Bunye: 90 and above

LAST Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the birthday celebration of Dr. James Dy. At 90, Dr. Dy has no plans of retiring any time soon. In an interview with Fun Magazine, the well known philanthropist-businessman said:

"I am worried that if I retire, I won't be able help other people. I want to stay and help people until my last breath. I'll keep doing my work for as long as I have the strength to do so. However, I am training three people now who can continue my work when I am gone."

Over several decades, Dr. Dy had put up successful business enterprises which encompassed music recording, housing and real estate, electrical and wiring devices manufacturing, hotel and restaurant, and travel and tourism.

Under the Dyna label, Dr. Dy produced and often personally marketed the records of local talents. I remember singer-composer Jose Mari Chan narrating the story of Dr. Dy personally visiting well-known disc jockeys in leading radio stations to convince them to play Joe Mari's songs on air. All the songs (Deep In My Heart, Beautiful Girl, and many more) became instant hits! Dr. Dy also produced the records of Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, and Kris Aquino.

But he is most proud of having served, at various periods, with the Philippine Red Cross, Philconsa, the Lions Club, and, of course, the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC) which he considers his present full-time job.

Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center (CGHMC) is one of the oldest hospitals in the Philippines. It was founded during the Spanish occupation from charitable donations of Chinese immigrants who have formed themselves into the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association or PCCA. In 1989, Dr. Dy became President and CEO of CGHMC. Immediately, he went into expansion mode, "recruiting good doctors, buying good equipment and constructing new buildings to meet the growing needs of our patients."

Then Dr. Dy did something unprecedented. He encouraged CGHMC doctors and staff to be at forefront of relief missions all over the country, as in the recent calamities in Pampanga, Cotabato, Davao and Kidapawan. Under his direction, CGHMC conducted monthly medical outreach in depressed communities.

Dr. Dy also opened the hospital facilities to the military, the police, the NBI, MMDA and to members of the working press. When I was Press Secretary, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) allowing duly-accredited members of the Malacañan Press Corps admission to the CGHMC, without need of paying any deposit. Clearly, Dr. Dy remains driven by the philosophy he learned from his parents: "If you get something from society, then you have to give back to society."

The following day, I had the pleasant opportunity to be invited to a lunch with former President Fidel V. Ramos (PFVR). By the way, on both occasions, my former boss, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) was also present.

Pushing 92, PFVR has slowed down somewhat. But he impressed me when he greeted all his guests by their first names. Something which I cannot always do. Asked his health secret, PFVR swears to the effectivity of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as an anti-oxidant. With a wink, he says it has also "other" beneficial effects.

A very prolific writer, PFVR has written several volumes, copies of which are neatly stacked in shelves in his office. "Hey guys, if you see any title which you like, feel free to take it home."

I did not get to pick my title because PFVR's Girl Friday, Mae Gaffud, already had take-home packets for each and every guest by the time we were supposed to leave. Each packet contained a marble rendition of PFVR's signature thumbs up sign (in metallic gold) with the inscription "Kaya natin ito!" The packet also contained one of PFVR's latest books entitled "Prosper Thy Neighbor".

On my way home, I immediately leafed thru PFVR's book. What I read made my day. PFVR wrote:

"Revisiting "Tiger" Toting

"It is not too well-known that Toting Bunye was an enterprising war correspondent for the Philippine Daily Star from 1967 to 1968 in South Vietnam. He authored a documentary entitled 'The Other War' - a first person account of the activities of the the Philippine Civic Action Group (PHILCAG) in TayNinh, South Vietnam, of which Colonel FVR was Chief of Staff during 1966-1968.


"What is (also) not too well known is that Toting has been a stalwart FVR colleague from way back to the PHILCAG (Vietnam War) to Edsa Uno years. As Mayor, Bunye was among the steadfast assets in blockading Muntinlupa's streets against military rebels trying to infiltrate Metro Manila to access government targets from 1987-1989."

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