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Tribute to MJ Bugante

Mary June “MJ” Bugante-Sulapas
June 10, 1961 – March 5, 2024

By Tinggay Cinco

The WBCP lost two valuable members all in the span of few months.  Both were my friends whom I worked closely – Gina and MJ.  Both were highly spirited, always on the go, never a dull moment with these two.  The first time I met MJ was in Zamboanga City during the preparations for the 2013  9th Philippine Bird Festival.  Arriving in the city before sunrise, MJ was already in top form- even though I was feeling very sluggish because of the early morning flight, Mike, Gina, Arnel, and I were whisked off to lectures, meetings and ocular visits to sites. Everything happened during the whirlwind visit of 48 hours in Zamboanga City- accomplished everything on schedule, mission accomplished.  MJ was then the Regional IX Director for the Dept. of Tourism.  The Zamboanga Siege occurred months after in 2013, and we thought all plans will come to naught.  As peace returned to the city, the 9th Philippine Bird Festival took place with resounding success, fighting all the odds, resurrecting Zamboanga from the ashes of war.

MJ was a fighter!  Unfortunate to know she lost her battle to Cancer.  She was a team player- humble enough to follow the lead or calm enough to be the leader in organized trips.  Sharing her passion for food, she was always armed with extras to be shared with others, no hungry birders if MJ was around.  Good bye to a much respected colleague.  Eager to learn, professional in every way and yet compassionate as a friend.  Rest well MJ! I can imagine you watching us from above with your usual smile and encouraging us on.

From Lu-An Fuentes Bajarias:

Thank you, MJ.  Now Mads and I know why you couldn’t make it to our Zamboanga hotel and dinner table for three just this late February.  You sounded so cheery on  Messenger with your smiling emoji heart react, wishing us lifers, and agreeing on “next round.” Always so uplifting and inquiring about others first.  Hugging you in our minds like when you were hugging this Bagras tree ( and when we all did the same in ceremony-fashion because you easily influenced us like that!).  Light and love to you.

From Anna Gonzales:

So grateful for your presence in our life, MJ! I learned so much from you, enjoy great new places that you introduced to us.  Top of my mind is our last trip to Zamboanga Sibugay.  I will always remember your beautiful smile, your reassuring presence and contagious love for your region.

From Marites Falcon:

So sad to hear.  The first time I met Ms. MJ was during the Zamboanga ocular visit and final preparations for the PBF9 in February 2014.  Such a beautiful soul.  She was genuinely warm and loving person.  I feel so blessed to have known her.  Thank you so much for everything.  Rest in peace Ms. MJ. You will be greatly missed.

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