Mga Pag-iingat na Dapat Tandaan

Mga Pag-iingat na Dapat Tandaan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang mundo ngayon ay tila nadidiktahan ng kasabihang “matira ang matibay”, na para namang may katotohanan. Sa kapal ng dumi sa hangin, kung mahina ang baga ng isang tao ay talagang hindi  tatagal ang kanyang buhay. Sa dami ng lason na nakapaloob sa lahat halos ng pagkain maski na yong sinasabing “organic vegetables”, talagang hindi tatagal ang isang tao kung mahina ang kanyang bituka o sikmura. Sa dami ng mga krimen na minu-minuto ay nangyayari sa lahat ng panig ng mundo, talagang hindi tatagal ang isang tao kung hindi siya magaling umiwas. At sa dami ng mga taong tiwali ang kaisipang puno ng kasamaan sa kanyang kapwa, marami ang mapapahamak kung wala silang kaalaman sa pagsalungat.

 

May mga simple ring mga pag-iingat na kaakibat ng araw-araw nating pamumuhay at ginagawa. Kadalasan, hindi natin nabibigyan ng pansin ang mga bagay na ito, kaya nauulit nang hindi natin napapansin. Ang nabanggit ay isang ugali ng tao na dapat mabago. Hindi dapat sukatin ang pag-iingat sa “laki” o “kahalagahan” ng isang bagay na ating ginagawa. Dapat nating alalahanin na ang malaki ay nagsisimula sa maliit. At, may kasabihan na ang pagsisisi ay palaging nasa huli.

 

Ang kabaligtaran ng pag-iingat ay padalus-dalos, na direktang ibig sabihin ay kawalan ng pag-iingat. Lahat ng bagay ay pinag-iisipan muna bago gawin, subali’t sa isang taong padalus-dalos ang ugaling nakasanayan, walang pag-aalangan sa lahat ng kanyang mga ginagawa, at hindi rin alintana kung ang mga ito ba ay magkakaroon ng hindi magandang resulta o kapahamakan. Ang mga sumusunod ay ilan lamang sa mga dapat pag-iingatan upang maiwasan ang pagsisisi dahil huli na ang lahat:

 

