Pagpupunyagi (Kuwento ng buhay ni Elmer Festin)

Happy Fathers’ Day!

 

 Pagpupunyagi

(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.

 

The Elisa P. Bernardo Elementary School in New Passi, Tacurong City

The Elisa P. Bernardo Elementary School

In New Passi, Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

It was a scorching afternoon when I was invited by Judith Bernardo to New Passi, a barangay at the foot of Magon Hill, after we met at a party, hosted by a cousin. I deemed it another adventure, so I accepted her invitation as I was curious about her project or donation for the school named after their mother, Elisa Panizales Bernardo. As I had still time to be spent in the area, I thought it would be a worthwhile trip.

 

From the city of Tacurong, we drove over the paved highway, turning left at the junction where the San Lorenzo Ruiz parish church was located, just across the Cordero mango grove. Both sides of the road were shaded by the thickly-foliaged African palms. Very noticeable was the fast development of Baras, where the Bird Sanctuary and the Jarell Resort are located, as well as, Upper Katungal. Practically, houses of indigenous materials stood proudly side by side with colorful concrete ones which were made more interesting by their contemporary architecture. I even noticed a lodging inn with an obviously western block design. Very noticeable, too were the number of small convenience stores (sari-sari stores) and small stalls filled with wet market commodities, that lined both sides of the tidy road. Their presence manifested the affluence of the residents.

 

We dropped by the Barangay Hall of Baras where Judith delivered donated sets of aprons needed for a certain project. I learned that she has been engrossed in various projects in Baras and New Passi for several years now. When we reached New Passi, we went straight to the site at the back of the Principal’s office where a two-burner stove of concrete and bricks was being constructed. It was intended for the feeding program of the school for the children of poor farmers, and which was initiated by Judith’s elder sister, Nita. As a background, the feeding program was conceived by Nita when she learned about the heavy absences every Monday and Friday. She was told by the principal at the time, Charlie Braga, that many students are impoverished, so that most of them would go to school without taking breakfast at home. From then on, Nita regularly donated I sack of rice which volunteer mothers and teachers cooked into gruel.

 

On the other hand, the sight of teachers and mothers cooking gruel on makeshift stove on the ground made Judith decide to have a sturdy stove made for them. The design is such that combustible wastes except those made of rubber and plastic could be used as fuel. She personally looked around for able masons who could undertake the construction.

 

Adjacent to the school is a small parcel of rice field donated by the late Serafin Bernardo to the school so that it would be able to generate an income for projects. Since the time of Charlie Braga as principal, it was well-maintained.  Incidentally, Mr. Braga has been transferred to the neighboring school of Baras as a promotion. He was also responsible for the picturesque landscape of the school, the main avenue of which is lined with hardwood trees. Pockets of flower gardens are also distributed throughout the campus.

 

The other concern of both Judith and her sister, Nita is the lack of library. There had been plans for its construction but unexpected problems would always crop up. On our way back to the city, Judith confided her wish that someday the project would be realized, but realistic that I am, I told her that assistance from concerned sectors is necessary, First, a structure had to be built and second, books are needed to fill the shelves. The project would surely involve a considerable amount. I confided that I have the same wish….but with a hope that benevolent hands would “touch” the school someday.

 

 

 

 

Ed Palomado and His ANGEL’S FOODS AND SPEECH COMPLEX

Ed Palomado and His ANGEL’S FOODS AND SPEECH COMPLEX

In Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I knew him since high school days as a hardworking student who consistently exerted an effort to be part of various extra-curricular activities due to his oozing self-confidence. Volunteerism was innate in his character as he likewise, unselfishly did his best to contribute for the success of projects in which he was involved. He even tried the terpsichorean group when he joined our Choreographers’ Club under the tutelage of Mrs. Ching Romero and Mrs. Leonor Pagunsan. Among those whom I could recall who were members aside from me and Ed were, Homero Palatolon, the late Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Ruel Lucentales, Ed Collado, Ming Barnachea, Jaime de la Rosa, Baltazar Subando, the late Jaime Mariῆas, Leo Villalobos, Cirilo Baldonado, Pedrito Oani, Ramon Laforteza, Rommel Angel, and Eduardo Nanalis.

