Si Ted, at si Ruel…mga salamin ng buhay

Si Ted at si Ruel

…mga salamin ng buhay

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Mga kasabayan ko sila noong nag-aaral pa kami mula elementary hanggang kolehiyo. Hindi sila nakaririwasa sa buhay, hindi rin naman naghihirap. Pareho silang sa murang gulang ay sinanay nang bumalikat ng mga gawaing bahay at iba pang responsibilidad na magagamit nila pagdating ng panahong mag-isa nilang haharapin ang mga pagsubok sa paghanap nila ng kani-kanilang kapalaran.

 

Si Ted ay natutong magtinda ng diyaryo upag kumita ng babaunin niya pagpasok ng eskwela. Disiplinaryan ang tatay niya na maski may kaliitan ay nakipagbakbakan sa mga Hapon noong WWII at harap-harapan pa niyang ginawa maproteksiyunan lang ang pamilya. Palangiti si Ted at hindi ko nakitang nakasimangot maski kaylan noong nabubuhay pa at magkasama kami. Puno ng mga ideya ang kanyang utak, yon nga lang ay hindi naunawaan ng iba naming kaibigan kaya ay turing sa kanya ay mayabang. Nagkasundo kami dahil pareho kaming mahilig mag-isip ng mga bagay na  maaaring  mangyari sa hinaharap. Napag-usapan naming noong high school kami ang maaaring mangyari na “pagpapahinga” na lang sa isang tao na nahihirapan nang mabuhay, na nangyayari na ngayon at ang tawag ay “euthanasia”. Napag-usapan din namin noon na darating ang panahong lalapag din ang tao sa buwan “dahil andiyan lang naman, eh”, sabay tawanan. Nangyari nga. Pinag-usapan din naming noon na baka mangyari sa isang taong patay na nguni’t bubuhayin gamit ang isang bahagi ng katawan niyang inilagay sa isang klase ng kemikal. Naisip din namin ito dahil kung pwede ngang magbuhay ng halaman gamit ang isang sanga nito, dapat pwede rin sa tao. Nangyari nga. Pati mga kotse na pwedeng lumipad na parang eroplano, at pwede rin sa tubig na parang bangka. Nangyari rin. Marami pa kaming pinag-usapang nangyayari na ngayon. Kaming dalawa lang ang nagkaintindihan.

 

Noong minsang umuwi ako upang magbakasyon, sa kanila ako natulog. Habang nag-iinuman, inilabas niya ang kanyang cal.38 na baril at ipinakita sa akin, nakaligtaan niyang tanggalan ng bala, at dahil nakainom nangyari ang hindi inaasahan. Nakalabit niya ang gatilyo, mabuti na lang at sa kisame ang direksyon, nguni’t natulig ako at nawala ang pagkalasing naming pareho. Minsan lang din kami nagtalo – tungkol sa cremation.  Ayaw niya ng cremation, gusto ko naman. Binanggit ko ang tungkol sa alikabok na pinanggalingan ng tao, sabi niya, patay na nga susunugin pa. Nagtampo ako kaya iniwan ko siya at naglakad nang naglakad sa bayan at nang abutin ng antok ay sa isang papag sa palengke ako natulog. Sa kahahanap pala niya sa akin, naubusan ng langis ang motorcycle niya. Nang mag-usap kami uli tungkol sa cremation ay noog umakyat kami sa Mt. Apo. Sinabi niya na kung mamatay siya, okey na ang cremation at ikalat  maski sa paanan ng Mt. Apo ang abo niya. Hindi nangyari lahat ang gusto niya dahil, na-cremate man siya, ang abo niya ay itinabi ng mga mahal niyang asawa at mga anak.

