Marlyn “Nene” Dampog…young mother at 16, successful businesswoman at 53 and proud mother of Notre Damians

Marlyn “Nene” Dampog…young mother at 16, successful businesswoman at 53

and proud mother of Notre Damians

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

There’s more to the smile of Nene who sells any fruit in season along the highway going to barangay San Pablo of Tacurong City. She had been through the harrowing trials as a young mom at 16 and a single mom before she reached 20. Her parents were from Iloilo who migrated to Kapingkong a rice growing barangay of Tacurong.

 

Looking back her younger days, she told me that to be able to help her parents, she became an itinerant vendor when she was in Grade 3. She sold just anything, such as balut (boiled unhatched duck egg), rice cakes and fruits. She confided that she used to climb the high fence of the National Food Authority (NFA) instead of taking the circuitous footpath that led to the compound’s gate to be able to bring her basket of goodies to the employees quickly. Despite all the hardship, she was able to finish her high school, but fortunately, settled down at the young age of 16.

 

She doubled her effort as a vendor when she became a single mom. During the early 70s, she did not need much capital as her supplier trusted her with the then, prevailing “alsada system” or consignment. That was how she was able to earn and save more money to expand her “business”. She would also carry on her head sacks of fruits, herself, to save on the porterage.  During the time, her three daughters were in high school and as they would transfer from one rented shack to another, one of her daughters tearfully told her that in school, she was taunted that they lived like chicken. She consoled her daughter not to mind her classmates who looked down on her. To save on food, Nene and her daughters subsisted on a “pastil” each (a one-dish meal of rice topped with a spoonful of shredded chicken and wrapped in banana leaf) as breakfast.

 

As a single hardworking mom, she almost spread herself too thinly…and there were times when she felt like giving up. But, seeing how her daughters diligently pursued their studies despite financial difficulties, she more than doubled her courage and effort. She confided that did not attend a single meeting in school because her time was devoted to earning their daily subsistence. All her daughters graduated from the Notre Dame of Tacurong Girls’ Department, today, Sienna College and it was only during such occasion that she really took time to show herself up in school.

 

She is consoled today by the thought that she did not buckle down despite various pressure in her life and instead, has been able to have two daughters finish Nursing course, with the third, that of BS Commerce. Still selling fruits at 53, Nene, does not mind as her weariness at the end of the day is vanished by the giggles of her four grandchildren. They have their own big house in barangay San Pablo. She ended our conversation with her parting words, “nobody should be ashamed to work hard in order to survive”.

 

 

The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)

The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

While Divisoria has always been known as the shoppers’ Mecca, especially, during Christmas, there is” another side” of it which I do not want to present as an image of poverty but that of perseverance, patience, and honest endeavor. This is the “other Divisoria” which many people just refuse to see as it might cause them to puke! The accompanying photos show how these honest Filipinos contentedly strive to live in sheer honesty.

 

The skeptics always say, “it is their fault for going to Manila and suffer deprivation”. These hypocrite skeptics have  TV, radio, and occasionally read newspapers, so they should know that the provinces from where these people who are eking out an honest living on the “other side” of Divisoria, are infested with NPAs, Abu Sayyaf, opportunistic landlords, and loan sharks. For the arrogant, the world is just for those who can afford to live decently. On the other hand, as these skeptics have not endured days of hunger, they may not understand how it is to make a difficult decision to live a hand-to-mouth life in Manila by scavenging in garbage dumps, rather than die of hunger and be in constant fear for dear life in the province.

 

It is true that the slums have been in existence for many decades now, but there would be no slums had the government ever since the time the nation has become independent, did not get infested with corrupt lawmakers and officials. The slums have been around since the time that deprivation and exploitation have been propagated by learned Filipinos who found their way in the halls of Congress and Senate, as well as, agencies, even at the helm of the government. Unfortunately, the seed of exploitation has grown into an uncontrollable proportion today, making corruption as wrongly and unfairly viewed to be always a part of the Filipino culture.

 

The striving people from the slums near Divisoria, and other districts of Manila, in this regard, may be viewed by the arrogant as akin to dogs and cats, because of their many children, oftentimes making them utter unsavory remark, such as, “they know they are poor, yet, they keep on having children”.

