Faded Photographs

Faded Photographs

By Apolinario Villalobos

(Photos from the family library of Ed Collado)


A picture can paint a thousand words, so goes the line of the son, “If”. And, faded photographs can bring memories that for the present are testimonies of how successful people struggled in the past. Faces exude aura of innocence…with their eyes that eagerly stared at the camera, unwary of what the future held for them.


Ed Collado’s mother was among the pioneer teachers of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School while his father was the District Supervisor who painstakingly visited schools in the barrios connected to the town of Tacurong by foot trails winding through rice, corn, and sugar cane fields. Other teachers I could recall during their time were, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan, Mr. and Mrs. Gatumbato, Mrs. Domider, Mrs. Paradero, Mrs. Sucaldito, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Lechonsito, Mrs. Del Campo, Mr. Barber, Ms. Davala, Ms. Paclibar, Ms. Ines, Ms. Paragas, Mrs. Lucentales, Mr. Palencia, while the Principal was Mr. Ben Nicolo. According to Ed, her mother took the pains in keeping photos taken during her time in Tacurong Pilot School.


Children of prominent families went to the school in slippers and shoes with socks, while the rest were barefooted. Free snacks consisted of gruel made from yellow corn grits. Those who failed to bring cups or bowls ate their share using pad paper folded origami style in the shape of a cap.  If there were extra bags brought by the Peace Corp Volunteers, the grits were distributed among the pupils to be brought home. Aside from yellow corn, those that were regularly donated to the school was bulgur wheat, oat meal, and powdered milk.


When I was in Grade Four, Ikea Seki comet appeared which became visible at dawn for almost a week. I could vividly recall the event as the appearance happened during our Boy Scout camping on the track and field of the school. During the time, we almost lost a good friend, Baltazar Subando when he fell from the “monkey bridge” built for the contest among the troops. Among the schoolmates I could recall were, Febe and Lilieth Ancheta, Betty Cu, Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, Gloria Sangke, Catalino Ines, Nonito Bacus, Jaime Bides, Angel Collado, Apolonio de la Peἧa, Cornelio Alegre, Jaime Mariἧas, Elsie Dajay, Homero Palatolon, Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Eleanor Fajardo, the late Chrito Lacanaria, Rey Mijares, Julius Lechonsito, Jimmy Uy, Dani Pendatun, the late Reynaldo Mosqueda…(more names to be added as recalled).


In High School, we became Notre Damians who wore khaki pants with green stripe on the side.  On very special occasions, the Dominican Sisters of the Girls’ Department allowed joint activities with the Boys’ Department during which the musical talents of the students from both departments were exhibited. Ed Collado, Ted Lapuz, and Virgilio Guillermo provided music to the dancing girls, such as Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, and others.


Debating Club was among the most popular organizations in the Boys’ campus aside from the Choreographers’ Club. The members of the Debating Club such Jovino Morte, Cirilo Baldonado, Andres Jordan Jr., Rommel Angel, Nonie Amar, Antonio Hojilla, Eduardo Palomado, Rodolfo Gallega, Virgilio Guillermo, Ed Collado, Felizardo Lazado, Leo Villalobos, Jose Lim III, a certain Cabico, were coached by Mr. Gabertan. The Choreographers’ Club on the other hand had Mrs. Ching Romero and former Ms. Leonor Palabricas as advisers, with the members such as, Dominador Barnachea, Homero Palatolon, Cirilo Baldonado, Ruel Lucentales, Domingo Cargo, Hernanie Baclaan, Eddie Travilla, a certain Nanales, and Ed Collado. The Choreographers’ Club had one successful fund-raising show, the “Rainbow of Rhythmn”.


Today, those caught in the historic frame of time are successful in their chosen fields. Some are entrepreneurs, overseas professionals, military officers, engineers, nurses, and educators.




