The Making of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College Museum

The Making of the NOTRE DAME

OF TACURONG COLLEGE  MUSEUM

By Felizardo “DING” L, LAZADO

ANYONE who chooses to see something – a thing of the past that has something to say about the present and future, then, he is one rare kind of person of social interest. A family that still keeps the belongings and holdings of its great ancestors and never attempt to let them go in any way is a house built on the rocks of perpetual heritage. If you believe that that there are no useless things here on Earth and everything is useful , then, in this world of ours there is nothing to throw away except feces, urine, domestic wastes and other biodegradables.

I FOUND myself in the shadow of this aweful but awesome and amazing world of saving legacies. And if you go with me, I am sure you got a good guess of what I am talking about. This is concernment in museology. It is not all about curating antiques, artifacts and artworks as many would have viewed it that way. Museology is an interesting field of anything collected anytime for use all the time. As long as an object indicates a story to tell and significance to show, it deserves a space in the museum or better still it deserved to be spared. But museum is not always a big building ornately structured and designed. It can just be a corner, a room in the house, or a house itself if it dearly holds rare, unique and even a run-of-the mill – pieces of collections.

The house of a friend, Bot Villalobos is one of this kind, a unit in a subdivision somewhere in Cavite , Artifacts carefully shelved along the walls were aesthetically scaled. A side table drawer was almost full of wristwatches of all kinds. The cupboard beneath the stove was a caveful of multi-sized earthen jars (kolon) , one of which contained cooked ” tambalang nga dagmay” which he served to me. The most unique was the ” inupong nga humay” displayed on a coffee table in the living room. That small bundle or sheaf of palay was given by a farmer friend from Ifugao’s rice terraces for good luck and prosperity.

And, museum is not all Picasso, da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Fall of Rome, Alexandria and Granada, hegira, or ruins of Parthenon. I was able to obtain a few pieces of rocks from the debris of Berlin Wall from my lady professor at Silliman University. Allegedly, she had them picked up onsite when the Berlin Walls was knocked down. She was there while pursuing a doctoral degree on anthropology

The Notre Dame of Tacurong College ) NDTC Museum was put up without a hint and dint of the above. There was no aforethought of museology. This museum which is now called NDTC Tri-people Musuem was an offshoot of my sheer foolish imagination which later in educational forum I called  “teaching strategy”…or was it? The Jesuit evaluator during our PAASCU accreditation evaluation confirmed to me during an interview that what I did was not a teaching strategy.,,”If ever you consider it a strategy that is something inimical to teaching”. We both laughed. ” But your strategy has paid up for your efforts, you have this one great museum in this part of Mindanao” the Jesuit concluded with a grain of consolation.

” Bring to the class ANYTHING FILIPINO, ANYTHING OLD” (AFAO) . Simple was that instruction but definitive and conclusive for compliance among my students in History 1 (Philippine History) and Humanities 1 (Art Appreciation) for them to earn a perfect 10 points for P (project) in AQRP , equivalent to a 40 % component of the final grade in any subject taken. That began in 1995, the year I was busy for the Talakudong Festival revival.

One male fruit vendor/ student from Isulan ( who would  drive his tricycle from Isulan early morning for his classes and back home at noontime this time, fully laden with assorted fruits bargained from his “suki” (favourite wholesaler) at Tacurong Public Market), proudly  unwrapped before me a small object. ” Sir, ari special AFAO gid ning akon (here sir, is my special AFAO) . The whole class laughed when he further said, “onto ni sang lolo ko nga ginkuha ni lola sang napatay siya. Kanugon kuno sang onto kay mahal pa naman ini”. (It is the false denture  of my grandfather who died, and which was kept by my grandmother, as she thought it to be expensive, to be just thrown away.) I told him, “Take it back home with you, as that might scare other collections. Your lola needs your lolo’s false teeth than any other”. I motioned to him to take back the controversial item. “Ti ang grade ko sir? “. (“how about my grade sir?”).  “Sigi perfect 10 kana” (“don’t worry, you will get perfect 10”).

