Francis Lama Torres…blazing his way to the top

FRANCIS LAMA TORRES…blazing his way to the top

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Here’s the story of a country boy, born of a big family at the foot of the Dagoma mountain range and raised by struggling parents who depended on the earnings of their father as a photographer. He is practically blazing his way to the top without let up.

 

I had my first glimpse of Francis Lama Torres, the guy whom many Notre Dameans and Tacurongnons have been mentioning as an excellent event host. That was during the first institutional reunion of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College several years ago, during which I was the “voice” of the college alumni, Carlo Romero for the high school, and City Mayor Lina Montilla, for the elementary. I was very much impressed by his fluency in English and local version of Hiligaynon.

 

Several months ago, during the birthday party of a cousin, Hazel, her close friend, Bing told me that she found somebody whom she found to be an excellent host. The guy whom I mentioned earlier and the one whom Bing mentioned were, I found out, to be the same.

 

The next time our paths crossed was when I visited a restaurant known for its indigenous dishes, the FUDZ RESTO, along the highway fronting the Notre Dame of Tacurong College. He was manning the cashier’s drawer. I learned from Cathy, the supervisor of the food outlet that Francis and her son Daryll are business partners and the resto is their first venture. I learned later still, from Cathy that some of their offerings are cooked at home by Francis, himself, early in the morning and which he brings to the restaurants on his way to his nearby office, the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SUKELCO). And, most admirable is his lending a hand at the FUDZ Resto during his lunch break!

 

Francis currently holds the position of Manager of Area 2 Services Department, but previously, was the entity’s Administrative Services Manager. Still, previous to those jobs, he also taught at the NDTC for 4 years. As an Area 2 Manager of SUKELCO, Francis covers Bagumbayan, Isulan, Esperanza, as well as, Lambayong and its 4 barangays, Matiompong, Katitisan, Kapingkong, and Tambak.

 

 

He shared that he is from the beautiful barangay of Masiag, Babumbayan, having been born there in September 18, 1978. He finished his elementary  at the Masiag Central School and high school at the Notre Dame of Masiag, but finished his college at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College.  His father, Francisco E. Torres, Sr., is a photographer who started his craft as a teen-ager while his mother, Candelaria Dapitan Lama, is a typical housewife and a doting mother to him and his 8 siblings. He is next to the eldest, a priest  assigned in Thailand,  while their youngest is taking up Social Work at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College. Francis and his brothers fittingly accorded their parents with a special gift by jointly hosting their Ruby wedding anniversary.

 

While in high school, he has developed his skill in public speaking and when he studied at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, it was further honed by Felizardo Lazado, one of the faculties who used to administer the school museum and a writer in his own right who continues to express himself through blogs in the internet today. From then on, he has been tapped to host events and his popularity as such spread even after his graduation. While with the SUKELCO, he kept on hosting various events, both of local and national level.

 

Our short conversation revealed his long-ranged vision for Tacurong, his adopted home. He shared his bright ideas on how the tourism industry of the city could be further developed by utilizing what are already on hand, hence, all doable. His vision goes beyond his course, Bachelor of Science in Commerce (Banking and Finance) enhanced by his Masters in Business Administration, as clearly, his mind is also set on community development, as well.

 

I could surmise that the guy could go further, having proved that one need not graduate from a big university to be an achiever, especially, because he loves challenges, as he admitted that he prefers field work to that of an office-confined one.

 

Maunlad na Bayan, Marangall na Pamahalaan, Matatag na Mamamayan

Halimbawang ako ay kumandidato sa pagka-Pangulo ng Pilipinas at nanalo, ito ang aking INAUGURAL ADDRESS:

MAUNLAD NA BAYAN, MARANGAL NA PAMAHALAAN, MATATAG NA
MAMAMAYAN.

By Felizardo ” ding ‘ L. Lazado

Aking mga kababayan, mga kapwa ko Filipino noon, ngayon at bukas… magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat.

Isang malaking karangalan ang maging pangulo ng bansang ito. Kakayahan at katapatan ang kaakibat na hamon. At kalinisan ng budhi ang verbo ng panunumpa. Sa tatlong bagay na ito umiikot ngayon ang aking damdamin habang tinatanaw ang mga araw na darating.

Salamat. Pasulong. Iyan ang dalawang salita na magbibigay sa atin ng lakas at direksyon sa ating paglalakbay sa loob nga anim na taon.

Ang pamamahala ay isang paglalakbay ng pamahalaan at mamamayan tungo sa pinangakong kaunlaran ng bansa at kapakanan ng mamamayan. Ang DAAN na ating tatahakin ay hindi pa TUWID, ngunit ako ay lubos nananiniwala na lahat tayo ay TATAWID sa isang MAKABULUHAN, MALINIS AT MARANGAL NA DAAN. Tayo ay magkakapit-bisig upang walang maiiwan sa daan at walang iwanan sa ating mithiin. Bitbit natin ang “blueprint” ng MAUNLAD NA BAYAN, MARANGAL NA PAMAHALAAN, MATATAG NA MAMAMAYAN. Ang blueprint na ito ay hindi hinango sa MAKATI BLUEPRINT sapagkat ang blueprint na iyan ay binuo ng maraming makakating kamay, binalot ng maitim na budhi at kinulayan ng walang patid na pagsisinungaling.

Hindi na rin tayo magpa-PANDAY ng panibagong desenyo ng pamamahala dahil masyadong mabagal ang prosesong pagpapanday at kung minsan ang tilamsik nito ay nakamamatay pa. Ang mga kawatan, kotongero, at kriminal ( kakokrim) ay huwag na nating itatapon sa Manila Bay sapagkat masyadong matataba na ang mga isda dyan. Sa halip gawin natin silang produktibong human resource by organizing them into an ABAKA ng MMDA na ang ibig sabihin sila ay maging Alyansa ng mga BAsurero at KAminero. Marahil kailangan natin ang isang “international lawyer” na maaring magsilbing tagapayo. Marami tayong mga problemang “legal” sa loob at labas ng bansa.

MAUNLAD NA BAYAN. Hindi lang ito isang adhikain ngunit isang Gawain. Gamitin natin ang P.I.E Approach na ang ibig sabihin ay PRODUCTIVITY…INDUSTRY…EFFICIENCY sa lahat na ahensya at sector ng gobyerno. Lahat na ating human resources and land resources kailangan ay maging
produktibo – NO IDLE HANDS, NO IDLE LANDS ika nga. Sa ating pagi ging masinop na Filipino seguradong uunlad ang Pilipinas. Kailangan marami tayong magagawa sa kandarampot na kinikita. BAWAL MAGWALDAS.

Kilalanin natin at bigyan ng kaukulang suporta ang 7 HALIGI NG BANSA, Sila ay ating mga:

1) MAGSASAKA (farmers), 2) MANGGAGAWA (laborers), 3) GURO (educators),

4) KASUNDALUHAN at KAPULISAN (military), 5) MANANALIKSIK at IMBENTOR (researchers and inventors), 6) NAGTATRABAHO SA IBANG BANSA (overseas Filipino workers), at 7) KAWANI NG GOBYERNO (civil servants).