On the Exploitation of the Weak

On the Exploitation of the Weak

By Apolinario Villalobos


Natural resources are gifts and blessings from the Creator of the universe and as such should be properly and justly exploited as a show of respect to the Giver. However, the problem in this world is that, practically, the strong overruns the weak in their greedy effort to control anything that got to do with survival. Looking back, history is a mute witness to this desire of powerful nations such as Portugal, Spain, Holland, England, and later, America, Russia, Germany, China, and Japan. Earlier in the history of nations, Portugal and Spain, practically divided the world into two hemispheres for appropriation between the two of them. Later, war was used as an instrument for the appropriation of the weak nations among the strong ones.


Much later, with the blazed marine trails that lead to practically all continents, strong nations overran all of them, with America and her “Manifest Destiny” ideals, leading the pack. Her obsessive drive was masked with a supposedly noble intention to save the “barbarian” and “pagan” inhabitants of forcefully occupied lands from their misery of ignorance, although, beneath it, was the desire to bleed the lands of their natural resources, and the Philippines was among those that suffered this harrowing fate. It should be noted that long before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the early inhabitants had a healthy commercial intercourse with other nations, aside from having their own spiritual leaning which was Mohammedan or Islamic. The Americans did not “convert” the Filipinos into Christianity, as when they came, the Spanish colonizers already did it….all they did was turn the face of the Catholic inhabitants towards Protestantism.


If our forefathers fought for the preservation of our nation’s patrimonial rights, today, the Philippine government practically offers it to the highest bidders- whoever they are, if foreigner, the better because of their dollar. The Philippine Constitution meanwhile haplessly and practically turned into a doormat, as provisions after provisions are changed to fit the desires of foreign investors. The apex of irresponsibility was the passing of a law authored by Gloria Arroyo when she was yet a senator, allowing foreigners to own the 100% rights over claimed land intended for mining…this is the root cause of the scandalous mining incidents in the country that to date, have even claimed lives.


The Philippine Mining Law passed in 1995 is a glaring example of how lawmakers can be so naïve to the far-reaching effects of nature-related ventures in the country. They do not seem to understand what displacement, pollution, cultural debacle, immorality, and corruption mean. All that they perceive are the dollar and peso, as well as, the glitter of gold…gains that find their way to the pocket of the corrupt government officials instead of the inhabitants of the affected lands. From a national point of view, practically, no significant benefit has ever been “felt”, “observed”, or “enjoyed”, by the citizens, in case the gains have reached the national coffer. Tangible projects on which these gains are spent, are hideously pockmarked with commissions at different levels of transaction….so, what benefit are the greedy talking about?


Soil erosion and flood are the effect of the careless exploitation of natural resources while on the part of the inhabitants, forced displacements that lead to their migration to slums of urban areas where they eventually succumb to the pummeling of poverty, are the dismal disheartening results, made more grievous by the wearing down of their cultural values. Many girls and boys turn to prostitution to help eke out a living for their starving families. Families live on sidewalks and “mobile homes” – the pushcart which is the most practical way to carry around collected junks from garbage dumps. Fathers who turned “barkers” in jeepney terminals are lured into easy money by big time drug pushers, dangled temptation that they bit, for which they paid with their life.


Catholic bishops and human rights advocates kuno wonder how and why the above-mentioned Filipinos became bad, to the extent of being killed due to their involvement in drug trafficking. These hypocrites are obviously short-sighted because what they see are just the slums where the unfortunate victims live. They fail or refuse to look beyond the slums, so that they will be able to perceive where they came from….and, what made them endure the hellish life in the city!



Never Underestimate a Photo

Never Underestimate a Photo

By Apolinario Villalobos


A photo should never be underestimated. Such printed record could send a person to jail, cause a breakup of once a strong relationship, destroy a person’s life, or worse, cause someone’s death. Psychologists use photos to test the soundness of their patients’ mind.  Due to the varying impression on particular images that people make, some view a certain photo with malice while others are nonchalant about what they perceive.


In the Philippines today, due to the scandals that are rocking the government system and its officials, even a lone photograph may be considered very important evidence. This is what’s meant by the line in a song that says, “…a picture could paint a thousand words”….words that are needed to establish a case or develop a story of a committed crime.


