Heeding the Call for Peace in Mindanao

Heeding the Call for Peace in Mindanao

By Apolinario Villalobos


March 27, 2014 shall find its space in the annals of the Philippine history as the most significant day that serves as a landmark for the concerted effort in finally planting the seed of peace in identified areas of Mindanao, populated by Muslims, Christians and indigenous tribes. Misunderstanding, that some blame to religion and later, politics, hindered all efforts to establish a lasting homogenous atmosphere in the central, western and southern areas of the biggest island of the country. Decades have been spent by past presidents to ponder on how peace among the diversified people could be achieved, to no avail. Even the attempt of a powerful Middle East country to mediate which resulted to the establishment of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), proved futile. It took a firm resolved from President Noynoy Aquino to finally complete the pages of mutually beneficial provisions that heeded the incessant call for peace and finally put an end to the senseless struggle among Filipinos with diverse faith and culture.


For so many years, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters were lost in pockets of “war”. Villages were abandoned, school buildings were razed to the ground, children were deprived of their basic needs for normal mental and physical development, rice fields were untended and left to the mercy of the cogon grass and talahib (sturdy tropical grass that grow to as tall as seven feet). Affected Filipinos who survived the senseless killings, be they Muslims, Christians or members of indigenous tribes could just cry as they recall the tragedies that befell them.


I was a witness to this. The unrest was the reason why I got hired to work in the Department of Social Welfare that opened an office in our town to serve the evacuees who came in hordes. We would visit evacuation centers in neighboring towns filled with families uprooted from their villages, forced to abandon ripening grains of rice ready for the harvest. We encountered maimed villagers being brought to the hospitals. Practically children stopped going to school as the buildings were used as evacuation centers. In some villages, during “encounters”, we witnessed how Muslims would run in one direction and the Christians in another direction, although, they had been living together for years as neighbors. Those are pathetic scenes that still linger in my mind.


This time around, the survivors have the right to be heard and be given a chance for a peaceful co-existence in Mindanao. I just pray, that those who have selfish motive in the process for peace shall think twice before doing their act …again.






Be What Others Are for their Goodness

Be What Others Are for Their Goodness

By Apolinario Villalobos


Sometimes imitating others cannot be avoided. It happens when we get obsessed by the traits of people whom we idolize, driving us to imitate them. Some even go beyond boundaries by imitating the way their idols speak, walk or even part their hair. Impersonating is a different thing which is done to make fun of somebody or done for the sake of money as in the case of professional impersonators.


Imitating our idols may be good for us if we simulate only the good traits.  In this case, the best figures for emulation are the spiritual icons and prophets, foremost of them is Jesus Christ, whom Christians faithfully believed to be the Son of God. There are others worthy of imitation such as Gautama, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad, Confucius, and Lao Tzu.  Lately, the canonization of modern day saints, by the Vatican, added names to the already long list of those worthy of imitation.


For children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, ready answers bring out names of super heroes. Obviously, the physical strength of these storybook heroes is what has been ingrained in their mind. Popular among the list are superman, batman, spiderman, to name a few, although, there are a lot more that have impressed them.  The unsullied mind of the children is such that, the first impression usually is difficult to alter, because of their innocence and sincere ignorance.


But it is a different thing, when it comes to the adult mind which has been seasoned with many exposures, and calloused by different intentions all of which point to political or financial gain. During political campaigns, politicians emulate the behavior of charismatic political figures, but slide back to their former selves after assuming their positions. Wise guys as struggling evangelists, profess to be another Jesus to accumulate followers, hence, more members could mean more tithes that could mean more money, and finally, more material comfort in life.


Finally, emulating others may not last long. It may serve its purpose but will not be impressed deeply in the person who does the act. Science has proven that no two persons are the same even if they are twins. Meanwhile, what is best is to be what others are for their being good. If that is the intention, surely, the one who does the act will not fail.



Getting Inspired by Self-Encouragement

Getting Inspired  by Self-Encouragement

By Apolinario  Villalobos



To be inspired by what we accomplish through our own effort should not be misconstrued as being narcissistic.  Making us realize that we can do some things without being dependent on others should give us more impetus to strive more, however, we should always remember not to be buoyed by arrogance.  To develop the trait of self-encouragement in us is not easy. If we are used to the hovering of our parents since childhood, our personality becomes soft, so that along the way of our life, even a simple impediment makes us falter.


