Sharing Need Not Be a “Big Time” Effort

Sharing Need Not Be a “Big Time” Effort

By Apolinario Villalobos


I ask from friends and collect myself, what others consider as “trash” – empty rice bags, used shopping plastic bags, brown paper bags, net bags, used tarpaulins, empty jars, lengths of straw rope, etc. – to be distributed among my friends who sell recyclable junks and vegetables by the pile on sidewalks. They are called “buraot” vendors and the “buraot” refers to the junks and wilting vegetables that they sell. Some of them keep the brown paper bags to be used by their children as book covers, and the sturdy plastic grocery bags as “school bags”. On the other hand, the rice bags have many uses, one of which is safekeeping of things in the absence of decent bags that are sold in department stores.


It takes me about two weeks to be able to collect a sizeable volume of these various “treasures”, classify the plastic bags according to size, carefully fold them and finally apportion them together with the rest of the items among the pre-identified recipients for easy distribution. I am most glad if I am able to collect big plastic cover of refs and washing machines because they can be used as extended roof for “kariton (pushcart) home” of my friends. I taught them to fold big plastic bags in such a way that they can be used as “rain coat”. I used to do that when I was in elementary during which I would scavenge the garbage dump of a bakery in our town for recyclable junks especially plastic bags.


One time, a friend in California, “Perla” sent plenty of blue tarps that went straight to sidewalk and “kariton” dwellers. But I told her to stop sending such kind of item because I met a couple who sell “tinseled” bags of condiments that when spread by slicing open the two sides can serve the purpose of a mat, as well as, protection against the rain – for just Php20.00 apiece.


Every time I come home from shopping, I see to it that the bags, both made of plastic and brown paper are properly folded and set aside instead of tossing them into the garbage basket. The brown bag can also be used in keeping extra portions of vegetables before storing them in the ref. Also, I am not ashamed in picking up lengths of straw ropes from the ground while shopping in outdoor shopping areas such as Baclaran and Quiapo, as they are also needed by my friends in tying things that they always bring along with them. As a recycling advocate, I had been doing this for more than thirty years now.


Every time I hit the road for my random acts of sharing my backpack is full of these “treasures”, aside from Skyflakes crackers and home-cooked pudding for sharing. I just want to show that sharing blessings need not be a “big time” effort that involves a lot of money. If I can do it, I am sure others can do it, too. Those interested to do the same can start with the plastic bags that can be collected and given to their favorite vendor in the market….by doing so, we also help Mother Nature as the plastic bags that we recycle are prevented from clogging esteros or canals.

Who Says God has a Day Off?

Who Says God has a Day Off?

By Apolinario Villalobos



Although, one of the Ten Commandments says that the Sabbath should be considered as a day of rest, what I understand is that it refers to the people, because such day should be devoted only for worship. The Roman Catholic Church even changed this to the pagan day worship of the sun – Sunday. Anyway,  what I understand is that the said commandment does not refer to God, as He is supposed to be everywhere every time of the day. To put it bluntly, this is about some Roman Catholic parish offices being closed on Saturday, the original Sabbath. Are the non-secular parish priests who are running most of the parishes emulating the ways of the Pharisees….the so-called hypocrites of the Old Testament? If this is so, these Roman Catholic priests might as well take off their priestly garb and join a Christian sect that is literally following the Old Testament to the letter!


If these hypocrite Roman Catholic parish priests would like to give their lay staff a day off, why not come up with a rotated schedule so that for all days of the week, at least one of them is left in the office? If the regular parish priest would like to go on a day off which is unbecoming, why not request a “roving priest” to take over for at least one day, as all of them are supposed to be helping each other for the sake of the “Christian flock”?


Here is a classic story: In a southern parish, the family of a departed kin requested their parish priest for a Requiem Mass for their loved one. The requested day was Saturday so that relatives who have absented themselves from work could go back home the following day, a Sunday, in time for their return to work still the following day, a Monday. Unfortunately, there was a vehement rejection because the parish office was closed as scheduled…no staff to attend to the bereaved family, although, the church would be open.  Not even the suggestion of the family that they will find another priest to officiate the Mass could move the parish priest to change his decision. Sunday is not allowed for requiem Mass, so that was out as a solution to the problem. At the end, the arrogance of the parish priest prevailed as the schedule was moved two days later to Monday which means, the visiting relatives would be able to report back to work on Wednesday or Thursday, practically missing several days of precious daily earnings!