 

Si Ruel, elementary pa lamang kami ay nakitaan na ng sobrang kabaitan dahil titser ang nanay niya, kaya siguro takot mapingot palagi. Kung makipaglaro man sa amin, sandali lang at uuwi na. Mahilig siyang mag-memorize ng mga leksyon kaya consistent honor student siya. Aktibo sa mga gawain ng Boy Scout kaya madalas siyang kasama sa mga jamboree.  Kung anong bait niya noon elementary kami, ay ganoon din siya noong high school kaya paborito siya ng mga titser namin siya. Pambato naming siya pagdating sa elocution contests, na napapanalunan naman niya palagi. Maraming siyang tagahanga noong high school kami, kasama na ang mga babaeng estudyante sa “kabilang bakod” ng aming eskwelahan, ang Girls’ Department.

 

Ang hindi ko makalimutan sa mga sinabi niya sa akin noong high school pa kami ay tungkol sa pagsisikap na siyang dapat magbigay ng lakas sa tao upang makamit ang kanyang ambisyon. Ako kasi noon, mahilig sa barkada kaya isa ito sa palagi niyang paalala niya sa akin. Akala kasi niya, pabaya ako sa pag-aaral. Palagi niya ring tinatapik-tapik ang balikat ko sabay sabing, “relax lang”, kapag napansin niyang umiinit ang ulo, na madalas mangyari.

 

Noong nakuha ako ng Department of Social Welfare, habang nasa fourth year college kami, pinakiusap ko sa boss ko na baka pwede na ring isama si Ruel na nangyari naman. Sabado at Linggo ang pasok namin, pero buo ang sweldo bilang casual employees dahil inaabot naman kami ng halos hatinggabi sa pagtrabaho. Hindi kami pareho ng ugali, dahil kung maiinitin at mainipin ako, siya naman ay mahaba ang pisi ng pasensiya at may tiyaga. Kaya nang gumradweyt kami sa college, naghanap ako ng ibang trabaho na swerte ko namang nakita agad, habang siya ay naiwan. Hindi kalaunan, nabigyan siya ng scholarship sa Australia upang magpakadalubhasa sa larangan ng Social Work. Ang kurso kasi namin ay AB English/History. Maswerte lang ako dahil ang airline na napasukan ko ay hindi pinansin ang kurso ko dahil napasahan ko naman ang lahat ng mga pagsubok.

 

Naging Regional Director si Ruel ng Region XI ng DSW. Nang inililipat siya sa Manila para sa isang mas mataas na pwesto, tinawagan niya ako at tinanong kung okey lang ba. Pinaalala ko sa kanya ang ambisyon niya kaya hindi nagtagal naipwesto siya bilang Assistant Director ng ahensiyal. Hindi nagbago ang ugali niya pagdating sa trabaho. Nakikita ko na lang siya TV, namumuti ng abo ang katawan, kasama ng nililikas na mga tao nang pumutok ang Mt. Pinatubo. Minsang gusto siyang interbyuhin, itinuro niya ang kasama niya para dito. Maski mataas ang pwesto niya sa ahensiya, talagang kumikilos.

 

Tinatawagan niya ako noon at kunwari ay nagtatampo dahil kung kaylan daw nasa Maynila na siya ay hindi na kami nagkikita. Mula noon, sinikap kong pasyalan siya maski sandal tuwing weekend. Napansin kog lumulubo ang kanyang katawan kaya pinayuhan kong maghinay-hinay sa pagkain. Nakita ko kung paano siyang hingalin agad, yon pala may diperensiya na sa puso. Kinuha siyang guest speaker sa graduation ng college namin. Pagkatapos niya, ako naman ang naimbitang magsalita. Gusto niyang umatend ng mga reunion naming kaya nakiusap siyang palagi siyang sabihan ng iskedyul. Sa isang inihandang reunion, pinuntahan pa siya ng organizer namin sa kanyang opisina. Sa kasamaang palad hindi pa rin siya naka-attend dahil sa biglaang atake sa puso, habang nasa opisina siya.