In this regard, the Vice-President Lenny Robredo posing with the Catholic bishops in a photo could mean a lot because the latter are detractors of President Duterte, while the former is viewed as being used as a tool by the opposition, as well as, the bishops themselves. Senator de Lima shaking hands with the purported drug lords can create so many stories about her link with them. And, President Duterte being kissed on a check by a beautiful admirer could send media people to their laptop and desktop computer to type a scoop.


The “photographic” memory of our ancestors enabled them to sketch animals and their daily activities on cave walls and ceilings that helped us understand our past. Though how crudely executed these records may be, without them, we may never have had a glimpse of what transpired in the past.


Photographs can also hide and reveal true events and situations, as well as, characters of people. To make any situation convincing before they are photographed, it is enhanced with props. On the other hand, happiness can be temporarily etched on a face – all for the sake of visual recordings that have distinct objectives. While some are used for deception, others have noble intent….the so-called visual “white lie”. And, this is how the “motion picture” or movie was conceived.


Today’s world of high technology is being made alive or perked up by photos. People practically want to record what they do, a manifestation of their ego which is the center of the “self”. That is why, inventors are not stopping from conceiving gadgets that would incorporate a photographic lens, such that wireless phones did not end as just an audio gadget, but later developed further to have a camera.  This resulted to some watches having camera, as well as, pens, buttons and many others.


Finally, that is how the “inventor” of the facebook raked in billions of dollars….open a site that would accommodate photos of events and frames of quotes. So, next time you open your facebook and post a photo on its wall, remember that you are making someone richer.

And, the next time you open your old albums of photos, cherish those faded records of the past. By the way, even old photos of Nora Aunor could command today a price of not less than 200pesos!

The Need to Re-examine the historical books about the People whom Spanish Colonizers called “Filipinos”

The Need to Re-examine the Historical Books

About the People whom Spanish Colonizers called “Filipinos”

By Apolinario Villalobos

It is surprising to know that well-known writers were vocal about the supposedly Malaysian ancestry of the Filipinos, a reference which yet, was imposed by the Spanish colonizers. These early writers obviously based their claim on the “Ten Bornean Datus” and the “Code of Kalantiaw”, the veracity of which, have been questioned, since researchers today consider them as “legends”. Pre-Spanish history books made mention about the natives of the islands of Southeast Asian islands, and with whom the early traders such as Indians, Arabs and Chinese had a prosperous commercial intercourse, and in the process intermarried with them. It could be possible that because of trading ventures, those from the Malay Peninsula who have ventured into the Philippine archipelago could have also intermarried with the natives just like the three mentioned groups of traders, but who were never referred to as the ancestors of Filipinos in general . It is unfair then to make a sweeping reference to the Malaysians as the common ancestors of the Filipinos.

The following are some disturbing quotes:

From the poem,”I am a Filipino Boy”, by Amado M. Yuzon, in his book, “The Citizen’s Poems” (1960), the first two line state:

“I am a Filipino boy,

Runs in my veins, Malayan blood;”

From the poem, “Filipinas”, of the same author, from the same book, the second paragraph states:

“I see its face upon your face,

My friend, my sister, my brother;

Your browny skin is its Malayan race,

The Blessed Damosel(?) its mother.

From the book, “Philippine Civics” (1932), used in elementary schools during the American Regime, and authored by Conrado Benitez, p. 16 of Chapter I, the last paragraph states:

“At this point you should recall your Philippine History. How did the first Malay settlers of the Philippines reach these islands? Did they not come in boats called barangays? Yes, these boats or barangays, were loaded with families of Malay immigrants which were related to one another and which constituted a gens(?), or clan, that was under a headman, or chief, or dato. (He must be referring to the legendary “Ten Bornean Datus”).

On page  220, Benitez, emphasized the “Malays” by stating:

“The activities of these early Malays were characterized by cooperation……” (referring to the early Filipinos).