  1. Mga pinaggagastusan.  Maraming tao ang walang pakundangan kung gumastos ng pera, lalo pa kung mayroon silang regular na inaasahan. Kasama dito ang ibang empleyado na umaasa sa buwanang sweldo, subali’t binibigyan pa ng halaga ang mga makabagong gadgets tulad ng cellphone, laptop, ipad, alahas at kung anu-ano pang luho na hindi naman talagang kailangan. Sa may mga kayang magpundar ng house at lot sana, mas ginugusto pa nila ang magpundar ng kotse maski nangungupahan lamang sila sa isang maliit na apartment o kwarto. Dahil dito, hindi rin sila nakakapag-ipon. Kapag nawalan ng trabaho, ang mga luhong naipundar ay isa-isa ring nilang nabebenta sa napakaliit na halaga upang may magastos para sa mga pangangailangan habang naghahanap ng bagong trabaho.
  2. Mga Kaibigan. May mga taong nakapaligid sa atin na akala natin, lahat ay kaibigan. Subali’t  nakakalungkot isiping ang iba sa kanila ay nagmamanman upang may mapansing mapupuna na maaaring magamit nila sa paninira sa atin bandang huli. Mayroon ding naiinggit sa nakamit nating tagumpay at pilit nanggagaya kaya ginagamit ang pakikipagkaibigan upang magmanman sa lahat ng kilos natin. Sila ang mga taong akala natin ay kaibigan subali’t pumipigil sa tuluy-tuloy nating pag-angat sa buhay. Nasasabi ko ito dahil, nangyari sa akin mismo, at may mga nakausap din ako na nakadanas ng mga kaparehong pangyayari.
  3. Paggawa ng Desisyon. May mga desisyon tayong ginagawa na kung minsan ay hindi pinag-isipang mabuti. Dito pumapasok ang pagiging padalus-dalos natin na nagre-resulta sa mga pangyayaring pinagsisisihan natin bandang huli. Kung minsan din, dahil sa kayabangan o pride, nais nating ipakita sa iba na kaya nating gumawa ng desisyon kahi’t hindi sumangguni sa iba. Nangyayari ito kalimitan sa mga taong biglang umasenso ang buhay. Dahil sa pagkakaroon nila ng maraming pera, pakiramdam nila ay makapangyarihan na sila at matalino, kaya wala na silang pakialam sa iba. Pati ang mga taong dati nilang nilalapitan noong naghihirap pa sila at hinihingan ng tulong sa paggawa ng desisyon ay itinuring na nilang “bayaran”…ibig sabihin, may katumbas nang halaga ang pakikisama. Iniisip na kasi ng mga taong biglang yumaman na baka lang sila utangan o hingan ng tulong.
  4. Pagpapakita ng pagkamaka-Diyos. Walang masamang magpakita sa iba ng pagkataong maka-Diyos. Yon nga lang, sana ay ilagay sa tamang ayos. May iba kasi na sobra ang ipinapakita na para bang nagpapahiwatig na sila lang ang may karapatang makaligtas sa mga kasalanan dahil hindi sila lumiliban sa pagsamba sa Diyos. Lalong maganda sana kung itong mga tao ay maging taos sa ipinapakita nila sa iba. Yong iba kasi, maski bago lang lumabas sa sambahan at may masalubong sa daan, natutuwa pang makipag-usap na ang paksa ay paninira sa ibang tao.
  5. Pagbili ng mga bargain items. Malaking katipiran ang mga bargain items na nabibili natin sa mga malls o bangketa. Subali’t kung minsan ito ay nagdudulot sa atin ng pinsala. Iilang beses nang naibalita ang tungkol sa mga bina-bargain na mga gamit pampaganda na nabibili sa bangketa na galing Tsina, yon pala ay may lason kaya maraming labi o bibig ang namaga dahil sa paggamit ng pekeng lipstick, mga pisngi na nagkapeklat ng animo mga mapa dahil sa mga pekeng make-up. May mga nakausap na akong nakabili ng mga alahas lalo na kwintas na sinadyang putulin upang palabasing “hablot” o nakaw kaya nabili nila ng mura, binayaran nila ng kung ilang piso lamang, yon pala peke na ang halaga ay bente pesos lamang. Meron ding nakabili ng mga “imported” na toothpaste, nakaw din daw kaya mura, at madalian ang transaksyon dahil baka matunugan ng pulis. Pagcheck sa bahay, ang mga toothpaste, tumigas sa tube at maski anong pindot, walang lumalabas dahil peke na expired pa. Ang matindi ay ang nakausap ko na nasira ang sinus o yong bahagi sa loob ng ilong. Isa siyang addict na nakabili ng pekeng shabu na ang halaga ay halos ¼ lang ng halaga ng street price. Dahil sa katakawan, pagdating sa kanyang kwarto, sininghot agad ito ng malalim at matagal. Nawalan siya ng malay. Nagising siya sa ospital na. Ang nabili pala niya ay tawas! Yong isa naman, tuwang-tuwa sa murang “marijuana” na nabili daw niya sa akala niya ay batang tanga. Pag-uwi, nagsindi agad, yon pala, ang nabili niya ay pinatuyong dahon ng papaya!
  6. Pagbayad sa mga promo services upang magpabago ang anyo. Sa panahon ngayon, pagandahang lalaki at babae ang kalimitang nangyayari dahil sa kagustuhan ng ilan na makaporma na mabuti. Dahil dito nagsulputan ang iba’t ibang mga klinika na may mga promo services. May isa akong kaibigan na sa kagustuhang tumangos ang ilong, nagpa-opera at pumayag na mabutingting ito ng “doctor”. Mura ang bayad niya subali’t isang linggo na, masakit pa rin daw ang ilong niya at parang may uhog o sipon na lumalabas. Nang ipa-check up niya sa isang doctor talaga, ang lumalabas pala ay nana o pus, na-empeksyon pala ang ilong niya. Yong isa namang kausap ko, nagpa-tattoo ng kilay, mura daw dahil may libreng kasama na “facial”. Dahil sa haba ng pila sa parlor, kabilang siya sa mga huling inayusan kaya inabot ng gabi. Tuwang-tuwa siya dahil nakadale siya ng murang kilay na tattoo. Kinabukasan, nang nag-aayos siya habang nagsasalamin, napansin niyang mas mataas ang kaliwang kilay kaysa kanang kilay niya! Yong isa pa, gustong magmukhang Sophia Loren kay nagpakapal ng nguso, yong uso daw ngayon. May promo ang isang beauty clinic kaya susubukan niya. Maski sinabihan ko na siya na hindi bagay sa kanya, itinuloy pa rin dahil sa katigasan ng ulo. Nang tawagan niya ako makalipas ang ilang linggo, hindi ko nakilala ang boses niya dahil naging ngongo kung magsalita, puntahan ko daw siya. Laking gulat ko nang makita ko siya na ang nguso ay parang pinapak ng langgam at sabi niya, “may namunol yanang ungat ngaya hirap ako magsalita” (may naputol yatang ugat kaya hirap ako magsalita). Isa pang kaibigan kong nagmomodel sa isang night club ang gustong magpatambok ng puwit, kaya nakiusap sa isang doctor na bigyan siya ng discount. Nangyari ang gusto niya, subali’t nadisgrasya ang puwit niya kaya hindi na makapagsuot ng bikini, dahil sa pamamaga na kalaunan ay nagkaroon ng nana. Nang gumaling siya pagkatapos ng ilang buwang gamutan, lalong naging “flat” ang puwit kaya wala nang nagti-table at hindi na rin siya nakakasayaw na nakabikini kaya tinanggal siya. Nagtitinda na lang siya ngayon ng barbecue at sigarilyo sa paradahan ng tricycle malapit sa club na dating pinapasukan niya.
  7. Mga pekeng recruiter. Sa bagay na ito, dapat mag-ingat ang mga desperadong magtrabaho sa abroad kahit umabot sa puntong magsangla ng bahay or magbenta ng kalabaw. Nakakadenggoy din ang mga ito ng mga bagong graduate na kumakagat sa mga pangakong magandang trabaho, yon pala, sa mga beerhouse ang bagsak.
  8. Mga announcement ng panalo sa pamamagitan ng text message at email. Kaya ko binanggit ito ay dahil ilang beses na akong nakatanggap ng ganitong mga mensahe, pero kailangan ko daw munang  magpadala sa kanila ng php100 mahigit na load o magpadala sa kanila ng bank account ko. Yong ibang message ay galing sa mga foreigner na pinamanahan daw ng milyon-milyong dolyar at naghahanap ng matutulungan o mapaglalagakan ng namanang pera kaya kailangan ding padalhan sila ng dollar bank account. Ang mga nabanggit ay hindi dapat bigyan ng pansin dahil mga raket.