 

Ang buhay ng isang tao ay kinikitaan ng mga leksyon ng ibang tao. Ang isang tao ay hindi lang kapatid, magulang, o kaibigan. Siya ay salamin din ng buhay, nagpapakita ng mga ugaling kapupulutan natin ng mga leksyon na magsasabi sa atin kung tama ang ating ginagawa o may kamalian na dapat iwasto. Tulad din ni Ted at Ruel na itinuring ko, hindi lang mga kaibigan kundi salamin din ng aking buhay…kaya sa kanila ay abot-langit ang aking pasasalamat.

Walking Through the Storms of Life

Walking Through the Storm

by Apolinario Villalobos

 

Walking through the storm

is what we do  these days

not one, not two, not three

but more…enough to stir

and breed a deadly fear!

 

Walking through the storm

is what we do these days

for we got no other choice

as there are no other ways

but live through painful days!

 

Walking through the storm

is what we do these days

pray… our strength will last

the turmoil, all will survive

and walk through it… alive!  

 

 

 

Help Mother Nature…Save our Habitat

Help Mother Nature…Save Our Habitat

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The footages on TV about floods, mountains of garbage, beaches littered with refuse, bald mountains mercilessly destroyed by loggers, rivers and city sewers clogged with plastic wastes and even carcasses of animals, can give chills down the spine of even an emotionally-strong person. To ask what’s wrong is no longer relevant. Everybody knows the what and why, even the who of this issue. But despite the worldwide movement to salvage Mother Nature, majority of the humanity is far from cooperating.

 

Businesses involving manufacture of gadgets, equipment, home appliances, and other enhancements of a “comfortable” life are flourishing at a fantastic alacrity. New inventions are coming out every year. Despite the call to minimize the use of nature and climate-damaging materials, those coming out of factory assembly lines are with even more notoriously destructive components.

 

The call to recycle seems to fall on deaf ears – mostly. If ever, countries do not have encompassing legislations on this. In the Philippines for instance, the response comes in clusters…few cities and towns with their respective local laws prohibiting the use of plastic bags when shopping in the wet market. On the other hand, the national agency, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is running out of ideas on how to eliminate or at least minimize the indiscriminate disposal of waste materials that are blamed for the perennial city flood.

 

Some of us have the instinct of immediately throwing away, anything that we can’t put to immediate use. Fortunately, there are some sectors which are initiating moves in recycling what for others are useless scraps – cloths, cans, old shopping bags, rice sacks. These are transformed into bags, flower pots, vases, tote bags, etc.  Such commendable effort, however, constitute just an insignificant percentage of what is expected.

 

To give a semblance of respectability to the recycling effort, the junks are now called pre-owned. I have come across an inspiring blog about a pretty multi-awarded American actress who claim to prefer pre-owned dresses and accessories, and in the accompanying photo she looks glamorous in one of the dresses with less than five dollars price tag.

 

Why be ashamed of pre-owned things? In the case of garments, it is how you fit in them neatly that counts, and in the case of other things, such as tools and household furnishing, it is your practical perception of their use that should matter . During my college days, three sisters, all of them popular campus personalities earned such recognition because of their pretty faces and the way they carried themselves in dresses tailored from pre-owned oversized skirts, dresses, and Hawaiian shirts that were transformed into elegant mini-skirts and blouses. The eldest among them, did the transformation by dint of her basic knowledge in sewing.

 

A friend has the habit of framing things that others should have thrown, such as old keys, buttons, bottle crowns, etc.  Another friend stacked several old car tires, topped them with a junked table top, and presto!, he now has a lanai table in the center of which are found objects clumped together with strips of bronze electric wires.

 

A well-to-do acquaintance’s home is filled with eclectic assemblage of furnishing he salvaged from junk shops. He could well afford to buy brand new things for his home, but he prefers to rummage in the junk shops for things that he could tinkle with to come up with new contraptions that even surprise him at the end. Sometimes I would join him in rummages and eventually, came up with my own collection of recycled items.

