Ifleda Dela Roca Cao
May 09, 1948 - January 18, 2023
Ifleda's journey in this life came to a close during the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, January 18, 2023. After fighting three battles with cancer and going head-to-head with various health issues throughout Ifleda's latter years, her loved ones are happy to know she has finally found peace with God. She will be lovingly remembered by her husband, Vivencio Cao, and her three children: Voltaire Cao, Veronica Ling and Vianca Sorkin.
Ifleda Dela Roca Cao was born on May 9, 1948 to parents, Ambrosio and Fidela Dela Roca, in Mindoro, Philippines. Being the eldest of 10 children, Ifleda was often entrusted with caring for her younger siblings to ensure that they were well-fed, well-dressed and out of trouble. In addition to assisting her parents in the home, Ifleda would spend much of her time at The Dela Roca Fashion School, a local sewing school that was owned and operated by her mother. It was here that Ifleda learned how to take the simplest things and transform them into something extraordinarily beautiful; a talent she would carry with her across border lines and decades of time.
Throughout Ifleda's youth, adolescence and young adulthood, she was most known for her infectious laugh, her graceful nature and most especially, her unique ability to bring light to all who knew her. In pursuit of her dream of coming to America, Ifleda studied hard to earn her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with the hope of creating a new life in the "Land of Opportunity." During her studies, she worked at the National Research Laboratory in Manila where she experimented with different types of soil in order to determine how their minerals could be repurposed for improving the country's natural resources and for use as alternative medicines. Upon completing her bachelor's degree at The University of Santo Tomas, Ifleda was one of the first in her family to graduate from college and received the distinguished honor of being among the Department of Biochemistry's first graduating class.
In the early 1970s, Ifleda's dream of moving to the U.S. became a reality as she said "sige na" to her beloved island home and packed her suitcases for a one-way ticket to a country she had only known through the stories she heard and the Hollywood films she watched with friends. Upon her arrival in New York City, Ifleda quickly immersed herself in American culture and took advantage of all that her new city life had to offer. She ate greasy New York-style pizzas in Times Square, she experience the rush of the subway while commuting to her job at Harlem Hospital and she proudly sported the latest fashions of the time such as bell bottom pants, miniskirts and go-go boots. Most memorable of all, it was in the "City That Never Sleeps" where she fell in love with Vivencio "Vince" Cao. While on their lunch break, the couple was married by the Justice of the Peace and later commemorated their special day at an intimate wedding reception with close friends and family in 1974.
A few years after giving birth to their first two children, Voltaire and Veronica-Adele, Ifleda and Vince packed their bags once more and set their sights on the southwestern desert. In 1980, the Cao family moved into their forever home on the outskirts of Scottsdale, AZ, giving their budding family plenty of wide-open spaces to live, grow and play. About 12 years later, the Caos welcomed the newest addition to their family, Vianca Alicia, completing their family of five.
In addition to being a devoted and loving mother, Ifleda worked at Good Samaritan Hospital (now Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix) where she would go on to establish a career as a microbiologist for the next 33 years. While juggling her responsibilities as a full-time mother and working professional, Ifleda always found time to make nightly home-cooked dinners, ensure their home was tidy, pack daily lunches for the entire family, pass her computer science certifications with flying colors and share her love of hula by teaching her coworkers how to dance.
Despite her relentlessly busy schedule, Ifleda put God at the forefront of her life and strongly encouraged her family to do the same. As a fervent Catholic, Ifleda worked tirelessly to provide all three children with the opportunity to attend some of Arizona's most prestigious private Catholic schools. Being a warrior of God, Ifleda was also highly involved in her local parish and proactively engaged in church ministries that provided support and prayers to single mothers, the unborn, the impoverished, and those who have suffered from abuse and neglect.
If there was one comprehensive word to describe Ifleda and the life she led, it was "faithful." Faithful to God, faithful to her family, and faithful to those most in need of mercy. Through every milestone and hardship, Ifleda's unwavering faith and her enduring love for her family was apparent to all who came to know her. While it is with great sorrow that Ifleda is no longer with us here on Earth, it is of great comfort in knowing that her vibrant spirit and legacy of love will continue to live on for generations to come.
Prayer of Serenity
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Funeral Mass - Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10am
Mass attendees are encouraged to wear bright colors in honor of Ifleda's lively spirit. For those unable to attend, please click the live stream link to view https://vimeo.com/event/2814794