The BBGM that looks cool from the highway may just be perceived as just a simple structure but it proves to be a big surprise as one steps inside the hotel that offers bed and breakfast and the coffee shop beside the water refilling station. I consider the four-letters as a pride of Buluan, Maguindanao….
Written during my first climb and included in my first book, “Beyond the Horizon”….
ODE TO MT. APO
By Apolinario Villalobos
You could have just been a dream…
Yet, here I am, biding my time
from where I’ll start my trek
over hills, mountains
thick forests, hot springs and lakes.
Please consider me one of your people…
those who dwell at your foot –
Bagobos, Manobos, and others
whose smile, warm and sweet
vanishes the fear and fatigue
of intruders like me and the rest.
Uncertain of what to find….
I don’t mind at all
for I know, I’m among a good people.
I don’t mind the trek from Makalangit –
past the Fourteen Stations
to Mt. Zion
or the nerve-rending leaps
from boulder to boulder
sixteen times across
the gurgling Marble River
that girdles your waist.
Ah, beloved Apo…
your sonorous Twin and Malou Shih Falls
with the songs of birds
and chirps of cicadas
music that no man can feign.
Lake Venado, unruffled…
serenely mirrors your soul
and the seemingly drop of tear, Lake Jordan
furtively glistens under the searing sun.
Even for a moment while up here…
on the summit
I become part of you
as my wary soul is soothed
by your enchanting Lake Agko.
But there’s more to these…
Things that I need to understand –
those behind the curtains of moss
and orchids that hang
from the limbs of century trees;
those beneath your soft carpet
of lichens and grass
that swallow our steps
as if to muffle whatever
sound they might make.
You are the ultimate answer desired
by those who long
for adventure and mystery;
and, it may take a long time
for you to be transformed
from a dream into reality…
The Agony of Mother Nature
By Apolinario Villalobos
Her womb brought forth life of many sorts
On top of the list is man – wise, clever, shrewd
A creature so sharp, with ego that knows no bound
He, whose selfishness, lifted him up from the ground.
At the start, his simple desire brought him food
Also, skins and leaves to cover his bare fragile frame
Then, his carnal yearnings brought him abundant broods
Who later inhabited vast lands – plains, valleys and woods.
Man’s desire has no end, never satisfied, not a bit
He not only breached, what to others are sacred realms
Unmindful and blind to whatever will be the consequence –
He even dares to break Mother Nature’s idyllic, blissful silence.
Greed drove man to scalp mountains of their trapping –
Verdant and lush forests he fell by indiscriminate burning
Reverberating scream of his chainsaw fill nooks and crevices
That drowns panicky calls of birds and their desperate screeches.
Immaculate white and sandy beaches strewn with shells
Though, still practically fringing undiscovered islands and coves
They may no longer be what they are now, as found by those lucky
For their days are numbered just like the rest, now drowned in misery.
Islands pockmarked with diggings for much-coveted minerals
Pitifully belch residues to rivers, lakes, coves even gurgling springs
While man grins his widest for the cash, illicitly and cruelly-gained
Mother Nature just cringes in agony, abused, that for long she’ll pain.
The air that man breaths for whiffs of comfort, relief and dear life –
Now has become a mist of poison, the scourge of his irresponsibility
For bringing forth metallic contraptions belching toxin just everywhere
And even break auditory succor, shaking the world with so much clatter.
With Mother Nature in agony –
man is left…alone,
to determine his destiny!
Ang Lumpiang Sariwa ni Flor Enriques-Francia
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Mahigit apatnapung taon nang kilala ang lumpiang sariwa na binebenta ni Flor Enriquez-Francia sa labas ng simbahan ng Quiapo. Subalit ngayon ang nagpatuloy sa pagtinda ay ang kaniyang pamangkin na si Nathaniel. At, kung dati ay sa bilao lang nakalatag ang mga lumpia, ngayon ay nasa kariton na at naka-styro at may balot pang plastic sheet upang masigurong hindi naaalikabukan o madapuan ng langaw.
Una kong natikman ang lumpia noong taong 2002 nang umusyuso ako sa selebrasyon ng kapistahan ng Black Nazarene. Si Flor naman ay nakapuwesto sa hindi kalayuang Avenida dahil ipinagbawal muna ang mga sidewalk vendor sa Plaza Miranda. Sa pag-uusap namin, binanggit niyang basta walang okasyon sa labas ng simbahan ng Quiapo, sa Plaza Miranda siya nagtitinda, kaya nang bumalik ako sa Quiapo makaraan ang ilang linggo ay nakita ko nga siya doon at halos hindi magkandaugaga sa pag-asikaso sa kanyang mga suki. Matagal bago ako nakasingit upang bumili ng dalawang pirasong inilagay niya sa maliit na supot na plastic at nilagyan ng sarsa. Mahirap kainin ang lumpia kung nakatayo at hindi nakalagay sa platito o pinggan. Kailangang hawakan ang supot na parang saging at ang ilabas lang ay ang dulo ng lumpia. Pero kapag sanay na ay madali nang gawin ito.