 

Habang tayo ay nabubuhay hindi natin maiwasan ang mga pagsubok at tukso na madalas nating nasasalubong sa pagtahak natin ng mga daan na hindi na nga matuwid ay lubak-lubak pa, kaya dapat lang mag-ingat ng todo upang tumagal pa tayo dito sa ibabaw ng mundo. Gumawa na lang tayo ng sarili nating paraan upang malampasan ang mga pagsubok na ito dahil napansin na nating ang dapat asahan sa ating pamahalaan ay hindi nangyayari. Kaya nating gawin ito… dahil Pilipino tayo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filipino Patriotism

Filipino Patriotism                                                    

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Patriotism is nationalism – love of country. The extreme manifestation is fighting to death for the sake of one’s country. Filipinos are proud to use such adjective for themselves. Such show of patriotism was done first at the shores of Mactan Island in the province of Cebu where the Spanish Magellan was slain by Lapu-lapu, a local chieftain. The manifestation went on with the fight against Spain whose “conquest” of the country was made possible with the use of the cross. Later, the Filipinos showed this zeal against the Americans and Japanese.

 

Today, the patriotic fervor of the radical Filipinos consistently shows their disgust for the Americans whom they accuse of discreetly controlling the Philippine government. Unfortunately, this unrestrained outpouring of emotion results to vandalism. These are seen on defaced walls, bridges and fences spray-painted with communistic slogans, anti-American and anti-Filipino administration messages, not to mention the caricatures of hated local officials and whoever American president is sitting at the White House.

 

The radical groups keep on holding rallies at the US embassy and set aside the crucial issue against the intrusion by China of the West Philippine Sea. They do not hold rallies against the dumping of electronic waste in the country by other countries, the factories that dump waste into Pasig River and Manila Bay, the issue on Manila being developed by foreign drug lords as a distribution hub in Asia,  and the constantly rising tuition fees and prices of basic commodities, to name a few. These groups that carry red banners and streamers painted with hammer and sickle disrupt traffic on their way to Malacanan and US embassy…all because, they thought, they are patriotic, and to which I must honestly, though, partly conform.