Another emphasis which the same author made was on the title itself of Chapter XIV:

“CHAPTER XIV – How Spain Built Upon our Old Malay Government”

Still, on page 270, Benitez, stated, under a sub-chapter, Bill Of Rights: “Under our old Malayan government, the people had few personal rights.”

Practically, the book of Benitez is replete with reference to the Malaysian ancestry of Filipinos, quoting them all would need several blog pages.  At the time of the book’s publication, he was the Director of Business Administration of the University of the Philippines. His family established the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), located along Taft Avenue. While he was still alive, clamors to re-write history books of the Philippines were loud in view of the questionable ancestry of the Filipinos, based on the controversial “Ten Bornean Datus” and “Code of Kalantiaw”, but he did nothing to republish his own book with necessary rectifications. Researchers who may encounter a copy of the book then, but who has no knowledge on the questionable issue of the Filipino ancestry, will definitely, gobble up the information that Benitez presented.

While the issue on Filipino ancestry has not been settled yet, the Philippine government has added confusion by allowing “authorities” in converting the textbooks into workbooks on other subjects, leaving many students ignorant of what really happened in the past, such as the effort of many national heroes who practically shed blood to gain freedom for the country.

On the issue of Mindanao autonomy, there is no need to cite questionable historic references to give it weight, as we, the people of the Philippines are proud anyway, or our unique Filipino race. There is diversity in religion and culture, just like in any other country, but what cannot be questioned is the harmony that unites us all. And, just like in any other country, the world over, the meddling of politics creates animosities in our country, resulting to the suffering of the Filipinos as a people.

The Importance of History…and the Educated Youth Today

The Importance of History

…and the Educated Youth of Today

by Apolinario Villalobos

Some educated youth of this generation do not seem to know or are familiar with the country’s history. Just imagine the consternation of a field TV reporter interviewing a student when asked, who the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth was. The student was obviously caught by surprised and could not utter a word. The reporter asked her another question about Tandang Sora to which she finally replied as “a place in Quezon City…in Commonwealth Avenue”. When asked about her school, she proudly mentioned a university along Espaῆa St. in Sampaloc. Her current school has got nothing to do with her ignorance, but her previous schools, those she went to as an elementary pupil and the one she attended as a high school student. Still, on her own, she could have, at least, exercised a little diligence in enriching her knowledge about her country. The danger here is that, she may transfer this ignorance to her offspring, a vicious cycle which is happening today.

That is the irony of the current educational system. Schools give attention to their need in developing with the time, with reference to the fast technological transformation of practically everything that influence life. So, schools are worried when their computer system is outdated or they do not have the latest modules for courses that they offer to be more competitive with other educational institutions, to entice more enrollees.  But sadly, many courses today, do not fit in any way to jobs that are available. This lackadaisical approach in the current educational system, also shows well in how institutions seem to have disregarded the importance of basic knowledge of our country’s history, shamefully manifesting in the ignorance of some students who thought that they have learned enough.

On the other hand, some students, themselves, may be blamed for their ignorance. At an early age they get fascinated with the games in the internet. Growing older, they get glued to its social webs….facebook, twitter, etc. They would rather browse for photos that they could share in their timelines or exchange messages about trending issues. They disregard sites that are just clicks away from the facebook or twitter pages. These are sites from which they can gain insights on what the Philippines was, years ago, and the people whose gallantry propelled the country towards democracy.

Worse is the discernible attitude of some students who are seem to be just proud about their ignorance of their country’s history, as if trying to give an impression that they belong to the modern hi-tech age.  That is why, they are no longer interested in what happened before. During the latest May 1 Labor Day protest rallies, one young student was asked why he joined the march. Without any hesitation, he said, “there is no class anyway, and I am with my boardmates”. Obviously, he has no knowledge about the historical significance of the traditional May 1 celebration, and the historical issues behind the insufficient wage for which the different labor unions are fighting for. All he knew was that he was having fun, marching and shouting slogans with his boardmates.

