Two Incidents that Made Me Have an Utmost Respect to Governor Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat

Two Incidents that Made Me Have an Utmost Respect

To Governor Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat Province

By Apolinario Villalobos


I do not know the guy personally, except as  being a well-loved governor of Sultan Kudarat based on the stories that I have heard. But two incidents that I personally encountered confirmed the stories about his benevolence and fatherly character.


During the Kalimudan Festival 2017, I attended the Rural Health Workers’ Day at the Capitol Gym after missing the Children’s Day, the day before. I needed to have something to blog about the festival that I have missed for several years. I took photos of the different groups that took turns in showing their patiently-rehearsed numbers at the center of the basketball court. On the stage was the presidential table where officials including the honorable Pax Mangudadatu were seated. Later, I sat two paces away from him and had a chance to observe him.


When lunch was served, he did not touch his food while the rest were enjoying theirs. He was looking at the Rural Workers from the different municipalities of the province, and who were occupying the bleachers and it dawned on me that he was also observing the Jollibee reps who were distributing packed lunches. After awhile, he stood up and took the microphone through which he asked the Jollibee reps to say, “please, pakibigyan ang lahat ng mga tao ng pagkain… at baka pwedeng bilisan lang…”. He did not return to his seat, until everybody had their lunch in styro box.


Just recently, I dropped by his office but found him surrounded with staff and visitors. His secretary made take a seat not far from him, so that we could immediately talk after the last staff with documents for signature would have left. What caught my attention was his softly- spoken remark to a staff who explained to him about a project that was intended for Muslims. He said, “ayaw ko ng ganyan….gusto ko para sa Christians at Muslims….hindi lang Muslims”. The staff withdrew the documents. When he noticed me, he smiled and shook my hands and before he stood up for a meeting in another room, we had a comparably lengthy talk.


For those who are not familiar with the province of Sultan Kudarat, Muslims and Christians inhabit its lowlands and the highlands are by the Lumads. The province used to be part of North Cotabato when the original Cotabato Province was divided into two – North and South. Later, North Cotabato was further divided resulting to the creation of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao. Isulan is the capital town of Sultan Kudarat.

Pax Mangudadatu


Love of the Mother

Love of the Mother

By Apolinario B Villalobos


When it comes to giving love –

Nothing can beat the one

Who nurtured us within her

And for months endured our weight

A burden that she carried –

Until with hard drawn effort

Brought us forth into this world.


While in her womb

We partake of the air she breathes

We partake of the food she eats

We partake of the emotions she feels

Her blood makes our heart beat

And careful that we float with ease

She moves with well-guarded steps.


Our heart that beats is her mark in us

Greater than anything, we owe it to her –

She who cries when we succumb to sickness

And dry her breast for precious milk…

Our life, we owe to our dear mother

She, we should love more than any other.



See with Our Heart, Feel with Our Kindness

See with Our Heart,
Feel with Our Kindness
By Apolinario Villalobos


Our eyes perceive the world
That’s all that they can do;
But there’s more beneath
The surface of everything
That only the heart can see –
If strengthened with fidelity.


Touching the lives of others
Some do with false charity
They, who think, food is enough
They, who think, money is fine
But given devoid of kindness
All effort becomes worthless.


Look around with our heart
Touch others with kindness
Those are what we should do
To realize our purposes in life –
Live and share, love sincerely
And thank the Lord as we pray!


Ang Makasarili at Mapagbigay

Ang Makasarili at Mapagbigay

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Mahahalata ang taong makasarili at mapagbigay sa pamamagitan ng isang halimbawang sumusunod: ….sa hapag-kainan, ang pinipiling saging ng makasarili ay ang may pinakamagandang balat at malaki; ang mapagbigay naman ay pinipili ang maliit at may halos nangingitim nang balat dahil nanghihinayang siya kung tuluyang mabulok. Kung piniritong isda o manok ang ulam, ang pinipili ng makasarili ay ang pinakamalaki; ang mapagbigay ay hindi namimili.


Walang masama sa pagpili ng pinakamagandang bagay kung ito ay iyong binili. Subalit kung nakalatag sa harap ng isang pamilya kung saan ay kasama ang magulang at mga kapatid, dapat ay kailangang maging mapagbigay lalo na sa magulang at nakababatang kapatid. Kadalasan, ang mga nakatatanda pang mga kapatid ang nag-aagawan ng pinakamaganda habang nakatunganga ang mga nakababatang kapatid at magulang.