Running it from 1995 to 1998. the AFAO project has become a byword among my students. One time I caught one guy shouting : “Ay ABAW”, (oh, my!) referring to AFAO. Submitted projects became an array of collectibles and collections. Trending in campus, AFAO has even made some teachers feverish too, thus dozens more of personal items were turned in that swelled up the room. Worthy of mention were 3 pairs of old patadyong (native Visayan tube skirt with geometrical pattern), and kimono (sheer blouse made of piἧa fibers with butterfly sleeves), and 3 pieces of “sinukla” from Mrs. Josefina Lechonsito’s late mother. Ricardo Jamorabon Jr, gave his personal baby’s crib. Rev. Antonio Pueyo while he was still a Parish Priest in Cotabato City sent in a big bronze crucifix and elegant rosary beads which he said was once owned by a Catholic lady but turned them to him when she married General Salipada K. Pendatun. Five big boxes were left to the museum by Bishop Colin Bagaforo when he moved to Cotabato City to assume his new post as Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato. Most of the artifacts were “santos” (holy images). “rosaritos” (rosary beads), as well as, other sacramental and clerical habits. The Bishop’s collections occupied one room of the ground floor and labeled “ecclesiastical collection”. Opposite room was assigned to several Muslim brasswares including kulintang (brass xylophone) and “agong” from the former Sultan Kudarat governor Pax Mangudadatu.

Verbally but encouragingly, Sr. Leonor Pagorogon, OP, Phd. then the College President instructed me to put up exhibits on June 12, 1998 in connection with the CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE PHILLIPINE REVOLUTION. So came the unprecedented preparation. Presentable and exhibitable and truly expressive of anything Filipino, anything old were all moved to the exhibit area – the college lobby. To make the exhibit validly significant and reflective of the centennial celebration, the miniatures of the evolution of the Philippine flag and framed pictures of the early revolutionists including Bonifacio and Aguinaldo formed part of the rush works. My sons. Glenn and Ron and one working student put the final touches on the eve of Exhibits Day.

The opening came the morning after but since it was a national holiday, the influx of visitors from other towns, especially, students was observable on the second day. The exhibit was run for two straight weeks with MOVERS (Museum Organization of Volunteers, Errands of Responsible Students) on the watch line. The MOVERS was organized at the height of the preparation. When the exhibit ended, the MOVERS themselves moved all the items to the Sullivan Hall – a two- story building that in itself was also “antique”. The moving signalled the birth of the museum.

The two-story Sullivan Hall, was without the necessary facilities to be called a museum. Here came my big problem. If I had to resort to requisition, I was sure I would only be told “no budget “..that I didn’t like to hear. I put all the responsibilities upon me as I silently shout…COME WHAT MAY I WOULD BUILD THE MUSEUM MY WAY ! I told nobody as nobody has ever told me to stay in the museum in the evening.

At day time during my vacant periods I roamed around the campus – spotting anything useful and loadable – in the garbage area, carpentry shop, stock room beside the gymnasium. Late sundown after supper to the museum I went my way to spend the night.. Like a nocturnal owl and a thief in the night I focused my attention on my “operation”. Sensing that silence now reign the evening hours, like a cat I stealthily moved around …pulled and dragged whatever item I could move inside the museum. Flashing lights indicated that a security was on the roving time. I had to look for cover to elude the Blue Guard. Then on weekends – Saturdays and Sundays I did carpentry works. I picked up pieces of assorted nails at carpentry when there was no carpenter visible. I bought a hammer and a saw so that nobody at home would ever wonder where have all the saw and hammer gone ifever needed.

On June 30,1998, the NDTC MUSEUM was given official recognition, as Sr. Leonor Pagorogon OP, PhD. signed my appointment as First Curator and a certificate was issued recognizing me as Founder of the NDTC MUSEUM. A respite from museum-related activities came when I accompanied the Talakudong contingent to Davao City to join the Kadayawan Festiva in mid-August of the same year.

My exit from the museum which was brought about by my retirement in 2008 saw the entrance of equally energetic Dr. Edgar Gonzales who took over as the new curator. Under his administration, the museum made three good projects: 1) The ground floor was fully renovated with modern facilities; 2)  A decent fund was obtained from the NCAA for the procurement of other facilities and training; and,  3) The museum was renamed NDTC TRI-PEOPLE MUSEUM.