By the way, hubs of air travel operations in any country has no day off, the police has no day off, the hospital staff has no day off, even the mall staff has no day off, etc. How come, the parish office of the Roman Catholic Church whose reputation is deteriorating every hour of the day cannot open its door to the so-called “Roman Catholic flock”, in an effort to counter the negative impression that is mounting every day? Is it the way of the parish priest in “helping” the seemingly helpless new pope? Or is the parish priest acting like a crab?


The parish priest in question who I was told was newly- assigned in the area has a record of arrogance, and he would like to show to the already restless parishioners that he is the “authority”. Obviously, he has a problem with psychological insecurities. He even allegedly fired parish lay personnel who have spent more than twenty of their precious years serving the church. He is making decisions left and right without proper consultation with the Pastoral Council as a whole, choosing to speak only with the favored members whom he think would support him. In other words, his decisions may be illegal as they are without the consent of the majority of the council members, and may not even be properly covered with signed documents.


The above-mentioned priest is among the embarrassments of the new pope that he mentions every time he has an opportunity, and for which he always ask apologies from the Roman Catholics. An interesting blog about the pope taking off his papal robe before holding a Mass is a clear manifestation that he is not in favor of the un-Christian attitude of many priests of the Roman Catholic Church who are either accused of fund misuse, arrogance and sexual assault.


The attitude of the mentioned parish priest shows that the Anti-Christs could be within the Roman Catholic Church – they, whose ways are contrary to what the true Catholic Church stands for. Anti-Christs in priestly robe are heavily groggy with arrogance because they have the impression that being parish priests they can “play” with the parishioners many of whom are suckers in the name of salvation…parishioners who think that their salvation depends ONLY on their parish priest who is “protected” by the white “sotana”, but could be devils in disguise!


Now, are we still wondering why the Roman Catholic Church is reeling from uncontrolled deterioration and may find it hard to recover unless the hypocrites in white priestly garb and who are heady with arrogance,  are calling the shots despite the reminders of the new pope?


For this kind of arrogant priest, the parishioners should join hands and boot him out before he can do more harm to their community!

What Makes Us Share…till it hurts

What Makes Us Share…till it hurts

(I and my group)

By Apolinario Villalobos


The “us” in the title refers to the four of us in the group. The two are based in the United States, but come home every second week of November for our sharing project that commences every third week of November and strictly ends on the first week of December. On the other hand, I and the other one are locally- based.


Many of those who know us still don’t understand why we “meddle” with the lives of others by helping them. One of my friends even went to the extent of sending me a message last year when he read my blogs about Baseco Compound in Tondo. His message read, “hayaan mo na sila, kasalanan nila kung bakit sila naghihirap…mamumulubi ka lang sa ginagawa mo”.  I did not bother to reply to that message…but from then on, he seems to have detached himself from me. The other member of the group who is based locally, too, had a misunderstanding with his wife until their eldest son interfered…in his favor, so from then, his wife sort of just supported him. The two others, who are based abroad are lucky because aside from being supported by their families, they are also able to collect donations from friends who came to know about our projects.


My opinion is that it is difficult for others to really understand how it feels to be impoverished because, either, they have not been through such, or refused to admit that they were poor once, out of pride. I do not know if some of you experienced the pang of hunger for having not taken breakfast and lunch while attending classes. I do not know if some of you have experienced wearing underwear twice your size – being hand-me-downs from rich relatives. I do not know if some of you have experienced catching ice cubes thrown by a friend, instead of being handed even a sandwich by him during his birthday. I do not know if some of you have experienced making toys out of milk cans from the garbage dump, etc. etc.etc. I have experienced those when I was young.


My other colleague in the group and who is based in Manila, admitted to have been a scavenger when he was young. He also shared how every morning before going to school, he stood by carinderias and ate the leftover food on the plates of customers. As a scavenger, he and his brothers cooked “batchoy” out of the food they scavenged from the garbage bins of Chinese restaurants. He also unabashedly admitted to having worked as a call boy when their father got sick to earn quick money to support his two younger brothers and one sister (they were left by their mother). He got lucky when he landed a job as a messenger/sales clerk of a big hardware store in Sta. Cruz (a district in Manila City). Good fortune smiled at him, when the daughter of his employer fell in love with him, which made him part of the family business.


The third in our group, a doctor is the luckiest because at an early age he got adopted by a rich and kind couple who were US Green Card holders. But while growing up in Pasay, he was close to the less fortunate in their neighborhood. He is married to the daughter of their laundrywoman who is now operating a small catering business in the States.

