — do we get the strength to carry on. i know that bong is still grieving over the loss, but maybe the thought that mariel is and will always be there beside them is more than just comforting…it is so reassuring that the separation is only temporary. and we will all be together with our loved ones in His perfect time…just as we await the coming of our dearest loved one which is Jesus Christ. i apologize if this does not really make so much chronological sense. but one thing i am pretty sure of — it is only mariel that can complete bong. what a lucky and blessed person is my friend bong.

( Written by our friend– Vincent Huang Dy Buncio. please watch his beautiful video tribute to Mariel)

Eulogy for Mariel




Mariel’s “sangko”, Sonny wrote the following for Mariel as he was unable to go home before we laid her to rest last September 20, 2007. Mariel spoke fondly too of her brother Sonny to me when she remembers how dutifully he had provided for her needs when she was still studying at UST. She told me that she traveled all the way to Makati, to where her brother worked to get her monthly “allowance” and even then, was very, very proud of his many accomplishments. Sonny eventually moved to the “States” where he until today works as a professor in Computer Studies in Alabama. Mariel also tried very hard to get to see him when we once traveled to the U.S. as he was truly one of her favorite persons.

So here is Sonny remembering her beloved “little sister”.

Eulogy for Mariel by Sonny A. Francia

Mariel Gina is Mariel’s full name. The name is as modest as the way she lived her life. Among the nine children, she is the one who managed to always stay inconspicuous-always staying out of trouble and never had raised a major concern. When we were young, I used to tease her and called her “Intsik”—an unofficial nickname bestowed on her by Mommy because of her chinese-like features. Of course, we all have our unofficial nicknames: hapon, bakbak, Negro, pudpud, sato, pungok, etc. On these occasions, I always find myself frustrated and at the losing end because I cannot irritate her. She was just too tough for me! And I said to myself “Mariel will never get fooled by any male suitor!” I decided enough of that—I’ll just tease Joy or Jay instead. Chinkie was just a baby then and I’ll get in big trouble if I do that to her.

Mariel’s uncanny ability to speed read is amazing. She once read a book overnight. The same book took me two weeks to read! And I said to myself “Mariel is most likely the smartest among all the Francias.”

On my wedding day in 1983, I vividly recall her calling me and asking me to sit in front of the mirror. She pulled out her makeup kit and started working on my face. I told her that I don’t need any makeup but she insisted that she would just highlight my nose because that is my facial’s best feature. Wow, I did looked good after that! And I said to myself “Mariel will be a great makeup artist as well as an excellent accountant.”

When I was told that Mariel is getting married, I frantically made several inquiries on “who the hell is Bong Bello.” After separately talking to Mommy and to Mariel, I said to myself “Mariel, I am so happy for you—You finally found your prince charming who you waited for years!” Bong, I am so grateful to you for making Mariel’s short life full and satisfying.

The last time I saw Mariel was in 2003. She can’t stop talking about Samantha, her daughter. Rightfully so, Sam is incredibly smart that I started to think that there may be the slightest validity to the theory that old cells produce kids that are intellectually mature than their peers. And I said to myself “I wish that this couple have more of the old cells to reproduce more of my nephews and nieces.”

Here are three verses from Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” which I thought Mariel would like to be read to all.

“Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be moaning of the bar,

When I put out of sea,

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness or farewell,

When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crossed the bar.”

Goodbye my dear sister Mariel. We love you and we’ll miss you until we see each other again.

To Bong and Sam

Bong, Mariel and Baby Sam

TO BONG AND SAM By Henry Lopez

I talked to Bong last night. The grief that Bong showed as well as that of what I learned of Sam’s is truly heartrending. The agony that Bong and Mariel went through during those harrowing three weeks seem far, far worse than the plight of that proverbial Kafka character. The unfolding of events was just too surreal and staggering. Pardon the drama. I just found it truly that. I, myself, have been in and going through similar ordeals that I found myself totally immersed in Bong’s emotion. Life can be cruel at times. To some, constantly that one wonders how much of it can one take.

But there seems to be something there gleaming behind the cracks of the ruins. And that I thought was something very plain, very simple– very clear. It’s love. Mariel’s remarkable devotion to Bong and Sam– love. Sam’s irrepressible sense of loss– love. Bong dedication to extolling the memories of Mariel– love. And during the moments leading to that cruel day, love may have been just the sole impetus that made the family push on. At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, I dare say that love is what is going to lift Bong and Sam up and out of this painful time in their lives.

Bong, you know what I mean. Continue to love Mariel and listen to what she maybe telling you. Your bond is strong that she will continue to speak to you from the past as you confront situations day by day and in so many other ways yet to be revealed in the future.

