Remembering the Excellent NDTCians

…for the forthcoming NDTC Great Alumni AFFAIR ( As Far and Fair As I can Remember)/27December2014
By Felizardo Lazado

The Notre Dame of Tacurong was born when I was two in 1950.

Her birth, however, came four years after the Philippines has gained her independence from America in 1946. Signifying a closer look beyond the shadow of these three events which all surprisingly came evenly and successively on the face of local history – the Philippine independence in 1946, my birth in 1948 and NDT’s birth in 1950 implies oddity as odd years came following after each event brought fresh breath of freedom to the Filipinos in 1947, a fresh breath of new life to me as I was almost lost by my family due to severe illness in 1949 and a fresh breath of hope to NDT as it unfolded the red carpet in 1951 to welcome her future alumni, the first batch of which came in 1954. …101 ? only ?.

There may be hundreds more of other alumni who are far greater than the ones I’m about to mention, or there is still someone who stands the greatest of all – but sorry, my crystal ball failed to flash their pretty and handsome faces when I was preparing this piece.
Randomly, here we go: One pre-silver jubilarian – Ben Eliseo was Tita Cory’s appointed Mayor of Tacurong during the yellow revolution in 1987. An heir to a vast Garcia Estate -Antonio Garcia has left the same sizable estate to his son Erwin Garcia. The Garcia Estate runs synonymous to palm oil industry in Central Cotabato. Morito Parcon probably the first NDTCian to enter UPcampus, his body shall be claimed by UP College of Medicine when he dies.

Alfonso Jerez, the insurance king and Danzie Buenacosa an entrep prince had once stood famous for their talking voice. The Voice of Democracy national silver medalist, Arturo Llavore was noted in oratory. Banker turned entrep Rodrigo Victorio walk hand-in-hand with son Dubert Victorio as they walk the AMWAY . Dubert as ABC President joined the City Council of Tacurong. Carlo Romero and Gideon Carnaje grabbed the first gold for NDTCBHS in erstwhile Notre Dame Quiz on the Air, while Phill Penaflor set the record in the entire NDEA as he was twice champion in the NDEA academic contest.

Late in 1965, barely a freshman Diosdado Pedral was teamed up with Rhodora Alcon (Girls Dept,) came as finalist in the initial staging of Notre Dame Quiz on the Air. Stat instructor Joel Illustracion coached the NDTC contestants who consistently won the annual stat quiz in the Province of Sultan Kudarat. Larry Tubalado was the regional champion in Philippine History contest with DEPED 12.

In government service – local , regional and national, here are our great alumni: Ruel Lucentales (RIP) from DSWD Welfare Aide in Tacurong to Regional Director in Davao to Assistant Secretary of DSWD in Manila was no joke to tell it all.

Angelo “Roncal” Montilla from the Municipal Hall to the House of Representatives was likewise a tough political journey. He authored the cityhood of Tacurong that made Geronimo Arzagon the first city mayor. Other siblings of Roncal who claimed the mayoral chair were Lino Montilla, and Lina Montilla in incumbency. There are two NDT alumni who were elected vice mayor of Tacurong- Dr. Leo Villalobos and Dr. Joseph Lechonsito also in incumbency (look… both are doctors of medicine). The Tacurong City Council has been dominated by the NDTC alumni, to mention a few: Rodrigo Jamorabon , Jairus Casipe, Max Ledda, Jesus Arcillana Max Casador, Benjamin Fajardo, Bonifacio Enitorio, Federico Seneres Jr. and Virgilo Paredes. VIP (Very Important Personnel) at the the city hall of Tacurong are NDTCians : Thomas Robles – General Services; Jaime Cedullo – Planning and Development; Eduardo Nicolo – Administration; Elma Bides – Auditing; Nestor Nomananap-Budget; John Lechonsito – City Attorney; Rommel Dionela -SP Secretary; Juney Buenacosa – PNP; Eddie Batchar – Treasury; Dr. Giovanni Deles – City Health Officer; Lynnie Balino Local Government Officer (DILG).

Dr. Domingo Miguel Jacalan was once elected Vice- Governor of Sultan Kudarat. Other shining alumni: Dr. Efhraim Collado – MHO Lambayong; Jose Tabuga -SKWD Manager; Demetrio Jerez – SUKELCO Manager; Mr. Barron – DOLE Manager; Dr. Benjamin Suedad, Board of Incorporator Green Hospital; Jimmy Andang – SP Secretary of the Province of Sultan Kudarat; Bonifacio Valdez – VMC City College -Owner/Administrator.