 

How I wish these skeptics can also openly, make biting remarks –

  • to the corrupt politicians and government officials, such as, “they graduated from prestigious universities and colleges, yet, they do not know what is right or wrong”

 

  • to the filthy rich, such as, “they have plenty of money, yet they can’t even throw a piece of bread to a beggar”

 

  • to the stiff-necked Catholic priests, pastors, and other religious ministers such as, “they are supposed to be representatives of the Lord, but they can’t afford to take a look at the spiritually hungry”

 

Finally, compared to the disgusting hypocrites, loan sharks, corrupt government officials, arrogant “religious ministers” and conscienceless rich, who are supposed to be learned and intelligent, the people who honestly make a living such as those who belong to the “other side” of Divisoria, are worthy to be called creatures of God – true human beings…slum denizens who are viewed by aforementioned with utter repugnance.

 

(This blog will definitely, not hurt those who do not belong to the mentioned “classes” of loathsome Filipinos.)

 

 

Anna…ang eleganteng food vendor sa Roxas Boulevard (Manila)

Anna…ang eleganteng food vendor sa Roxas Boulevard

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

 

Masasabi kong elegante si Anna dahil sa sinasabi sa Ingles na “regal bearing” niya habang nagtitinda ng kape, kendi, at mumurahing sandwich sa isang bahagi ng Roxas Boulevard. Lalo akong nagulat nang walang pangingimi niyang sabihin na ang inabot niya ay Grade One. Hindi na siya nakapagpatuloy ng pag-aaral dahil tumulong siya sa kanyang mga magulang. Isa siyang Tausug, taga-Jolo at ang asawa naman niya ay isang Samal na nagtatrabaho bilang part-time security guard, ibig sabihin, ay “on standby” para magrelyibo o pumalit sa umabsent o aabsent na guwardiya. Lumalabas ang likas na talino ni Anna sa mga sinasabi niya habang nag-usap kami.

 

Una ko siyang napansin nang lumapit siya sa ilang bikers na nagpapahinga at omorder sa kanya ng sigarilyo. Lalong napaaliwalas ng hindi nawawalang ngiti ang likas niyang ganda na pilit lumulutang kahit pinapawisan siya. Kapansin-pansin ang maraming bikers na nagpapahinga at may isang umamin na matagal na nilang suki si Anna sa kabila ng kakaunti nitong paninda dahil mabait daw. Ikinuwento ni Anna na ang ginagamit niyang maliit na kariton ay regalo sa kanya ng isa niyang suking biker.

 

Dahil ang pinag-usapan namin ay tungkol sa buhay-buhay, ini-share niya na sa kabila ng maliit nilang kita, ay napapag-aral pa nilang mag-asa ang dalawa nilang anak…isa sa college at isa sa high school, samantalang ang panganay nila ay may sarili nang pamilya. Nakatulong ng malaki ang mura nilang upa sa bahay kasama ang kuryente at tubig, sa halagang Php2,500, dahil mabait daw ang may-ari. Sa San Andres Bukid sila nakatira na mararating sa loob ng ilang oras na lakaran mula sa Roxas Boulevard. Hindi din daw maiiwasang magalaw niya ang bahagi ng puhunan niya upang magamit kung may emergency, subalit kahit kaunti lang ang paninda ay pinipilit niyang pumunta sa Roxas Boulevard upang magtinda tulad nang Linggong yon nang mag-usap kami.

 

Sa mga Muslim Filipino, ang mga Tausug, tulad ng mga Maranao ay kilala bilang mangangalakal. Sila yong mga dumadayo sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas na karamihan ay nagtitinda sa palengke at bangketa kahit kakaunti ang kalakal. Mapapansin din na kahit sa iisang bilao lang nakalatag ang mga paninda, ang nagtitinda ay maayos ang bihis. Sa murang edad sila ay sinasanay na sa ganitong uri ng pagkikitaan kaya may mapapansing mga tin-edyer pa lang ay may mga sarili nang puwesto. Matiyaga sila kahit ang kinikita sa maghapon ay barya-barya. Ayon na rin kay Anna, ang gusto nila ay kumita ng maayos upang magkaroon ng tahimik na pamumuhay, dahil ayaw nila ng gulo kaya sila pumunta sa Maynila.

