Eid Ul Fitr in Tacurong City

The Celebration of Eid Ul Fitr in Tacurong City

by Apolinario Villalobos


The Eid Ul Fitr in Tacurong City was celebrated on the grounds of the City Hall in front of the city gym…the faithful did not mind the moist grass in the early morning of June 15, 2018…



The AG Dragon Fruit Farm (Barangay Lilit, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines)


…barangay Lilit, Lambayong (Sultan Kudarat, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I reached barangay Lilit, in Lambayong, I was surprised to find an orchard, not only planted to a cactus variety bearing fruits that came to be known as “dragon” perhaps, because of the skin that looks like scales, but also to lime or “calamansi” as well. The lime trees were profusely bearing late fruits, most of which hidden behind thick clusters of leaves.


According to the couple, G-Anne and Arnold, they started with the mangoes in the 3 hectare- farm. Unfortunately, the tropical fruit did not fare well, so that they were cut down to be made into charcoal. They tried the lime which somehow, brought in good yields. But, when Arnold got fascinated with the dragon fruit, as it has become a fad all over the country due to its nutritional value and consistently high price, he bought starter cuttings at Php50 per post. He used the upright system with stems that bear flowers allowed to extend freely. That was in 2016. Another type of raising the cactus for its fruits is by connecting the posts with wires  or thin cables to form some sort of a trellis.


Of the 3 hectares, ¾ of the area is planted to the cactus while the remaining space is retained for the lime.  Mrs. G-Anne Guerrero shared that the dragon fruit venture has so far shown a good promise of success. The first week of June saw a “pick and pay holiday” when the orchard was opened to walk-ins who enjoyed the American-style of fruit picking. On the other hand there is a need to check on a regular basis the clumps of cactus tied on the concrete posts so that segments infected with fungus could be cut off.


During my Sunday visit, the family was preparing for the arrival of guests from Manila and other parts of the province. Also, a relative, Ferdinand Pascua of the Department of Trade and Industry, Legal Department  (DTI-Manila) dropped by. The rest who were around during my quick visit were Meciel Abalos de la Cruz and Paulo Guerrero, the couple’s son who works at the Provincial Capitol of Sultan Kudarat, and Gerril Guerrero, barangay Poblacion Kagawad. As it was a late breakfast time, kalentubo, a Maguindanao rice curry conically wrapped in banana leaf was brought out as well as slices of the red variety of dragon fruit to go with coffee.


The Guerrero Orchard at Purok Lilit is about three minutes travel from downtown passing through barangay Pag-asa. The way is replete with refreshing view of rice fields that would turn into a sea of undulating green and become tinted with yellow as harvest time approaches.


The AG Fruit Farm is a typical “micro farm” with every available space utilized to the maximum so that even standing pruned trees serve as hosts to the clinging cactus. Sharing the area are lime trees, as earlier mentioned. Even cluster of yam are left to grow on their own, as well as, cluster of kangkong for that matter.



The Lims of Cotabato by Jose “Boyet” Lim III


By Jose “Boyet” Lim III


Not much is known about them now as time has eroded the sturdier chapters of their history, as is bound to happen in all matters undocumented.

From word of mouth, the first settler from China of the family landed in the hostile shores of the western side of Mindanao probably between 1870-90s, as what, or as who, is not known with certainty. It can merely be surmised that he must had been a very adventurous fellow, or a simpleton who knew nothing better than staying afoot in the midst of Moros.

As fate would plot it, however, he must had been able to assimilate with the Moros and the natives, and more than that, married a distant descendant of Sultan Kudarat. That must had repositioned his place in those times’ social order from a drifter of the high seas to the ranks of emerging local chieftains.

One of his sons, christened Jose Lim Sr, better known as Binsuan among the Moros and locals, was such a popular toughie on that western Mindanao seaboard that he got himself elected as the first mayor of what then was simply known as Cotabato. It was during his administration that the Quirino Bridge connecting Nuling, now the town of Sultan Kudarat, to the city, and the erstwhile Cotabato City Hall which is currently being developed into a City Museum, were built. To his small legacy was renamed Felipe II Street to Jose Lim Sr Street in downtown Cotabato City.