Ayon sa estatistika, 70% ng Filipino ay mahirap. Ito sila ay ang mga magsasaka. Tanggapin natin ang katotohanan na hindi oobra ang abrakadabra ng industriyalisasyon kapag hindi pa nakahaon ang mga magsasaka sa putik ng sakahan. Paandarin natin ang lahat na makinarya ng DA, DAR, DENR mula Diliman hanggang kanayunan na kung saan ang milyon-milyong magsasakang Filipino ay naghihintay ng nararapat na tulong at aksyon. Damhin natin ang sakit at bigat ng trabaho ng mga manggagawa sa pabrika, sa pier, sa sakahan, at konstruksyon. Ang DOLE natin ay dapat walang “dilly-dally” sa pagtugon sa natatanging problema ng mga manggagawa. Mga mag-aaral, mga estudyanteng Filipino – kailangan nila ang tama at natatanging edukasyon. Suportahan natin ang mga guro lalong lalo na yong sa pampublikong paaralan. Naniniwala tayo na ang masayang guro ay magaling magturo at ang matiyagang mag-aaral, ang mithi-in ay marangal.

Bigyan ng kaukulang atensyon ang kundisyon ng mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan – kasama na ditto ang kaukulang parusa sa mga masasamang elemento ng military establishment. Walang “ninong-ninong” walang “bata-bata” sa recruitment, training at schooling ng mga military men. Pag ibayuhin ang pananaliksik at imbensyon. Tuklasin at suportahan ang mga imbensyong Pinoy. Kilalanin ang talinong Pinoy. Hamon natin ito sa DOST, DOH, DOF, DENR, DEpEd, CHED, TESDA, universities at Research Centers. Ang mga OFW ay alagaan natin sapagkat kaakibat natin sila sa pagpalago ng ating ekonomiya. Let’s recognize ang kanilang paghihirap, kasipagan at kagitingan. DOLE, DFA, DSWD, DILG trabaho natin ito. Huwag naman nating kusang kondenahin ang mga kawani ng gobyerno sa kanilang pagkukulang. Suportahan natin sila. Kung sila ay magkasala, ang CSC ang kanilang kasangga , Ang serbisyo sibil ay huwag nating itakwil.

Kayo at ako ay walang BOSS, ngunit kayong lahat ay aking mga boses sa anumang pagdedesisyon, mga panukala naating gustong isasabatas sa tulong ng ating kongreso at senado. Gabay natin ang patuloy na pakikipagsangguni sa lahat na sector ng lipunan. Walang pagkukunwari sa bawat ulat ng pamahalaan sa bayan – lalong lalo na sa panahon ng SONA. Dalawa ang maging mukha at boses ng ating SONA: faces and voices of truth the causes and effects of failures. Ang ibig sabihin ng failures dito ay yaong mga pangako at programa na hindi natin nagtugunan.

Pupuksain natin ang 7 UGAT NG KURAPSYON. Ang kurapsyon na isang “social cancer” ay naging dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo umuunlad sa gitna ng ating pagsisikap. Para sa akin, ito ang 7 UGAT ng kurapsyon: 1) POLITICAL DYSNATY. Ito ay nagpaparami ng makakating kamay, nagpa-
palaki ng emperyong pangungurakot at nagpapanatili sa mga sakim. 2) PORK BARREL (DAP or PDAP). Ito ay nagpapataba sa maraming walang pusot’ silbing mambabatas, 3) PARTY-LIST SYSTEM. Ito ang nagpaparami ng “parte ko. parte mo…ilista ko” Kaya tuloy naging “partehan”
system. 4) SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN (SK). Sa murang gulang ng mga kabataan natuto silang magwaldas ng pera ng bayan in the guise of holding “summer basketball league”, 5) PEKENG NGOs. Ito ang “creator” ng maraming ka PEKEhan…pekeng project, pekeng beneficiaries, pekeng manager ngunit mataginting milyones na pera ng gobyerno ang itinakbo.

6) AUTOMATIC 10% RETENTION sa bawat release ng project budget. At sa kadami-daming estasyong dadaanan, nang dumating ang pera sa project site 10% na lang ang naiwan.,

7) LAKBAY-ARAL PROGRAM ng gobyerno. Ang katwiran, yaong nag lalakbay-aral hindi naman pag-aaral ang ginagawa kundi paglalakwatsa lang. Hindi ba ito pagwawaldas ng pera?

Matindi ang bigat nitong 7 UGAT. Magtiwala tayo sa kakayahan at katapatan ng ating mga mambabatas na pag-aralan nila ito at bigyan ng kaukulang solusyon sa pamamagitan ng CONSTITUIONAL CONVENTION. Bigyan din natin ito ng kaukulang tulong sa pamamagitan ng pag- isyu ngtamang dekrito pagkatapos ng ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga “legal minds”.

Ang kasapi ng ating gabinete ay pawang mga dalubhasa sa kani-kanilang larangan at walang motibo sa pulitika. Sila ang tunay na mga technocrats at may pagmalasakit sa kapakanan ng sambayanan. At bawat sa kanila ay magkaroon ng “breakthrough” na magiging isang batayan sa ating pagsusulong ng MAUNLAD NA BAYAN, MARANGAL NA PAMAHALAAN, MA
TATAG NA MAMAMAYAN.

Walang kaluluwang patay man o buhay na makapipigil sa mga trahedya – bagyo, baha, pagputok ng bulkan, El Nino, La Nina na maaring magdala ng kakapusan ng pagkain, enerhiya, tubig, gamut, at upsurge of epidemic, kaya magtulungan ang lahat naahensya ng gobyerno – DA, DENR, DILG, DND, DOE, DOF. DFA, DOH, DSWD, MMDA at lahat na LGUs. Sisikapin nating matugunan ang kakulangan ng enerhiya sa Mindanao, problema sa traffic at baha sa Kalakhang Maynila, squatters at mga illegal residents sa mga lansangan lalong lalo na sa Roxas Boulevard.

“Kahit isang dakot na lupa” ng ating archipelago ay dapat walang mababawas, pati na sa mga maliliit na isla sa South China Sea na nakaukit sa ating herograpiya at kasaysayan. Lahat na mga ito ay kailangang maproteksyonan. Hayaan nating malaya ang Senado at Judicial system sa kani-
lang tungkulin upang ang mga usaping pangkapayapaan sa Mindanao ay matutugunan ng maayos.

Lahat tayo ay magbabalikatan upang itaguyod ng buong husay ang ating 7 PRAYORIDAD NG PAMAHALAAN: 1) FOOD SUFFICIENCY, 2) SOUND ECONOMY, 3) PEACE and SECURITY 4) COMPETITIVE EDUCATION, 5) PRIORITY INFRASTRUCTURE, 6) GOOD GOVERNANCE,

7) RESPONSBILE CITIZENSHIP.

