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!



Tacurong then, and today…

Tacurong then, and today…

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I was born in Tacurong in 1954, the most popular area was the plaza with a swimming pool, a skating rink and a multi-purpose court in front of a stage. 80% of the streets were not cemented. The public market was dilapidated. The whole town was not completely lighted despite the presence of the cooperative power supplier. There were only 3 clinics. There was no rotunda where the traffic from Marbel, Davao, Lambayong, and Isulan converged. Notre Dame College was lighted in the evening by an age-old generator at the back of the old wood-structured convent. The Catholic church was not filled with wooden benches. There was a lone mosque at the Apilado subdivision. The only reputable resort was the Lacson Resort at Calian. The only decent barbecue outlet was the Mauring’s (Pernato). There were 4 dilapidated movie houses, Real, Nonoy, Ideal, and Prince.


Today, there may be no movie theaters but the Tacurongnons are not bored because of hi-tech entertainment gadgets. I went around the city and found that only a few of short streets are not cemented, and which may not take a long time to be covered with concrete. Big canals are being constructed. There are malls so that the locals need not go to Gensan or Davao or Marbel, although there is a slight difference in prices. Decent restos have mushroomed all over the city, even at unexpected corners of barangays. Hospitals and clinics including derma, ortho and dental have likewise mushroomed. The Notre Dame College has developed tremendously and additionally, there are now plenty of colleges, both public and private, as well as, high-end prep schools.


Today, the young Tacurongnons are updated in their fashionable outlook. The city plaza has assumed an exotic image. There are a number of resorts, foremost of which is the Monte Vicenteaux Resort….plus, a nature reserve, the Baras Bird Sanctuary. Fashion parlors are everywhere. Food items in the market are cheap and plenty due to the influx of commodities from neighboring cities and towns.


The local government is lenient in its policies which is an advantage to small entrepreneurs, resulting to the mushrooming of small and medium businesses. Market marshals who are on guard 24/7 are very helpful to shoppers. The fish and meat sections of the wet market do not stink.


One can have a decent lunch of pastil or patil and boiled egg, with free soup – all for Php20. The dirty ice cream sold around the city has at least four flavors to choose from including durian. Four scoops on a small cone is Php5…served in a bread as sandwich is Php10.


The Tacurongnons are multi-lingual so that strangers need not worry about miscommunication, as even vendors can speak good English and Tagalog.


What more can a Tacurongnon ask? Why not just help in making the city become more lively and exude with a warmer goodwill. Let us not ask for the moon in view of the small budget that the local government is trying to make use to the fullest in realizing the most needed and relevant projects.



Ricardo Jamorabon, Jr.: “Mr. Discipline” and Among the Pillars of Notre Dame of Tacurong College

Ricardo Jamorabon, Jr.: “Mr. Discipline”

And Among the Pillars Of Notre Dame of Tacurong College

By Apolinario Villalobos

Even before I entered the gates of Notre Dame of Tacurong College as a first year high school student in the early part of the ‘70’s, I already heard the name “Jamorabon”, who was known for being “strict”. He was in-charge of the PMT (Preparatory Military Training) and ROTC (Reserved Officer Training Corp) of the school. When I finally enrolled in first year high school, I saw and heard him talk – with an intimidating booming voice that became his signature for years to come. It was Boy Scout for the first two years of my high school, but on my third and fourth years, there was no choice but to undergo the rigid PMT drills in the amor seco –filled activity ground of the campus. He was indeed, strict, having proved it myself after several push-ups and runs that I did for being late during several formations.

Our school was small compared to other Notre Dame campuses in Cotabato that time, before the province’s partition that made our part become Sultan Kudarat, with the rest as, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, and Maguindanao. We were also among the smallest in population. But every time there were inter-campus drill competitions, we were always on the top three. Thanks to Mr. Jamorabon who took pains in sharing with the corps, platoon, and squad commandeers what he knew about military drills. To be a “commandeer” then, was a sacrifice on the part of the chosen outstanding students, as practice drills after classes would last up to the “novena hour” which was six in the afternoon. On the other hand, the string of patience was practically extended as needed by the big-voiced mentor.