 

Going to the simpler things, recycling is not limited to plastics, rubbers, metals, cloths. It is also about how we treat water and leftover foods. Some of us have the habit of washing utensils under the open faucet or brushing our teeth while water copiously gushes out of it.  This habit is beyond comprehension. When doing the laundry, even clear water is thrown away instead of being used to flush the toilet and clean the garage. Leftover foods are left to the elements on the table so that there will be an excuse to throw them away for being spoiled, when they can be re-cooked with flavor enhancers to transform their delectability. Cold rice is thrown away instead of being fried.  And the worst of all habits is leaving morsels of food on the plate!… which of course, will definitely be thrown away or fed to the pets. This worst habit is very evident in fast food joints and restaurants, with the culprits even showing proud expressions on their faces, as if saying that they can afford to do it.

 

Mother Nature is terribly sick, our habitat is dying, but despite all these, we just shrug our shoulders with indifference.

 

 

 

 

One Dish Meals- My Style

One Dish Meals – My Style

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

We admire blogged photos of one-dish meals, all foreign, such as salads, pastas, risotto, casserole, sandwiches, as well as those of our neighbor countries in Asia. What we fail to do is “fuse” them with our own available ingredients that are available all year round. Let us not limit ourselves in just admiring those photos. Worse, if they are available in local restaurants, we pay enormous sums for a small plate or bowl of any of them. The following are just some of my tried recipes. The idea here is saving on time, effort and fuel.

 

Pinakbet rice. In the rice cooking pan, top the rice with stringbeans, okra, squash, eggplant, bitter gourd, saluyot, tomatoes, garlic, onions and fish sauce (bagoong isda). Estimate the amount of water to be added, giving consideration to the vegetables that will also absorb some of the liquid. When the combined rice and vegetables start to boil, slightly stir for all the ingredients to mix well, and let it simmer till all the liquid has been absorbed. When cooked, allow at least twenty minutes before transferring them in a big bowl.

 

Pinakbet fried rice.  Sauté fish sauce in onion, garlic and tomatoes, add the vegetables that take time to cook such as stringbeans, okra and squash, followed by the batch of bitter gourd, eggplant and saluyot. When almost done, add cold rice, and continue stir-frying till completely done.

 

Heaven and earth. This is a combination of apples, ordinary potatoes, sweet potatoes and pineapple or half-ripe mangoes.  After having been washed and peeled, cube them and sauté in onion, tomatoes, garlic, and salt to taste, till done. In a big bowl, combine them with pre-cooked rice and sprinkle with chopped spring onion. Why the name? heaven refers to the apple and mango,  while the earth, to the potatoes and pinapple.

 

Tropical fried rice. Sauté bagoong alamang (but the best is the Iloilo ginamos) in onion, garlic and tomatoes, when almost done, add cubed pineapple or half-ripe mangoes and cold rice. Stir- fry the combined ingredients till done. Sprinkle with spring onions.

 

Neptune’s casserole. Stir fry the green mussels (tahong)  in onions and ginger, when the mussels open up, add  water, fried filleted galunggong, moringa or malunggay, and tomato sauce. Let it boil for three minutes and add the pre-cooked pasta. As a casserole it should be soupy. Any kind of pasta can be used, even the kind that Filipinos use in fruit or macaroni salad.

 

Fisherman’s fried rice. Stir- fry dried anchovies (dilis) till done, add onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Then, add cold rice, soy sauce or a little salt, and continue stir-frying till done.

 

Farmer’s fried rice. Stir-fry garlic and onion, add bagoong alamang.  When done, add cubed singkamas (jicama) and kamote (sweet potato),continue stir-frying till they are cooked. Add cold rice and continue stir-frying, till completely done.

 

Green fried rice.   Sauté  bagoong alamang in onion and garlic, add chopped pechay and camote tops, continue stir-fying till done. Add cold rice and pre-cooked malunggay, flavor with soy sauce.  Continue stir-frying till completely done.

 

You may have noticed that no meat is part of any of the recipes. The reason is my effort to scrimp, hence, the use of the cheapest and readily available ingredients. The jicama or singkamas is one of the best and versatile vegetable/fruit we have and it can be kept for months, and can also be used for different versions of lumpia or spring roll. When in season it is very cheap. The sweet potato is available year round, just like the ordinary potato. Since the apples will be cooked, the old ones can be purchased instead of the new ones.

