Tricycle loaded with sayap hats in Tacurong City, Mindanao, Philippines….by Apolinario Villalobos
Tricycle loaded with sayap hats in Tacurong City, Mindanao, Philippines….by Apolinario Villalobos
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….
The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)
By Apolinario Villalobos
While Divisoria has always been known as the shoppers’ Mecca, especially, during Christmas, there is” another side” of it which I do not want to present as an image of poverty but that of perseverance, patience, and honest endeavor. This is the “other Divisoria” which many people just refuse to see as it might cause them to puke! The accompanying photos show how these honest Filipinos contentedly strive to live in sheer honesty.
The skeptics always say, “it is their fault for going to Manila and suffer deprivation”. These hypocrite skeptics have TV, radio, and occasionally read newspapers, so they should know that the provinces from where these people who are eking out an honest living on the “other side” of Divisoria, are infested with NPAs, Abu Sayyaf, opportunistic landlords, and loan sharks. For the arrogant, the world is just for those who can afford to live decently. On the other hand, as these skeptics have not endured days of hunger, they may not understand how it is to make a difficult decision to live a hand-to-mouth life in Manila by scavenging in garbage dumps, rather than die of hunger and be in constant fear for dear life in the province.
It is true that the slums have been in existence for many decades now, but there would be no slums had the government ever since the time the nation has become independent, did not get infested with corrupt lawmakers and officials. The slums have been around since the time that deprivation and exploitation have been propagated by learned Filipinos who found their way in the halls of Congress and Senate, as well as, agencies, even at the helm of the government. Unfortunately, the seed of exploitation has grown into an uncontrollable proportion today, making corruption as wrongly and unfairly viewed to be always a part of the Filipino culture.
The striving people from the slums near Divisoria, and other districts of Manila, in this regard, may be viewed by the arrogant as akin to dogs and cats, because of their many children, oftentimes making them utter unsavory remark, such as, “they know they are poor, yet, they keep on having children”.
How I wish these skeptics can also openly, make biting remarks –
Finally, compared to the disgusting hypocrites, loan sharks, corrupt government officials, arrogant “religious ministers” and conscienceless rich, who are supposed to be learned and intelligent, the people who honestly make a living such as those who belong to the “other side” of Divisoria, are worthy to be called creatures of God – true human beings…slum denizens who are viewed by aforementioned with utter repugnance.
(This blog will definitely, not hurt those who do not belong to the mentioned “classes” of loathsome Filipinos.)
The Hopeless Light Rail Transit (LRT)
By Apolinario Villalobos
When I took the LRT to Sta. Cruz on the morning of January 10, 2016, I noticed that the driver was not making announcements about precautions and as we were approaching stations as part of their standard operating procedure. Instead of the announcement via the PA system, the security guard on board was making the announcement to the highest level of his voice that he could muster. I presumed the driver was not in the mood or just plain lazy, until I finally drew enough courage to ask the security guard why it was so. He told me that the PA system of the train I have taken was kaput…broken…wrecked, defunct – for several days.
While the LRT management may treat such breakdown a trivial matter, for the commuters, especially, those who are new in Manila, it is not. The announcement being made as the train approaches each station is an important information for the local and foreign visitors who are taking the “risk” of riding the LRT train despite the discouraging forewarnings from the media about its frequent breakdown. Without the announcement, those who are not familiar with the stations along the route must crane their neck to have a glimpse of the station signboard or ask other passengers, otherwise, they might overshoot their destination.
The joke today is that, if one plans to take the LRT or its “sister train of anguish”, the MRT, he or she must have an “allowance” of at least two hours. The two hours are for the trek along the rails to the nearest station when the train suddenly comes to a grinding stop….yes, grinding because of the frightening “metal to metal” screeching sound of the wheels. When there’s a downpour, pity are those without umbrella. When the sun is generous with its scorching rays, pity are those without the same contraption for shade.
