On the Counting of Blessings

On the Counting of Blessings

By Apolinario Villalobos


Many who thought they are “successful” because of earned scholastic degree from prestigious learning institution or in position of wealth that they are  enjoying, but amassed by their parents, unfortunately, do not know how to ”count” their blessings. We find these people in the high-end business districts of the city surrounded by hundreds of their staff; in government halls, occupying top and sensitive positions; and ritzy subdivisions as they immerse themselves in luxury. Surprisingly, many of them are far from being satisfied as their thoughts are occupied with schemes on how to earn more money – at all cost.


It is this selfish desire on the part of business moguls to get richer that made them forget the plight of those who sacrificed to build their pedestal of affluence. They forgot to return the favor, so that while they are wallowing in prosperity, those who are responsible for their wealth subsist on sub-standard wages.


Many government officials who became influential and those elected by the people forgot that their wages come from the pocket of ordinary citizens.  Instead of being grateful and do their best for the benefit of those who voted for them, they rob the government coffer, or worse, act as if they are the master of those who put them where they are.


Instead of counting their blessings and be grateful to God for what they already have, many people still want more at the expense of others. That is the simple logic why the world is convulsing with strife today. Take away selfishness and what takes place is compassion. Take away greed and what takes place is altruism. Take away exploitation and what takes place is care. Take away hatred and what remains is love. But these are just suppositions, as in unfortunate reality, greed prevails among men.


Counting our blessings will not take hundreds of fingers unless we include the spoons, forks, cups, beddings, clothes, and everything inside our home. That is not what I mean. Blessings can be translated into the comfort in life relative to the situation where we are. If we are in the city, comfort is viewed differently from the one being enjoyed in the countryside. Most importantly, we should not compare ourselves with others, as their blessings are definitely different from ours, if we base what we have gained on the standards that man, himself, has invented.


Blessings may not always be tangible or recognized. They can be felt such as satisfaction in life that cannot be described but can be translated into happiness, yet they can be counted if we are diligent enough to count the days when we are happy or sad. But nobody wants to do that, instead, we just do not give a damn if it is a Monday or a Tuesday or a Wednesday when we had been joyful or sad.


For as long as we are happy, let us just be in such state and be thankful that we still breathe. WE SHOULD LEARN HOW TO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS, INSTEAD OF ASKING FOR MORE. LET THE OTHER BLESSINGS BE ENJOYED BY OTHERS!

The Gacuras of Looc, Tablas (Romblon)…my family away from home

The Gacuras of Looc, Tablas (Romblon)

…my family away from home

By Apolinario Villalobos


To connect on the same day with my HS-711 flight to my first PAL assignment in Tablas after my training, I took an earlier flight from Davao, which I took upon arrival from my town. I left our place at dawn to ensure that I would be in Davao much earlier than my flight departure to Manila. As my habit when traveling over dusty road, I wore “tubaw”, a Muslim head kerchief to protect my hair from the dust. I failed to take it off when I arrived in Davao, so I took the flight for Manila still wearing it and still forgot to remove it when I was waiting for my flight for Tablas.  A lady at the pre-departure area took notice of it – nervously.


She got more nervous as I took my place behind her when we were boarding the flight at the tarmac, and she got more nervous when I sat beside her on the plane. Upon disembarking, she went straight to the office of the station Supervisor, Bien Alvaro to report about a “Moro passenger” and in her excitement failed to notice that I was trailing behind her. When I handed my letter of introduction to Mr. Alvaro, she was so pale which made me pity her. That evening, the whole staff was gathered for a meeting at the house of Mr. Alvaro over rounds of cheap rum, purportedly to “welcome” me, but I found out that it was the first that he did it as the rest did not experience similar “welcome”. He used the occasion as an alibi to kid me not to wear the “tubao” while in Tablas.


In Tablas, I took the place of a colleague who was hurt by the local mayor. The airline pulled him out of Tablas but I was not told about it. Fortunately, the mayor and his son became my friends. In time, I have developed friendship with the local retirees – a judge, a police captain, a physician, uncle of an actress, and a former businessman. I became a member of their group that took pleasure in whiling time away over glasses of tuba (coconut sap wine) at Barusbos. And, in time, the lady who got frightened at the sight of my “tubaw” realized that I was a good guy.


The lady was Mrs. Nena Gacura, whom we  (PAL staff) called “Mommy”. Her husband (Genaro/Aro), we called “Daddy”. One time, at the airport, she invited me to visit them for dinner. I was introduced to their children, Bel, Toto (Job/Bogs), Mari (Marissa), and Nonoy. Bel was later married to another PALer, the late Boy Loquias, Toto Job is happy with his family abroad, Mari with her own, but unfortunately, the youngest, lost his life in Iloilo….he used to perform in Boracay restaurants as a folk singer.


The Gacuras became my family in Tablas…our family, as the rest of the PAL employees in Tablas were treated as members of their close knit and religious family.