The fourth in our group found his way toward us through the doctor, as he was the latter’s neighbor in the States. He shared that he grew up in a farm in Bicol and also experienced difficulties in life, as he and his siblings would cross a shallow river and hiked two kilometers to reach their school. He was introduced to our “operations” when he got curious, so he joined us in 2009, after promising to abide by our rules – no photo taking, wearing only slippers, t-shirt and shorts when on the road to share, and no giving of true name or divulging of real identity to the beneficiaries, as well as, willingness to partake of what our friends in slums eat.


What makes us click together is that, as if on cue, we practically forget who we really are every time we start hitting the road just before sunrise, to share.  We would sometimes call each other unconsciously, by our assumed names…but we do not consider such slip as a joke, because we are those names every time we mingle with our friends to share. For those who insist on knowing us,  we ask them to just remember us by our acts, and not by our face and name.





A Godsend flock of young “Angels” – nuns of the “Women Congregation of the Servants of the Poor”

A Godsend flock of young “Angels” – nuns of the

“Women Congregation of the Servants of the Poor”

By Apolinario Villalobos

My encounter with these “angels” happened on a jeepney, as two of them, whom I later learned to be Sisters Bona and Pauline were on their way to the market to buy flowers for the altar of their chapel. I broke the ice by making queries about their group which I learned to be in the midst of a middle-class subdivision in Bacoor City. I always equate religious groups with charity, outreach to the poor, prayer for the sick, etc. Before they got off, I asked their permission if I could pay them a visit to learn more about their congregation, soonest as possible to which they consented.

When they were gone, it was only then did I notice that the twitching of my tired left eye which started to bother me as early as 5 AM was gone! Since 3 AM, I had been working on my laptop until 8 AM. Usually, the twitch that occurs could last for 2 days. The nuns could have healed it! (wild idea…only). As I was excited to visit the nuns in their “convent”, I immediately finished my transaction, so that in a couple of hours after our meeting, I surprised them with an unannounced visit, as they did not expect that the “soonest” would mean that morning.

I found out that their congregation which was founded by Blessed James Cusmano, S.D.P., an Italian, and their Mother General is Sr. Palmira Burzellino, S.D.P. The “S.D.P.” stands for “Servei Dei Povere” or Servants of the Poor. In the Philippines, the main Mission House is located at Roxas City, Capiz, and the one in Bacoor City is the first Mission House established outside Capiz. The congregation also has “Brothers” who are simply referred to as “Servants of the Poor”, aside from priests, who are referred to as “Missionary Servants of the Poor”. The congregation for the Brothers was founded in 1984, while that of the Sisters was in 1980.

Aside from Srs. Bona and Pauline, a third nun just arrived from Roxas City, Sr. Joy, and in the near future, their Mother Superior shall follow. Their House is a conjoined structure that consists of three units of the Siena Villas row house system. It has a small chapel with several religious images. Hugging the fence are shrubs and medicinal herbs and vegetables. According to them, they have been in the subdivision for six years to date, thanks to their benefactor who donated the lot and the units.

They have been into charity works, reaching out to children of poor families using the donations that they are receiving. They are currently assisted by the “Kalingap Ka”, a non-government organization, which is based in the Our Lady of Peace parish of Salinas 2, Bacoor City. The said NGO also provides volunteer service as necessary. To augment their financial needs, they welcome donated recyclable materials such as corrugated boxes, bottles and old magazines that they sell to the junk shop.

They are in need of donations such as learning materials for children, clothing, towel, blankets, and other things that can be shared with the less fortunate, especially, food, as they also have a feeding program. For those who plan to donate rice, there are stores near their House where this can be purchased. For cash donation, perhaps, it can be sent via Cebuana Lhuiller which is very near their place, but first I have to check again for the name to which it could be addressed. When I asked for their contacts, they admitted that they do not have a computer so an email address is out, and no landline, as well. All they have is one cellphone, the number of which I cannot publish. I counseled them to have even simply printed “contact cards”, on ordinary paper with the size of the regular of business card, for the convenience of information dissemination about their charitable works. Their situation is understandable as they are a new congregation. I told them not to worry, as those who are really interested to extend help can seek them out at the address below:

Women Congregation of the Servants of the Poor

Block 1, Lot 29

Sienna Villas, Camella Homes 2

Habay 2, Bacoor City, Cavite

The generous residents of this subdivision are one in assisting the Sisters who told me during my visit that a neighbor just brought them viand for lunch.

Friends who view this share, and who wonder how they can show their gratitude to God for the life they enjoy on earth, can now have an address to check, or send queries through my fb.