 

Upon graduating from college , he worked for the newly-opened Metrobank in our town and also tried teaching, but finally, decided to open the first-ever speech clinic for the whole region of southern Mindanao that includes the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and cities of General Santos and Koronadal, as well as Tacurong which was yet, a town then. The clinic was based in the latter, with the structure seemed to float in the midst of newly-opened subdivisions and rice fields, far from downtown. Clearly, it was a financial risk on his part, but he went ahead because he wanted to help the young of the region improve their communications skill.

 

His hard-earned savings went to the initially, box-type structure that housed the speech clinic, the procurement of several units of desk-top computers and high-tech gadgets to ensure an effective tutorial program. The project was a dream- come- true for Ed, as he loved public speaking. He did not pursue masters in any field related to the trade that he chose, learning the ropes by self-study, instead.

 

Despite the distance from the downtown area, the speech clinic grew in popularity by word of mouth. Electric power was also intermittent during the time, so that the comfort of students was jeopardized. Nevertheless, both students and proprietor persisted. In time, the clinic trained local talents as well as those from neighboring areas, and who were sent by their respective school to compete in inter-school public speaking competitions….and almost always, they would come home victorious.

 

Ed confided that their family love food and cooking so that when he saw an opportunity to diversify, he chose catering and hosting of social activities. He expanded the speech clinic facilities to include a pictorial corner in the garden, a big banquet area and air-conditioned mini-auditorium fitted with high-tech gadgets. Locals and patrons from neighboring towns were delighted so that in no time, the ANGEL’S FOODS AND PALOMADO SPEECH COMPLEX became deluged with reservations. Families, as well as, students who graduated from the different schools in the city also held their reunions in the complex. Even government agencies that held seminars found the facilities amenable, as could be gleaned from their comments.

 

When I visited the complex lately, summer classes for kids were ongoing. From the auditorium I could hear youthful voices with American accent delivering elocution pieces. Ed, himself, opened the classes with initial amplified tutorials.

 

When finally, we had a serious chat in his office, he told me about his long list of reservations and his schedule of procurements for the things that he would need to satisfy the requirements of patrons whose reservations were made months ahead of their scheduled activities. The whole of May is filled with scheduled activities. He spoke in slowly-spoken words and low-tone because of a stroke that made him bed-ridden for several months. The unfortunate occurrence bloated his monthly personal expense by more than Php20,000 due to the drugs that  he needed for recuperation and maintenance of a feeble health. Instead of pitying him, I admired his persistence to walk slowly on his own, without even the help of a cane, while his left hand limply rested on his side.

 

But the most that I admire in his person is his big heart because of the extended family that he maintains, and consisting of relatives, the young ones of which, being sent to school as far as Davao city. To reciprocate his kindness, they help him in the operation of the food and speech clinic complex.

 

The Most Benevolent must have let him live longer because of his advocacy founded on unselfish compassion!

Use the God-given Talent Properly and for the Benefit of Others

USE THE GOD-GIVEN TALENT PROPERLY

AND FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

If God gave you the talent to invent gadgets, come up with what are useful to make life comfortable. If He gave you the talent to sing…make others happy, instead of singing to yourself inside the bathroom. If He gave you the talent to write and which you have discovered, perhaps, inadvertently, help others to discover theirs, and write what are relevant and helpful….do not foment misunderstanding among readers by coming up with lopsided information or exposes.

 

Today, the counterpart of the print media journalists are the so-called “bloggers”, those who write on the cyberspace sites, most particularly, on facebook which is the most popular. Unfortunately, many of the so-called “bloggers” use their talent for purely bashing intent. They post photos and short write-ups which most often contain or imply negative messages about a person, entity, or the government. Blogging, especially, visuals of untoward crime-related incidents could help in solving cases, but not the photos with short captions that present only one side. There is nothing wrong with posting negative comments, but such should be “balanced” with the blogger’s suggestions on how what he observed to be bad can be transformed into something good… an opinion for which he is entitled.

 

Many so-called bloggers have obviously are abusing the free opportunity offered by the IT sites purportedly for the benefit of humanity. Many of them feel great just because they have posted just anything to solicit attention to their site. Blogging should be viewed as an advocacy to share the good that others have done to inspire others, as well as, the bad to caution others but with accompanying precautions on how to avoid them or at the very least, suggestions based on the writer’s opinion.