 

For a change, why can’t these groups call the attention of local governments on the stinking public toilets and waterways clogged with garbage in their respective domains?…the beggars who literally convert sidewalks into makeshift homes and who should be given assistance by their respective social welfare offices?…the street urchins who are supposed to be rounded up and sheltered in juvenile homes?…the Badjaos who should be trained on livelihood endeavors rather than be tolerated begging in the streets?…and many more issues that could better occupy their time than harangue the Americans?

 

As a Filipino, I am also affected by the so-called “mismanagement” of our country resulting to the rampant corrupt practices, so deeply rooted that solutions seem to be no longer in sight. As an individual, though, I must admit that I am just an obscure voice in the wilderness of discontent. I want to be part of a movement for a patriotic advocacy, but how can I be encouraged to do it when all I see are groups that see violent acts as the only way of being heard? Never have I seen an attempt for restraint on their part. It seems that the more violent and provocative actions they have, the better for them to attract the attention of the media…hence, the better for their cause. 

 

Filipino patriotism should be tinged with values for which we are known. We are a non-violent and resilient race and our values should be manifested in all we do…including protest actions.

 

 

Consistency

Consistency

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

By its meaning, consistency is also about stability, reliability and dependability. It adds up to the character and integrity of a person, project or program. For the layman or man on the street, it is simply about  “maintaining” of what has been initiated for a project or program, or continued show of righteousness by a person. Many reputable names of persons and projects have been ruined because of inconsistency.

 

In the Philippines, this word is best used in describing politicians and government projects. With the onset of electoral campaigns, candidates vie for bigger attention by making promises. When they finally made it to the position they campaigned for, they suddenly developed amnesia and their once affable personality, suddenly turned sour. As for the public structures, during ribbon cuttings, whisky bottle breakings, and whatever ceremonies, these projects are well-maintained, well-kept…but years hence, whatever colorful paints they once sported became ugly flakes. Saplings of hardy woods that saw colorful ceremonies for “green programs”, complete with mock “planting” executed by politicians and government officials in native barong attire or white slacks and white long- sleeved shirt, wilt just after a few months due to neglect.

 

In Manila, the four airport terminals are in such a sorry state that they are often subjects of criticism by travel bloggers, especially, the cramped Terminal 1. Despite the billions of pesos budget for their rehabilitation, no admirable result could be discerned, yet. The Terminal 1 still suffer from intermittent breakdown of airconditioning units. Despite the presence of some indoor plants, the feeling of crampiness is still there. The whole area is still small by international standard. The Terminal 2 is not without its own disliked character due to neglect. The terminal’s lone escalator has been inutile for more than a year as of this writing. Most plants are not regularly watered resulting to their miserable wilting. Some male urinals are clogged for a long time now with most of the sensors not working.

 

The bridges that lead to Quiapo and Sta. Cruz districts of Manila City are just intolerable, especially, the Quezon Bridge, part of which has been turned into some sort of a toilet that reeks with human waste and urine. During the administration of Mayor Lim, the illuminating ceremonies of the two structures hugged the front pages of dailies. The street lights were imported from China, made of colorful plastic materials which did not stand the onslaught of heat, rains and worst, typhoons. Bulbs were stolen by disreputable citizens who thought they could use them at home. Today, practically, the bridges are bare…the multi-million peso plastic streetlight structures gone for good.

 

The lengths of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system and Light Rail Transit (LRT) system were once magnificent with the plant boxes underneath them. They were unfortunately subjected to whimsical designs of whoever sits as mayor of districts that they traverse. If the mayor is fond of plants, the boxes are filled with different varieties. If the mayor has no penchant for any arboreal undertaking the plant boxes are sadly neglected, left to accommodate unwanted grass.

 

The span of the Roxas Boulevard once attracted hordes of afternoon strollers due to food stalls that sell refreshing snacks and drinks, benches and later, light musical entertainments that spilled until nighttime. When a new mayor took the post, all those were practically disallowed, the reason for which was that the boulevard became hangouts of robbers and pickpockets. Today, the promenaders make do with what benches are left.

 

The poor Pasig River that should have been “rehabilitated” long time ago yet, also become victim of political whims. Fund raising campaigns that also were favorite publicity items have become things of the past. Common sense among the concerned agencies and government officials did not prevail, when they looked for options to unclog the city and national roads of the Greater Manila Area with traffic. Although, there is an effort now to revive the ferry system, thanks to the initiative of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), it seemed inadequate due to limited extent of its service. And, the question is, will it be consistently operated?