NDTC alumni working in the vineyard of the Lord: Ronnie Torres soon to be ordained OMI priest; Julius de Gracia to say his Thanksgiving Mass here in Tacurong; Marlo Horlador (RIP) the first NDTCian priest; Fr. Joseph Borreros, is the mission in-charge of the Orthodox Church in Southern Mindanao, with base-mission in Lake Sebu and Surallah; Bishop David Salazar covers the Southern Mindanao area of the JIL church. Our very own Parish Priest is Fr. Robles.

The length and width of educational landscape has almost been filled up by NDTCians. After serving as VPA . Dr. Nenita Garcia was joined by her husband Gaudencio Garcia in running the first large early learning center in Pres. Quirino. Dr. Rosmalin Arzagon now serves as NDTC VPA. Merle Baulete is VP for Admin and Finance, her son-in law Elmer Muyco is the current Principal of the high school department, Renato Neri runs the institution’s Extension Program and NDTC alumni Affairs; Edgar Gonzales curates the NDTC Tri-people Musuem.

The public sphere of educational landscape has Gildo Mosqueda-City Schools Division Superintendent ,General Santos City; Dr. dela Cruz is Sarangani Division superintendent; Joseph Pilotos is Tacurong Central District Supervisor; Memvie Alesna – principal ,EJC Montilla; Freddie Delantar -Princiapal-VFGNHS; Danilo Umadhay-Principal-TNHS, Roberto Leyza-Principal-ENHS; Frank Nawal-Principal SPCES; Pangi Balubugan-Principal-PQNHS; Dr. Muhaliddin Suaeb-Aministrative Officer, SK Division.

Outside Tacurong , we have Renato Hingco Vice President, Bicol University; Hernanie Carillo-Vice President -HCCD. Top 50 Filipino entrepeneur greats include one NDTBHS alumnus – Feliciano Juarez of Copylandia Philippines. He owns the company. Marketing strategist Djolan Lictawa takes charge of 5 signature jeans in the Philippines. Dr. Remo Aguilar is a multi-talented physician who organizes lectures on health, a blogger of every event in Tacurong, an artist, a writer.

In the field of music, art, culture and technology (IT): Johnny Garcia is NDTC’s Beethoven, Da Vince, and Gates. Dindo Quevada owns QWorks; John Bernard Fresco owns the FREBROS; Joeph Glenn Lazado came as the first animator in the city-now handling the videography of ARKOWA Arts; Melvin Aradanas and Francisco Torres are the city’s favorite emcees. Felix Mendoza became a national -local coach of Tacurong badminton national players. All CAT oficers in Sultan Kudarat elected Ron Lazado as President of the two-week COLT in Isulan. Bernabe brothers with Ruel, runs the biggest steel and glass works in the city while the Torrecampo bothers with Jerry, owns too, the biggest automotive shop in the city. Carlo Casipit won gold in the national secondary press conference in photo-journalism . His father, Jesusito Casipit is now the DRAGON King.

Speech power conquers. Allan Rey Lucerna captured the orator’s crown that had long been held by the Cotabato Chinese High School orators in the Region XII Water District Annual Oratorical competition. Jimmy Tanara won the silver in Kidapawan and Ron Lazado had his bronze in General Santos City in the Mindanao-wide Water District oration contest. Renato Purazon won silver medal in NDEA Talumpati contest in Marbel. Junel Bedua also a silver medalist in NDU- NDEA Talumpati. Finally, Gerald Vidal brought home the first NDTC gold in NDEA Talumpati held at the Notre Dame University.

And also who would ever believe that it was an NDTC alumnus who was made to speak before the world dignitaries – ambassadors, consuls, papal nuncio, Philippine cabinet men, legislators, governors and mayors, government executives and celebrities during the LAST birthday of the Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos at Malacanang Maharlika Hall. He spoke on the Philipine experience in human settlements. While he was speaking, Cardinal sin was seated at the right hand of the strong man, his eyeballs were seemingly twirling as he was looking at me (as if asking me: is that so?). That was a five-minute speech. The program was emceed by Bert (Tawa) Marcelo and Pilita Corrales. Vilma Santos was the last celebrity to arrive to greet Marcos. That alumnus is the by-line of this simple piece….

NDTC – Notre Dame of Tacurong College
NDEA – Notre Dame Educational Association

Notre Dame is a Catholic school in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, on the island of Mindanao, Philippines.

The Hellish Traffic of Manila

The Hellish Traffic of Manila
By Apolinario Villalobos

Traveling around metro Manila has become hellish with all the upgrading of roads and construction of flyovers. The main thoroughfares such as EDSA, Taft and the expressways going to the north and south have virtually become parking areas of vehicles that move even slower than a snail. The sidestreets are not spared as they became the alternate routes.

