Basilia Bognalbal Buenconsejo
November 26, 1925 – February 12, 2021
To her great grandchildren, she was Granny. To her grandchildren, she was Mama. Ann and I call her Ma.
To the rest of the clan she was Tia Sil. Her friends called her Sil.
Mama was so sweet and kind but also so strong and courageous and way ahead of her time. To know her is to love her. - Betty Owens
To all, she was generous, always smiling and a joy to be with! I do not know anyone in the family, here and in the Philippines, who do not love her for who she is. She was the beloved matriarch for all my cousins, nephews and nieces who grew up knowing her. She was the common thread and joy uniting three generations of Buenconsejos and Bognalbals, her maternal side.
As I looked at her lying there, pale and cold, it was very hard to accept that this beautiful lady who loved life and gave joy to all around her will not open her eyes again. I talked to her the day before and she said, “Noy, pagalon ako ngonian!” Noy is my nickname. She said she was very, very tired. She was tired of being weak and not being able to get up. With a heavy heart, I looked back at her life. It was full of sacrifices and unmatched love for me.
Mom was married at the age of 18 for a little over a year as my father died in action during WWII. I was born posthumous. She was not alone as families from both mother and father sides were there for her but she refused financial help and fended for herself and me by cutting hair and sewing dresses in difficult times when the Philippines was just coming out from Japanese occupation. My father did not abandon her. After a few years, she started getting war repatriation pension and her life was easier, but she did not stop there. With her meager pension, she started a small grocery store from which she was able to build our own home that she designed and built without help from anyone. It was the most modern and only painted house in our barrio (a section of my town). She finished high school while doing all these. She also bought three rice fields and was a partner with one of my aunts owning a printing press in Manila. She was a strong believer in education, and she put me through college, even accompanying me in Manila. She was a go to for many less fortunate relatives and even nonrelative who borrowed money, not expecting to be paid back.
She left her relatively easy life in the Philippines to join me here in 1975, at 50 years old. She was still energetic and wanted to work; she did for a while, as cashier at Woolworth’s in Manhattan, NY. She finally moved in with me at age 60 after my repeated requests. She moved to StoneRidge Independent Living in May 2019 and enjoyed a more active life with bingo, a highlight five times a week. She was using a walker or an electric wheelchair as she saw fit. Her biggest problem was both legs swelling, otherwise, she remained on the go. In fact, she discarded her electric wheelchair these past few weeks because she was regaining strength in her legs. On Thursday of Feb. 4, 2021, she had her first vaccine shot and starting that same night, she got weaker to the point that she was admitted at Wake Med on Feb. 8, 2021. She was diagnosed positive of Covid -19 but everyone who knew her did not worry much as she has this well-deserved reputation of being a tough lady. Alas, she was no match to pneumonia and other preexisting conditions, made worse by Covid. She passed away without me by her side on Feb. 12, 2021. Ann and I were allowed to see her before she was moved out of the room; we bid her goodbye and thanked her for all she did for me… for us… for all whose lives she touched.
Sil is survived, loved and will be missed by her only child, Victor and daughter-in-law, Ann; granddaughter, Cristy; grandson, Vic and granddaughter-in-law, Kerry; three great grandchildren, Nicholas, Julia and Max; and a younger sister, Juliana.
My mom did not remarry and devoted her life raising me. She never made me feel unloved, always secure, never wanting for anything… but never spoiled. Always, everything she did was for my well-being. I can never repay her love, but she will smile and be happy when she knows that I love my family just as greatly as she did me.
By my mom’s will, after separated from my father for 78 years, her ashes will be buried with him in the Philippines, united in life and death.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Basilia Bognalbal Buenconsejo
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