 

Government agencies that become subjects of criticisms, especially, if these caught the attention of both the print and broadcast media, try their best to rectify what have been noticed. Image-improvements would be made for as long as they are subject to constant checks, unfortunately, when finally the media get tired of playing big brother, they go back to their old “attitude”.

 

Groups who profess to be concerned about the state of nature, such as the coastal areas, the waterways, the air, and the mountains, would arrange for press conferences during which they divulge their plans as their share in “healing” the sick Mother Earth. So on a weekend, usually, Sunday, fun runs would be held for this mission.  At times, groups clad in t-shirts screaming slogans would congregate in designated coastal areas, pick up plastic and other wastes in a gingerly manner – all for photo opportunities. Some even hold rallies for this cause, during which programs are held complete with speakers from the Congress or Senate. After all those, nothing is heard from these “environmentalist” groups again. What I cannot understand is the failure of these people to start this kind of advocacy right in their neighborhood where unscrupulous throwing of garbage and non-segregation of same are rampant.

 

It needs strong resolve to be consistent. As it is a foundation for any advocacy, the best way is to start with something small, something realistic that can be done without many promises. Why make the effort to impress when such can last only for a few days?…a few months?…or worse, not what is really needed by the beneficiaries?

  

 

 

Ang Kadakilaan ng Pag-ibig (para kay Emma Tronco)

Ang Kadakilaan ng Pag-ibig

(para kay Emma Tronco)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Sa kaibuturan ng puso’y bumabalong ang pag-ibig

Mahiwagang damdamin, minsa’y hindi maunawaan

Nag-udyok sa Diyos upang buhayin ang sangkatauhan

Nagpaubaya sa Kanyang palampasin, unang Kasalanan.

 

Ang kadakilaan ng pag-ibig ay hindi kayang sukatin

Ng mga pagsubok dahil sa pagduda’t pag-alinlangan

Hindi ito saklaw ng mga pasubaling minsa’y nabibitiwan

Na sa mga labi ay namumutawi, dala ng magulong isipan.

 

Sa mundong ibabaw, habang buhay ang magsing-irog

Na sa harap ng altar nagsumpaan, taimtim na nagdasal

Saksi ang pari, magulang,  iba pang sa buhay nila’y mahal –

Tiwala’y pairalin hanggang huling sandali sa kanila’y daratal.

 

Tanikala ng pagmamahal ang nagbuklod sa magsing-irog

May bendisyon ng Diyos, nagpapatibay, nagpapalakas nito

Di dapat makalas o maputol sa pagkatali ng dalawang puso –

Anumang panahon o kalagayan, umaaapaw man ng siphayo!

 

 

 

 

Mga Payak na Lutong Maragondeno

Mga Payak na Lutong Maragondeῆo

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Hindi tulad ng ibang bansa na ang maipagmamalaki lamang ay mga natatanging taal na pagkain at pamamaraan sa pagluto o recipe, ang sa Pilipinas, bukod sa pagkakaroon ng huling nabanggit, ay mayroon ding mga hango sa pamamaraan ng mga mananakop. Subali’t mayroong mga rehiyon at probinsiya na nakapagpanatili ng sarili nilang mga lutuin. Isa na diyan ang Maragondon, isang bayan ng Cavite.

 

Kung anong dagundong mayroon ang pangalan ng bayan, ay ganoon din ang mga sariling lutuin nito. Ayon kay Gng. Emma Mendoza Duragos, isang caterer na taga- Maragondon, ang mga lutong Maragondeῆo ay binabatay sa mga kung ano lang ang mahahagilap sa paligid, subali’t nagagawan ng paraan upang maging malasa at malinamnam. Ang kapayakan sa paghanda ng mga ito ang dahilan kung bakit marami ang nahalinang matuto sa paghanda ng mga nabubukod tanging pagkaing Maragondeῆo.

 

Ang piniritong lumpiya halimbawa ay kaunti lamang ang mga sangkap tulad ng singkamas o hilaw na papaya o kung talagang espesyal ay ubod ng niyog, carrot o kamoteng dilaw, sibuyas bombay o dahon, at konting pamentang durog. Ang manamis-namis na lasa ay galing sa sangkap na carrot o kamote.