His son of his namesake, Jose Lim Jr., is my father. As a young man, he was sent by my grandfather to the rescue of businessmen in Buluan who were having tax woes, as their bookkeeper. There he met my mother, the maiden Concepcion Antiporda, a native of Tayug, Pangasinan and a pharmacist from the University of the East in Manila serving her rural community time, yes, of all places, in Buluan.

Arsenio Lim, who is today celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with my Aunt Myrna Barracoso of Coron, is my father’s half brother, and my uncle. The handsome fellow standing in the picture is Arsenio Lim, Jr., “Chin Chin” to us, his son, who is a known dentist in Davao City with a Master’s Degree in Dental Surgery from Australia. His wife Jen, is also a dentist. Both are practicing their profession at the Lim Dental Clinic along Tomas Claudio Street, now Quirino Avenue, Davao City. If you want to save on their professional fees, call me. We’ll split the discount.

The beautiful lady to the right is Judith, my darling first cousin. Her father is Rodolfo, closest brother to my father. Like my father, Uncle Rody was a toughie and lived on his own from age 12. He passed away some years ago, but not before he was able to join us in the birthday celebration of my father at my place, which in our recollection, has become one of the most memorable get-togethers our family ever had in Davao City.

The lady on the left must be one of my Muslim cousins. Pretty too, right?

If I were in Cotabato City now, I would be speaking on behalf of my father, at this 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration.

To Uncle Babes and Auntie Myrna, it is probably easier now to get to Pluto than to get to what you have accomplished as parents and a great couple of 50 years. Yours is an example for all of us to emulate, which is a tall order for a Lim, but which, nevertheless, should be a burning inspiration to the younger men and women of this generation. You have gone thru the whole nine yards to show that parenting is a lifetime profession goldenly worth it as may be gleaned from the fruits of your tree.

The spirit of that Chinaman of the 1890s must now be hovering in his chinky grin over your celebration.

Like him, we too are mighty proud of you!



HISTORIC LAMBAYONG (Sultan Kudarat Province, Philippines)


(Sultan Kudarat Province, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos


The historical significance of Lambayong could be traced back to the time when its vast expanse was ruled by a Muslim Royal House connected to Sultan sa Barongis. The Ala River played a major part in the lives of the early inhabitants being the main artery of commerce due to the absence of a road system. During the time, the four thriving settlements in the whole of Cotabato aside from what is now Cotabato City, itself, were Dulawan, Lambayong, Midsayap and Buluan. Before Lambayong was created as a town, as it was then part of Sultan sa Barongis, the area was referred to as “Torre” due to the presence of a Spanish tower which time has deteriorated. Ferdinand Marcos, issued PD #341 on November 22, 1973 that transferred Lambayong from Cotabato to Sultan Kudarat with its name changed to Mariano Marcos in honor of his father. But when Corazon Aquino took over as President, it was renamed Lambayong by virtue of Republic Act #6678 signed on October 12, 1988.


Lambayong is named after the flower-bearing creeper that grows in profusion on wet lands with which the town has plenty. The purplish cup-like petals are a sight to behold from a distance as they undulate with the dark waxy-textured green leaves when blown by the wind.


Christians began to settle in Lambayong as early as the 1930s but the early 1950s saw the greater volume of hordes from Visayas, particularly, Iloilo. Among them was led by the late Serafin Bernardo whose son, Nonito, confided that their group which consisted not only of their family but friends and relatives, took a barge from Cotabato City for Dulawan from which they took another barge to Lambayong. The Rio Grande de Mindanao that emanates from Cotabato City and the Ala River that flows through the Lambayong area, join at Dulawan.


During the 1950s, Lambayong was already a thriving settlement with many Christian families dominating the settled area along the highway. Purportedly, many prominent families who got settled in Tacurong City stayed for awhile in the homes and buildings of the early settlers of Lambayong, one of which was owned by the Guerreros. Some families decided to settle around Gansing and Kipolot while the rest, such as the group of Serafin Bernardo went on to New Passi which at the time was part of Katil. From there, some families settled in Rajah Muda and went up the hills of Magon.


Buluan was made accessible from Lambayong through Gansing and Kipolot by foot trails which the settlers blazed toward President Quirino which at the time was called Sambolawan, to trade in a designated area that settlers during the time, referred to as “Pamasang”. Buluan is the “mother town” of Tacurong and President Quirino. (This information was confirmed by my interviewees from Buluan who got the information from their parents.)