Sa unang quarter ng unang taon ng ating panunungkulan , himukin natin ang gabinete sa pangunguna ng NEDA na magkaroon sila ng ” national integrated workshop” isang masidhing pagsasaliksik, pagtatalakay, pagpaplano at pag papackage ng interim blueprint for development or IBD na magbibigay buhay, daan at direksyon sa ating MAUNLAD NA BAYAN, MARANGAL NA PAMAHALAAN, MATATAG NA MAMAMAYAN na ang gagamiting point of reference (POR) ay ang 7 HALIGI, 7 UGAT at 7 PRAYORIDAD. Alam natin na ang magiging OUTPUT nito ay hindi ma-gagawa ng lubosan sa limitadong panahon ng ating panunungkulan ngunit sisikapin nating matugunan ang mga “doables” Isantabi muna natin ang ikot at usad ng burukrasya at pairalin ng matimtiman ang “selflessness” sa ikabubuti ng mamamayang Filipino.

Ang hinaing ni Juan ay hinaing ng mamamayan, kaya ating pakinggan. Ngunit kung ang hinaing ni Juan ay kasalungat sa hinaing ng bayan, bayan muna ang ating pakinggan. Si Juan, may bukas pa. Ito ang magbigay bu-hay sa FOI, kasabay dito ang pagkaroon nating ng National Order of Watchdog (NOW) sa bawat ahensya. antas at sector ng gobyerno mula Malacanang hanggang sa kapurUk-purokan ng Republika.

Kahit marami ang trabaho ngunit himukin natin ang lahat na maging masaya at mahinahon. Maglibang din tayo upang si Juan ay hindi maging bobo. Matatag tayo ng PINOYOLYMPICS na tatawaging BUSILAK Pilipi-nas. Ang BUSILAK ay Bansang Umuugong sa Sining, Laro at Kultura sa pagpa tatag ng Sining Pinoy, Larong Pinoy at Kulturang Pinoy. Ang DOT at mga GOCC ay kailangang magtulungan sa pagpapatakbo nito.

Ang ating paglalakbay ay magtatapos sa ganitong oras at sa liblib na ito ng ating mahal na Republika pagkatapos ng anim na taon. Magandang tanghali sa kanilang lahat – mga kapwa ko Filipino noon, ngayon at bukas. SALAMAT …at PASULONG na tayo.

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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.

Pagtatakda ng Pananampalataya na may Bagong Pananaw sa Mundo ng mga Dukha

Pagtatakda ng Pananampalataya

na may Bagong Pananaw Sa Mundo ng mga Dukha

ni Felizardo “Ding” Lazado

ANG mundo ay kubo ng mga dukha at palasyo ng mga mayayaman. Ang kubo ay napapaligiran ng maraming pananim…mga butil ng kahirapan at ang palasyo ay nababakuran ng bitui’t perlas ng karangyaan. Dalawang mukha ng buhay – mukha ng dukha at maskara ng may pera…………….

SA kabilang dako , bigyan natin ng pansin ang liriko ng awiting “Dukha”….”Kami’y anak mahirap. Mababa ang aming pinag-aralan. Grade 1 lang ang inabot ko, no read, no write pa ako, Paano na ngayon ang buhay ko. Isang Kahig, isang tuka …Ganyan kaming mga dukha” Tama ba si Freddie Aguilar sa kanyang awiting “Dukha’ ? Tama ba ang ama ng “Anak” na sabihin : isang kahig, isang tuka,,,ganyan kaming mga dukha. ? Tama ang mensahe, isang realidad ngunit mali ang pagkasabi sapagkat pinupuri ni Freddie ang ganoong kalagayan ng tao at lubos pa niyang tinatanggap na parang “birthday gift o kaya’y Christmas gift” ang KAHIRAPAN. Sa halip na isang kahig, isang tuka bakit hindi sinabing sampung kahig sampung tuka para marami na rin ang mapakain sa isang dukha.. Tayong mga Filipino ay talagang mahilig sa mga salitang matalinghaga, na para bagang napakatamis pakinggan itong pariralang “isang kahig isang tuka”……….

SA ating pagtanggap , pagpapuri at pagpapasikat sa akay ng kahirapan ay isang masakit na pagtanggap ng katotohanan na tayo ay walang kakayahan na umiwas o lumaban sa karukhaan. Isang kahig , isang tuka isang awit na naging mantra ng mga dukha na isinulat ng isang makatang dukha…………………

NGAYONG gabi, mga kaibigan, dito sa bulwagan ng NDEA ay sumambulat na naman ang panawagan ng NOTRE DAME EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION sa PAGTAKDA NG PANANAMPALATAYA NA MAY BAGONG PANANAW SA MUNDO NG MGA DUKHA.

SA usaping karukhaan o kahirapan, minabuti ng NDEA na mag-ambag ng ideya o bagong pananaw. At sino ang makapagsabi na baka ang ideya ng NDEA ay siyang katanggap-tanggap na solusyon sa problemang kahirapan? ARAW-ARAW ang radyo’t telebisyon , mga pahayagan at mga bunganga ng taumbayan ay hitik sa malagim na mga balitang kamatayan at karukhaan: Patay ang isang tatay dahil sa pagnanakaw. Patay ang isang binatilyo dahil sumungkit ng isang pirasong tinapay. Patay ang isang nanay na nagnakaw dahil tumalon upang iwasan ang mga pulis. Patay ang isang bata matapos masagasaan at tumilapon pa ang ninakaw na pagkain. Mga kaibigan ito ay ilan lamang sa mga tagpo…mga tagpo ng kamatayan sa lansangan na itinulak ng karukhaan. Silayan mo ang isang mundo sa ilalim ng tulay-  ayan nakaluray ang mga inakay na walang pagkaing iniwan ang tatay at nanay.. Sundan mo sa mabahong estero si Juan at si Pedro sa isang ektaryang sementeryo ang kanyang pamilya ay nasa loob ng nitso. Malagim na buhay . At marami pa diyan hanggang sa kanayunan. Hindi sila mabibilang ngunit kung bilangin mo ulit ang 7,100 na isla ng Pilipinas doblehin mo ang bilang at doblehin uli ang bilang – ganyan karami ang mga dukha…………….NGAYON anong bagong pananaw ang itutuon natin sa mundo ng mga dukha? Itatakda na lang ba natin sa pananampalataya ang mga dukha? Hanggang saan? Hanggang kaylan? ………….ANO ang itinuturo ng paaralan hinggil sa kahirapan,? Ano ang sinesermon ng simbahan tungkol sa karukhaan? At anu-ano ang mga dekrito ng pamahalaan para tugunan ang kahirapan?

Ang turo ng paaralan, ang sermon ng simbahan, at mga dekrito ng pamahalaan ay nag-umpisa pa sa kapanahunan ni Magellan na hanggang ngayon ay wala pang solusyon. Lalo pang lumalala……………ANG pananampalataya na walang kaakibat na gawa ay patay na tupa, iyan ay ayon sa Banal na Bibliya. Call me crazy ngunit ito ang masasabi ko: ang leksyon sa paaralan, ang sermon sa simbahan at dekrito sa pamahalaan ay pawang mga retorika lamang. BAKIT hindi natin bigyan ng daan ang makabuluhang ugnayan ng simbahan, paaralan at pamahalaan upang lumikha o magtatag ng BAGONG PAMAYANAN para sa mga dukha? Imposible ba na magkaroon ng SIMBAHAN, PAARALAN at PAMAHALAAN “PARTNERSHIP” sa diwa’t sigla ng kahirapan? The church, the educational institution and the government shall give way for the creation of a new human settlement for the poor………….

