The Bankerohan Public Market of Davao City

The Bankerohan Public Market of Davao City

By Apolinario Villalobos


Literally, “bankerohan” has a connotation as a place where boatmen converge as “bankero” means “boatman”. Appropriately, the public market is located by the bank of the main river that traverses the city. As in any Philippine community and historically, the river or a coastal village are considered as the center of trading. Unfortunately, lately, Bankerohan, the bustling riverside trading community of Davao City, gets inundated during the worst onslaught of heavy rains without let up for days.


Unlike other cities, Bankerohan has maintained its typical Oriental bazaar atmosphere to which the city dwellers have melded well. Spread throughout its periphery, various products from neighboring towns are sold side by side with local delicacies, prominent among which is the “puto maya”. The delicacy is actually two kinds of sticky rice, the white and the “tapul” which has a delectably purple color partner. The two varieties of rice are steamed separately. “Puto maya’s” is best eaten with “sikwate” (hot chocolate with thick consistency) prepared and cooked in “hornio”. While it slowly cooks to the right consistency, a half-submerged “baterol” (wooden stirrer) is rolled between the palms to keep the preparation from going into a rolling boil. A serving of “puto maya” costs Php10, while a cup of “sikwate” can be had for Php15.


If the durian is in season, a whole ripe fruit can be purchased from any of the stalls and eaten on the spot, for Php30 while marang would cost as low as Php20. Other local fruits that fill the fruit stalls are big-sized guava, golden pomelo, rambutan, papaya, several varieties of papaya. Durian preserves such as candies, jams and jellies also fill the shelves of the fruit stalls. Vegetables and marine products are strictly controlled to maintain their prices, as well as, those of rice and corn grits.


As dusk falls, makeshift stalls for used clothing begin to dot the area near the Mercury Drug Store. Practically, all kinds of clothing merchandise are priced between Php10-20. Hectic trading activity reaches its climax as midnight approaches. But, the traders do not fold up their stalls until 6AM hoping for the coming of last-minute buyers.


In the evening, the market resonates with warbles from wannabe singers who try their best to garner a “10” verdict from videokes that are the come-ons of carinderias. Everybody enjoys for as long as the no-smoking policy is observed. Aside from the videoke machines, the carinderias also pride in their cheap foods displayed in trays. Prices range between Php15 to Php35, with the vegetable dishes being the cheapest and those of beef and pork the more expensive. Grilled fish, especially tuna belly, head, and its innards are also available which go well with the beer or tuba (coco wine).


From Bankerohan, the cheap hotels along Claveria are a few meters away. Public transportations can be taken at several designated jeepney stops distributed around the market, so that strangers need not worry. And, most especially, there is nothing to fear while commuting from this busy section of the city to any part, even the suburbs, as taxi drivers of Davao City are the most trustworthy in the whole Philippines!

Faded Photographs

Faded Photographs

By Apolinario Villalobos

(Photos from the family library of Ed Collado)


A picture can paint a thousand words, so goes the line of the son, “If”. And, faded photographs can bring memories that for the present are testimonies of how successful people struggled in the past. Faces exude aura of innocence…with their eyes that eagerly stared at the camera, unwary of what the future held for them.


Ed Collado’s mother was among the pioneer teachers of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School while his father was the District Supervisor who painstakingly visited schools in the barrios connected to the town of Tacurong by foot trails winding through rice, corn, and sugar cane fields. Other teachers I could recall during their time were, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan, Mr. and Mrs. Gatumbato, Mrs. Domider, Mrs. Paradero, Mrs. Sucaldito, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Lechonsito, Mrs. Del Campo, Mr. Barber, Ms. Davala, Ms. Paclibar, Ms. Ines, Ms. Paragas, Mrs. Lucentales, Mr. Palencia, while the Principal was Mr. Ben Nicolo. According to Ed, her mother took the pains in keeping photos taken during her time in Tacurong Pilot School.