There was an early attempt of the government to connect the thriving settlements in the hinterlands of Cotabato that included Midsayap, Sultan sa Barongis and Lambayong with Makar in Dadiangas which is now known as General Santos City. It is named after General Paulino Santos who cleared the once sandy area for settlement by Christians from Visayas and Luzon . The proposed highway was what is now called in Tacurong City as “Alunan Highway”, but before was known as, “Mid-Makar Road” or “Midsayap-Makar Road” that passed through Lambayong and ended at Kalandagan in Tacurong, beyond which was a trail fit for carts only. Affluent students from Gansing and Tacurong hiked from Tacurong to Marbel on Sundays and hiked back home on Saturday, as for the rest of the week, they stayed at boarding homes in Marbel. Heavy provisions such as sacks of rice were loaded on a cart pulled by carabao. There were no tricycles, jeepneys, most especially, buses yet.


Lambayong, during the arrival of the settlers from the Visayas and Luzon, was covered with thickets and cleared for rice paddies and corn plots which in time expanded. Water for irrigation was coaxed from streams that abound in the area. The manifestation of this abundance of water, in fact, “sweet” spring water, is the presence of the six (6) continuously  flowing water out of upright tubes at the town’s six (6) purok or sitio and the one used by the District Hospital. The fertility of the soil is also fit for rice which ensured abundant harvest and made Lambayong earn the title, “Rice Bowl of Cotabato” when it was yet one whole province before the creation of the four provinces. Today, it is still fondly referred to as a “Rice Bowl” but of Sultan Kudarat Province.


The 26 barangays of Lambayong are: Caridad (Cuyapon), Didtaras, Gansing (Bilumen), Kabulakan, Kapingkong, Katitisan, Katitisan, Lagao, Lilit, Madanding, Maligaya, Mamali, Matiompong, Midtapok, New Cebu, Palumbi, Pidtiguian, Pimbalayan, Pingulaman,Poblacion (Lambayong), Sadsalan, Seneben, Sigayan, Tambak, Tinumigues, Tumiao (Tinaga), and Udtong.

The municipality covers a total land area of 226.99 square kilometers or 87.60 square miles.


Though without impressive big commercial structures, Lambayong is trying its best to maintain a harmonious and cordial ambiance which is necessary to erase the bad image it had at the height of the conflict between the Christians and Muslims during the early 1970s. Impressively, farmers hold with steadfast firmness to their rice fields and vegetable plots instead of converting them into subdivisions. Attempts are being made to raise the nutritious dragon fruit which consistently commands a high price in Manila. Another tradition which is maintained is the production of raw sugar in the form of muscovado.  For more delectable offerings of the town, one should visit the public market on a Sunday for tinagtag, panyalam, smoked fish and many more.


To commemorate the harmony between Christians and Muslims in Lambayong, the government came up with TIMPUYOG Festival celebrated every October of each year.                Groups compete for the best in street dancing and costume.


Currently, the mayor of Lambayong is HON. RAMON M. ABALOS.



The Municipalality of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. (SNA) Could Be More Appropriately Named as KULAMAN

The Municipality of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.(SNA)

Could Be More Appropriately Named as “KULAMAN”

By Apolinario Villalobos


First of all, the Honorable Governor of Sultan Kudarat, Pax Mangudadatu should be accredited for the highway that has connected the area of Kulaman to the lowlands. The naming of the town after the dead husband of the late president Corazon Aquino did nothing good for the residents – Christians, Muslims and Lumads. Those responsible for the naming of the new town as such could be wringing their hands in remorse for their unfair decision.


When Sultan Pax Mangudadatu became governor of Sultan Kudarat, among his first acts for the province was lobby for the construction of a highway from the lowlands to the Kulaman area as it has been grossly neglected for several decades despite the promise of opportunities. Nothing happened to his effort under the two presidents –  Gloria Arroyo and even Pnoy Aquino. The governor confided that he even told Pnoy, “para naman sa bayan na nakapangalan sa tatay mo ang highway”…nothing happened.


When Duterte became president, he tried again to lobby although he was at the brink of desperation. He told the DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, “yong ibang bayan, nagpapa- widening na ng mga highway nila, pero ang iba tulad ng Kulaman wala pa maski kapirasong kalsadang sementado…”. He succeeded in his persistence. Today, Kulaman area is connected to the lowlands with a highway and extensions for connection with neighboring municipalities are afoot. Farmers living on the slope of Mt. Dagoma can now bring their produce to the city of Tacurong, Isulan and Esperanza with ease and comfort….and Kulaman is showing signs of fast development although, it is just a barangay of the SNA. The provincial government has also implemented several livelihood programs spearheaded by the livestock dispersal that include carabao, goats and hogs.


