IMUS CITY, Philippines—Pacencia Camia, 83, was growing impatient over the broken television set at home. She was also starting to wonder why her doctor daughter, Rizalina Bunyi, had not yet called since she and her family left for China on Sunday.
“The TV is actually working, but we told her [it was not] so [she won’t hear] the news,” said Shirley Camia, a relative of the Camias.
Pacencia’s husband, Rodrigo, 83, said he would tell his wife he had hired workers to clean their compound should she inquire about the relatives and visitors coming in and out of the family residence in Bayan Luma IX village here.
Relatives had offered to have the TV repaired, but Pacencia refused.
“She told us not to bother because Lina (Bunyi) was coming home soon and would have it fixed for her,” Shirley said.
Rizalina, 55, is coming home but she can no longer send the television to the repair shop.
She was one of five people who were killed when a speeding sports utility vehicle plowed through pedestrians on a sidewalk in Tiananmen Square in Beijing before bursting into flames on Monday in what Chinese authorities believe was a terrorist suicide attack.
Four other people died and dozens of others were injured in the crash, including Rizalina’s husband, pediatrician Nelson Bunyi, and daughters Francisca Ysabel, 23, and Mikaella, 21.
The Camias are trying to keep the news about Rizalina’s death from Pacencia, who has weak lungs, up to a day before the arrival of the body from China.
They have no idea when they can tell her the bad news.
The Bunyis were vacationing in Beijing and were supposed to return home on Thursday in time for All Saints’ Day. Rizalina had ordered flowers for departed family members.
The family has sought help from the government for the immediate repatriation of Rizalina’s remains, while Nelson, through relatives, has asked that he and his daughters be treated here. They are being cared for at Tongren Hospital in Beijing.
“The trip was (the parents’) reward to their daughters because they did well in school,” Shirley said.
The couple’s eldest child, Jose Lorenzo, 25, stayed behind for school. The three Bunyi children are medical students at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.
Rizalina, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and her husband are community doctors in Bayan Luma IX.
“(Nelson) is my children’s pediatrician. Very nice couple,” resident Arnel Mendoza said.
The only daughter of a policeman—who later became a mayor of this town in the 1960s—and a market vendor, Rizalina took up medicine on her father’s prodding.
She met Nelson, who hails from Calamba City, Laguna province, at Far Eastern University when she was 17.
“I would take her clothes to her in her dormitory and remind her that she could have a boyfriend only after she had turned 18,” Rodrigo said.
“When she turned 18, she told me she already had one. I felt slightly hurt seeing my eldest child off, but I talked to Nelson and he promised to take care of Lina,” he said.
Good to others
Rizalina was a good mother, and not only to her own children but also to her patients. She used to run a weekly feeding program at her parents’ compound here for senior citizens and about 40 malnourished children in the community.
At Christmas, Rizalina would help her father put together parties for children of poor communities in the province.
Shirley said Rizalina also supported the education of six other children in the family and gave free consultations to relatives and poor neighbors.
“Among those who cried immediately after hearing the news was a man to whom Lina lent P6,000 to buy a pedicab of his own,” Shirley said.
She said that after the driver had paid back the loan, Rizalina gave him back the whole amount and told him to use the money for his family.
The Bunyis lived in a house at her parents’ compound but recently bought their own in another subdivision, also in this city.
Before the Bunyis left for China, Rodrigo said Rizalina left the key to their home with him and told him that everything her parents needed were there.
“It was like a premonition,” like his daughter was saying goodbye, he said.
The Camias are waiting for information from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is working for the return of Rizalina and her family to the Philippines.
On Wednesday, Rizalina’s younger brother Rodrigo Jr. and Nelson’s siblings left for Beijing to help make the arrangements.