Children of prominent families went to the school in slippers and shoes with socks, while the rest were barefooted. Free snacks consisted of gruel made from yellow corn grits. Those who failed to bring cups or bowls ate their share using pad paper folded origami style in the shape of a cap.  If there were extra bags brought by the Peace Corp Volunteers, the grits were distributed among the pupils to be brought home. Aside from yellow corn, those that were regularly donated to the school was bulgur wheat, oat meal, and powdered milk.


When I was in Grade Four, Ikea Seki comet appeared which became visible at dawn for almost a week. I could vividly recall the event as the appearance happened during our Boy Scout camping on the track and field of the school. During the time, we almost lost a good friend, Baltazar Subando when he fell from the “monkey bridge” built for the contest among the troops. Among the schoolmates I could recall were, Febe and Lilieth Ancheta, Betty Cu, Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, Gloria Sangke, Catalino Ines, Nonito Bacus, Jaime Bides, Angel Collado, Apolonio de la Peἧa, Cornelio Alegre, Jaime Mariἧas, Elsie Dajay, Homero Palatolon, Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Eleanor Fajardo, the late Chrito Lacanaria, Rey Mijares, Julius Lechonsito, Jimmy Uy, Dani Pendatun, the late Reynaldo Mosqueda…(more names to be added as recalled).


In High School, we became Notre Damians who wore khaki pants with green stripe on the side.  On very special occasions, the Dominican Sisters of the Girls’ Department allowed joint activities with the Boys’ Department during which the musical talents of the students from both departments were exhibited. Ed Collado, Ted Lapuz, and Virgilio Guillermo provided music to the dancing girls, such as Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, and others.


Debating Club was among the most popular organizations in the Boys’ campus aside from the Choreographers’ Club. The members of the Debating Club such Jovino Morte, Cirilo Baldonado, Andres Jordan Jr., Rommel Angel, Nonie Amar, Antonio Hojilla, Eduardo Palomado, Rodolfo Gallega, Virgilio Guillermo, Ed Collado, Felizardo Lazado, Leo Villalobos, Jose Lim III, a certain Cabico, were coached by Mr. Gabertan. The Choreographers’ Club on the other hand had Mrs. Ching Romero and former Ms. Leonor Palabricas as advisers, with the members such as, Dominador Barnachea, Homero Palatolon, Cirilo Baldonado, Ruel Lucentales, Domingo Cargo, Hernanie Baclaan, Eddie Travilla, a certain Nanales, and Ed Collado. The Choreographers’ Club had one successful fund-raising show, the “Rainbow of Rhythmn”.


Today, those caught in the historic frame of time are successful in their chosen fields. Some are entrepreneurs, overseas professionals, military officers, engineers, nurses, and educators.




On Eccentricity


By Apolinario Villalobos


The dictionary defines eccentric as unusual or abnormal behavior or character which for me is wrong. Just because a person keeps to himself and rather read than attend parties is being eccentric, or sprinkling pasta with fish sauce is eccentric, etc. The problem with the scientists kuno, who study the mind and personality is that they rely on questionable “standards”. On the other hand, the dictionary publishers pick these information up, just like the way they pick up street words and expressions from all over the world to expand their publication for more money. That is why even the simple symbol of the heart has become a synonym of the word “love”. Although, supposedly intelligent guys are using groups as basis to qualify and justify their findings, I would like to think still, that they have gone beyond what should be a fair judgment, especially on aspects that involve human behavior. An example on this is the case of “special people “ who were viewed during the Medieval Period as lunatics, and epilepsy as a “devil’s disease”. Scientists kuno still go on with this malpractice of unfairly identifying people based on their discerned characters.