Back to the issue of name….the municipality of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino  is more known by its contracted reference as “SNA” that stands for Senator Ninoy Aquino. My question is why adopt the said name when the dead guy has got nothing to do with the area?…just because he was the killed husband of the then, sitting president, Corazon Aquino? This is a blatant act of “paninipsip”! ….ash licking to the maximum!…or is it an attempt to perpetuate the name “Aquino” in Mindanao?….what a shame!


Kulaman has been known for so many years among the people of Cotabato, and in fact used by the Oblate Fathers or Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), as their center for evangelization activities around the area, hence, the establishment of Notre Dame therein that preceded other Notre Dames in the lowlands.  When scientific researchers mention archaeological finds in the whole area, they refer to Kulaman. When lowlanders mention organic vegetables and special highland coffee, they refer to Kulaman.  Despite the official name for the town, many people still thought that Kulaman is the town. Whoever thought of coming  up with another town should have just converted Kulaman into such, with area expanded by the additional barangays mentioned in the list below, some of which having been sliced from Kalamansig and Bagumbayan.


The administration of President Duterte could do the residents of the area a favor by changing the name of the municipality of Senator Ninoy Aquino into KULAMAN…if he is committed to rectifying what has been done unfairly in the past. The precedent in the case of the renaming of the Mariano Marcos, back into its former name, Lambayong, could be cited.


(Quotation marks before and after the write-up below, indicate that it has been copy-pasted by this writer from Wikipedia in the internet.)


“The municipality was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 06712 on February 17, 1989,[4] and is named after senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

It brought Barangays Buenaflores, Bugso, Kiadsam, Kadi, Kulaman, Malegdeg and Sewod in the Municipality of Kalamansig and Langgal in the Municipality of Bagumbayan to constitute into an independent municipality. The seat of government of the municipality is situated in Barangay Kulaman.


Senator Ninoy Aquino is politically subdivided into 20 barangays.

  • Banali
  • Basag
  • Buenaflores
  • Bugso
  • Buklod
  • Gapok
  • Kadi
  • Kapatagan
  • Kiadsam
  • Kuden
  • Lagubang
  • Langgal
  • Limuhay
  • Malegdeg
  • Midtungok
  • Nati
  • Sewod
  • Tacupis
  • Tinalon”




ARCHIE P. LACSON…beyond success
by Apolinario Villalobos

Archie Lacson gave me my final break in Philippine Airlines when he made me the Administrative Manager for Philippines and Guam Region of Marketing and Sales to work in tandem with him as his assistant. He was then, the region’s VP. Despite his affluence, he is close to ordinary folks to the point of being altruistic. A dancer and a golfer by heart, he is also health conscious that makes him fit until today and which is what he needs as a newly elected Kagawad of Barangay Ayala-Alabang.

He is the kind of a guy who finds it difficult to say, “no”, that made him prone to abuse and which I have observed during our time in Philippine Airlines. Another skill that I admire in him is his ability to hold the attention of the audience, every time he hosts a show. He was a co-host of the famous “Penthouse 7”, a tv show that featured classic dances such as cha-cha, tango, etc.

What I cannot forget were our lunches of monggo soup and other veggie Bisayan dishes in the tourist district of Malate. One time, while we were on our way to Makati for a meeting, he suddenly stopped. I thought there was a problem with his car. It was only later that I realized….he stopped to buy “dirty ice cream” from the vendor that he beckoned to approach us. He confided that he loves “dirty ice cream”.

He guided me around Hongkong when he brought me there during his temporary administration of Southeast Asia region. It was my first time in Hongkong and he sacrificed his time just so, I could have a glimpse of the Harbor at nighttime. Being his “assistant”, I did all my best…but what he failed to let me do was have my passport stamped with a US visa!