Ang pagkamakasarili ay nagbibigay-buhay sa kasabihan sa Ingles na, “what are we in power for”…na nagpapairal ng lakas laban sa mahihina. Nangyayari yan sa lahat ng sitwasyon, sa loob man ng tahanan o sa komunidad na maliit hanggang sa kabuuhan ng isang bansa. Dahil diyan ay may korapsyon sa mga pamahalaan at sa loob ng ILANG tahanan ay may magkakapatid na palaging nag-aaway.


Sa mga pamilyang mayayaman, ang pagkamakasarili din ang dahilan ng awayan ng magkakapatid dahil sa mga minana mula sa mga namayapang magulang.

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

By Apolinario Villalobos


Many people who have been reading my blogs are wondering why I am doing it…worse, some even presume that I am being paid for such emotionally tedious undertaking. Plainly and simply, I tell them that it is my advocacy. I hate to use such word, but I might cause them to raise their eyebrows if I tell them, it is my hobby. I am serious in what I am doing and it is not just for fun. I am not being paid but some viewers of my blogs send help for the subject personalities whom I write about, and which are handled with much care. For this endeavor, I am taking so much risk as my security is also at stake in view of my blogs on corruption.


I always ask myself that if I will not share with others what I perceive and experience “along the way”, who will do it? If I have to be brutally frank, I dare say that many people are numb, naïve, blind, deaf, etc. to what are happening around us. One viewer even had the temerity to send me the message, “you think you are a great writer, huh!”. He is not an fb friend and most hurting is that he is also a Filipino. I just presumed that he is a friend of a politician whom I have been jabbing with my posts, which being “public” are open to all internet browsers. As an information, I have four other blog sites aside from facebook. My first facebook page has even been hacked many months back so I can no longer open it, forcing me to create another one with my photo on it. Unfortunately, many friends still use the hacked fb despite the notices that I have posted.


I identify with people whom I blog as I had my own struggles to be able to finish my studies, having been orphaned at a young age. Growing up, I observed the corrupt practices in the government which have been deeply impressed in my mind. I observed so much arrogance of some supposedly “shepherds” of the various churches. Having gone around the country, I saw poverty in its various levels and perceived its ugly faces drawn on my impoverished countrymen. I would like to let the world know about the benevolence of unsung heroes in our midst. Also, let others know, Filipinos and foreigners that the country is a cluster of islands worth discovering for their unique and varying splendor. I would also like to serve as other people’s conscience and mirror. Most of all God gifted me with the ability to write and I know that He did not give it to me to be kept selfishly, but with a purpose. Those are the reasons why I blog.


What give me the drive to go on are the inspiration and encouragement from those who are kind enough to appreciate what I am doing aside from enhancing what I share with their comments and rectifications on what they think should be improved. I am also encouraged to go on if what I share could successfully elicit relevant comments, especially, about blogged people whose characters are worthy of emulation, not just appreciation.  I believe that I am just doing my share of what should be done as intended by God. I am not a doctor, nor a professor, nor a pastor, nor a cook, nor a policeman, nor a businessman, etc….but I have a purpose, too, in this world and that is….as a simple writer.


I always imagine that the world is like a jigsaw puzzle composed of parts with various shapes that snugly fit together. While others could be triangle, circle, square…I could be a rectangle….that is I, as a blogger, and with my own shape, I am trying my best to neatly fit into this world. By the way, I need prayers, too, to keep me keep me and my advocacy alive, at least even for just a little longer.

Pagpupunyagi (Kuwento ng buhay ni Elmer Festin)

Happy Fathers’ Day!



(Kuwento ng Buhay ni Elmer Festin)


By: Apolinario B Villalobos


Ang landas ng buhay na ating binabagtas

Mahirap tahakin lalo na kung tayo’y nakayapak –

Mga lubak na hindi mapansin ay ating natitisod

Matatalas na batong di maiwasan ay nayayapakan

Pati tinik ng dahong mariang sumusugat sa ating talampakan.


Ang taong hindi handa sa pagtahak nitong landas

Sa ilang hakbang pa lamang niyang magawa –

Kahihinaan na ng loob at pangangatugan na ng mga tuhod

Hindi malayong babalik sa pinanggalingan

Di kaya’y mangingipuspos at sasalampak na lamang sa daan.