Asher: Masipag na “Errand Girl”

Asher: Masipag na “Errand Girl”

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nang minsang kumain ako sa isang maliit na karinderya sa kanto ng mga kalyeng Soler at San Bernardio sa Sta. Cruz ay natawag ang pansin ko ng isang batang lumapit sa may-ari ng karinderya at nagsabing, “pwede na po akong bumili”. Ang nagsalita ay isang maliit na batang babae, na maayos ang bihis at ang kausap niya ay ang may-ari ng karinderya. Siya si Asher na nakapalagayan na ng loob ng may-ari ng karinderya upang bumili ng mga kailangan niya sa kabilang kalye lamang.

 

Nakakatuwa si Asher dahil sa gulang na pitong taong gulang ay marunong nang dumiskarte upang makaipon ng pambaon sa eskwela. Sa pasukan, siya ay tutuntong na sa grade 2 at ayon sa lola niyang si Marissa Marcelino na may karinderya rin sa katabing bahagi lamang, masipag daw itong mag-aral at hindi tamad gumising ng maaga upang makapaghanda sa pagpasok.

 

Ang nanay ni Asher na si Aizza ay anak ni Marissa, at sidewalk vendor din sa Cubao. Halos lumaki na sa lola si Asher na nakatira rin sa lugar na yon kaya kahit sa buong maghapong wala ang nanay niya, ay palagay ang kanyang loob. Maliban kay Asher ay nasa kalinga rin ng lola ang isa pang apo na umaalalay sa kanya sa karinderya dahil nauutusan din subalit may pagkasutil nga lang kaya alaga nitong kulitin ang kanyang pinsan na hindi kumikibo. Mas matanda kay Asher ang kanyang pinsan dahil ito ay siyam na taong gulang na subalit nasa grade one pa rin.

 

Matatas at diretso sa pakikipag-usap si Asher kahit sa mga nakakatanda sa kanya at hindi nakikitaan ng pagkakimi o pagkamahiyain kaya natutuwa sa kanya ang mga nakakakilala sa kanya. Ganoon pa man hindi nawawala ang pamumupổ nito sa mga nakakatanda. Hindi tulad ng ibang bata, hindi na raw hinihintay ni Asher na utusan siya kung ano ang gagawin paggising niya sa umaga. Kusa siyang naglilinis ng katawan bago magpresenta ng sarili upang mamili.

 

Nang umagang yon na natiyempuhan ko si Asher, namili muna siya bago kumain ng almusal kasabay ang pinsan niya. Subalit ang kapansin-pansin ay ang pagiging tahimik niya at kawalan ng kilos-paslit. Tuluy-tuloy ang pagkain niya hanggang makatapos, walang kung anu-ano pang ginagawa na karaniwang ginagawa ng ibang bata. Pagkatapos niyang kumain ay umupo lang siya sa isang tabi upang maghintay na naman ng iuutos sa kanya. Sa bawat utos ay may binibigay sa kanyang pera na iniipon naman niya.

 

Ang palayaw pala ni Asher ay “pango” (flat-nosed), pero itong bansag ay natatakpan ng pagkatao niya na ang pagkabusilak ay nakakasilaw!

Ang Lumpiang Sariwa ni Flor Enriquez-Francia sa Quiapo

Ang Lumpiang Sariwa ni Flor Enriques-Francia

Sa Quaipo

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Mahigit apatnapung taon nang kilala ang lumpiang sariwa na binebenta ni Flor Enriquez-Francia sa labas ng simbahan ng Quiapo. Subalit ngayon ang nagpatuloy sa pagtinda ay ang kaniyang pamangkin na si Nathaniel. At, kung dati ay sa bilao lang nakalatag ang mga lumpia, ngayon ay nasa kariton na at naka-styro at may balot pang plastic sheet upang masigurong hindi naaalikabukan o madapuan ng langaw.