College or university graduates whose parents pawn properties and spend lifetime savings for their education, find it difficult to land a reputable job. They failed to check historical information about the course they have chosen, courses that become useless as they do not fit the requirements of available jobs. These are the young graduates who look forward to clerical jobs in the air-conditioned offices but, which come in trickles compared to the surge of good paying technical jobs, some of which require only two years of studies and on-the-job trainings.

A little looking back will not result to a stiff neck, but still, most of the youth, especially, the “highly” educated who believe they belong to a different realm, refuse to do it. They just refuse to learn some lessons from the failure of their predecessors in the past, lessons that could give them a push forward. For their failure to find a job, these ignorant youth blame the government for “not creating jobs”, insult the President for being a “slave” of America, blame employers for low wage, etc. They blame practically everybody, except themselves who waste precious time playing internet games in cafes or chat with friends about show business happenings.

Given a chance to rise from his grave and live again for even just a few minutes, I cannot imagine what Jose Rizal would say about the Filipino youth of today. Will he still say that “the youth are the hope of our nation”, when some of them may not even have an idea that it was he who uttered this hopeful statement? They who have no idea where Mt. Buntis is? They who do not know where Maragondon is? They who have not heard of Princess Tarhata? They who do not know how to pronounce the letter “R” properly when speaking in Filipino? They who shout obscenities in front of the US Embassy but toe the line for an American visa to be stamped on their passport?

For the youth who may happen to view this discourse, don’t lose heart if you honestly think that you do not belong to the “some” whom I mentioned. Instead, extend a helping hand by admonishing those whom you think are concerned.

The Making of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College Museum

The Making of the NOTRE DAME


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.

The Philippines During the American Regime

The Philippines During the American Regime

By Apolinario Villalobos

With the downfall of the short-lived First Philippine Republic under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the Americans took over to directly rule the archipelago using the governance known as “Insular System”, guided by what were contained in the report of the Schurman Commission in 1899.

Appointments to the public offices were made based on the result of civil service examination taken by aspirants, and not on the basis of family relationship and friendship. Taxes were paid by the “citizens” to the government and in return, they received benefits in many forms. Educational system was initially implemented through the “Thomasites”, the first group of American teachers who were also Protestant evangelists. (Much later, the group was supplanted by the “Peace Corp Volunteers”).

The traditional units of government were maintained, although, their heads were given different references. For the village or barrio, the former “cabeza de barangay” or “teniente del barrio” of the Spanish time, was replaced by the municipal councilor. The “gobernadorcillo” as head of the town was replaced by the “president”. And, on provincial level, the head retained the same title as “provincial governor”.

The Provincial Court was referred to as the Court of First Instance, headed by a Judge, and appointed by the American Governor General. The central or national government was called “Insular Government”, which initially was controlled by a Commission headed by the Governor General. In 1907, however, the Philippine Assembly was created to help the Commission in making laws. It was composed of Filipinos elected by the people. Nine years later, in 1916, the Legislature, composed of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, was created and empowered with the formulation of laws. The members of the two houses were elected by the people.

The highest court of justice during the Spanish time, the “Audiencia”, became the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands, with Americans as majority of its justices, although, the Head was always a Filipino. All of the justices were appointed by the US President.

Personal rights which had been the focus of the Filipino demands during the Spanish regime, were finally, granted by President McKinley in 1900, and later, officially contained in two Acts of the US Congress. These were the Organic Act of July 1, 1902 and the Autonomous Act or Jones Law of August 29, 1916. The Bill of Rights for the Filipinos enacted by the US Congress was very similar to the principles contained in the Malolos Constitution adopted in 1898, under the First Republic, at the helm of which was Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

Unfortunately, what has been initially formulated as an ideal Philippine Constitution was stained by the Parity Rights, insisted on by the United States, giving equal rights to the Americans in the exploitation of natural resources and in all other opportunities in the whole country. The insertion was made during the Administration of President Manuel Roxas in 1947.