Mariel’s Garden will live forever. It is a magnificent tribute to Mariel and her life. It is a tribute to you too, Bong. To your eternal love for her that transcends all barriers, even death. Mariel’s Garden simply breathes love. But it won’t be the last garden you’ll build in your life. If you haven’t yet noticed, you have started a new one. It is Sam. Sam will now be your new garden. The new celebration of your love. Your’s and Mariel’s. Sam is going to be BONG’S AND MARIEL’S GARDEN.

Mariel will always be there by your side helping you. And you know what great inspiration that is. Nurture Sam. Nourish her with love and care. And she will bloom much richer than all the flowers in any garden on earth. Perhaps, this is the garden that would bring eternal joy to Mariel.

We, your friends, will always be there for you, Bong. At any time you’ll need us, we will be willing tillers of your gardens too.

Bless you, pare. Give our love to Sam.

Thank You Jesus For This Day

I have taken sometime to post something on my friend Bong’s blog because I was still searching for a fitting tribute for Mariel who I’ve known as long as Bong has (or maybe even a few hours earlier). Sometime in November, I finally decided to write an original musical composition for Bong and Mariel, as songwriting is one of my recent discoveries. The song is called Thank You Jesus For This Day and I’m publishing the lyrics and music for your enjoyment. The song is daily reminder to Bong as well as all others who might be reading this blog, that despite all of life’s challenges, we still have a lot to be thankful to Jesus for. So Bong, take a break from your grief and enjoy this song with my God daughter Samantha. I’m sure, that knowing Mariel, she would like to see you smiling and having fun again. God bless bro.

Thank you Jesus for this Day(composed by Ramon Serrano, BCBP- Angeles Outreach)

I When you’re feeling down inside, Keep your faith in Jesus ChristWalk with Him, He’s your guideAnd when trials come your way, Lift your hands to Him and prayThank you Jesus for this day


You are my saviour oh Lord, You give me love, peace and comfortAnd even if I will walk in the dark, I will have no fear because you’re on my sideII Sing with joy unto the Lord, Praise His name and all His worksHe’s with us, hear His wordsEvery second of the day, I will praise you Lord and sayThank you Jesus for this day

Repeat ref

III To the marketplace we speak, Of the best gift we receivedJesus and the Holy SpiritAs we do our part we pray, Father bless and guide our way

(And) Thank you Jesus for this day (3X)

“The Introduction” by Bob Santos


Bob Santos declares the Winner

I received an email from one of our closest friends- Dr. Bob Santos- regarding an anecdote he wanted very much to share through this blog. He calls it “The Introduction” about the first time he met Mariel. By the way, Mariel was the very first lady I had formally introduced to my close friends and even to my own family too. She was after all the ONE. The only woman who really stirred my heart enough for me to joyfully shout to the world that the long wait is over. I have finally found my soul mate, life partner, wife and best friend.

I leave this article unedited for Bob to tell it like it really was. It is both funny and heartwarming.


Friday was D-day. How could I forget that fateful evening in the 90’s! our very own Bong Bello, the last of the bachelors, was formally introducing his “conquest” to this band of UPSCA brothers.Now we have heard of this or that damsel he met in one of his electric forays. But a formal introduction?!!! No way! Not Bong.Not his style.Slam bam, thank you ma’m. She is probably one of those nameless ones. This I got to see.

That evening at Pilo’s Restaurant in Katipunan was quite a revelation. To my surprise Bong actually brought along a lady! It started a little uncomfortable for the rosy Mariel, surrounded by “bubuyogs” Bong, Allen, Monser and myself (Dr. Albert was out butchering patients) all ready for the roast. The guys were their usual boisterous and foolish selves, but Mariel was trying very hard to remain composed. Not for long.

so what kind of music do you listen to?” Mon blurted out. Suddenly the table was silent. For the boys, her answer was important. We were bonded together by our common love of rock, jazz and progressive music, with Bong as the high priest of guitars. The question was definitely a probe. Anything less than Holdsworth, Hendrix or Zeppelin was blasphemy! A Michael Bolton would have driven us to tears. And a Sharon Cuneta answer would have soured our friendship irreparably.

Sensing a trap, it took Mariel an eternity to answer, glancing at darling Bong, fishing for reassurance. Finally…”Gershwin”, she said nervously, hoping for acceptance. Silence followed. Then Mon, the true friend that he is, came to the rescue — “Ako rin Gershwin…Gershwind and Fire!” The table suddenly exploded with laughter with Mariel also teary-eyed from laughing. Composure definitely gone, Bong heaved a sigh of relief. At that point on, I knew it was just a matter of time.

Congratulations Bong. You finally took that leap of faith. It was now our turn to be your best-est men.”