The elevators are still out of order. The escalators are still resting. The toilets are still padlocked, except for one or two. But, fortunately, the employees are doing their best to be nice with their ever ready smile and uncomplaining stance even when four or five passengers one after another pay in crispy one thousand peso bill. These are the people in the lower rung of operation who are trying make up for the handicaps of the LRT system. Meanwhile, those at the top, including the DOTC secretary, Emilio Abaya, are so embarrassingly naïve to the situation that noisy calls for their resignation fall to deaf ears….theirs and those of the president of the nation, Benigno S. Aquino III.
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.
Baclaran Creek: Ugly Stain on the Philippines’
by Apolinario Villalobos
Nothing can be one hundred percent clean, sanitized, germ-free, well-kept, etc., to show a pleasant image. But in exerting an effort for such end-result, consistency should be exercised, as failure to do so could be tantamount to being negligent.
Among the ugliest manifestation of the Philippine government’s negligence and inconsistency is the creek at Baclaran which is fringing the northern edge of the purported “business-tourism showcase” of Metro Manila – the cornucopia of condominium buildings, malls, office buildings and the supposedly biggest casino in Asia. Practically, the creek that serves as the catch basin-cum-open drainage of Pasay and Paraἧaque that flows out to the Manila Bay, shows it all. How can the Department of Tourism proudly declare that Manila is a clean city with the obnoxious filth floating on the stagnant creek in all its obnoxious glory greeting the arriving tourists from the airport on their way to their hotels along Roxas Boulevard? Is this progress as what the Philippine president always mumbles? How can such a short strip of open drainage not be cleaned on a daily basis, just like what street sweepers do to the entire extent of the Roxas Boulevard?
It has been observed that every time a government agency’s attention is called for not doing its job well, it cries out such old lines, as “lack of budget” and “lack of personnel”. But why can’t they include such requirements every time they submit their proposed budget? In the meantime, as regards the issue on the maintenance of the city waterways, national and local agencies throw blames at each other, trying to outdo each other in keeping their hands clean of irresponsibility and negligence!
During the APEC conference which caused the “temporary” bankruptcy of commercial establishments in Pasay and Paraἧaque, as well as, local airlines and lowly vendors by the millions of pesos, the creek was almost “immaculately” clean with all the floating scum scooped up and thrown somewhere else. But as soon as the delegates have left, the poor creek is back to its old self again – gagged with the city denizens’ filth and refuse.
Viewing the Baclaran creek is like viewing the rest of the waterways around Metro Manila, including Pasig River, as they are all equally the same filthy picture of neglect, irresponsibility and inconsistency of government concern! One should see the nearby creek at Pasay where the Pumping Station is located, with an “island” that practically developed out of silt, garbage and clumps of water lily! Some days, the short length of artificial creek is skimmed with filth to make it look clean, but most days, it is neglected.
In view of all the above-mentioned, why can’t the national and local government agencies concerned co-operate and do the following?
The costly effort of the national government in putting on a pleasant “face” for Manila every time there is an international event, as what happened during the APEC conference, may elicit sympathy and grudgingly executed cooperation, but there should be consistency in it….otherwise, it would just be like sweeping the house, only when visitors are expected, or worse, sweeping the dirt to a corner to hide them.
Cooperation between the government authorities and the citizens is necessary. However, as there is a clear indication that the concerned citizens, such as vendors and pedestrians, lack discipline, the government should take necessary steps in imposing measures to ensure their cooperation, albeit by coercion, so that whatever sanitation projects may have been initiated can be consistently maintained, for the benefit of all.
If littering on the ground can be prohibited with appropriate penalty, why can’t the same be done for the sake of the waterways? If ever local government units have passed such measures why can’t they be imposed authoritatively and consistently?