For over a decade of curatorial work, 13 years to be exact, museology has taught me more meanings of life and more learning from love of USEFUL AND USELESS THINGS. In my retirement speech, I humbly mentioned the time when I was a nocturnal owl, a thief in the night, a stealthily moving cat, a scavenger, a carpenter, an AFAO strategist, not a teaching strategist, inventor of the new 3 Rs – Remake, Retake, Reshape…I DID ALL THAT for my contributions to the meaningful NDTC Vision Mission and my commitment to the promotion of cultural heritage.I would like to thank all my students/alumni and fellow teachers who in one way or the other have helped me build the NDTC MUSEUM.

Alluring Antique and the Late Governor Evelio B. Javier

Alluring Antique

And the late Gov. Evelio B. Javier

By Apolinario Villalobos

Antique is invariably likened in shape to a seahorse and described by others as an oversized serrated hemline on the western border of the three-cornered, scarf-like land mass that is Panay. It is nestled between the bluish China Sea on the west and mountain ranges on the east. With a length of 155 kilometers and a width of 33 kilometers at its widest, Antique has a total land area of approximately 252,000 hectares. Long mountain ranges separate it from the rest of the provinces of Panay Island. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Aklan, on the east by Capiz, and on the southeast by Iloilo. On the west is the Cuyo East Pass of the Sulu Sea, part of the vast China Sea.

The province is rich in metallic, as well as, non-metallic minerals. Metallic reserves include copper, chromite, gold and silver, while the non-metallic include China clay, structural clay, pottery clay, phosphate, coal and marble. A yet, undetermined volume of manganese, nickel, gold and silver are believed to abound in the lowlands of Pandan and Libertad. Coal is found on Semirara Island.

Other than rich geologic resources, Antique is also endowed by nature with alluring attributes that are bound to enthrall visitors, making them wonder how it could have stayed unnoticed for a long time.

The Antiqueῆos, just like the rest of the inhabitants of Panay Island are charming and hospitable. They are ready with a smile that can make a stranger feel at home, the moment he steps on the province’s threshold. There is a mingling tint of races in their physical make up. While some show strong Malay features, the rest are of the Ati and Spanish strains. Their Visayan dialect, called Karay-a may not sound lilting due to its rolling accent, but the intonation is pleasant to the ear.

Antique’s own kind of January festival with a religious undertone, though, with strong historic feature is called “Binirayan Festival”. The “biray” refers to the sailboats used by the ten Bornean datu who landed at Malandag, when they escaped the tyrannical rule of their sultan, Makatunaw. Their landing site at Malandag is marked with an austere structure. The celebration has caught up with the rest of the festivals of provinces of Panay, such as Ati-Atihan of Kalibo (Aklan), Dinagyang of Iloilo, and Halaran of Roxas (Capiz).

A visitor will never be bored in Antique which is blessed by nature with mountains, waterfalls, profuse wildlife, beaches and coral gardens, not to mention the historic landmarks in practically, every town. At San Jose de Buenavista, the capital, snorkeling can be enjoyed at Comun, where clusters of colorful reefs can be found. It has also its share of beautiful beaches, such as the Madranga and Taringting, where visitors usually rest after a day’s revelry during the Binirayan Festival, held at its permanent site, the La Granja.

South of San Jose de Buenavista, a little more than an hour away from downtown, is Anini-y, with its medicinal sulphuric Sira-an hot spring, that gushes out of rocks, overlooking the Panay Gulf. The town’s Hispanic past is punctuated by its centuries-old church made of white corals. It also takes pride in its two islands, Nogas and Hurao-Hurao. The former is ringed by coral gardens, while the latter can be reached by wading in the water during low tide. There’s also the Cresta del Gallo which the locals call Punta Nasog, so appropriately named because the cliffs look like a cock’s comb, especially, when they are silhouetted against the darkening horizon late in the afternoon.

A quarter of an hour’s drive from San Jose is Hamtic, the site of the first Malay settlement in Panay. The site is particularly located at Malandag, a progressive district where an austere structure serves as the marker of the historic spot.