May isang taong sa murang gulang ay naglakas-loob

Nagpakatatag at taimtim na nagdasal sa Panginoon

Na harinawa sa paglisan sa sinilangang Bantoon, isla ng Rombon

Patnubayan siya sa kanyang paglayag at tatahaking landas

Bigyan din ng malinaw na pag-iisip at katawang malakas.


Masakit iwanan ang isang bayang tulad ng Bantoon

Islang animo’y tuldok sa mapa ng Romblon

Di man pansinin, ito’y mahalagang itinuring

Ng mga Kastilang dumating noong unang panahon sa ating bansa

Kaya’t sa aklat ng ating kasaysayan siya’y naitala.


Ito ang kuwento ng buhay ni Elmer Festin

Isang taong may ngiting agad mapapansin

Napadpad sa Cebu kung saan siya’y nahikayat

Suungin ng buong tapang, masalimuot na buhay –

Na wala namang pag-atubili at matatag niyang hinarap.


Ilang taon din siyang dito ay nagturo

Naglinang ng dunong ng mga kabataan

Hanggang sa siya ay kawayan ng kapalaran

Na nangako sa kanyang sa dakong katimugan

Siya ay makakatamo ng pinapangarap na kasaganaan.


Dala ay kakaunting pera na sa bulsa ay kakalog-kalog

Pilit winaglit ang pag-aalala at takot sa dibdib na kakabog-kabog

Hindi rin alintana ang mga tuhod na nangangatog

Siya ay naglakas-loob na pumalaot at tumango’ sa tawag ng kapalaran –

Ipinasa-Diyos na lamang, magiging bunga ng kapangahasan.


Sa Notre Dame, sa Tacurong siya ay napadpad

Paaralang sa bayang ito ay pinagkakapitagan

Limang mga gusali nang panahong iyon ang kanyang nadatnan

Pinangangasiwaan ng mga pare at madre na Oblates of  Mary kung tawagin

At katulad ni Elmer, pagtulong sa kapwa ang sinusunod na adhikain.


Nakitaan siya ng kakaibang sigla sa pagturo

Dahil hindi lang sa mga aklat, mga estudyante niya ay natuto

Naibahagi rin niya ang kaunti niyang kaalaman

Pati sa gymnastics na para sa mga estudyante’y bagong larangan

Kaya napasigla niya ang dati’y matamlay na kapaligiran.


Anupa’t si Elmer ay nakilala hindi lang sa loob ng Notre Dame

Dahil ang galing niya sa pagturo, sa iba ay nakatawag pansin

Kaya nang magkaroon ng Polytechnic Institute sa bayang ito

Binuksan nila para sa kanya ang kanilang pinto

Upang makibahagi sa kagalingan ng kanyang pagturo.


Sa bago niyang malawak na kapaligiran at hitik sa iba’t ibang halaman

Lalo pang sumidhi ang kanyang hangad na makahubog ng kabataan

Hindi naman nasayang ang marangal niyang adhikain

Dahil taos-pusong pasasalamat ay kanyang naramdaman at natanggap

Mula sa mga estudyanteng binigyan niya ng pag-asa ang mga hinaharap.


Natupad ang pangarap ni Elmer na maibahagi ang kanyang kaalaman

Napatunayan niya na kakapusan sa pera ay hindi hadlang

Hindi rin nasayang ang kanyang pagpunyagi magmula pa sa kanyang kabataan

Kahi’t sa pagtahak niya sa landas ng buhay siya’y nakayapak lamang

Dahil alam niyang sa dulo nito’y mayroong walang hanggang kapayapaan.



(Si Mr. Festin ang nagbigay ng pagkakataon sa may-akda upang mahasa niya ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagsulat. Hinirang siya ni Mr. Festin bilang patnugot ng “The Green Ember”, pahayagan ng high school department ng Notre of Tacurong noong 1966, kahi’t siya ay nasa first year pa lamang. Ang tiwala at dagdag kaalaman sa pagsulat na ibinigay sa kanya ni Mr. Festin ang naging kasangkapan niya sa pagharap sa mga pagsubok ng buhay. Kulang ang mga kataga ng tula upang maipadama ng may-akda ang taos-pusong pasasalamat.)

elmer festin

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao…thanks to Mayor Lina’s Compassionate Administration

