Senior in Action – Estrella R. Bumacod

Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.

Senior in Action – Estrella R. Bumacod

By Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen

Estrella R. Bumacod was born February 24, 1932 in the Philippines.  She emigrated to the United States with her husband, who was serving in the United States Navy at the naval base in Pensacola, Florida. Estrella came from a farming environment in the Philippines, but found it was challenging to have a productive garden in Florida.  The soil was too sandy.  So, she tried fishing and crabbing to enrich the family’s menus.  Their first two children were born in Florida. Sadly, Estrella found her native Floridian neighbors were not friendly towards “foreigners.”

The Bumacod family’s next home was in Nebraska at another naval base.  Farming was wonderful there, but the weather was NOT. Estrella had never experienced blizzards and cold temperatures reaching 30 degrees below zero.  For Filipinos, the weather was “WOW!”  Nebraska was a long way from the ocean scenery Estrella was accustomed to seeing. Two more babies were born during her husband’s five years of service in the Midwest.

Estrella’s husband was later stationed on Whidbey Island, Washington.  During their time in the northwest, the couple welcomed three more children into their family.  Estrella trained the older children to take care of their younger siblings.  Estrella explained, “Peter was older than Leonard, so Peter was assigned to play with his brother and take care of him so I could have time to relax and take a minute for myself.” On Whidbey Island, Estrella wanted to help supplement her husband’s salary.  She found the enlisted service men would pay her to sew their rank patches onto their uniforms, and the officers’ wives brought their gowns to her for alterations.

Now her children have grown up and raised families of their own. Estrella’s twelve grandchildren all live in California. Estrella says, “My husband was called to the Father 17 years ago. When he was alive, dancing was our favorite pastime. I have a home in Carson and one of my seven children lives with me. Milo is our dog, part poodle and part chihuahua.  I just gave Milo a haircut.”

Gardening is still Estrella’s passion.  In her backyard, she nurtures fruit trees, flowers, and a vegetable garden.  Her current crop is Italian figs, and persimmons will be harvested soon.  She grows her own organic food, and often drinks fruit smoothies created from the bounty in her yard. When she’s not outside gardening, she sews and alters clothing, cooks, and bakes apple pies.  For 19 years, Estrella volunteered her time on the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission for the City of Carson.  She learned of resources for older adults, and spread the news about privileges which seniors are eligible to receive.

When feeling creative, Estrella draws sketches and writes poetry.  She joined the International Society of Poets in 2002. She saw a poetry contest advertised in a magazine, and composed a poem which earned the Editor’s Favorite certificate. An excerpt from her poem The Beauty of Lifereads,

“…If everybody would take time to consider

how to talk to older people

give a sweet low voice way, rather than ignoring them

feel that time when these old people

were once like you, young, fragile, sweet, cheerful

 and beautiful with smooth complexions…”


In closing, Estrella wanted to share her favorite quotes with Not Born Yesterdayreaders:

  • Look at the mirror in the morning; Jesus is waiting for you to smile.”
  • “Do not dress your age, dress decently with the time.”
  • “A smile is a gift – share it with sincerity.”

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