 

Una kong natikman ang lumpia noong taong 2002 nang umusyuso ako sa selebrasyon ng kapistahan ng Black Nazarene. Si Flor naman ay nakapuwesto sa hindi kalayuang Avenida dahil ipinagbawal muna ang mga sidewalk vendor sa Plaza Miranda. Sa pag-uusap namin, binanggit niyang basta walang okasyon sa labas ng simbahan ng Quiapo, sa Plaza Miranda siya nagtitinda, kaya nang bumalik ako sa Quiapo makaraan ang ilang linggo ay nakita ko nga siya doon at halos hindi magkandaugaga sa pag-asikaso sa kanyang mga suki. Matagal bago ako nakasingit upang bumili ng dalawang pirasong inilagay niya sa maliit na supot na plastic at nilagyan ng sarsa. Mahirap kainin ang lumpia kung nakatayo at hindi nakalagay sa platito o pinggan. Kailangang hawakan ang supot na parang saging at ang ilabas lang ay ang dulo ng lumpia. Pero kapag sanay na ay madali nang gawin ito.

 

Nang dumagsa ang iba pang vendor sa labas ng Quiapo church ay hindi ko na nakita si Flor. Inisip ko na lang na baka umuwi na sa probinsiya o baka nagsawa na sa pagtinda ng lumpia. Subalit nang minsang namili ako sa Villalobos St. ay may nasalubong akong lalaking nagtutulak ng maliit na cart at ang laman ay mga lumpiang naka-styro.  Hindi ko siya pinansin dahil inisip kong katulad lang din siya ng ibang naglalako ng pagkain sa lugar na yon.

 

Sa pagpasok ng huling linggo nitong Disyembre, bumalik ako sa Quiapo kasama ang mga kaibigang balikbayan upang bumili ng mga panalubong nila pagbalik sa America at Canada. Nakita ko uli ang lalaking nagtutulak ng cart na may mga sariwang lumpia. Nagtanong na ako kung inabot niya ang “original” na nagtitinda ng lumpia sa Quiapo. Ikinagulat ko ang kanyang sagot dahil tiyahin pala niya ang tinutukoy kong tindera, at idinagdag pa niya na ang buong pangalan ay Flor Enriquez-Francia. Nasa bahay na lang daw ito at doon niya inihahanda ang mga lumpia na kinakariton naman ni Nathaniel.

 

Halos isang taon din pala bago naitinda uli ang lumpiang gawa ni Flor at ito ay pinangatawanan na ni Nathaniel na umaming maski anong mangyari sa kanyang tiyahin, ay walang problema dahil naituro na sa kanya ang sekreto sa pagtimpla lalo na ng sarsa. Nakakadalawang hakot ng mga lumpia si Nathaniel hanggang dapit-hapon kaya malaking bagay daw para sa kanilang magtiyahin ang kinikita niya lalo pa at nagkaka-edad na rin ito kaya marami na ring pangangailangan.

 

Ang ginawa ni Flor ay isang halimbawa ng pagbuhos ng katapatan sa anumang bagay na ginagawa – walang panloloko, kaya lumpia man, na sa paningin ng iba ay napaka-simple, kung hindi naman masarap ay madaling makakalimutan. Ganyan dapat ang ugali ng tao… bukal sa kalooban ang anumang ginagawa maliit man ito o malaki, pansarili man o nakaka-apekta ng kapwa.Fresh Lumpia quiapoFresh lumpia quiapo 2

Volunteerism is in the Heart of my Neighbors, Angie and Hector Garcia

Volunteerism is in the Heart of my Neighbors,

Angie and Hector Garcia

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Just like the rest of the pioneers in our subdivision, the couple, Angie and Hector Garcia went through the expected hardship of living in an unfamiliar new-found home, which in our case is Cavite, used to be known for notoriety – unsafe as many alleged. Add to that the difficulty of commuting to Manila because the only way was via the Aguinaldo highway that passes through buzzling public market of Zapote. The Coastal Road during the time was not yet even in the drawing board of the Department of Public Highways. That was during the early part of the 80’s.