The rigid discipline that was imposed by him among the PMT cadets was also experienced by the college students who took up ROTC, and that included me later on, because he was with us, until our graduation…with our batch of college graduates in 1975 being the last. The college department was closed temporarily due to the lack of enrollees that could sustain its operation. While we left the campus as graduates, Mr. Jamorabon stayed behind as the High School Department was still in operation, besides, he was also teaching Mathematics, and most especially, he was the coach of the basketball team. That was also the last time that I saw him.

More than ten years later, while I was attending a seminar as a PAL employee, at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay, I received a note from, of all people, Mr. Jamorabon! He was also attending a seminar in the same facility. He saw my name among those in the list posted on the door of the room where my group was having sessions and took chance in sending me a note for the confirmation of his curiosity. When we finally met, I could not explain what I felt, for having been honored by such curiosity. I was not expecting him, a well-respected teacher in our school, to remember me, as I considered myself an insignificant student when I was in high school and college. After that meeting, it took years again before we saw each other, and that was when I was invited by our school as Commencement Exercises speaker during the last term of the Dominican Sisters as administrators. That meeting was followed, after a long time again, which was when I visited his wife, Ma’am Emma, after her stroke.

When I had a rare chance to talk to Mr. Menandro Lapuz, a respected pioneer resident, I asked him for names of people in our city, whom he consider to be outstanding as local citizens. He mentioned “Jamorabon” among the first five names without hesitation, before groping for the rest of names in his memory.

An important note on Mr. Lapuz…he and his two brothers, Eusebio and Felipe, arrived in the area when Tacurong was yet a vast land of rice paddies and swamp. They came from Luzon and upon arriving in the wharf of Cotabato they took a local ferry plying the Rio Grande de Mindanao that took them to one of the villages in Sultan sa Barongis. The Lapuzes were already comfortably settled in Tacurong when it was weaned from Buluan as one of its sitios known as Pamansang. He was around when the foundation of the Notre Dame, one of the first Catholic schools in the whole of Cotabato was established by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) fathers. He was also around when the pioneering teachers and staff of the school, together with the “working students” joined forces to construct the basketball court and multi-purpose stage, as well as, in undertaking projects for the parish church. Among those in the “volunteer labor force”, according to him, was “Ric” Jamorabon who caught his attention because of his intimidating “big voice”.

I am in touch today with Mr. Jamorabon through his sons who follow my blogs in facebook. I see in the statements of his sons when they make comments, the same rigidly- disciplined personality and wit that I experienced from their father. I do not know if my “remarkable teacher” could still recall how he let me clean the “armory” during one afternoon of PMT formation, to escape the “hair cut inspection” that he would conduct. I failed during the time to have a hair cut simply because I had no money… that, I told him straight before the formation in the field when he beckoned to me. With a straight face, he told me to run to the “armory” and sweep its floor which saved me from suffering the humiliating “crisscross” hair cut that he would give to the long-haired cadets. That recollection triggered my desire to write this blog, for how can I ever forget such kindness behind the intimidating booming voice? He knew for a fact, that being on my own, and also a working student that time and without parents, a peso meant so much.

My ardent wish is for this unassuming guy to be given due recognition that he more than deserve after spending and sacrificing the best time of his life in molding the early waves of the students of NDTC – I, being one of them, a proud graduate of an equally- proud campus in the whole of Cotabato, that used to be a struggling parochial school, but today garnering recognitions for excellence!…I am just looking back to where I came from.



By Apolinario B Villalobos

Gentle people of South Cotabato –

Epitome of strength who moves with agility

But graceful enough to sway with the wind

With innocent smile easily parting their lips

And laughter that crease their gentle face.

Fortunate people, contentedly they live –

In the fastness of green, rivers, hills and valleys

By God’s will, long- hidden from lowlanders

Which did them good, but then time came –

The haze was parted, and finally, they were seen.

Clothed in patiently – pounded fibers

And woven into the smooth cloth – t’nalak

The men stand proud in the earth-colored garb

While women looking regal in their vivid dress

Seen from afar, they seem to float in the breeze.

People of the rainbow, these people are –

And placid that made them prey to the greedy

But to them, God is kind, made them secured

From harm that only the heartless could inflict

And nature’s wrath, to them could easily wreak.

Straight from their heart, to God they pray

Sincere praises are mumbled by betel-red lips

No pretensions in their offered dances

Pleadings are for their safety and health

That for them are well- cherished wealth…

(The T’boli is one of the indigenous tribes of the Philippines, found in the southern part of the archipelago, particularly, South Cotabato province, island of Mindanao)