Mga Likas o Natural na Bagay ang Ginagamit na Anting-anting
…HINDI BALA NA MAY LAMANG PULBURA
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Kawawa ang mga taong nagpapauto sa mga arbularyo o kung sino man na nagsasabing ang bala, lalo na ang “live” o ang may lamang pulbura ay isang anting-anting. Ang ganitong pang-uuto ay sinimulan ng mga taong nagnanakaw ng bala mula sa kung saan mang imbakan at binibenta sa mga taong tanga na naniwala naman. Sinabi ko na sa isang blog ko noon tungkol sa isyu ng tanim-bala, na kung ituring man na anting-anting ang bala, dapat ay yong walang lamang pulbura dahil ang ginagamit lang ay ang “metal” na nilalagyan ng pulbura na kung hindi yaring tanso ay tingga. Puwede ngang baguhin ang porma tulad halimbawa ng pagpepe o pag-flatten ng basyong bala upang maipormang pendant, o di kaya ay lagyan ng dalawang “kamay” upang magmukhang krus at magamit na palawit sa kuwentas….ganoon lang. Hindi kailangang bumili sa mga nagtitinda ng mga ninakaw na bala, sa halagang Php1,500.00 ang isang piraso! Ayaw ko na lang isulat kung bakit nagkakaubusan ng bala sa mga imbakan nito. Ang isang ordinaryong mamamayan ay hindi naman nakakabili ng paisa-isang bala.
Batay sa mga nasagap kong impormasyon galing mismo sa mga nagtatago ng balang may pulbura, “panlaban” daw ito sa mga taong may masamang balak sa kanila, kaya swak sana sa mga OFW na ayaw mabugbog o magahasa ng mga malupit o manyak na employer. Ang masama, pati mga matatanda ay napagpaniwala din ng mga unggoy na nangraraket! Sabihin ba naman ng mga hangal na ito na hahaba ang buhay ng taong may itinatagong bala, kaya ang mga uugud-ugod na gusto pa yatang mabuhay nang mahigit 100 taon, ay hindi rin magkandaugaga sa pagbili, sa halip na gamitin ang perang galing sa pension, na pambili ng gamot sa rayuma man lang!
Matagal nang ginagamit ang tanso o copper at tingga o lead, na panlaban sa masamang ispiritu, lalo na sa kapre, pero hindi sa kapwa-tao. Bumibigat daw ang taong mayroon nito kaya hindi basta naitatakas ng kapre, kaya pati sanggol ay palaging may katabing bala na nakabalot sa pulang tela dahil ang kulay pula ay kalaban din ng masamang espiritu. At tungkol pa rin sa kulay pula…yong ayaw masaniban ng masamang espiritu, maliban sa balang nakabalot sa pulang tela ay nagsusuot din ng pulang bra o kamison at panty kung babae at ang lalaki naman ay palaging may pulang panyo. Sa ilalim ng unan nila ay mayroon ding pulang panyo. Sa panahon ng pagreregla ng babae, lalo silang ligtas! Pinaniniwalaan na ito bago pa dumating ang mga Kastila.
Ang ginagamit na panlaban sa kapwa-taong may masamang balak ay dinasalang langis na umaapaw sa sinidlang maliit na bote kapag nasa harap mo ang taong may masamang balak. Hindi nakokontra ang isang masamang balak ng kapwa- tao sa pamamagitan ng balang nasa bulsa o pitaka, dahil kung totoo man, wala sanang inuuwing OFW na nasa kabaong o buntis dahil na-rape ng employer, o di kaya ay naka-wheel chair, o di kaya ay lalaking Pilipinong ni-rape o binugbog ng Arabo! At, lalong wala sanang namamatay sa pagkabaril o natutusok ng patalim, at nakitang nakahandusay na lamang sa isang tabi. Ang isang nakausap ko, tatlong bala nga daw ang palagi niyang dala, pero sa kasamaang palad pa rin, mahigit limang beses pa rin daw siyang naholdap sa Cubao! Kaya ngayon hinahanting na niya ang co-boarder niyang dating pulis na natanggal sa trabaho dahil sa katiwalian, upang pakainin ng mga balang ibinenta sa kanya! Dalawa daw sila sa boarding house nila ang binentahan ng mga bala ng ungas na dating pulis.
Kung anting-anting ang gusto dahil ang inaasam ay karagdagang “lakas”, ang dapat gamitin ay mga kristal, bato, o mga bahagi ng mga halaman. Balutin mo man ang katawan mo ng mga ito ay walang sisita sa airport o pantalan kaya walang mangingikil na taga-AVESECOM o OTS. Pwede ka lang sigurong pigilan sa pagsakay dahil baka isipin nilang sintu-sinto ka, kaya sa halip na i-detain ka o hingan ng pera, baka ihatid ka pa pauwi sa inyo dahil sa awa nila!
