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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

Straight from Carolinas

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I RECENTLY met an artist who wants to share her blessings to the less fortunate back home in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental in northern Mindanao, Philippines.

She is Lilibeth Lazaga Bulala and she once worked for the City Hospital of Cagayan de Oro (JR Borja Memorial Hospital). Lilibeth always considers herself as a resident of Cagayan de Oro, the City of Golden Friendship.

Lilibeth is a registered nurse who came here in the US a decade ago. She was born and raised in Dipolog City and studied college in Butuan. Most of her family settled in Cagayan de Oro and considered it home, hence her affinity for the city.


I met Lilibeth at the dedication and second birthday party of Ysabella Alexandra Byerly at Greensboro, North Carolina, a two hour drive from Charlotte.

During that occasion my attention was caught by a beautiful painting of a little girl that was mounted in front of the guest and laced with ribbons on the side.

As the emcee I asked around about that painting and was told that it was a gift given to Ysabella Byerly by Lilibeth Lazaga Bulala.

Greatest dream

I looked for her and we talked and viola, I found out about her connections in the city. Her sister Gigi Butaslac is employed in the city government. It’s a small world indeed and I immediately became her fan.

She works at the Kindred Healthcare and Wesley Long Emergency Department at Greensboro. She is married to Roger Bulala and their children named Pauline and Johnrodge and they all live in North Carolina.

Lilibeth said God blessed her abundantly and she wants to share her blessings with the less fortunate especially children. On May 20, the second part of her project named “Eskwela Brigada” would be implemented in Cagayan de Oro.

Profits of her paintings will be sent to Cagayan de Oro to buy school supplies like books, bags, slippers and notebooks.

“I am excited about giving these things to two hundred kids,” she told me.

While she isn’t present during the distribution, Jane Nambatac is handling the missions for her, Lilibeth said. “This is only the beginning of my greatest dream,” she said.


Lilibeth also managed to send items through her friends at the Balay Canosa in Cagayan de Oro last Easter Sunday, April 20. If my memory serves me right, Balay Canosa is an accredited nongovernment organization (NGO).

“I've been so blessed with my family, job and friends and health. So I'm just trying to give back so there would also be blessings to my family,” Lilibeth said.

When typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro City four years ago, Lilibeth was there with her family on a vacation.

“Instead of a vacation, we were in the evacuation center in Carmen helping and my son told me ‘I’m so happy Mama’ when he gave away his 600 plus Matchbox toy cars to the children. He collected his toy cars since he was a year old,” Lilibeth said.

Though she just started painting three years ago as mood therapy, Lilibeth showed promise as an artist when she was little.

Lilibeth would draw using crayons. She is the third child in a family of five.


Lilibeth recalled that she would sell old tennis balls of her father so that she can buy art supplies. She wanted water colors but the proceeds of the old tennis balls could not buy it.

“I could only buy pencils,” she said. Lilibeth still continued drawing on the spare covers of her notebooks. The petite artist made cards during her elementary days.

“My classmates already told me that I would be their artist in all projects. I really wanted to be an artist but my stepmother told me that all artists starve and advised me to take nursing instead and become an artist later. That’s what I am doing now,” Lilibeth said.

She’s been a nurse for 20 years and was depressed several years back.

Lilibeth didn’t elaborate on this but said her doctor advised her to paint. It was then that she returned to her pencils, colors and canvas.

Lilibeth researched on YouTube and studied painting. “Painting is my stress reliever,” she said. The rest, as they say, is history. Lilibeth is earning from her passion and is giving back to the less fortunate.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 18, 2014.


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