 

Sa mga pinaasim na lutuin tulad ng paksiw o sinigang na isda, ang pinakamahalagang sangkap ay kamyas lamang. Ganito rin ang ginagawa sa sinigang na baboy o baka, subali’t may dagdag na ilang patak ng sukang niyog. Hindi hinahaluan ang mga ito ng mga rekadong ginagamit sa mga lutuing intsik o Indiyano.

 

Ang monggo na itinuturing na pang-Biyernes na ulam, ay pinapakuluan ng matagal upang talagang lumambot at hinahalong mabuti upang lumapot. Hinahaluan ito ng kung anong gulay ang maaaring makalap sa paligid tulad ng dahon at talbos ng ligaw na ampalaya o malunggay. Palasak sa Maragondon ang paghalo ng dinurog na tsitsarong balat ng baboy sa nilagang monggo na lalong nagpapatingkad ng lasa nito.

 

Ang manok na sarsiyado ay niluluto muna ng bahagya sa pinagbabaran nitong mga sangkap upang masigurong manuot ang lasa sa laman, at pinipirito din ng bahagya upang mawala ang lansa. Binibigyan nila ng halaga ang luya sa pagluto ng sarsiyadong manok, baka at isda, upang matanggal ang lansa sa mga ito.

 

Hindi maiwasang mapag-usapan ang mga payak o simpleng pagluluto sa panahong ito dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay. Napatunayan ng mga taga-Maragondon na simple man ang paraan sa paghanda ng mga pagkain nila, nagagawan nila ito ng paraan upang maging masarap. Ginagamit ni Gng. Duragos ang kaalaman niya sa mga paraang Maragondeῆo sa pagluto, sa kanyang hanapbuhay bilang caterer at karinderyista sa loob ng isang subdivision na dinadayo dahil sa murang halaga ng mga ulam at sarap ng mga ito. Kung kinakailangan o kung pinapakiusap ng nagpapa-cater, nagluluto rin si Gng. Duragos ng mga ulam na naimpluwensiyahan ng Kastila at Hapon. Subali’t may paraan siya upang pumaibabaw pa rin ang timplang Maragondeῆo na natutunan niya mula noong siya ay bata pa. Ang paraang ito o “twist” ay nauuso sa makabagong “cuisine”. Ang malungkot lamang ay ayaw niyang ipamahagi ang mga paraan ng pagtimpla dahil “trade secret” daw. May gumaya na daw kasi subali’t sa halip na magpasalamat ay siniraan pa siya. Naging bahagi na ng  adhikain ni Gng. Duragos sa pagluto ang paniniwalang hindi kailangang gumastos ng malaki upang makatikim ng masarap na pagkain…at yan ay napatunayan niya.

The Senior Citizens (…a message to the youth)

The Senior Citizens

(…a message to the youth)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Never scorn or despise the senior citizens. Without them, there is no world fit for habitation. Without them, there would have been no bright guys running governments. Senior citizens are the seeds of humanity that brought forth different races that roam the earth. Senior citizens are what the youth have become –intelligent, ripened, seasoned, experienced, toughened, esteemed, honored, valued, appreciated, and many more.

 

The senior citizens toiled day and night to earn so that the youth in their care can eat decent meals and earn knowledge from prep schools, middle schools, colleges and universities. They sat it out all night when the youth in their care contacted diseases. They cried when the youth in their care succumbed to sickness and finally go to eternal sleep. The woman senior citizen carried what would become a child, for nine months which is  the fulfillment of her life as a mother. The elderly man, literally broke his back in carrying loads to earn an honest living for the growing youth in his care.

 

Never hate the senior citizens just because they break cups and plates due of trembling hands. Never call them useless creatures just because you feed them, after they have exhausted their savings to buy you nice clothes, gadgets and pay for your tuition. Never neglect their needs for medical attention, because for you, they can finally rest if their deterioration is hastened. You, the youth, are treading the road that leads to where they are now.

 

The senior citizens should be venerated. They deserve the same care that they once gave you as a growing youth. They should not be caricatured because of their wrinkled skin, stooped posture, bowed legs, gummy smile and chinky eyes due to dimming sight. They should not be shunned because of a typical smell, as they can no longer take a bath on their own.

 

The senior citizens should be loved the way they loved you since the first minute you saw the light of the world. They deserve it more than anything else…more than any weight of gold…more than the brightest sparkle of a diamond. They need to feel the warmth that they once wrapped your frail body.

