Holding on to Dear Faith

Holding On to Dear Faith

By Apolinario Villalobos


Tears may fall in anguish

Hearts may break in sorrow

Dignity may be lost in hunger

But always, despite all these –

Something is left of our faith.

Questions may be mumbled

Doubts may raise eyebrows

Whimpers may lessen the pain

Despair may block our sight

But always, faith gives us light!

Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

By Apolinario Villalobos


On my way to the bus terminal of Tacurong city where I was to take a van for Davao, I saw a Badjao woman who was carefully covering the seat of a motorbike with a piece of corrugated cartoon, supposedly to protect it from the scorching heat of the sun and a sudden downpour. I talked to the woman and asked for her name which she gave as “Tillah”. She told me that she has four children who has the same “job” and that they are positioned in strategic corners of the city. By strategic, it means where motorbikes park. Even car owners concede to have the hood of their cars covered with a piece of cartoon.


The cartoons are the dismantled corrugated boxes that the Badjaos ask from store owners and had seen good old days as containers of milk, sachets of instant noodles, etc. The collection of dismantled boxes become precious belongings of these boat and stilt house-dwelling Filipinos. They are paid Php5 for their “service”. In the evening, the cartons become their sleeping mats that cover the cold pavement of a sidewalk where they could spend the night.


Further asked about her family, she told me that she is a widow with four children. Having no source of income in Zamboanga, except begging, they ventured inland, trying their luck in any town along the way, as they seek a “greener pasture”. They are lucky to have stayed longer in Tacurong because of the benevolence of the residents.


Hopefully, I would be able to meet the children of Tillah….perhaps, when I come back to the City of Goodwill.

On the Filipino Dignity and Self-Respect


By Apolinario Villalobos



President Rodrigo Duterte, with animated emotion, declared that he does not want his country to be trampled on just like a doormat by America. His declaration is very timely as, since the Spanish colonization, the Filipinos have been treated like slaves. And, when the Americans took over, they did the same – treating the Philippine archipelago as their “garden” where they can reap the produce anytime they want for their dinner table. During the Spanish regime, vast areas of the country, except Mindanao, were divided among the friars and the Spanish immigrants as “encomiendas”. When America took over, and in time, supposedly gave the long-overdue liberty to the Filipinos, they tainted their act with deceit by inserting the disgusting “parity rights” in the Philippine Constitution. In short, while the Spanish colonization was grossly masked with religion, that of the Americans was with “freedom and rights”.


Ever since, the Philippines became “independent”, nobody among the presidents until the time of Benigno Aquino III, ever noticed that the Filipinos have been suffering from the trauma that resulted from trampled dignity which practically shattered their self-respect. Unfortunately, SOME of those who enjoy the “blessings” via US visa and Green Card cannot accept this fact. The enforced influence is so ingrained in the consciousness of the Filipinos that it has brought forth the word, “stateside”, which means “nice things from America”…which further means, that nothing is better than “stateside”.


I have nothing against America and anything American. What I am disgusted at is how the leadership of America and even many Americans, themselves, continue to have a negative impression about the Philippines and her people who, for them are overly- dependent on their “big white brothers”. I am also disgusted at SOME Filipinos who suddenly became “American” upon setting foot on American soil. SOME of them pretend to have forgotten their dialect, the taste of saluyot, alugbate, ginamos, tuyo, etc. SOME even ask, “why is YOUR president (Duterte) like that?”, as if their skin is not brown or that it transformed into a sickly paleness only after quaffing skin whitening drugs. There is nothing wrong with those of course, FOR AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT FORGET THAT THEY ARE FILIPINOS DESPITE THEIR U.S. VISA AND GREEN CARD, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, THEY DO NOT DESPISE THE COUNTRY OF THEIR BIRTH, JUST BECAUSE THE NEW PRESIDENT CUSSES!


Those who deny their being a Filipino are losing their dignity and self-respect. THE U.S. VISA AND THE GREEN CARD CANNOT SUPPLANT THE FILIPINO BLOOD THAT FLOWS IN THEIR VEINS….THEY SHOULD REMEMBER THAT, IF THEY ARE WISE ENOUGH. They forgot that foremost among their plans when they went to America was to earn dollars to be sent back home to their family, for which they toil hard night and day by maintaining many jobs, and losing sleep in the process. The problem with SOME of them is that they deny this fact. How can those back home, understand their sacrifice if they keep this information from them which results to their family’s assuming that they are just picking up dollars in America, as if they are picking up shells on the seashore?


The impressive diligence and dependability of the Filipinos in America have not totally erased the bad impression about the country as demeaning comments can still be found in the internet, especially, with the emergence of Rodrigo Duterte as the new President…and all because of his cussing and brashness. His guts did not spare the American president, Obama, and the European Union because they dipped their fingers into what Duterte is doing to eradicate the illegal drug problem in the country. All of a sudden, Filipinos in America became apprehensive because they might be affected which shows their lack of self-confidence. The two governments are involved in the issue, and not the business sector, although, the bosses of Filipinos who may be dishonest and not diligent enough in their job will now have a reason to kick them out.


Duterte should be admired for his courage and aggressive desire to restore the dignity of the Filipinos that has long been trampled by their colonizers. Instead of lambasting him with unfair judgments, his detractors should wake up and face the reality that what the country needs today is a paramount cooperation among the Filipinos, for which the detractors should extend their hand. If they cannot do it…the big question is WHY?