The Philippines: from Commonwealth to the Present

The Philippines: from Commonwealth

to the Present

By Apolinario Villalobos

From the Philippine Commonwealth that evolved into Republican form, despite the many years that transpired, until the current administration of Pnoy, the promises of presidential candidates did not change their course which is supposedly towards the uplift of Filipinos and the advancement of the country, but nothing happened of them. The graft and corruption in the government just got worse, much more with poverty.

The Commonwealth government under Quezon was cut short by the WWII. But during his time, the Americans already observed the culture-based administration of the government which was hinged on “gratitude”, “brotherhood”, and “kinship”. The Post-war era of independence saw the granting of independence to the country, transforming the Commonwealth to Republican under Osmeῆa. As the country was still reeling from the effects of the WWII, it was in total disarray. This situation bred profiteering on the part of the businessmen and graft on the part of the government officials, resulting to the much dissatisfaction and dismay of the masses.

The dissatisfaction of the Filipinos was perceived as an opportunity of enterprising and ambitious politicians for grabbing the power from Osmeῆa. As a last effort, Osmeῆa reorganized the government by signing an Executive Order in March 7, 1945, restoring the Executive departments. Unfortunately, Osmeῆa was perceived as lame by the then, Governor-General, MacArthur, who coerced him to convene Congress. Many were against the convening of Congress, then, as it might fall into the hands of the “collaborators” of the WWII, one of whom was Manuel Roxas who fortunately, despite his being a former “collaborator”, was favored by the support of MacArthur.

Among those that the newly-convened Congress approved was a three-year back pay to its members, which was equivalent to the three-year Japanese occupation of the country. It was a telling premonition of more self-serving Congressional actions to happen. The employees followed suit with their own demand for similar back pay covering the same period but was not granted due to unavailability of fund. The cunning Roxas perceived the dissatisfaction of the employees as an opportunity to back up his bid for presidency. He authored the Back Pay Law which was eventually passed in 1948. It gave three years back pay to all pre-war government employees in 1958, after a ten-year period during which the government would have already saved enough funds.

The country did not gain much from Roxas when he held the reins of the government. Graft and corruption still proliferated. But his prominence became more pronounced when the provision on Parity Rights of the Americans was inserted in the Philippine Constitution. Hours before he died, he again committed the loyalty of the Filipinos to the Americans. His true color as “collaborator”, first with the Japanese during WWII, and later, with the Americans, surfaced till the time he drew his last breath.

Quirino took over the presidency when Roxas died. He promised “government reorganization to achieve efficiency at all levels of the bureaucracy, immediate increased production to give employment to thousands of idle laborers, vigorous and honest enforcement of tax laws, the preservation of the national integrity, and continued friendly relations with the countries of the world”. The Hukbalahap movement just became active because of unresolved agrarian issues during Quirino’s administration, and due to the worsening corruption. He wisely gave an all-out support to his Secretary of National Defense, Ramon Magsaysay who was perceived as honest and with unquestionable ability to lead, who somehow mellowed the administration’s strong image of ineptness . The charisma of Magsaysay brought him nearer to the masses.

When Magsaysay became president with the help of the CIA, he unfortunately, went beyond the tolerable treatment of the masses. His pampering of the masses, made them over-dependent to the government, resulting to their idleness. He went to the extent of opening the gates of Malacaῆan to them, practically resulting to the presidential official residence’s transformation into a “park”.  During his term, he promised, the improvement of the land tenure system with land resettlements, easy-term credit for the peasants, intense community development founded on self-help. To support those promises, the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) in Palawan was established in 1955, as well as, the Farmers’ Cooperative and Marketing Association (FACOMA). It was also during this time that Visayans and those from the north, rushed to Mindanao to clear cogon-covered fields. To date, among the results of the resettlement effort were General Santos and Koronadal cities. General Santos City was formerly, “Dadiangas”, while Koronadal City was formerly, “Marbel”.