KUNG gustuhin pwedeng gawin ng simbahan na maglaan ng 10% mula sa lingguhang koleksyon. Kung gustuhin pwedeng gawin ng paaralan na maglaan ng 10% galing sa koleksyon sa magtrikula. Kung gustuhin pwedeng gawin ng pamahalaan na maglaan ng 10% koleksyon sa buwis. Sa isang taon mahigit sa isang milyon ang mailaan sa isang bayan sa bawat lalawigan ng Pilipinas. Magtatag ng superbody na mamahala nito. Labag sa batas? Tanungin ang Economous Council ng simbahan, ang Board of Trustees at Board of Regents ng paaralan, Department of the Budget and Management, Commission on Audit at Department of Finance ng pamahalaan upang talakayin ito. Ipaalam sa kongreso at senado upang magtatag o maglikha ng proseso. Makipag-ugnayan sa mga kritiko’t cause-oriented na mga grupo laban sa DAP at PDAF kung mayroon mang ganito upang mapalaganap ang transparency ng mga ito……………

HINDI ako naniniwala na ang simbahan ay poor. Sila ay may mga palasyo…Hindi ako naniniwala na ang paaralan ay poor. Sila ay may mga hotel at condo…Hindi ako naniniwala na ang pamahalaan ay poor. Sila ay may barko, eroplano yate, banko at palasyo. Ngunit ako ay lubos na naniniwala na ang sambayanan ay very poor…………..HUWAG nating sabihin na ipagdasal na lang at sambitin sa pananampalataya ang mundo ng mga dukha……………SANA walang FOREVER sa mga DUKHA.

(Note: Ito ay isang talumpati. Ang mga patlang na nilagyan ng mga tuldok at pinalaking mga titik ay pananda ng mga pagdiin na gagawin ng magsasalita. Itong talumpati ay gagamitin ni Bb. Vhon Padernal ng Notre Dame of Tacurong College, sa Oratorical Contest na gaganapin sa Notre Dame of Midsayap, sa darating na Notre Dame Educational Association (NDEA) Socio-Cultural Contest, sa Ika-22 ng October, 2015. Ang may-akda ay dating professor ng Notre Dame of Tacurong College, naging unang curator ng museum at event organizer ng nasabing kolehiyo, at “Ama” ng Talakudong Festival ng Tacurong City. Nagsimula siyang magsulat ng mga tula at sanaysay noong siya nasa elementarya pa lamang.)

My Talakudong…your Talakudong…our Talakudong (History of Talakudong Festival of Tacurong and its Transformation into a Multi-Awardee Celebration of Life)

My Talakudong…your Talakudong…our Talakudong

(History of  Talakudong Festival of Tacurong

and its Transformation into a Multi-awardee Celebration of Life)

By Felizardo “Ding” Lazado

The festival has a shade of art and voice of history- elements that echo the culture of Tacurongnons. To give substance to the concept of the festival, historic information were culled from different sources, such as: interviews of the late Mr. Fructuso Buenacosa (Tiyo Putoy), historian and “walking encyclopedia” of Tacurong City, and Mrs. Josefina Lechonsito, History professor of Notre Dame of Tacurong College; Master’s Thesis of Mr. Morito Parcon, History and Political Science professor of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College; and, Cotabato Guidebook of Mr. Simeon Millan of Cotabato City.

From the above-mentioned sources, stories gave form to the “story line”, enthusiastic members committees provided a strong foundation to the “organizational structure”, the painstakingly gathered materials by dint of resourcefulness became the “requisites” that comprised the substance, youthful creativity and design provided color and allure to the format and systems, and most of all, the verve of cohesive leadership, highlighted the merriment that surrounded the First Talakudong Festival, a fitting commemoration of the 25th Foundation Anniversary and Silver Jubilee Year of the city in August 3, 1976.

As early as 8:00 in the morning of that day, the town’s thoroughfares were already swarmed with people- both paraders and promenaders. In anticipation of the throng of people who would swell the streets, paraders were made to assemble only in front or along the street near their schools or origin. Only the barangay officials, municipal/provincial/national agencies in Tacurong, civic and religious organizations participants were allowed to assemble at the municipal plaza. When siren sounded at 8:30 AM, the plaza paraders led by the local police force moved towards Lapu-lapu Street. Reaching Lapu-apu, the Notre Dame contingents (College, High School, and Elementary) had their hundred boys let off the “tultugan” (bamboo drums) that rent the air – producing ear-splitting sound.

Donned in Visayan-Ilonggo outfits, women and girls wore “patadiong” and “kimona”. Everybody had either turban, “kalo”and “sadok” on their head, some girls on their hips were “nigo” or “kalalaw” laden with fruits and vegetables. They followed the end portion of plaza paraders. The parade started to swell up as it approached the “round ball” where the Muslim groups were crowding… hard-beating of gongs and “kulintang” prevailed. The QCSP contingents in glittering “malong” and “banggala” while the men in “kopia”, “salakot”, and “tubaw”, appeared more colorful with the dancing dragon.

The air seemed to have lost its lane as the beating of gongs and kulintang and the hard striking of tultugan were fused into unrecognizable communion or commotion of sound and music. The parade continued, inching toward along Alunan Highway and gained headway in front of the Tacurong Municipal High School and Tacurong Pilot Elementary School areas. Another thousand paraders were awaiting to find a space in the parade to occupy. Chanting children with flaglets inscribed with MABUHAY TACURONG SILVER JUBILEE YEAR were in Visayan-Ilonggo costume. From a distance, at the north, could be seen another crowd of people waiting. It was the all-Ilocano Magsaysay Memorial College contingent. All the women in ‘baro at saya” while men wore “kalogong”.

As the parade turned left passing Rizal Avenue, Agustin Carvajal led the dozen Ilocano “tangguyob” (Ilonggo: budyong) or shell trumpet blowers sending to the air a nostalgic loud cooing sound. The “tangguyob” blowing that infiltrated the cacophony of “kulitang”, gong and “tultugan” sounds, brought to the thousand ears a new kind of noise, though musical , the “TANGKULGONGTUL” – the festival’s own sound.

Moving along Bonifacio to Alunan, back to Lapu-lapu, then, to the National Highway, the parade moved past the “round ball” junction, as it proceeded to Burgos Street junction. The parade had to divert from its planned route so as not to make its head “overtake” its “tail”. A standstill of less than half an hour was made. The sun was getting high and the heat was scorching. The humid air under the searing sun was unpleasant…what of the sweat plus the evaporizing smell of pomade pasted on young boys’ heads.

All hassles, however, slipped off, as kaleidoscopic reflection of multi-colored, multi-sized and multi-fabric head coverings reigned supreme outsmarting the weariness of everybody. The parade ended at the Resort Area which was already overflowing with people where the “ritual” to commemorate the “recognition” of Tacurong as a separate town by her “mother town” was immediately held.