 

The café foods that Filipinos enjoy as snacks such as pizza and hamburgher are actually one-dish meals. The pizza was initially referred to as the poor man’s dish, being an open sandwich – stale bread topped with leftovers and herbs found lying around and heated in the oven.  The same is true with the sandwiches. Ilocanos concocted their own versions but limited initially to pizza preparations. That is why, in the north, they have the pinakbet pizza and dinuguan pizza. The next time I know, there will be shops selling dinuguan and pinakbet burghers.

 

Necessity is the best teacher in the concoction of practical recipes such as those mentioned above. In my case, I need to scrimp for many reasons. I tried them all, nothing bad happened to me. So, I guess, they might be okey for you, too. I like them all, so I hope that you may like them, too.

 

 

 

Ballad of the Oblates of Notre Dame

I composed this song when I was in first year high school. We would standby at the Samaria House near the OND Sisters’ convent…and if we found a chance, crawled to the guava trees of the Dominican Sisters nearby, and help ourselves with some of the delicious fruit…those were the days….with Tasan, Engkis, Paya, James Bides, Boy Baclaan.

 

 

Ballad of the Oblates of Notre Dame

(for the OND Sisters)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Morning has come

            and sunrays bring

            hope and warmth

            of gay birds’ songs

            to the people of Tacurong

            as, here come the Oblates

            of Notre Dame —–

            splendid in blue and gold

            with bright faces

            and steps, big and bold.

With big hearts

            and armed with fervent prayers

            they went all along

            until they reached  Tacurong

            hemmed in by Mount Dagoma

            Buluan Lake, and river Kapingkong.

At last, finding a solid ground

            the Oblates prayed 

sang praises to the Lord

as the cross could now be planted

for the eager horde.

And now, that cross

            has grown and bloomed

            to have sturdy branches

            and leaves so green

            spreading and reaching out

            to the hearts –

            the hearts that need

            its warmth and grace.

 

            

Kaylan Kaya?

Ginawa ko itong kanta, noong ako ay nasa second year high school. Isinali ko sa isang songwriting contest noong 1980 sa Manila, at ang sponsor ay isang maliit na recording company… sarado na ngayon. Hindi ko nabawi ang original tape ko. Ilang buwan makalipas, may lumabas na kantang kapareho ng tema ng ginawa ko, pati title pareho, at ang tono, halos kapareho din…unang tikim ko ng pambibiktima ng plagiarist. Hindi ko na lang pinansin at kinalimutan ko na. Pero kinakanta ko pa rin ito sa mga folkhouse noong nagsa-sideline pa ako bilang folk singer, dahil maliit ang sweldo ko sa isang regular job, hindi ko na babanggitin ang company na may pakpak. Ang folkhouse ay ang original na Bodega, sa  Mabini St. (Ermita) kung saan ay kumanta din si Freddie Aguilar at ang Asin, na ang dating pangalan ay Salt of the Earth. Sinadya kong hindi lagyan ng punctuation marks ang mga lines dahil nag-iiba ang rendition depende sa kumakanta.

 

Kaylan Kaya?

ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nitong huling mga araw

Malimit ang patayan

Gutom at sakit

Babala sa sangkatauhan

 

Sa munting bagay

Mga tao’y nag-aalitan

Baril at punyal

Panlunas sa sama ng loob

 

Ref:

Kaylan kaya

Magkakaroon ng katahimikan

Ang sandaigdigan?

Kung lumipas na

Ang panahon ng tao? (repeat)

 

Lupang nabubungkal

Kalimitan ay tigang

Bagyo at baha

Mga sanhi ng kahayukan

 

Pera’y dini-Diyos

Ng mga gahaman

Pati kapwa-tao

Ay handa nilang yapakan.

 

(Repeat Refrain twice and fade)