 

A “short cut” to our subdivision from the Aguinaldo highway is traversed by a creek, deep and wide enough to be classified as a river. Several bamboo poles that were laid across the creek served as the early bridge, that was later “upgraded” to a safer one made of two electric poles floored with planks. During the early years the creek did not overflow, however, the constant reclamation of both banks constricted the flow of water that resulted to flash floods which did not spare our subdivision. These instances brought out the innate character of our neighbors that hinged on volunteerism.

 

As the home of Angie and Hector Garcia is situated right at the western entrance of the subdivision where the creek is situated, the homeowners’ association’s heavy duty rope was used to be left in their custody. They would bring it out when flood occurred so that those who would like to take the risk of crossing the bridge would have something to hold on to as they gingered their way through waist-deep flood. A heavy rain for three to four hours would put every homeowner on the alert as the heavy downpour usually triggered a flood. Angie and Hector would miss precious sleeping hours as they waited for the right moment to bring out the long heavy rope, one end of which would be tied to the post of the bridge while the other end would be entwined around the iron grill of their fence or gate. If the flood occurred at night till dawn, we would wake up in the morning with the rope already in place to serve as our “life line” to the other side of the overflowing creek.

 

The couple also took pains in cleaning the vacant area behind the subdivision’s Multi-purpose Hall and planted it to medicinal plants and mango tree which also provided shade. Vegetables were planted, too, aside from medicinal herbs for everybody’s taking in time of their need. The early morning as the sun rises would also see them sweeping the street in front of their house.

 

The leadership qualities of the couple, made their neighbors trust them. Hector had a stint as the president of the Homeowners’ Association, while Angie kept in her custody whatever meager earnings of the association from renting out the Multi-purpose Hall and monthly dues, aside from the collected Mass offerings, until clear-cut procedures were finally established during which she turned over the responsibility to the Homeowners’ Association’s Treasurer.

 

Angie is a cancer survivor having had a mastectomy, but despite her situation, she patiently endured the rigorous travel to Naujan, Mindoro with Hector to regularly check their “farm” which they planted to fruit-bearing trees. When I asked them one time why they take pains in maintaining such far-off farm instead of purchasing another either in Silang or Alfonso, both in Cavite, they confided that they have already “fallen in love” with their investment. Their love for the farm truly shows in their robust physique despite their age of sixtyish. I just imagine that perhaps, if they stop commuting to and from Naujan, Mindoro, weed their farm, and take care of the growing saplings,  their health would deteriorate as usually happens to people who cannot stand being idle.

 

The couple has three daughters, all successful in their chosen fields of endeavor. And, one of them is serving the Homeowners’ Association as Treasurer.

 

“Work Hard in Your Youth”…a Wise Reminder from Manny Relova, PAL’s Hardworking “Salesman”

“Work Hard in Your Youth”…a Wise Reminder

From Manny Relova, PAL’s Hardworking “Salesman”

By Apolinario Villalobos

This blog is about a guy who propelled his way to success by working hard since his younger days. The name may not be familiar with other viewers, especially, those who were not connected with Philippine Airlines. What I would like to impart here, however, is his philosophy in life which is worthy of emulation, in the face of the prevailing attitude of today’s youth.

Manny Relova worked his way up the corporate ladder of Philippine Airlines which he joined after leaving his job at the Elizalde Publications, as Circulation Manager. The said company was known for their Evening News and Bulaklak Magazine. The job honed his expertise in operation and handling of people, a responsibility that he held as a young man and which became useful when he joined the country’s flag carrier.

In 1970, he joined the Marketing and Sales- International Department of Philippine Airlines which brought him to Sydney where he had a stint for two years, followed by a three-year assignment in Honululu, and one year in Bangkok. He was later recalled back to Manila to head the Sales Force, located at the S and L Building Extension Office, along Roxas Boulevard, which was considered as the “flagship” for sales of Philippine Airlines. The “S&L”, as what travel agents, corporate accounts and government offices, referred to, was so strategically located, being within the tourist belt, as well as the community of travel agents.

When Manny Relova set foot on “S&L”, he could have felt the opportunity offered by such location that he immediately embarked on the enhancement of the various services of the PAL offices at the said site. In the process, special desks were set up to serve the specific needs of the various segments of PAL’s clientele, through its “retailers” – the travel agents, as well as, the government agencies.