 

If the blogger is from a small community, in all probability, there is a chance that he could get in touch personally with people who are the subject of his blogs. There is nothing wrong with introducing himself as a blogger followed by expressing his intention to help to correct what he views as wrong. If the blogger believes that he has a “mission” that is why God gave him such kind of talent, by all means, he should be serious about it. But if his intention is just to become known by bashing others, then he should be reminded by the “Golden Rule” – do not do to others what you do not want others would do to you.

My Great Friend, Jimmy…altruistic to the end

My Great Friend, Jimmy…altruistic to the end

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When we are at the lowest ebb of our life that include days we spend in bed due to an ailment, the natural thing to do is for us to exert an effort  to show our best. But there are some who make cover-ups, apprehensive that others will know their situation. By being honest, however, does not mean that help is being solicited. We can even gain respect and admiration, by showing others our endurance during such trying times. The respect and admiration, as the fruits of our effort are sweeter, than the casual reaction from others whose view of our real situation is obstructed by hypocrisy.

 

Jimmy was a friend who used to hold a high executive position in a trading company. Even before I started blogging, he was well-informed about my small projects in Tondo and Divisoria as he was a regular donor. We met at the Mary Johnson Hospital in Tondo many years back, where he visited a staff of his office, while I visited the daughter of a friend from Baseco compound who was confined due to dengue. His sincere friendship punctuated by his giving me his business card made me divulge to him my real identity, but implored him to keep it to himself. I explained that I do not reveal my identity to those whom I extend a little help that I could afford, so that I had been known to them by another name.

 

He failed to save much needed cash for his retirement because much of what he earned went to friends who sought his financial help.  To make the story short, when he resigned due to a prolonged ailment, he was left with an almost depleted savings. Every time I visited him, we would talk about his friends who became successful in their jobs. His statements were always ended with “ I am thankful that they made it…”. Truth is, he had been instrumental for their success. Some were his subordinates whom he pushed with deserved promotions and guaranteed referrals. Some were given financial assistance as a start-up for a small business.

 

The cancer in his bones resulted to his losing weight considerably which practically changed his physical appearance. Despite the transformation, he could still muster a smile, as if nothing had changed. He was financially handicap, but he did not cover it up.  When he became bedridden, the first to go was his car, followed by his studio-type condo, after which his nephew accommodated him in his home in Malabon. His wife with whom he had no child, left him for a Chinese boyfriend she met in a casino.

 

Jimmy gained much respect because of what he showed, aside from reaping admiration from neighbors and friends who visited him daily. The disease that physically emaciated him did not change his image that had been exuding an aura of contentment.  He passed away two months ago (January 2017). After his cremation, I was invited by his nephew and his wife for a dinner at their home after which an envelope was handed to me. It contained PHP3,730.00, balance of his savings and with it was his passbook. Outside the envelope was his simply handwritten note, “God be with you always in all you do”.

The Writer

The Writer

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

A true writer should be sensitive to the feelings of others, be they read as expressly written or viewed as shown through actuations. He should be able to develop any form of literary expression out of spoken words or written “bullet statements”. With facebook as an example, an adept writer should be able to develop a poem out of the comments on a certain posted photo. Comments about the photo are the “thoughts” of the facebook owner who posted it and a poem that is developed out of them by a writer should be rightly attributed to him….the writer being just the “editor”.

 

The writer should not constrain himself from writing the name of the source of the thoughts in the byline of a literary expression, be it a poem or an essay. Many people are frustrated writers and poets. They have thoughts that float in their mind, but they just do not know how to capture them. They may enumerate the words down but they do not know which to put ahead of the rest, which of them to comprise the content, and which word to end their presentation. This is where the writer-friend comes in….lend a hand….put substance to the words or discerned thoughts that are not yet expressed but are expected, as feelings are universal and interpretations vary only according to situation, but words are the same.

 

Some people show signs of literary talent but are shy to let them out. Their latent talent is discerned through the kind of words that they use in making comments on facebook posts or in the way they use them. These are the people who should be given utmost understanding. In the end, if the effort has made somebody happy, exert more of it….help many more shy people. This is what a “writer” should do…encourage others to express themselves.