By Apolinario Villalobos


First of all, it is a fact that the Philippines is lagging behind the neighboring Southeast Asian countries, especially, Thailand on the areas that cover exportation of dried products and fruit juices that can be processed into vinegar or “cider”. It is funny to note that it seems the government has no definite direction as regards the surplus bananas, mangoes, avocados, yams, sweet potato, leafy vegetables and medicinal herbs. It is funnier to note that when available locally, the processed products tend to carry tags with prohibitive prices due to their EXPENSIVE PACKAGING!…and worst, the country is way behind other southeast Asian nations as regards rice production!


In banana growing provinces of Mindanao, “reject” bananas due to their “over” and “under”  sizes are heaped in roadsides to be fed to hogs. What Filipinos know about the banana is to eat it as an after meal repast, fry into fritters or mix it with flour to be baked into cake. Many home-based entrepreneurs come up with “banana crackling” but a small pack that can’t even fill a small cup is priced sky-high. If ever banana products come out in the market, their prices become “unfit” for Filipinos. I was lucky to have found banana vinegar one day in a grocery inside a mall, but stylishly tagged as “cider” to justify the expensive price due to the “foreign sounding” brand. My elation was immediately transformed into frustration so I did not buy a single bottle of “cider”.


On the other hand, westerners love to eat dried mango that come in chips or strips, but small entrepreneurs cannot cope up with the demand because of outdated processing that they use. If they want a high-tech equipment, they are supposed to browse the internet for them. What is commendable is the resourcefulness of private individuals and groups in promoting this tropical fruit such as holding a mango festival just like what Guimaras is doing. The province is famous for its “sweetest” variety of mango. In Mindanao, many towns produce mangoes but most dried products, ironically, comes from Cebu. The mango juice that is packed in Davao is not promoted well.


The Philippines is a tropical country and as a popular adage goes, “one may throw the seed of any fruit anywhere and not long afterwards, a fragile teeny-weeny leaf will peek to great the sun!”. The same goes with the vegetables with stalks that can just be left in a corner of the yard and roots will sprout. DESPITE THIS, THERE IS NO TANGIBLE SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT AS REGARDS THEIR FULL UTILIZATION AS EXPORTABLE PRODUCTS IN DRIED OR JUICE. Assistance always comes from the LGUs despite their limited resources and a manifestation of this effort is the mango festival of Guimaras. As can be noticed, the assistance is limited to information dissemination and promotion.


This is the sad situation in the Philippines….national agencies that are supposed to be concerned with matters regarding agricultural products have no tangible output on the aspect of technological assistance. Accordingly, a certain bill on this issue is still pending in Congress for several years now.


Here is a classic ironic situation. Foreign rice specialists come to the Philippines to learn everything possible at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna. After accomplishing their “mission”, they go back to their countries…put what they learned into practice with the help of course of their respective government…AND, SELL RICE TO THE PHILIPPINES!…BECAUSE THE PHILIPPIN E’S BELOVED NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY (NFA) SAYS, THE FILIPINOS WILL DIE OF HUNGER IF THE COUNTRY WILL NOT IMPORT RICE BECAUSE THE LOCAL PRODUCE IS NOT ENOUGH!


Concerned government agencies always mention the lack of budget when it comes to the need for their assistance on certain relevant projects, BUT THERE IS ALWAYS A BIG BUDGET WHEN IT COMES TO PURCHASES!…AND RICE IMPORTATION IS AMONG THEM!


There is not even a very EFFECTIVE effort  to CONTROL the conversion of rice fields into subdivisions…despite the fact that even before the creation of the Rice and Corn Administration (RCA) that metamorphosed into National Grains Authority (NGA), and today, has become the National Food Authority (NFA), rice has been identified as the most crucial need of the country. Today, the NFA is unfortunately viewed as a corruption-riddled agency.


Lately, resourceful farmers whose fruit orchards started as a hobby are into exportation of their products…still the government has not given them the much needed technological assistance, as shown by the pending bill that should have benefited them years ago, yet. If approved and becomes a law, my apprehension is that the implementation will again be hampered by the LACK OF BUDGET as what happened to the rest…so, as expected, there will be finger-pointing as to who’s to blame again!


My big question is…are the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the National Food Authority (NFA) still RELEVANT today? It seems that the BPI is only good for “information dissemination” or giving out of brochures during agri-trade fairs, as well as, seeds/seedling dispersal….things that can be done by LGUs that are already with nurseries of their own.  And, worse, the NFA is only good for rice importation as it cannot even do anything about the obvious rice cartel in the country.