Aside from the regular domestic and international ticketing offices, other service outlets were Government Travel Ticket Office (GTTO), the desk for Middle East market, and, Special Services Unit (SSU) which was tasked with the computation of special fares that involved connecting flights with other international airlines. These “special sales desks” were the important sinew or muscle that made the Sales Force formidable, in the face of cutthroat competition from other foreign airlines that had the temerity of offering “bargain fares”, to undermine the effort of Philippine Airlines.

Discipline was instilled in the mind of the Sales Force, composed of young Account Officers who were trained to persuade even the most inflexible travel agents to allow their clients to savor the PAL hospitality, this despite the almost give-away fares offered by other airlines.  The exquisite PAL service that speaks of Filipino hospitality has always been the selling point of the “flagship” at S&L, and which stiff competitors and trying times failed to erode.

During the incumbency of Manny Relova, PAL enjoyed the “golden years” of international sales and marketing, such that, many thought that the office along Roxas Boulevard where the Sales Office was located, was the entire PAL itself. Those years brought to fore personalities who became synonymous with “PAL sales”, such as Rene Ocampo, Archie Lacson, Dave Lim, Danny Lim, Harry Inoferio, Elsie Enriquez, Noel Abad, Millie Braganza, Dichay Gonzales, Ruby Precila, Tesi Ona, Ginny Gotamco, Ging Ledesma, Lou Bengzon, Mona Pecson, and Jaime Lucas.

The legacy of hard work was passed on to Rene Ocampo when Manny Relova was assigned to San Francisco and London. The tradition of discipline was so instilled among the young Account Officers that it strengthened their salesmanship in the airline industry. A few years later, most of them have been promoted to higher positions such as managers and vice-presidents.

Hard work tempered with discipline can really do wonders, especially, if they are instilled at a young age….as it can steer dreams towards reality. This, however, is possible on the “leader of the pack”, whose diligence is beyond question, if one belongs to a group.

The Deceitful “Growth” of the Philippine Economy

The Deceitful “Growth” of the Philippine Economy

by Apolinario Villalobos

When President Pnoy Aquino made reports about the “phenomenal” growth of the Philippine economy under his administration, many shrugged their shoulders, as the latter believe otherwise in view of the very obvious poverty that scars the economic landscape, like a creeping amoeba. Pnoy sincerely believes the “truth” in the result of the surveys, which many times have been proven unrealistic, hence, unbelievable. Development should result to fair and real benefits for the appropriate parties. So, whether the Filipinos are, indeed, benefiting from these foreign investments in the country or not, still remains a big question that Pnoy should answer – truthfully.

The Filipino industry is dead long ago, when the country joined the global commerce that enslaved it to one-sided provisions due to quotas involved, favoring giant industrial nations. The Philippines has become the dumping ground of cheap products, especially, those from China and the United States, and woefully, even garbage from Canada! Not even the agriculture industry is spared, as rice and corn fields gave way to subdivisions and business centers. The forests are exploited by loggers financed by foreigners, and so are the mining areas. Manufacturing in the country has become the exclusive venture of foreign investors with Filipinos slaving it out along the length of the assembly lines, and tied to 5-month contract for a measly wage.

The volume and the gross monetary returns of these investments get reported, but the details of the “real profit” are not, because they are hauled back to the countries of the foreign investors. Meanwhile, the only tangible and direct benefit from contractual employment which is the measly wage, is what’s left to Filipinos!…yet, the President Pnoy has the courage to report that the country under his administration has “moved forward” on his “tuwid na daan” (straight path), and that poverty has been decreased!…and very proudly at that!

Pnoy Aquino should stop warbling about “developments” under his term, so that he will not be overwhelmed with criticisms, as he is just basing his claims on questionable survey results. He should not worry, because presidents who preceded him are equally guilty. Just like him, they forgot that the Philippines, is first and foremost, an agricultural nation, yet, this particular segment of the economy was woefully neglected. Instead of preserving what remained of the dastardly exploited natural resources since the American regime, these are left to be further exploited not only by corrupt government officials but by foreign financiers through their dummies, as well.