Mayor Jose Q. Barroquillo, Jr., handed to Mayor Samad Mangelen of Buluan a brand-new Vargas plow. In turn, Mayor Samad Mangelen, placed the gold-colored “kopia” on the head of Mayor Barroquillo, and the following thunderous clapping of the audience reddened the “ritual of friendship, understanding, and cooperation”, as well as, the recognition of Tacurong as a separate town. The Notre Damians, Jorge Plasabas and Juliet Garces took center stage and danced the “binanog”. Magsaysasay Memorial Collegian dancers skillfully performed the “sayaw sa bangko”, and the colorful and exotic “singkil” , by the students of the QCSP students. Teachers from the Tacurong Pilot Elementary School followed, with Mrs.Teresita Carnaje and Mrs. Emma Bautista rendering the musical numbers from doxology, “Lupang Hinirang”.  That was Talakudong Festival in August 3, 1976….

For the initial conceptualization and planning that led to the development of the festival, about thirty (30) representatives from private and public schools, civic and religious organizations, municipal and national agencies were invited in September 10, 1975. I was then connected with the Department of Public Information during the time. As recalled, Mayor Jose Barroquillo explained the rationale of the Silver Jubilee celebration. Soonest as he was finished, Engr. Miguel T. Jacalan stood up and said, “I highly recommend (not nominate), that Mr. Ding Lazado of DPI be the one to conceptualize the plan”. Mr. Pedro Samson of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School supported the recommendation of Engr. Jacalan.

Couldn’t it be called a lightning strike?… but it happened that way, catching me by surprise! I didn’t know what happened next, but I found myself doing the task for three months. On the very first working day of New Year 1976, the same people were gathered at the Resort Area where we detailed the concept of the Talakudong Festival that would finally, highlight the town’s 25th Foundation Anniversary. The rest of the years that followed saw the full celebration that metamorphosed to include street dancing.

Still looking back, for 18 years, from 1976 to 1994, the Talakudong Festival was largely shown in street parade with intermittent Agro-Industrial Fair. The first search for “Mutya ng Tacurong” took place in 1978. But my passion to put Tacurong on the map of tourism, cultural enhancement and festivals of the Philippines pushed me to get things done as aspired. Thus in 1995, with full support of the Municipal Council and blessing of then, Mayor Geronimo Arzagon, when the Talakudong Festival was put back to the main thoroughfares, it has been enhanced with new format and style-  street dancing and “showdown” or competition among participating contingents, at the town plaza. As the festival refers to head covering or hat, added feature that enhanced the activities was the Talakudong-making Contest with the following categories: Most Attractive, Most Elegant, Most Original, Most Indigenous, Most Artistic, the Biggest, The Smallest. The Board of Judges picked out only three: The Most Elegant, won by Enrique Saulog; The Biggest, won by Gerardo Magno; The Smallest, won by Salvacion Cerbas.

In 1998, the “Talakudong Tribe”, upon invitation, joined the Kadayawan Festival of Davao and brought home the Third Prize in “Indak-indak sa Dalan”. For the subsequent Kadayawan Festival, the tribe won Second Place, and finally, brought home the grand trophy for the same category during the later year of the Davao’s festival.

This year, 2015, “My Talakudong, Your Talakudong, Our Talakudong” captured the heart of the Ilonggos when it showed its splendor in Iloilo during the Dinagyang Festival. This new face of Talakudong Festival would be without beauty, had it not been for the full support of the mayors of the  City of Tacurong – from the time of Roncal Montilla, Nono Arzagon, Lino Montilla and currently, Lina Montilla. Doubtlessly, all of them are one in bringing the name and fame of Talakudong Festival into greater heights of national recognition.

Lest we forget, responsible also for the consistent success of the festival, are the supportive hands of Hon. Rodrigo Jamorabon, the Talakudong Fest Committee Chairman; Hon. Cajandig, Hon. Fely Segura, Eduardo Nicolo, Allan Freno, Emelie Jamorabon and dozens more of local officials.

For the early choreography, kudos goes to Petok de la Peῆa, Pediong Fernandez, Gerry Magno, Juarien Javier, Richard Paclibar, G. Ochinang, Joseph Pilotos, Anthony Elvas, and many more. Original musicians were Joseph Glenn Lazado, Ryan Mosqueda, Val Gunay, and Rona Nava. Non-alumni of Notre Dame but also extended helping hands were, Enrique Saulog and Bong Gallego.

On September 18, 2003, on the Third Anniversary of Tacurong as a city, a Certificate of Recognition signed by then, Mayor Lino O. Montilla was presented to me, as the FATHER/FOUNDER OF THE TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL.

Felizardo Lazado: Katangi-tanging kaibigan…at nakakabilib na Notre Damian

Isa itong tulaysay, sarili kong style sa pagsulat na pantanggal ng umay….hybrid ito ng tula at salaysay, kaya tinawag kong “tulaysay”…

Felizardo Lazado: katangi-tanging kaibigan
…at nakakabilib na Notre Damian
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang una kong napansin sa kanya
Noong una ko siyang makita
Ay ang kanyang pagkamaka-totoo
Palatawa siya, at napaka-maginoo.

Isa si Felizardo sa mga student leaders ng Notre Dame of Tacurong, high school student pa lamang siya. Hindi nawawala sa Dean’s List ang pangalan niya bilang isa sa mga topnotcher. Dahil mahina ang katawan at payatin, hindi nabigyan ng pagkakataon ni G. Ric Jamorabon (istriktong in-charge sa PMT at ROTC), na maging Corp Commandeer ng PMT, kaya ang gamit sa drills ay kahoy na riple, sa halip na tansong sable. Magaling siyang debater at orator, kaya maraming bilib sa kanya, campus personality, wika nga, subali’t among the boys lang dahil nasa kabilang bakod ang mga babaeng Notre Damians at nasa istriktang pagsubaybay ng mga Dominican (O.P.) sisters. Ang amin naman – Boys’ Department ay mga Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) namang mga pari ang nagsusubaybay.

Ding, ang palayaw niya…matunog
At mataginting din kung bibigkasin
Tunog ay kinalembang na batingaw
Na abot sa malayo ang alingawngaw.

Katunog ng pangalan niyang mataginting kung bigkasin ay ang alingawngaw ng batingaw, lalo na ang kanyang halakhak na bigay-todo para hindi mapahiya ang nagkukuwento ng nakakatawa, kahit may pagka-corny ang dating. Simple lang siya kung magsingit ng jokes subali’t may dating dahil mapapa-ihi ka sa pantalon kung mahina ang kontrol mo sa iyong pantog. Malayo ang inaabot ng kanyang halakhak na wari ba ay nagpapahiwatig na nais niyang makapagpasaya ng kapwa, kahit sa pamamagitan man lamang ng kanyang halakhak na hinugot niya ng buong tiyaga mula sa kaibuturan ng kanyang puso – at para ring batingaw na umaalingawngaw.