Magsaysay realizing his mistakes for pampering the common “tao”, was reported to have lost his temper several times, one of which was when he “exploded”, saying: “the people want me to do everything for them!”. His ten-point program was never realized when he met an accident while on board the presidential airplane in March 17, 1957 on the way back to Manila from a speaking engagement in Cebu. The ill-fated airplane was later found on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu. Vice-President Carlos P. Garcia took over the presidency with the demise of Magsaysay. It was alleged that Magsaysay did a corrupt act by posting newspapermen in important government offices, as well as, extended to them favors that not even government officials were lucky to have a share.

The presidential election in 1957 confirmed the presidency of Garcia, although, the said process was said to be the noisiest and most expensive in the country’s history until the time. It was during this time that the Catholic Church was dragged into the chaos, which however, proved that the votes of the Catholics were not reliably solid. Diosdado Macapagal who belonged to the opposition won as Vice-President.

During his term, Garcia promised: “to complete the Philippine economic independence through the adoption of the Filipino First Policy….; to establish Filipino dignity as a free people by dealing with foreign powers on terms of sovereign equality; to achieve a balanced economy by providing equal impetus to agriculture and industry; to promote social justice and the general welfare of the masses, and; to minimize and, if possible, to eradicate graft and corruption”. Just like his predecessors however, Garcia also failed, as the poor not only multiplied but continued to suffer from poverty, while the economy was at its worse.

The people’s disillusionment of how Garcia administered the government, steered Diosdado Macapagal towards victory when he made a bid for presidency. Graft and corruption were the focus of all issues against Garcia which Macapagal used to his advantage. When he won, Macapagal promised: “the immediate restoration of economic stability, alleviate the common man’s plight, and establish a dynamic basis for future growth.” He added to strengthen the deteriorating moral fiber of the people. Unfortunately, a few months after he was sworn in, his province mates indulged in extravagant celebrations, with him and his family at the center. Such flagrant show of opulence went on which slighted the Filipinos much. Macapagal will however, be remembered with his nationalistic decision to move the Philippine Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, and the Land Reform Code which unfortunately was not implemented effectively.

The nepotism, graft and corruption issues were used by Ferdinand Marcos against Macapagal when the former ran for president. The Filipinos, for having no choice and who had been clamoring for change, voted for him.

Among the presidents, it was Marcos who openly admitted that the country was in a dire crisis situation, and to arrest the further deterioration of the country, he promised: “self-sufficiency in the production of rice and the diversification of crops, implementation of the land reform program, and intensification of the community development program. During his time, the country experienced a phenomenal infra-structure boom, to support the drummed up tourism and industrialization efforts of the government. Not satisfied with the Constitution-mandated tenure, he declared Martial Law, to supposedly prevent the Communist take-over of the country. The drastic move was accepted for several years by the Filipinos, until the issue on the murder of Benigno Aquino erupted.

The People Power Revolution in 1987 toppled the dictatorship of Marcos and installed Cory Aquino as President. Issues that her administration faced were recovery of the people’s money, replenishment of the dried up budget, and corruption that was not totally swept out of the system. Her tenure did not accomplish much for the recovery of the country until she was taken over by Fidel Ramos during whose administration there was a spree of privatization and selling of government properties. As the Filipinos got tired of the same economic and political mishaps of presidents, they gave a chance to Joseph Estrada from the movie world, and who promised “heaven”, and something “new”…indeed, corruption with a “new” face, that just got worse. The recurring despair of the people brought Gloria Arroyo to power. Despair again made the Filipinos look for another leader, and this time they bit the bait dangled by the old-time crooks who used the “martyrdom” of Ninoy Aquino to push the presidency of Pnoy Aquino….

The rest is history, literally, because as stated in the pages of the Philippine history, the same problems are the issues today– graft, corruption, nepotism, poverty, colonial attachment to the United States, and weak leadership.

The Bicol Uprising and Concentration System During the American Occupation of the Philippines

The Bicol Uprising and Concentration System

During the American Occupation

Resulting to 300,000 Casualties

By Apolinario Villalobos

In 1903, Simeon Ola with about 1,500 supporters continued the uprising in Albay against the Americans after the fall of Aguinaldo. In answer to such insurrection, the Americans resorted to the concentration of the villagers resulting to the casualty of about 300,000 due to the inadequate supply of food and unhealthy accommodation. Hunger and diseases caused the deaths.