Public lands were sold, supposedly for their revenue to be used in upgrading government facilities, such as those in the Armed Forces, but nothing happened of it. So, today, the archipelagic Philippines is a miserable sight in the eyes of other nations due to her Navy’s rusty and outmoded ships; the Army’s doleful and inadequate arms and ammunitions; and, the Air Force’s shabby picture with its rickety aircrafts. There are reports that acquisitions have been made…but similar reports were made many years ago…and, remained as just reports.

By the way, though known to be a dictator, Ferdinand Marcos , at the early part of his first term as president, was honest enough to admit the sorry state of the nation with its deteriorating economy. Nobody among the rest of the presidents, including Quezon, the Commonwealth president had the courage to do it.

The situation today is worsened by the obvious cover-up of what are really happening, a gross act of dishonesty. Meanwhile, the country still wallows in the corrupted government system that benefits only a few.

Michael Quirante: Tenacious and Resourceful Branch Manager of McDonalds-Hidalgo (Quiapo)

Michael Quirante: Tenacious and Resourceful

Branch Manager of McDonalds-Hidalgo (Quiapo)

by Apolinario Villalobos

Lately, MacDonalds has been hugging the limelight because of the incidents on food poisoning. This seems unlikely as the food chain is known for being finicky as regards their products and service. I had the chance to test the trademark for which it has been known one morning when I dropped by their Hidalgo Branch in Quiapo for breakfast.

As usual I ordered the pancakes but the Cashier, Love Castaῆares smilingly suggested their new product, launched just that morning, the cheesy egg pandesal. I gave in to her insistence, but I was disappointed as it came in the size which was not my type, so I rejected it. At this instance, the Branch Manager, Michael Quirante volunteered that I still try the pandesal if only to check its taste. I declined, and perhaps in an effort to prevent me from getting irritated, it was promptly changed with the pancakes.

While I was enjoying my pancakes, I saw Mr. Quirante slicing the sandwich into bite sizes, and offered them to the few customers at the time, as it was still early. He had such kind of persuading approach that no customer ever declined his offer, and all of them practically gave their thumb up, to confirm that their new product tasted really good. In just a couple of minutes all bite-sized pandesal slices were gone, and Mr. Quirante was smiling from ear to ear.

What touched me that morning was the persistence of Mr. Quirante in introducing a new product of the company, by personally, offering it to the customers. He was not downhearted with my rejection. Also, I supposed that such gesture was not really part of his routine, but rather his own kind of personal gimmickry that put his resourcefulness to the fore.

My interest in the attitude of Mr. Quirante made me talk to him for a few minutes before I left. I asked him if he was aware of the latest impression on their company due to the issue on food poisoning, to which he answered in the positive, that is why, he told me that they are trying their best to maintain their image. Just then, a service crew came in and greeted him. He told me that the guy was a Muslim. I was surprised because I thought only Christians were being hired by their company. At that, I was told that they want to be fair to all those who seek opportunity to help them with their studies, that is why their outlet has hired four Muslim staff. I was not surprised by what he told me as McDonalds is known for its penchant in helping working students. In fact, Mr. Quirante told me that he went through the same stage, as he was himself, a working student when he worked initially with the company.

Quiapo is one area in Manila, a historic one, yet, which is being shared by the Catholics and Muslims who live side by side harmoniously. MacDonalds contributes to this harmonious co-existence by hiring service crew members from the area, regardless of their religious affinity. Mr. Quirante’s attitude on the other hand, has enhanced the effort of the company in his own way, by doing his best as part of the company – being nice to the clients and his co-employees. He told me that his rising from the lowest position, that of a service crew, until he became manager, gave him the opportunity to understand the entire nature of his job.

While it is true that employees of service-oriented companies are mandated to smile their best to attract customers, the difference lies in the “sincerity” in how it is done. Being an employee myself that handled customer needs, I know if smiling is candidly done or words that are muttered are meant to help or appease irritated clients or not. Mr. Quirante did more than all those…he made use of his resourcefulness to help his company to show that the golden arc does not only symbolize excellent service, but superb products, as well.

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.