I am bringing this out because several times I have been dubbed as eccentric, because:

  • I dip green mango and singkamas (jicama) in vinegar
  • I dip table banana in soy sauce
  • I melt at least two pieces of “Snow Bear” menthol candy in my mug of coffee
  • I enhance my pasta sauce with bagoong (fish sauce)
  • I prefer to eat the burnt portion of steamed rice
  • I hate parties and formal dinners
  • I prefer sidewalk food stalls than restaurants


In this regard, I would like to call those who do not understand my ways as “ignorants”….they who do not even know or refuse to understand that unpolished rice is nutritious than the polished white rice; that the chemically-washed “refined” sugar in all its whiteness glory is one of the causes of cancer; having meat in diet 7 days a week without even a single sprig of green vegetable can result to colon cancer; uncontrolled partying could be a sign of insecurity masked with ear to ear grin; burnt rice can alleviate stomach acidity; vinegar reduces acidity in green mango, add flavor to the bland taste of jicama, and the soy sauce can enhance the potassium in banana; etc.


It is unfair for a person who deviates from the ways of others, to earn an eccentric reference. The word’s connotation as being “abnormal” is already unfair. The accusers on the other hand, are the abnormals, because they are not supposed to be judgmental. By being judgmental, they unknowingly try to reflect on others their (accusers) own kind of bad personality and that is not being kind…a normal person is supposed to be kind to his fellow man.


For me, the following are just some of the eccentrics:

  • Corrupt government officials
  • Aging Roman Catholic bishops who do not give a damn to the future of the youth of the land
  • Graduates of universities who use their learned expertise in exploiting others
  • Drug lords who do not know that what they do is “slow murder”
  • Drug addicts who rape innocent children, and even their own mother and sister

My question now is, have the few mentioned above ever been called eccentric by the supposedly bright journalists as such, for their obviously abnormal behavior?….my answer is a big NO!



The Prayer

The Prayer

By Apolinario Villalobos


First of all, it must be known that there are many forms of prayers or ways by which a prayer can be expressed, such as, silently, loudly, and by sign language. But generally, the prayer can be classified into just three, such as, memorized, read, and extemporaneously expressed straight from the heart.


The Roman Catholic Church has hundreds of prepared or printed prayers with specific intentions, such as, those for the dead, for Christening, for the wedding, for the sick, for job hunting, for wooing a woman, for damning an enemy, etc. One will just have to go to Quiapo to see piles of printed prayer books sold like candies outside the cathedral. These prayers become more effective according to the vendors if candles are being burned while specific prayers are mumbled, till the candle completely melts. Some “faithful” even hire a “praying professional”- a person who prays for a fee. Each candle is distinguished for a particular intention by their color.


The voodooistic practices are being done right under the very nose of the Catholic priests, and while the amplified Mass is going on inside the massive historic structure where the Black Nazarene is enshrined.  If these are wrong, why can’t the Church authorities put a stop to them? Why can’t announcements be made during the Mass so that even those outside the church will hear them? Why can’t this simple act of correcting a wrong right within their community is not being done, while Catholic bishops are against and very vocal about the killing of drug personalities who are criminals?


Many Roman Catholic prayers are outright funny, especially, those which have not been “updated”, having been written during the heyday of fanaticism, particularly during the later part of the Spanish colonization. The prayers are full of outright ignorance as regards to what prayers are supposed to be about. For this, one just has to check the “marathon prayer” or “chant” used during the “pabasa” of the Lenten season. These supposedly solemn prayers are “updated” using hip-hop tunes, to purportedly encourage the youth to participate. Also, for other interesting discoveries, one may check the prayer being chanted by sleepy “faithful” Roman Catholics during the “pasiyam” of the dead brethren in which the “tower of David” is mentioned. Every night it is done for the duration of the nine-day wake. I would like to make it clear that I have nothing against these prayers of the Roman Catholic Church…I am just sharing what I know about them.


For me, the best prayers are those that are extemporaneously said by New Christians as they are obviously coming from their heart….not read from “prayer books”….that is my personal opinion and nobody should question that.