Going northeast on a forty-five minutes of commute on a jeepney, one will reach San Remegio, a beautiful hillside town, frequented by weekenders for its two scenic waterfalls, as well as, Bato Cueva, a cave situated on a hill. From this perch, one can have a sweeping view of the plains traversed by a river down below, and cloud-capped jade mountains.

At Culasi, one will surely be impressed by the mountain ranges that serve as the boundary between the neighboring provinces of Capiz and Aklan, with Mt. Madia-as as the highest peak. Approaching the mountain from town, its awe-inspiring “hundred waterfalls” can make one gasp in admiration.

Seen from the shores of Culasi is Mararison Island which could be reached on a pumpboat in thirty minutes. During the ‘80s, we had a rare opportunity to pitch tent on it shore after our memorable climb of Mt. Madia-as. While approaching the island, we were impressed by the coral gardens below the calm waters, so that, as soon as we have pitched our tents, we raced to them. Practically, the whole island is ringed by the coral colonies with varying depths. A surprise was the freshwater spring whose gushes can only be enjoyed during the low tide, as it gets submerged during high tide. Not far from Mararison Island is Batbatan islet with its equally inviting coral reefs.

Culasi, particularly, Lipata point is historically significant, for having been made as a temporary port for the submarines of the Allied Forces during the WWII.

Practically, the whole length of the province’s coast from Anini-y to Libertad is dotted with beaches and historical landmarks, such as the watch towers at Bugasong and Libertad, and beaches, foremost of which are those of Taguimtim, Cadiao, Hatay-Hatay, Manglamon, and Barbaza, Piῆa.

The sturdy churches built by the Spanish friars in major towns of the province have survived years of natural calamities and still are the center of the people’s activities. Virtually, every major town has one.

Other inland attractions are the Pula waterfalls and Lake Danao of San Remigio which is already known for its Bato Cueva; Macalbag waterfalls of Barbaza; Bugang River of Pandan; Tiguis cave of Tibiao which also boasts of a swift river ideal for kayaking; Sebaste’s waterfalls; and, guano-filled Maanghit Cave of Libertad. A less explored group of islands are those that compose the municipality of Caluya, which aside from the island town, are Bogtongan and Semirara, known for their white beaches, and with the latter enjoying a protection as bird sanctuary.

Near the Aklan boundary in the north is Pandan, a town famous for its Malumpati Beach and Hot Springs. It is much nearer Kalibo, though, as the travel time on a pumpboat is a little more than an hour. The late governor Evelio Javier brought me to this place for a pumpboat ride to Boracay when this internationally-renowned island was just in its virginal state. He guided me around the famous island, whose powdery white beaches at the time were just dotted with quaint fishermen’s lean-to cottages. During his lifetime, the brisk development of the island was perhaps far from his mind, because of its almost inaccessibility. He was an advocate of ecology and what I will never forget while we were tracing our steps back to the waiting pumpboat, was when he told me, “I hope this island will not be damaged by the tourism industry…” He was proud of Boracay, as though, it was within the scope of Antique, for geographically and politically, the island is part of the neighboring Aklan province. By God’s design, perhaps, he did not live long to be saddened at how Boracay looks like now. He was mercilessly assassinated on February 11, 1986. To commemorate his staunch leadership as a young governor of the province, the EBJ Freedom Park was built in his name.

While in Antique, one can always find something to do, as it is replete with varying natural endowments – from nature tripping to culture research, and religious exploration. It is this variation that made its youthful governor, the late, Evelio B. Javier advocate ecology-based tourism so that both the man-made and natural legacies can be preserved and shared by the Antiqueῆos with the world – in their unspoiled state. He must have felt the fear for the onslaught of the uncontrolled tourism industry to happen years beyond his lifetime, hence, his heartfelt advocacy. Unfortunately, his fear has become a reality….

Today, every time Antique is mentioned, what comes to my mind is the face of the late “manong Belio”, as how I called him then. He was the first governor I met who did not have any single bodyguard when moving around. He always had time to be with his people, even driving to as far as Valderrama, an inland town, to play basketball with the young farmers. Most especially, he was proud of his culture, and his Karay-a dialect that he uses without qualm, every time he had an opportunity. I just hope that his spirit will guide the Antiqueῆos so that his advocacy will live on.