Totoo naman talagang may iba’t –ibang uri ng “lakas” na nanggagaling sa mga bato at kristal dahil sa taglay nilang mga mineral. Ang isang pruweba rito ay ang bato-balani (magnet), quartz, jade, lalo na ang hindi pa gaanong kilalang batong “tourmaline” na napatunayang humihigop ng dumi sa loob ng katawan. Ang mga bahagi naman ng mga halaman ay talagang gamot kaya nakakapagpalakas ng loob kung may dalang maski pinatuyong dahon, ugat o balat man lang. May mga dahon na maski tuyo ay pwedeng amuyin upang mawala ang pagkahilo o pananakit ng tiyan dahil sa kabag, at mga pinatuyong ugat o balat ng kahoy na kapag ikinunaw (dipped) sa kapeng iniinom ay nakakagamot din….yan ang mga anting-anting na dapat ay palaging nasa bulsa at bag!
Ang mga tao namang nauto kaya nakabili ng bala sa halagang Php1,500.00, magmuni-muni na, lalo na yong mga OFW na ang pamilya ay nagkandautang-utang, may maipanlagay lang sila sa recruiter at pambili ng tiket ng eroplano, at ang kabuuhang halaga ay katumbas ng mahigit sa isang taong pagpapa-alipin sa ibang bansa. Huwag magpakatanga dahil lang sa bala. Kaya nagkakaroon ng mga tiwaling kawani sa airport ay dahil sa mga taong matitigas ang ulo. Nakasilip tuloy ang mga kawatan sa airport ng dahilan upang sila ay kikilan. Kung mahuli naman, at marami naman ang umaming may dala nga ng bala, ay saka sila magngunguyngoy at magsisisi! Ang masakit pa ay nadadamay ang mga taong wala talagang kaalam-alam sa “anting-anting” na ito.
Dapat tandaang kung walang tanga, ay walang nagagantso o nalilinlang ng kapwa! Kung totoo mang may nagtatanim ng bala sa mga bagahe, ang tanong ay… SINO ANG MGA NAGSIMULA SA PAGBIGAY NG DAHILAN KAYA NAGING RAKET ITO? HINDI BA MISMONG MGA PASAHERONG TANGA NA AKALA AY LIGTAS SILA KUNG MAY BALANG DALA? DAHIL SA TAKBO NG ABNORMAL NILANG ISIPAN, NAGKAROON NG KIKILAN SA AIRPORT KAYA NADAMAY ANG MGA INOSENTENG PASAHERO. Patunay sa raketang ito ang report na sa kabila ng naka-log na kulang-kulang sa isang libong “nahulihan”, wala pang kalahati ang nakasuhan. Ano ang ang nangyari sa iba?…eh, di “napag-usapan”!!
At, ang pinakamahalagang paalala: malakas na pananampalataya sa Pinakamakapangyarihan ang pinakamagaling na anting-anting ng tao…wala nang iba! Huwag lang magdasal ng malakas habang nagpapa-inspection ng bagahe sa airport….hinay-hinay lang sa pagpapakita ng matiim na pananampalataya upang hindi mapagkamalang “jet-setter” na baliw!
Marinduque – home of the Moriones Festival
…world-renown Holy Week Festival of the Philippines
By Apolinario Villalobos
Marinduque used to be a Malayan settlement in southern Luzon and in 1590 was made a sub-corregimiento of Mindoro. It was also a former sub-province of Batangas, then of Quezon, finally, becoming an independent province in February 21, 1920.
The 95, 258 hectares total land area of the province provides a solid, though not so fertile ground for the good-natured Marinduqueῆos who earn their living by planting coconut trees and by fishing around the islands. The heart-shaped island is considered as the center of the Philippine archipelago. With Boac as its capital, the province is located between Tayabas Bay to the north and Sibuyan Sea to the south, southwest of Quezon, east of Mindoro and north of Romblon. Mompong Pass separates the province from the Bondoc Peninsula of mainland Luzon.