Malikhain si Ding, magaling sumulat
Kung siya’y nasa mood, tatahimik bigla
At parang nawawala sa sariling nakayuko –
Sandali lang, may naisulat na sa kwaderno!

Normal siyang tao dahil may mga mood tulad ng iba. Sa mga pagkakataong masaya siya, no holds barred kung magbiro siya. Kung bigla namang may maisip na isulat, tatabi na lamang at maglalabas ng notebook at ballpen, sabay sulat, animo ay sinaniban ng ispiritu ng isang namayapang manunulat, kaya hinahayaan na lamang siya ng mga nakakaunawa sa kanya. Nangyari ito nang kami noon ay nasiraan ng sasakyan, galing sa ekskursiyon at pauwi na. Bigla siyang humiwalay at nawala…akala namin ay sumagot siya sa tawag ng kalikasan, pero sabi ng iba, wala naman daw dalang toilet paper. Yon pala, nasa isang sulok ng highway, natatabingan ng mga talahib mula sa init ng papalubog na araw, at nagsusulat.

Hindi niya alam ang salitang maramot
Dahil kapos man ang pamilya nila noon
Itinanim sa isip nila ang salitang “tulong”-
Kailangang ibahagi, ano mang pagkakataon.

Hindi ikinahihiya ni Ding ang kakapusan nila noong bata pa siya, kaya natuto silang magkapatid na magsumikap upang makatapos ng pag-aaral. Naging student assistant siya sa Notre Dame of Tacurong hanggang makatapos siya ng kursong Bachelor of Arts (English/History). Sa kabila ng kakapusan, matulungin si Ding sa abot ng kanyang makakaya. Hindi lang sa pamamagitan ng pera ang ginawa niyang pagtulong sa iba. Marami rin siyang nabigyan ng payo – mga estudyante na hirap din sa buhay, lalo na noong siya ay nagturo na rin, sa Notre Dame din mismo kung saan siya nagtapos. Malaking bagay ang ginawa niyang paggabay, na maliban sa payo ay ang pagpakita ng sarili niya mismo bilang isang halimbawa ng pagsisikap.

Mga salitang umaalagwa sa kanyang utak
Ang nababalangkas ay mga kuwento at tula
Adhikaing hindi titigilan ano mang mangyari
Dahil bigay ng Diyos at kailangang ipamahagi!

Alam ni Ding na ang kakayahan niya sa pagsulat ay galing sa Diyos at siya ay may pakay sa mundo. Hindi niya kailangang pumunta sa Africa upang tumulong sa mga biktima ng ebola virus, lalo pa at sakitin siya, kaya baka siya pa ang i-stretcher bigla at isakay sa ambulansiya, o di kaya ay makipagbakbakan sa mga hinayupak na miyembro ng ISIS sa Syria, o di kaya ay makipagbrilan sa mga buragwit na miyembro ng Abu Sayyaf sa Basilan at Jolo. Alam niyang ang mga linyang kinapapalooban ng mga salitang lumalabas sa kanyang utak ay may ibig sabihin. Kaya saan man siyang dako ng mundo…pinipilit niyang gawin ang sa kanya ay nai-atang noon pa man…kapalarang nakaguhit sa kanyang mga palad. At yan ay hindi mahirap unawain…ang magpakalat ng mga mensahe tungkol sa pagkakaisa at pagmamahalan gamit ang power of the pen.

Remembering the Excellent NDTCians

REMEMBERING THE EXCELLENT NDTCians
…for the forthcoming NDTC Great Alumni AFFAIR ( As Far and Fair As I can Remember)/27December2014
By Felizardo Lazado

The Notre Dame of Tacurong was born when I was two in 1950.

Her birth, however, came four years after the Philippines has gained her independence from America in 1946. Signifying a closer look beyond the shadow of these three events which all surprisingly came evenly and successively on the face of local history – the Philippine independence in 1946, my birth in 1948 and NDT’s birth in 1950 implies oddity as odd years came following after each event brought fresh breath of freedom to the Filipinos in 1947, a fresh breath of new life to me as I was almost lost by my family due to severe illness in 1949 and a fresh breath of hope to NDT as it unfolded the red carpet in 1951 to welcome her future alumni, the first batch of which came in 1954. …101 ? only ?.

There may be hundreds more of other alumni who are far greater than the ones I’m about to mention, or there is still someone who stands the greatest of all – but sorry, my crystal ball failed to flash their pretty and handsome faces when I was preparing this piece.
Randomly, here we go: One pre-silver jubilarian – Ben Eliseo was Tita Cory’s appointed Mayor of Tacurong during the yellow revolution in 1987. An heir to a vast Garcia Estate -Antonio Garcia has left the same sizable estate to his son Erwin Garcia. The Garcia Estate runs synonymous to palm oil industry in Central Cotabato. Morito Parcon probably the first NDTCian to enter UPcampus, his body shall be claimed by UP College of Medicine when he dies.

Alfonso Jerez, the insurance king and Danzie Buenacosa an entrep prince had once stood famous for their talking voice. The Voice of Democracy national silver medalist, Arturo Llavore was noted in oratory. Banker turned entrep Rodrigo Victorio walk hand-in-hand with son Dubert Victorio as they walk the AMWAY . Dubert as ABC President joined the City Council of Tacurong. Carlo Romero and Gideon Carnaje grabbed the first gold for NDTCBHS in erstwhile Notre Dame Quiz on the Air, while Phill Penaflor set the record in the entire NDEA as he was twice champion in the NDEA academic contest.

Late in 1965, barely a freshman Diosdado Pedral was teamed up with Rhodora Alcon (Girls Dept,) came as finalist in the initial staging of Notre Dame Quiz on the Air. Stat instructor Joel Illustracion coached the NDTC contestants who consistently won the annual stat quiz in the Province of Sultan Kudarat. Larry Tubalado was the regional champion in Philippine History contest with DEPED 12.

In government service – local , regional and national, here are our great alumni: Ruel Lucentales (RIP) from DSWD Welfare Aide in Tacurong to Regional Director in Davao to Assistant Secretary of DSWD in Manila was no joke to tell it all.

Angelo “Roncal” Montilla from the Municipal Hall to the House of Representatives was likewise a tough political journey. He authored the cityhood of Tacurong that made Geronimo Arzagon the first city mayor. Other siblings of Roncal who claimed the mayoral chair were Lino Montilla, and Lina Montilla in incumbency. There are two NDT alumni who were elected vice mayor of Tacurong- Dr. Leo Villalobos and Dr. Joseph Lechonsito also in incumbency (look… both are doctors of medicine). The Tacurong City Council has been dominated by the NDTC alumni, to mention a few: Rodrigo Jamorabon , Jairus Casipe, Max Ledda, Jesus Arcillana Max Casador, Benjamin Fajardo, Bonifacio Enitorio, Federico Seneres Jr. and Virgilo Paredes. VIP (Very Important Personnel) at the the city hall of Tacurong are NDTCians : Thomas Robles – General Services; Jaime Cedullo – Planning and Development; Eduardo Nicolo – Administration; Elma Bides – Auditing; Nestor Nomananap-Budget; John Lechonsito – City Attorney; Rommel Dionela -SP Secretary; Juney Buenacosa – PNP; Eddie Batchar – Treasury; Dr. Giovanni Deles – City Health Officer; Lynnie Balino Local Government Officer (DILG).