Those who have scheduled flights should leave home at least 5 hours before check in time, not departure time. Living near the airport cannot help much, because the issue here is the traffic, not the distance. Those with meetings should be within the vicinity of the venue much earlier than the decent allowable time, and just kill time over mugs of coffee in nearby cafes or while time away window shopping in malls.

Taking the LRT and MRT can help, and suggested is to be at the train terminal three hours before the intended time at your destination, because of the long queue. Rush hours for the metro trains are between 6 and 8 in the morning, and between 4 and 7 in the evening. Not included here, are the “unscheduled” stops midway along the length of the suspended track due to system failure, for which the MRT has become notorious.

Metro Manila should be avoided by those who are planning to have leisurely vacation. But if they are not running after time, prepared for the hustles, and willing to waste time in the midst of the traffic, they can just go ahead. They should just be ready to spend at least five hours sitting in the car or taxi, or stand in a bus throughout that length of time. The worst problem, yet, is when they unfortunately encounter an arrogant and taxi driver who insists on contracted rate rather than using the meter. Another option is to add at least three days to the intended length of vacation, such that, vacation intended for five days, for instance, should be stretched to eight days. The added three days should be treated as “traffic allowance”.

I have a friend who confided about his failure to be at the bedside of his father when he died of heart failure. He got jammed in the traffic of EDSA when he hastily drove his car to the St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City when called by his panicking wife. By the time he arrived at the hospital, his father has been dead for four hours. He lives in Baclaran, and his mistake was driving his car instead of having a combined commute on MRT and taxi or jeepney which somehow could have lessened the travel time.

A seagoing friend missed his flight out for Hongkong where he was to board his ship for Europe. Eventually, he bought another ticket for the ship’s next port of call after it left Hongkong as scheduled. He’s thankful that his agency considered traffic as his reason for missing the flight, otherwise, he could have lost his job.

The simultaneous ongoing road projects in Manila promise comfort in about five years from now. From today then, the ever-resourceful Filipino will have his patience tested to the limit.

Defeat is not having tried and failed…but having failed to try

Defeat is not having tried and failed
…but having failed to try
By Apolinario Villalobos

Sometimes we think of some things we could have done, but failed to do. There is always that culprit – apprehension or hesitance in doing something. Because of fear for failure, we chose not to proceed. But when we see others do them and succeed, the feeling of regret is no end.

There are things that we cannot do because of many constraints. It is necessary, therefore, that we should be realistic and do things that are within the limits of our capability – financially, mentally, and physically. We should not always presume that what others have successfully done, we can also do. We should treat the success of others as an inspiration to do other things, not necessarily for us to copy the things that they have done and succeed.

We can avoid having a feeling of dejection by not aspiring for a grand success from an initial venture. We should be contented with whatever simple success that comes out of our initial effort…at least we have tried. From then on, we are guided on what to do next, to be assured of a bigger success.

Failures should never pull us down and make us feel dejected…defeated. I have come across a part of the biography of a great poet, Robert Frost who, during his time, submitted poems to publishers who rejected them, until he finally found one who appreciated his works. His effort took time before it bore good result. He tried and failed, but never felt defeated…until finally, he triumphed.

I have a cousin who finished a degree in nursing which brought her nowhere along her career path, despite her having worked abroad. When she married a seafarer who started his career as a tailor, both of them decided to go home to our province and start a new life. They went into several retailing businesses, even selling barbecue till late at night. Finally, their patience paid up. Their wholesale business in office stationeries prospered. They suffered defeat in some of their efforts from which they gained valuable lessons in business. And, most importantly they did not stop in striving and trying all means to finally gain success.

Another story is about a classmate in high school who failed to finish a college course until he got married. The couple started selling banana cue in front of a college campus. Being the only vendors of such kind of street food in the vicinity, they captured the “student market”. The volume of sales brought them enough money that enabled them to send all their children through college. Finally, they were able to buy an adjoining piece of land on which they built a bigger stall cum residence.

Success, indeed, can only be realized when enough effort in trying is exerted…despite the threat of defeat.

Corruption Has Pitifully Stunted the Growth of the Philippines

Corruption Has Pitifully Stunted
The Growth of the Philippines
By Apolinario Villalobos

The modern structures that are continually breaking the skyline of Manila and suburban metropolis such as Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, are not the real gauge of the country’s growth. The transformation that the Philippines experiences today is a “false development”. They may be perceived as invested ventures, but are made by foreigners, not Filipinos. If ever, Filipinos have insignificant share in multi-national corporations, with some even acting as dummies of their foreign partners.