 

You will become one, like them…ripened by time and toughened by trials.  They are you, years from now…

 

 

Remembering Sarah Jane Salazar (the first Filipina HIV-AIDS victim)

Remembering Sarah Jane Salazar

(the first Filipina HIV-AIDS victim)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

During the time that Manila was gripped with the detection of HIV-AIDs among the sex workers, I was just reading about the news that were splashed on the pages of tabloids, until the name, Sarah Jane Salazar was mentioned as the first  victim. Her photos accompanied news and commentaries about the disease. She was very young and beautiful. Never did I expect that I would meet her….

 

Four times, as I would leave the gates of our subdivision as early as five in the morning for work, I would see an attractive young girl sitting in the waiting shed of the tricycle terminal. She was always puffing a cigarette and would courageously stare back at me as I made my way to the jeepney stop by the highway. On the fifth time, she returned my smile and that was the time that I finally recognized the face – she was Sarah Jane. As I already knew from write ups that she hailed from Cotabato, I spoke to her, but asked which Visayan dialect she knew, Hiligaynon or Cebuano. She said she knew both.

 

From then on, I would sit by her in the waiting shed for a few minutes every morning before making my way to the jeepney stop. She told me that she was boarding in the house of her “manager” not far from our subdivision, and, that she made it a habit to take a few minutes of rest in the waiting shed before finally taking a tricycle ride home. She was then working as a guest relations officer (GRO) and the manager she mentioned was her real manager in the joint. I did not know that she was referring to a woman I knew as her landlady. She was all praises for her landlady who showed her motherly love while the rest of her friends began to drift away when they learned about the sickness that she was carrying. In fact, she even had a close relationship with her landlady’s son who also pitied her.  The relationship, though, did not last long.

 

When I asked her about what I read in tabloids, she honestly admitted them without batting an eyelash and a tone of sadness. That was how I began to admire her toughness. She told me about the poverty that her family was suffering back home which forced her to work in beer joints even as an adolescent, adding that all she wanted was to help her family. Her frail frame barely stood at less than five feet. She had smooth brown skin and heart-shaped face with a ready smile, a beautiful face, though petite in physical structure.

 

After less than a month of friendly encounters, I no longer found her in her usual corner of the shed. I found out that she transferred to another boarding house somewhere in Pasay City. Later I came across interviews of Justo C. Justo, a Councilor of Pasay City who claimed that Sarah Jane was in his care and he was planning to sponsor a project about HIV-AIDS. I thought it was something like regular check- ups for sex workers or free hospitalizations. I was shocked when I learned that it was about a nude statue of Sarah that will be erected on a strategic portion of the EDSA extension, within the Pasay area. According to him, it will “ immortalize” Sarah Jane as the first Filipino victim of the dreaded disease, a reminder for the rest who would be careless about their sexual practice. When I contacted Sarah by phone, she told me that she did not know about it and that was the first time that I hear her cry. Good thing, the project did not materialize, as the local citizens perceived it as immortalizing the dreaded disease at the expense of Sarah Jane.

 

Months after, I saw on TV that Sarah was living in with a boy, barely past his teen years and who fathered what she was carrying for a couple of months that time. Comments about such carelessness were printed in tabloids. The parents of the boy were being accused of negligence. Sarah was already adamant and uncooperative during interviews until she finally gave birth to the child. I lost track of her after that.

 

I just learned that she was confined in a government hospital with facilities for HIV-AIDS victims due to her rapidly deteriorating health when it was flashed on TV. For the last time, I visited her and gave her the original handwritten copy of the poem I composed. I told her that I made the poem several days after our meeting in Cavite. I did not ask about her young husband or the child supposedly in his care. She cried (for the second time) after reading the poem in Filipino. I honestly told her that it was my last visit, so that she can have more time for rest. Her last words for me almost in whispere were, “sige lang manong, okey lang ako, daghang salamat…damo gid nga salamat” (it’s alright manong, I am okey…thank you very much…thank you very much.)

 

How many Sarah Janes do we still see around us roaming the streets of the cities throughout the country at night or entertaining customers in beer joints? They who are carrying responsibilities on their shoulders to augment the income if there is, of their parents? They who are supposed to be carrying bags of notebooks and books on their shoulders to school?….. They who are robbed of financial benefits as young citizens, by greedy government officials and politicians – all, without conscience?!!

 

 

 

(Note: “daghang salamat” is Cebuano/ Visayan, while “damo gid nga salamat” is Hiligaynon/Visayan, and both means “thank you” in English).