Nang dumagsa ang iba pang vendor sa labas ng Quiapo church ay hindi ko na nakita si Flor. Inisip ko na lang na baka umuwi na sa probinsiya o baka nagsawa na sa pagtinda ng lumpia. Subalit nang minsang namili ako sa Villalobos St. ay may nasalubong akong lalaking nagtutulak ng maliit na cart at ang laman ay mga lumpiang naka-styro. Hindi ko siya pinansin dahil inisip kong katulad lang din siya ng ibang naglalako ng pagkain sa lugar na yon.
Sa pagpasok ng huling linggo nitong Disyembre, bumalik ako sa Quiapo kasama ang mga kaibigang balikbayan upang bumili ng mga panalubong nila pagbalik sa America at Canada. Nakita ko uli ang lalaking nagtutulak ng cart na may mga sariwang lumpia. Nagtanong na ako kung inabot niya ang “original” na nagtitinda ng lumpia sa Quiapo. Ikinagulat ko ang kanyang sagot dahil tiyahin pala niya ang tinutukoy kong tindera, at idinagdag pa niya na ang buong pangalan ay Flor Enriquez-Francia. Nasa bahay na lang daw ito at doon niya inihahanda ang mga lumpia na kinakariton naman ni Nathaniel.
Halos isang taon din pala bago naitinda uli ang lumpiang gawa ni Flor at ito ay pinangatawanan na ni Nathaniel na umaming maski anong mangyari sa kanyang tiyahin, ay walang problema dahil naituro na sa kanya ang sekreto sa pagtimpla lalo na ng sarsa. Nakakadalawang hakot ng mga lumpia si Nathaniel hanggang dapit-hapon kaya malaking bagay daw para sa kanilang magtiyahin ang kinikita niya lalo pa at nagkaka-edad na rin ito kaya marami na ring pangangailangan.
Ang ginawa ni Flor ay isang halimbawa ng pagbuhos ng katapatan sa anumang bagay na ginagawa – walang panloloko, kaya lumpia man, na sa paningin ng iba ay napaka-simple, kung hindi naman masarap ay madaling makakalimutan. Ganyan dapat ang ugali ng tao… bukal sa kalooban ang anumang ginagawa maliit man ito o malaki, pansarili man o nakaka-apekta ng kapwa.
The Threat of Uncontrolled Tourism
…signals the downfall of Philippines’ last hope
By Apolinario Villalobos
Due to the unbecoming effort of the Philippines to become a prime tourist destination in Asia, it disregarded one important factor in this kind of industry – control of infrastructure. One glaring ruthless result of this is the virtual “rape” of Boracay Island. The tiny island fringed with white sand beaches is now suffering from the onslaught of the uncontrolled rise of 5-star hotels and resorts that resulted to the pollution of its water due to overflowing septic tanks. The once pristine and clear waters are now covered with layers of muck and algae.
What happened to Boracay can happen to any other touristic destinations around the country. The problem lies in the failure of the Department of Tourism to spearhead and advocate eco-tourism which is what the Philippines, as a third-world country, needs. The people behind the desks in the offices of the agency seem to have forgotten that not all tourists require luxurious hotels and resorts. These people thought that for a destination to be attractive, it must have 5-star luxurious facilities, that is why, they keep on encouraging investors to put these up in prospective and thriving destinations.
During the 70’s, “backyard tourism”, the precursor of “eco-tourism” has been advocated, primarily, by Philippine Airlines in cooperation with travel agents and the earlier eco-oriented personnel of the Department of Tourism. The idea was to give the opportunity of managing the needs of the tourists to the locals. In line with this, establishment of comfortable facilities, not the type of multi-storied hotels and expensive resorts, were encouraged. The backyard tourism was conceptualized to preserve the exemplar setting of the destination, thereby, preventing the drastic alteration of its landscape. Also, the locals are given the chance to show what the real Filipino hospitality is like. But those former people of the agency are gone, supplanted by another set of personnel with a different outlook.
With agriculture gone because of the once rice fields giving way to malls and condo buildings, slumping fishing due to the problem with China in the West Philippine Sea, denuding of forests due to careless logging, and exhaustion of mineral deposits due to incessant ventures of foreign stake holders, the only hope left is with tourism…but at the rate another form of abuse is going, the Philippines will be finally left with nothing else that can be seriously called “industry”, and which Filipinos can be proud of.