The global trade has been glaringly used by the exploitive foreign investors as an excuse in milking the Philippines. Whatever financial gain that these foreign investors have amassed, they send back to their countries, leaving a pittance share for the Philippines in the guise of employment, but in reality, is hapless and consolatory low-paying in general. The trust given by the Filipinos to their leaders has been brazenly betrayed. Blame corruption.

Privatization of government corporations has been tainted with corruption. The government insists that the move was made to get rid of unproductive and corruption-laden responsibilities. On the other hand, government officials who are involved are suspected to have substantially gained financially from the scheme. Such effort has practically brought the control of the vital economic and industrial machineries of the country, directly or indirectly into the hands of foreigners on a silver platter.

Not a single agency of the government is free from the smear of corruption. Even those that are involved in the rehabilitation of the people after the devastation of calamities also stink with corruption. Even neophyte government officials and politicians who were thought to be “clean” have lately, been dragged into corruption-riddled issues.

The Filipinos are hopelessly left without any trustworthy prospective leader in sight with the 2016 Presidential election fast approaching. As a last resort, it would surely be a choice among the less corrupt, and not between the corrupt and the non-corrupt.

After the Marcos dictatorship was toppled, the administration that took over, accomplished nothing to resuscitate the dying economy of the country. It just provided another foundation for a more sophisticated corrupt system. The “lone corruption” during the time of Marcos has been upgraded to become “orchestrated corruption” that involves conniving venal and greedy parties, steadily taking root deeply, to become a hideous cancer that consumes the nation!

The promised relief and comfort by the Cory Aquino administration proved to be just a promise, without even a single ray of hope for the long suffering Filipinos. Those who were identified with Marcos went through a cunning change of color and held on to their posts in Malacaῆan Palace, the government agencies, the halls of justice and legislation – practically around the unsuspecting President. The Cory charisma did not last long, as it got overwhelmed by the corruption that just got worst and assumed a legal semblance. Even the EDSA People Power Revolution has become a shame instead of pride for those who enthusiastically took part and spent sleepless nights along with enterprising food, cigarette, and softdrink vendors.

The development of the country got stunted as humbugs after humbugs took center stage to deliver promises of progress and comfort while they cross their fingers behind them. The country degenerated from so much corrupt abuses to the extent that even the sanctity of election turned rancid, as the process has become identified with incessant cash flows from politicians, towards the waiting hands of voters during campaigns that chaotically precede elections.

World money lenders praise the current administration for the “economic growth” – based on statistics, making the present President smile impishly with pride. In reality, though, poverty and unemployment are steadily on the rise. The pat on the back given him by the lenders has put forward a strong signal that the country can borrow money again from them, which is what the government will eventually do as expected! This never- ending borrowing cycle has tenaciously tightened its deathly grip on the Filipinos’ throat. Noticeable too, is the seeming cycle of ineptitude that started with the mother and closed by the son…becoming a loop that strangles the Filipinos.

The country’s economic base – agriculture, has become inutile in sustaining the rice requisite of the Filipinos. Shamefully, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines trains rice researchers and technologists from other countries. These foreign scholars go back to their countries afterwards to enhance their rice production…with their excess sold to the Philippines to become NFA rice…. the poor man’s rice! Even common vegetables are now imported so that when the cost of garlic and onion rises, the Filipinos give out a harrowingly helpless howl!

Many projects that are supposed to alleviate the suffering of Filipinos are non-existent. For so many years, “businesspersons” who operate sham Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have been proliferating all the while, under the very noses of lawmakers. Despite such knowledge, they failed to lift a finger, until the scandal has reached an uncontrolled proportion. To save their faces, they hold “hearings”. As exposed by whistle blowers, spurious documents have been processed by corrupt agency officials to “legalize” the theft of the people’s money. When these officials and lawmakers are confronted during hearings, they swear to high heaven that they are innocent, while their ill-gotten wealth accumulates interest in banks, with some, salted in other countries. Meanwhile, legislative hearings in aid of legislation continue for show, with results archived to gather dust. If ever some have luckily been legislated into law, the proper implementation becomes the problem, so that finger-pointing again ensues.

As a consolation, however, the Philippines is left with the impressions such as: a country of more fun, a country where singers are found in every corner of its islands, the country of the living boxing legend – Manny Pacquiao, and the only Christian-dominated country of persevering and ever-smiling brown-skinned, beautiful people!

Well, if only the hungry Filipino can live on those impressions….!