Dr. Domingo Miguel Jacalan was once elected Vice- Governor of Sultan Kudarat. Other shining alumni: Dr. Efhraim Collado – MHO Lambayong; Jose Tabuga -SKWD Manager; Demetrio Jerez – SUKELCO Manager; Mr. Barron – DOLE Manager; Dr. Benjamin Suedad, Board of Incorporator Green Hospital; Jimmy Andang – SP Secretary of the Province of Sultan Kudarat; Bonifacio Valdez – VMC City College -Owner/Administrator.

NDTC alumni working in the vineyard of the Lord: Ronnie Torres soon to be ordained OMI priest; Julius de Gracia to say his Thanksgiving Mass here in Tacurong; Marlo Horlador (RIP) the first NDTCian priest; Fr. Joseph Borreros, is the mission in-charge of the Orthodox Church in Southern Mindanao, with base-mission in Lake Sebu and Surallah; Bishop David Salazar covers the Southern Mindanao area of the JIL church. Our very own Parish Priest is Fr. Robles.

The length and width of educational landscape has almost been filled up by NDTCians. After serving as VPA . Dr. Nenita Garcia was joined by her husband Gaudencio Garcia in running the first large early learning center in Pres. Quirino. Dr. Rosmalin Arzagon now serves as NDTC VPA. Merle Baulete is VP for Admin and Finance, her son-in law Elmer Muyco is the current Principal of the high school department, Renato Neri runs the institution’s Extension Program and NDTC alumni Affairs; Edgar Gonzales curates the NDTC Tri-people Musuem.

The public sphere of educational landscape has Gildo Mosqueda-City Schools Division Superintendent ,General Santos City; Dr. dela Cruz is Sarangani Division superintendent; Joseph Pilotos is Tacurong Central District Supervisor; Memvie Alesna – principal ,EJC Montilla; Freddie Delantar -Princiapal-VFGNHS; Danilo Umadhay-Principal-TNHS, Roberto Leyza-Principal-ENHS; Frank Nawal-Principal SPCES; Pangi Balubugan-Principal-PQNHS; Dr. Muhaliddin Suaeb-Aministrative Officer, SK Division.

Outside Tacurong , we have Renato Hingco Vice President, Bicol University; Hernanie Carillo-Vice President -HCCD. Top 50 Filipino entrepeneur greats include one NDTBHS alumnus – Feliciano Juarez of Copylandia Philippines. He owns the company. Marketing strategist Djolan Lictawa takes charge of 5 signature jeans in the Philippines. Dr. Remo Aguilar is a multi-talented physician who organizes lectures on health, a blogger of every event in Tacurong, an artist, a writer.

In the field of music, art, culture and technology (IT): Johnny Garcia is NDTC’s Beethoven, Da Vince, and Gates. Dindo Quevada owns QWorks; John Bernard Fresco owns the FREBROS; Joeph Glenn Lazado came as the first animator in the city-now handling the videography of ARKOWA Arts; Melvin Aradanas and Francisco Torres are the city’s favorite emcees. Felix Mendoza became a national -local coach of Tacurong badminton national players. All CAT oficers in Sultan Kudarat elected Ron Lazado as President of the two-week COLT in Isulan. Bernabe brothers with Ruel, runs the biggest steel and glass works in the city while the Torrecampo bothers with Jerry, owns too, the biggest automotive shop in the city. Carlo Casipit won gold in the national secondary press conference in photo-journalism . His father, Jesusito Casipit is now the DRAGON King.

Speech power conquers. Allan Rey Lucerna captured the orator’s crown that had long been held by the Cotabato Chinese High School orators in the Region XII Water District Annual Oratorical competition. Jimmy Tanara won the silver in Kidapawan and Ron Lazado had his bronze in General Santos City in the Mindanao-wide Water District oration contest. Renato Purazon won silver medal in NDEA Talumpati contest in Marbel. Junel Bedua also a silver medalist in NDU- NDEA Talumpati. Finally, Gerald Vidal brought home the first NDTC gold in NDEA Talumpati held at the Notre Dame University.

And also who would ever believe that it was an NDTC alumnus who was made to speak before the world dignitaries – ambassadors, consuls, papal nuncio, Philippine cabinet men, legislators, governors and mayors, government executives and celebrities during the LAST birthday of the Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos at Malacanang Maharlika Hall. He spoke on the Philipine experience in human settlements. While he was speaking, Cardinal sin was seated at the right hand of the strong man, his eyeballs were seemingly twirling as he was looking at me (as if asking me: is that so?). That was a five-minute speech. The program was emceed by Bert (Tawa) Marcelo and Pilita Corrales. Vilma Santos was the last celebrity to arrive to greet Marcos. That alumnus is the by-line of this simple piece….

NDTC – Notre Dame of Tacurong College
NDEA – Notre Dame Educational Association

Notre Dame is a Catholic school in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, on the island of Mindanao, Philippines.

The Venerable Metamorphosis of Notre Dame of Tacurong College

The Venerable Metamorphosis

of Notre Dame of Tacurong College

By Apolinario Villalobos

The school that started with a couple of buildings divided into small rooms has proudly metamorphosed into a proud educational institution today, and with a determination, more than ever to excel. The once flood-prone swampy grassland, now pockmarked with modern structures was donated by Mr. Sabas Buenacosa. The institution’s humble beginnings saw sides of pathways planted to acacia trees and aratiles for their shade, and the basketball court patiently built by members of the pioneering faculty, with its thin concrete layer of cement that withstood years of ball dribbling before a thicker one was laid.

The makeshift stage fronting the basketball court was later improved to have a sturdier roof and a stock room. Other enhancements that followed were the Administration office, the two-storey wooden structure that housed the library on the ground floor, and small auditorium on the second floor, an annex building for additional classrooms, the convent of the Oblates of Notre Dame (OND) sisters, and the Training Department (elementary) – all of them further lent a more academic look to the amor seco grass-carpeted campus.

The pioneering teachers were always around to lend a hand for anything that called for the improvement of the school. Effort was on gratis, as the school was still struggling financially to be able to survive. At the helm of all this effort were the parish priest, Fr. Elino Isip and Fr. Robert Sullivan, the school Director. The noisy generator of the parish convent, provided limited electricity in the evening for college classes and activities, especially, basketball on weekends. There were other priests who came before and after them, but the transformation of the school was more felt and became more visible during their time.

Teachers who taught in high school also did the same in college when the latter was opened to welcome eager students who came from as far as Buluan, Lambayong, Esperanza, Maganoy, Isulan, Tantangan, and New Iloilo. Most of the students from the neighboring towns were accommodated by Mrs. Pacing Sara in her home with its several extensions. She was fondly called by Notre Damians as “nanay Pacing”.