Smaller islands such as Polo, Maniwaya, Mompong, Tres Reyes, and Elephant also form parts of the province. At 3,796 feet above sea level, Mt. Malindig, formerly called Mt. Marlanga at the southern tip of the main island, is considered as the highest point of the province. Completing the curious and stunning endowments of the province is a cave system comprised by the Talao cave with its 12 chambers lording over the western part, San Isidro with its subterranean river, and the imposing Bathala cave. Marcopper, a mining giant has become synonymous with the province, especially, with the disaster that occurred.
The province is composed of six towns, such as Boac, the capital, Buenavista where Bellaroca Resort and Spa is located, Gasan, the central point of cultural activities of the province, Mogpog where the Moriones Festival originated, Sta. Cruz the largest town in area, and Torrijos where the Poctoy White Beach is located. The name of the province is the combined names of two legendary lovers, Mariin and Gatduke, which as always happens in the love-centered folklores, the father of the woman did not approve of the relationship. The two eloped and sailed out into the sea and drowned themselves. Days later, an island surfaced which the natives called “Marinduque”.
Archaeological diggings yielded Chinese urns, gold ornaments and vases that proved a flourishing trade and commercial relationship with the Chinese who came from the mainland China. An ancient wooden idol was also discovered, indicating that the early Marinduqueῆos had their own kind of worship. The artifacts can be found in a museum in France, the Musee de la Homme, Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. USA, and Marinduque Museum in Boac.
The Marinduqueῆos speak Tagalog but spoken in a unique way due to its strong accent, which is said to be the way how it was done before the arrival of the Spaniards. Noticeable though, are sprinkling of Bicol and Visayan influence. Very hospitable, they have their own way of welcoming visitors to their home, especially, during fiestas. The ceremony is called “putong” or “tubong”, in which the guests crowned with garlands of flowers are seated in front of the welcoming crowd. Special songs intended for such occasion are sung while petals of flowers and coins are thrown at them.
The tourism industry of the province is highlighted by the Moriones Festival celebrated during the Holy Week. It centers on the story of Longhinus, a Roman centurion who had a prominent role during the crucifixion of Jesus. Morion refers to the mask carved from a soft wood called “dapdap” and painted to resemble a classic face of the Roman centurion, complete with beards, moustache, and penetrating stare of the glaring eyes. The mask is made complete by a papier mache helmet. In time, the “morion” has been referred to the participant who is also fancifully garbed in a Roman soldier attire. Part of the ceremony is the striking of two pieces of woods called “kalutang” by the “moriones” to produce syncopated sound.
Moriones Festival, locally called “Moryonan” is an interesting and colorful cornucopia of religious activities for the duration of the Holy Week. At the onset of the Holy Week, the “morions” go around the town and play pranks among the townsfolk, especially, the children. “Nobisyas” garbed in long skirts and white bandanas also take to the street as their own way of sacrifice. The Good Friday is dominated by self-flagellants or “antipos” who use several five-inch long bamboo sticks tied together that they use in flagging themselves while walking barefoot around the town. The self-flagging is proceeded by the cutting of the flagellants’ skin to induce bleeding on their back and thigh. At Boac, the wounding ritual is confined in the Catholic cemetery atop the hill overlooking the town.
The dawn of Easter Sunday is for the traditional “salubong” or the meeting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that highlights the procession. A little later, the colorful spectacle that centers on Longhinus makes the town more alive, as Longhinus is “chased” around, so timed until the sun begins its descent, for the “pugutan” or his beheading on a makeshift stage which indicates the end of the festival.
To date, some Marinduqueῆos are nurturing butterflies, some of which find their way to international patrons in Europe and the United States, although a significant portion of the live export commodity are in demand for local use during special occasions.
The province is part of the roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) national ferry route system making it accessible by buses from Manila that take the ferries departing from Lucena. In the province, the ports are located at Balanacan and Cawit. It is also served by interisland airlines served by the airport located at Barangay Masiga between Boac and Gasan. Those who would like to attend the Moriones Festival are advised to make early flight and hotel bookings with travel agents. And those who would like to make it on their own, airline tickets should be purchased at the earliest possible time.