Mga Panahon ng Buhay

Mga Panahon ng Buhay

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Hindi lamang kalikasan ang may mga panahon na tulad ng panahon ng tagtuyot o tag-init at panahon ng tag-ulan o tag-baha. Ang buhay man ay may mga panahon na dumadating sa iba’t ibang yugto nito.


Ang mga yugto ng iba’t ibang panahon sa buhay ng tao ay nagbibigay ng kulay o nagsisilbing pagsubok sa kanya habang pinipilit niyang maabot ang kanyang layunin o mapaglabanan ang sakit na dulot ng kabiguan o kawalan ng minamahal sa buhay. Dahil dito, hindi lahat ng panahon ay masaya…. mayroon ding makabagbag-damdamin o nakakapanlumo.


Ang panahon ng kabataan ang pinakamaselang yugto ng buhay ng tao dahil sa panahong ito hinuhubog ang kanyang pagkatao. Malaki ang papel na ginagampanan ng magulang at kapaligiran sa paghubog ng kanya. Kasama na rin dito ang mga guro at paaralan. Dito dapat natututuhan ng kabataan ang mga magagandang kaugalian lalo na ang paggalang sa matatanda. Para sa kanyang ispiritwal na aspeto, malaking bagay ang nagagawa ng pagiging maka-Diyos ng magulang o paaralan.


Mula sa pagiging bata, ang tao ay tutuntong sa yugto ng adolensiya o pagiging tin-edyer kung saan ay may mga pagkakataon na siya ay malilito kung kanino papanig – sa barkada ba na palagi niyang natatakbuhan at nakakaugnayan o magulang na maski nagbigay ng buhay sa kanya ay sa wari niya, hindi niya “mapagkatiwalaan” tungkol sa ilang bagay. Kung matibay ang pundasyon niya bilang bata, hindi siya basta na lang matitinag mula sa mga nakalakhan nang gawi na naaayon sa kabutihan. Subali’t kung naging pabaya ang magulang at mga guro o paaralan na nakalimot nang magturo ng mga magagandang asal, hindi malayong siya ay mahila ng kanyang mga barkada tungo sa daang baluktot.


Ang panahon ng pagiging nasa tamang gulang ay yugto kung saan ay gagawa ng maselang desisyon ang tao kung siya ba ay papasan na ng responsibilidad na maghahanda sa kanya bilang magulang na may sariling tahanan para sa darating na mga supling. Mabigat sa kalooban para sa iba ang basta na lang iwanan ang tahanan kung saan siya ay iniluwal at lumaki sa kalinga ng mga magulang at mga nakakatandang kapatid. Subali’t dahil sa sinusundang pag-inog ng buhay, hindi maaaring siya ay mag-atubili kung siya ay handa na rin lang.  Sa panahong ito maaalala ng isang tao ang hirap na dinanas ng kanyang mga magulang upang siya ay mapalaki ng maayos at hindi salat sa mga pangangailangan.


Ang panahon ng katandaan ay siyang naghahanda sa tao upang magpaalam sa mundo. Ang mga naniniwala sa Diyos na nagpapaalalang hindi madadala sa kabilang buhay ang yaman, pinamimigay nila ito. Ang iba namang hindi maatim na iwanan ang kanilang yaman ay nahihirapang magpaalam sa mundo dahil nadadaig sila ng panghihinayang sa kanilang pinaghirapan.


Ang mga panahong nabanggit ay nakukulayan ng saya o lungkot, depende sa pananaw ng tao. Kung ang tao ay hindi naghahangad ng luho, o masaya na sa kaunting kaginhawahan, lahat ng yugto sa buhay niya ay nakukulayan ng kasiyahan. Subali’t kung kabaligtaran naman ng nabanggit ang kanyang pananaw dahil gusto niyang mas nakakaangat sa iba, ano mang dami ng yaman niya ay hindi makakapagbigay sa kanya ng kasiyahan hanggang sa kanyang kamatayan.