Several years after I was taken in by the Tours and Promotions Division of Marketing and Sales-Philippines in Manila, I went back to Romblon to make an extensive survey of the whole province that consists of three main islands- Tablas, Sibuyan, and Romblon for TOPIC Magazine, the airline’s tool in promoting local tourism. Two years afterward, I went back to make a circumventing attempt on foot of Tablas Island during which I surprised my adoptive family with a quick visit. That was the last time that I had a talk with Mommy and Daddy.


When my path crossed again with the Gacuras, it was during a lunch hosted by Celso Dapo who was also assigned in Tablas, but the family was represented only by Bel, her son, and Mari. Boy, Bel’s husband has been long gone, followed by Mommy. And, lately, I was surprised to know from a short message from Bel about Daddy Aro’s demise. My terrible regrets is that I failed to retrace my steps to Looc and their home while Daddy was still happily alive as shown by his photos posted on facebook and despite the reminder of Toto Job to do it soonest. I failed to decipher his message.  I underestimated the happiness on the face of Daddy in the photos that I viewed. I took my time….which was a big mistake.


The Gacuras as a family is one of a kind, as I may say. They were so accommodating whose hospitality had no tint of any pretense. They shared whatever fare they had on their dining table. They never failed to invite us PALers to even a simple occasion in their home to make us happy while we were away from our families. Every Sunday, they would walk the several kilometers of distance to their Church as one whole family, and which later included Boy, a former Catholic, the husband of Bel.


I admit that they had been among my inspirations, every time I was wanting of humility and tolerance due to my undesirable shortness of temper. They personify sincere friendship, real happiness and heartfelt satisfaction that many fail to do. They are real people….Christians to the core!


The Need for the Cleansing of the PNP and DOJ

The Need for the Cleansing of PNP and DOJ

By Apolinario Villalobos


Not only does the Philippine National Police (PNP) need a “total cleansing”. The other one that also needs to be purged of scalawags is the Department of Justice (DOJ). But the big question is: can it be done by its secretary whose weak personality is the talk of the town as he cannot even control the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in view of the series of scandals that have rocked the agency? What about the PDEA which also has a questionable image?


Lately, only re-assignments of post were done to the NBI people who are alleged to be involved in anomalies. Why not suspend and investigate them, with their wage suspended?…yet, the agency is proud to announce to have done such hollow act!


The DOJ Secretary should be replaced by a compatible, intelligent, strong-willed, less talker, and trustworthy guy….one who has no record of “butterflying” from one political party to another which manifests selfish motives….one who does not make appointments with disreputable people….and, one who officially meets people in his office at day time only, not in a restaurant or a hotel in the evening….meaning, one who is with unquestionable honesty!


Surely, those who are involved in anomalies, but do not belong to the PNP must be laughing their head off because they have been spared from being humiliated in public such as what de la Rosa did to the Olongapo policemen who were involved in the kidnap-extortion of Koreans. But if these laughing eggheads belong to the DOJ, who will wash them down with a barrage of cusses and make them do pushups…..Aguirre?…now, that makes me laugh!


In my opinion, the respectable and strong leadership characters do not fit the personality of Aguirre who has been viewed as a weakling since day one of his assumption of office. He is a mismatch to the strong-willed president with stony character. He is a burden to the president because of the continued embarrassing anomalies committed by his people who seem to be toying with his kind of leadership.


On the other hand, de la Rosa should also mention in his interviews what happened to the long list of cases of killings supposedly committed by the police, the most prominent of which was the murder of a couple in Antipolo. During the Senate hearing, the children of the couple revealed that the police also used their home as a drug den. The Filipinos want to know if indeed, the police scalawags are slapped with appropriate penalties, and not just suspensions and “vacation” in the PNP’s holding office in Crame, or worst, just transferred to other posts. If the NAPOLCOM is dilly-dallying in their job, de la Rosa should do what is appropriate.


For de la Rosa to regain his lost reputation, he should stop being dramatic during interviews and just mention in a professional manner what are asked of him…nothing else on anything that oftentimes put him and the president in unbecoming situations. As for Aguirre…he should resign to save himself from the embarrassing kick from the president.

Si Eboy at ang Kanyang Musika (para kay Eboy Jovida)


(para kay Eboy Jovida)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Sa dami ng gustong niyang gawin

Upang maibulalas ang nasa damdamin

Musika ang piniling maging kasangkapan

Upang ang pakikibahagi ay sa kaaya-ayang paraan.


Sa pagitan ng isinulat na mga talata

Na binigyang buhay ng makukulay na nota

Nakapaloob ang mga nais niyang ipahiwatig

Umaalagwa mula sa pusong buhay ang pinipintig.


Sa pagtipa ng gitara at hihip sa pluta

Ligaya ay mababanaag sa kanyang mata

Na animo ang musika ay kanya na ring buhay

Kaya para sa kanya, ito ay hindi dapat mawalay.


Marami sanang nais niyang maibahagi

Musikang buhay na talagang katangi-tangi

Naudlot ng kapalaran, nakalaan para sa kanya

Hindi kayang iwasan dahil sa palad ay nakaguhit na!


Alaala niya, sa diwa nati’y di mawawala

Mababanaag ito sa bawa’t himig ng musika

Na naging kasingtunog na ng kanyang pangalan

Pahiwatig na kapiling natin siya magpakaylan man!


(pluta – flute)