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao

…thanks to Mayor Lina Montilla’s Compassionate Administration

By Apolinario Villalobos


The tag of Tacurong City, “Limpyo Tacurong”, means “Clean Tacurong”. This is an offshoot of the Resolution 021-6th SP, Series of 2014 that created the “LIMPYO KALOG” PROGRAM primarily authored by Hon. Psyche Sucaldito, with co-authors: Hons. Joselito L. Cajandig, Benjamin P. Fajardo, Jr., Welson U. Ferrer, Cirilo Y. Flores, Rodrigo P. Jamorabon, Ariel Ferdinand M. de la Cruz, Jose Remos P. Segura, and Paulino R. Ledda . The resolution was necessitated by the onset of dengue fever during the time, making the cleaning of canals/waterways and street potholes with stagnated water as targets. The resolution also called for the participation of residents and stall owners in the market and whose trades required water, such as fish and meat vendors, carinderias and beauty salons. The ordinance enjoined practically, all Tacurongnons to keep their premises generally clean, hence,  also required the cutting of grasses that mosquitoes use as breeding grounds during the rainy season.


When I visited the city lately, particularly, the wet market, I was impressed by the sight of a buko juice vendor sweeping the area around his pushcart and table for the plastic tumblers and juice jar. He also neatly stacked empty green buko shells and their trimmings inside the pushcart. Beside him during the time was also an ambulant fish ball vendor who was picking up barbecue sticks and plastic tumblers that he deposited in a garbage bag positioned not far from his cart.


When I entered the wet market, I was equally impressed by the generally clean fish and meat sections, and was further surprised because even the stalls for the fresh fish such as mudfish, catfish, tilapia, and gourami, did not give out a foul smell! The floor was of course, wet but not “flooded” with water from the concrete stalls, as the latter were constantly wiped by the vendors.


What I observed were manifestations that the “LIMPYO KALOG” has been consistently implemented. A “bonus” for the shoppers is the utmost courtesy of the public market personnel such as, gate overseers and the public toilet attendants. The city administration is also very humane as regards the collection of the daily local market tax imposed on vendors. I found out that the “arkabala” that the vendors pay is very affordable at 5 to 10 pesos. The incumbent mayor, Lina Montilla clearly understands the situation of the small business folks who try to make both ends meet in order to survive. In this regard, one can find old women selling wild vegetables such “kulitis” (local spinach), kangkong, lupô, and small snails, that they gather from rice fields, or children selling banana blossoms, the proceeds from which may not even be enough to buy rice that could feed a family of four for two days…yet, they persist in doing their honorable trade rather than beg.


The city is not rich compared to her contemporaries. It is for this reason that much-desired projects take some time to be realized. But, what is important at the moment, though, is the peaceful co-existence of the Muslims and Christians, be they neighbors or vendors. The city has even taken an extra step that gave her a compassionate image – by welcoming tricycle drivers from the neighboring towns of Quirino, Buluan, Lambayong, Tantangan, and Isulan. This is the reason, perhaps, why hospitals, clinics, barber shops, restaurants, groceries, and beauty parlors pockmark the length of avenues and the public market, as they also serve the residents of the mentioned towns that surround the city. All are manifestations of “goodwill” for which the city has been known for…or simply put, the city of Tacurong is not selfish…or shall we call it, economic strategy?


The influx of shoppers from neighboring towns could be observed during market days such as Wednesday and Saturday during which all alleys of the market are filled with farm produce from as far as Esperanza, Bagumbayan, Isulan, Lambayong, Buluan, Quirino, New Iloilo and Tantangan, and marine products from General Santos City, Davao, and Zamboanga. The air is filled with intermingling of dialects such as Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Ilocano, Maranao, Iranun, Maguindanaoan, and of course, Tagalog. Haggling is encouraged by vendors themselves, as most of them had to dispose of their wares at noon time. Interestingly, prevalent is the use of “’gâ”, the contracted form of “palanggâ” or “pangga” which in Tagalog means, “mahal”, and in English, “love”. When one haggles in the market, he or she says, “pila ni ‘gâ ?” (love, how much is this?)… or if one asks a friend if he or she has taken her meal, the question is, “nakakaon ka na, ‘ga?”the word is used with honest brotherly and sisterly connotation, without even a faint trace of carnal desire.


Tacurong City’s strategic location at the crossroads of South Cotabato, North Cotabato/Davao, and Maguindanao, has not just made her as some sort of the nucleus of the region’s commerce, but has also given her an impression as the COSMOPOLITAN CITY OF SOUTHERN MINDANAO.