Governor Taft vehemently insisted that the move was necessary to “save” the villagers from the supposedly terroristic activities of Ola, an accusation which was denied by those affected of concentration. What followed was the ceaseless negotiation for his surrender. Aside from Vice-Governor Luke Wright, Pardo de Tavera was also involved in the negotiation for the surrender of Ola for which conferences were held and promises were made by the American government.

As a last resort, On September 22, 1903, Col. Bandholtz purportedly signed an agreement with Ola “promising him immunity” and other conveniences. When the band of Ola surrendered, the Americans denied having signed an agreement with him. Instead, the colonizers spread the story that Ola surrendered finally, as he found it futile to continue going against the superior forces of the Americans who were really resolute in apprehending him at all cost. This denial tactic was used also against Aguinaldo when he conferred with Dewey just before the outbreak of the Spanish-American war.

To further pin Ola down, the American authorities also spread stories that Ola turned witness against his band, for which, he was given an “executive clemency”. The hearing was presided over by Judge James Blount and Judge Adam C. Carson, assisted by Prosecutor James Rosa. The proceeding resulted to the release of some of Ola’s followers, others were sentenced for vagrancy, while the rest were charged for sedition. Some got the heaviest penalty which was death, under the Brigandage Act. Ola was slapped with imprisonment for 30 years…ironically, despite his cooperation. Ola was clearly another victim of the American treachery.


How the American Parity Rights Provision was inserted in the Philippine Constitution…and who opposed it

How the American Parity Rights

Provision was inserted in the Philippine Constitution

…and who opposed it

By Apolinario Villalobos

The Parity Rights of the Americans was inserted in the Philippine Constitution when Manuel Roxas became the first President of the Philippine Republic in 1946. The said provision gave equal rights to the Americans in the exploitation of the country’s natural resources as well as other business undertakings. In explaining to the Filipinos at Plaza Miranda on March 11, 1947, he said:

“We have today our one big chance to convert our native land into an ideal of democracy. Our one chance is to grow and industrialize to reach the first rank of the nations of the world. We have this chance because of the heroism we displayed in the war, we have this chance because we have demonstrated by deed our love for freedom. We have earned the gratitude of mankind. We can and will show tomorrow that we deserve that gratitude by plunging courageously ahead in the great tasks we face.”

Because of that provision in the Philippine Constitution, the first President of the Republic of the Philippines practically, bound the Filipinos AGAIN to emancipation, this time to Americans.

History teachers never enlightened their students as to who opposed the “emancipation” as only few lines about it were devoted to these “true stalwarts” of Philippine democracy. Among these were Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel who never budged from their commitment to defend the Philippine Constitution. They were joined by Luis Taruc and other elected congressmen who belonged to the Democratic Alliance, whose members were non-collaborators during the WWII, intellectuals and peasants.

The Democratic group posed as hindrance to the passage of the Parity Rights Law which shall alter the Philippine Constitution. With their number, the administration of Roxas feared that the needed three-fourths vote will not be achieved. With the prompting of President Roxas, Congress passed a resolution unseating Taruc and the other members of the Democratic Alliance. The move was based on their alleged electoral frauds and terrorism “committed by Hukbalahaps in Central Luzon which resulted in the election of the six candidates of the Democratic Alliance and one Nacionalista. With them out, the Parity Rights Law was successfully integrated in the Constitution.

The years that followed saw the Filipinos sinking deeper in the muck of poverty, contrary to what Roxas dreamed of prosperity for the whole nation. He was a “dreamy” President whose oratorical promises remained promises until his death.

Today, there is another Roxas who delivers the same kind of promises…although, this time, he “dreams” about the promises of the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) of his mentor, President Pnoy Aquino, son of the former Senator Ninoy Aquino. History, indeed, repeats itself!