Unselfishly dispensing their duties as teachers were Mr. Ricardo Jamorabon who handled PMT and ROTC aside from academic subjects, Mr. Alfonso Romero, Mr. Rafael Sespeῆe, Mrs. Gloria Canzana, Mrs. Ching Romero, Ms. Nenita Bernardo, Mrs. Josefina Lechonsito, Ms. Azucena Hojilla, Mrs. Emma Jamorabon, Mrs. Leonor Pagunsan (who later became President of Notre Dame of Marbel University), Mr. Elmer Festin , Mr. Fermin Roca, and Mr. Plaridel Batucal. Mr. Marcelino Doῆa did his best as high school principal, then. The small band that provided marching tunes during parades and field demonstrations was under the baton of Mr. Cantil and Mr. Tirado.

When the Training Department was opened, Mrs. Trinidad Concepcion took the seat as its principal till the so many years that followed. She was assisted by the able teaching force that included, Mrs. Leticia Romero, Mrs. Lydia Raῆido, Ms. Violeta Subaldo, Mr. Ernesto Cajandig, and Mr. Tim Castaniaga. Because of them, we now have a mayor, Lina Montilla, as well as her siblings Roncal and Lino who preceded her at the helm of the city, successful medical practitioners, Dr. Carlo Romero, Dr. Leo Villalobos, and many more, aside from businessmen, and farmers who contributed to the development of Tacurong.

Mr. Leonardo Ninte, as the librarian, did his best to catalog donated books from the United States, through the effort of Fr. Robert Sullivan, Fr. Haslam, and Fr. MacGrath. The science laboratory with antiquated equipment was administered by Ms. Nenita Bernardo who chose to be part of the just- established school, rather than give in to the invitations from schools in Iloilo. She saw to it that field trips should not go beyond the town to avoid taxing the students with expense. Researches, then, were frequently conducted in swamps and streams, a kilometer or two from the campus, particularly in New Isabela, to gather specimens. On the other hand, Mr. Ric Jamorabon tried his best in converting a box-type structure into a militaristic “armory” – with all its wooden replica of rifles and real, albeit, old automatic Browning automatic rifles needed for demos on dismantling and assembly of their parts. Not a few fingers got hurt in the effort during the required demo as part of the ROTC drill. Mr. Jamorabon also coached the school’s basketball team.

Mr. Juanito Canzana, aside from pitching in when the Pilipino teacher in college failed to show up, was the ever-patient Registrar, putting the school records in order. Supporting him in the administration office were Mrs. Emma Jamorabon as the Administrative Secretary who also taught Physical Education to the college students, as well as, the rudiments of typing which proved very useful later on with the onset of computerized information technology. Mrs. Fely Subaldo on the other hand, made use of her patience in cashiering, and Mr. Plaridel Batucan took charge of accounting.

To further the school’s effort in putting the institution in the mainstream of artistic competitiveness, Kayumanggi Dance Troupe was organized. Talents of teachers and students were pooled in coming up with repertoire of indigenous dances, with “singkil”, as the centerpiece. The opportunity brought to fore the dancing skill of Ernesto Cajandig and the Subaldo sisters, as well as, the singing prowess of Agustin Carvajal. Not to be outdone, Mrs. Ching Romero and Mrs. Leonor Pagunsan put up the high school’s Choreographers’ Club. Mr. Elmer Festin meanwhile, organized the Debating Club for the high school and college, as well as, put up “Green Ember”, the high school organ.

The courses offered in college were Bachelor of Arts with choices of major and minor subjects in English and History, Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Bachelor of Science in Education, and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Scheduled “practice teaching” of BSE and BSEEd students were considered big events, observed even by classmates, who added jitters to the would-be teachers. Some of these practicumers comprised a part of the school’s teaching force later on, such as: Gaudencio Garcia, Ding Lazado, Domingo Salanap, Teresa Neri, and many more.

Graduates who also excelled in their chosen field, just like the teachers, were Erlina Diaz who became the principal of Notre Dame of Isulan, Ruel Lucentales who became Assistant Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare until the time of his demise, Domingo Cargo who got connected with National Food Authority and currently with the Commission on Audit, and Renato Hingco who worked with the Department of Budget and Management in Legaspi City and later as Corporate Secretary of the Bicol University. A graduate in high school, Virgilio Guillermo, also showed excellence later by becoming an Assistant Secretary of Labor during the time of Blas Ople, as Secretary. Later, Veo, as he was called by friends, became the Regional Director of the National Manpower and Youth Council (now, TESDA) of Bicol. A special mention goes to Felizardo Lazado who, despite his heavy teaching load, was able to work on the concept of Tacurong’s only festival – Talakudong. During the early years of its celebration, he was an active member of the city’s festival steering committee. This he did, aside from dispensing additional responsibilities as administrator of the NDTC museum. When he left for the United States, his responsibilities for the festival were turned over to City Councilor Bogz Jamorabon, another proud product of Notre Dame, as the Talakudong Festival’s Committee Chairman.

Another alumnus of this institution who discreetly shares an effort to put the city in the map of tourism is Rey Malana, a nature lover, who converted an inherited property in Barangay Baras, into a bird sanctuary – the only one of its kind in the whole province of Sultan Kudarat. He sacrificed personal gain in favor of the popular clamor and his love of nature, by maintaining the original setting of the fertile farm along the swift banks of Kapingkong River, which would have become a cornfield. The bamboo grooves and a wide patch of indigenous trees were left untouched for the benefit of homing Philippine egrets and seasonally migrating kinds from neighboring countries in Asia.

I could recall a frequent visitor of the campus – Mr. Fructuoso Buenacosa, “Lolo Putoy” or “Tiyo Putoy” to the youngsters. He was the town’s “walking historican”. He never missed a visit to the library, every time he was in the campus. We loved to ask him how the swampy land along the highway was transformed into a plaza, or when the town’s Pilot School was established, or when the first movie theater was opened, etc. His encyclopedic knowledge on the town’s transformation was later compiled into a small book. He, like the other benefactors of the school and parish were fondly remembered for their unselfish acts: Mr. Mending Lapuz who donated the first four posts of the church’s belfry, the structure being an integral part of the school campus, and Mr. Nonito Bernardo who was actively involved in the building of the original parish building where the school’s directors reside, as well as, its current renovation. No less than the bishop of Cotabato, leads the throng of thankful parishioners and alumni in giving due recognition to Mr. Bernardo.

Students and teachers will not forget, too, the ever-energetic lone security “force” of the whole campus, Mr. Juanito Panes. He rendered duty straight for the whole week, making rounds and could still etch a smile on his face. His lanky build did not deter him from facing off with intruders at night, which happened several times. As the generator was turned off after college classes, all he had was a flashlight to light his way around the campus and a piece of stick while checking rooms and corners of the campus.

Those are sweet reminiscences….

And, nothing is sweeter than remembering also the days when high school students would walk in groups on their way to school and the college students on their way home in the dark, with streets lighted only by stray lights from open windows of homes …when parade was a grand event not only for students but also for the whole town…and, singing the “Notre Dame Hymn” and the “Notre Dame March” gave students an ecstatic feeling!

Notre Dame of Tacurong College was a big family, then… still is… and will surely be, in days to come!