Earning accomplishments in life through self-encouragement is like saving coins in a piggy bank. The increasing weight of the piggy bank because of the accumulated coins encourages us to drop more through the slot. Squandering some saved coins, is like putting to use some of what we have accomplished into useless endeavor. This can be avoided if we will be always reminded by an old adage, that  we cannot turn back the hands of time, and as I may add, so do mistakes committed that cannot be undone. Care is then very necessary to prevent this.


Meanwhile, successful people driven by self-encouragement can tremendously inspire others, especially, today which is smarting from the frustrating steady rise of unemployment. A  person suffers from disappointment if he fails to land a job after his first attempt, and in this situation, it is important that the person should convince himself that he is facing one of the realities of life – cutthroat competition in applying for a job, for which persistence can help. He must admit that so that he can do something to have counter moves or strategies.


To make self-encouragement work, some people switch to other fields of endeavor, some of which are a far cry from those that are stated in their diploma . There was a time in the past when the most in demand job was for nurses to fill up vacancies in European hospitals and caregiving institutions. There was a mass switching of course from medicine to nursing, and even those with license in medicine, went back to school to desperately take a course in nursing.  This effort somehow helped, even at the expense of pride – imagine a doctor, willing to work as nurse or a caregiver. As the ultimate goal is financial gain, those who attained it, thought that they did just the right thing.


Self-encouragement is a necessary element for survival.  The will to have a useful life after retirement or after having been partially incapacitated by an accident, needs even a bit of self-encouragement. In this instance, the government does its part by offering programs for senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD’s). In this situation, self-encouragement as a force is more crucial than those coming from other people. The strength to move on should first come from within a person. External strength becomes useful to further prop him up steadily.





Ang Maging Bakwet

Ang Maging *Bakwet

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Ang maging bakwet ay mahirap, iba’y hindi yan alam

Buhay ay walang direksyon at sikmura ay  kumakalam

Animo mga hayop na sa kwadra ay pilit pinagkakasya

Ganitong tanawin, sa evacuation centers ay makikita.


Animo mga preso na sa pagkuha ng pagkain ay nakapila

Dala’y plastic na pinggan, mangkok, kung minsan ay lata

May mapaglagyan lang ng pagkaing kung iabot ay padabog –

Kung minsan, dahil sa pagod ng volunteer, pati isip ay sabog.


May nilalagay na mga kubetang ilang oras lang ay puno na

Kaya’t kawawa, ibang tagaktak ang pawis sa peligrong dama

Hindi alam kung saan magparaos, dahil wala man lang puno

Kaya’t ang ginagawa, kandangiwi ang mukha sa pagtalungko.


May mga dumadating, mga concerned daw, bitbit nama’y camera

Yon pala mga larawang “kawawa” ang dating, gustong makuha

Maibalita na sila’y nakarating sa evacuation center, may naiiyak-

Mga mapagkunwaring “maawain”, mga hangal, dapat mabuldyak!


Ang masakit, mga relief goods na handa na sanang  ipamudmod

Subali’t dahil wala pa si presidente o secretary, ito muna’y na-hold

Kaya’t sa ilalim ng masanting na init ng araw, lahat ay nagsitiyaga

Makakuha lang ilang pirasong noodles, bigas, tuyo, pati na delata.


Animo mga hayop, kung sila’y ituring sa mga masikip na bakwetan

Mga expired na pagkain, sa kanila kung ibigay, walang pakundangan

At tulad ng inaasahan, gobyernong lokal at ang ahensiyang **DSW

Nagtuturuan kung sino ang may sala, sino sa kanila ang pasimuno.


Pareho lang ang buhay saan mang bakwetan, saan man sa bansa

Maging sa Luzon, Visayas, o Mindanao, mga bakwet ay kaawa-awa

Ginagamit ng mga pulitiko, maski ibang grupong sabi ay relihiyoso

Mga taong ganid sa katanyagan, maitim ang budhi, walang modo!


(*evacuee, **Department of Social Welfare)