LEONIDA…the reason why I endure life in this world

LEONIDA…the reason why I endure life

in this world

By Apolinario Villalobos


She is my elder sister, deaf and mute since birth, and is more than seventy years old. I cannot imagine myself dead ahead of her. She is the reason why I kept on telling classmates before, that I will not settle down with a family of my own as foremost in my mind was take care of her until she dies.


Despite her handicap, she took care of us, her younger siblings, nephews, nieces, and their children. We communicated through a sign language that only our family understands. It was she who developed my love for vegetables, as she would gather saluyot, kulitis and lupo from the yet, grassy, town plaza which was in front of our house. Sometimes she would gather wild mushrooms beside the fence at the back of our house. She would simply cook them with whatever onion, ginger, and tomatoes that can be found in our kitchen. She would boil thickly sliced green jackfruit, for us to be dipped in soy sauce which constituted our lunch when there was no rice to cook.


Her intelligence and curiosity are such that she is fond of browsing through magazines including the comic magazines of the yesteryears. She would collect them in several boxes. Had we thought of keeping them, we could have been rich because a copy of “Hiwaga” komiks today costs not less than Php200. While she was doing her own collection of komiks, I collected my own pages of newspapers used as absorbent protection of dried fish in boxes that our parents ordered from Iloilo and Cebu to be sold in our small stall in the market. I was not yet of school age at that time during which she would observe me as I scribbled on the ground using a twig, the words that I copied from the dried-fish smelling papers, especially, “Purico”, a very popular brand of lard.


When we got completely orphaned, she joined me and an elder brother, in washing bottles and pasting of labels on them for Panay Vinegar, the first business entity, though, home-based, in our town. It was located in our ancestral house that we rented out to a Chinese businessman who treated us, as members of his family. I was in my first year high school then, during which we would stay late at night, especially, if orders were overwhelming, as they would come from store owners in neighboring towns. That was how we earned money.


Later, she was taken in by our late elder sister, Erlinda (Mary to us and her friends) a teacher at the former Sambulawan Elementary Schhol (today, President Quirino). She practically took care of her four children, May anne (Inday), Toto, Neneng, and Nonoy until they got families of their own, as she spent more time with them, than with us. Both my elder sister and my brother-in-law, Ciriaco (Ciring), are gone.


When I was yet with PAL, she was the reason why I would always come home even for a short while. I would take the first flight for Davao, transfer to an aircon van upon arrival for our place which takes 3 hours to reach, and after lunch would leave again for Davao to catch up with the first available flight back to Manila – on the same day. I felt that was all she wanted – see me even for just a short time. An important gift to her is a copy of the glossy Mabuhay magazine which she would lovingly caress upon receipt, open the pages and gawk at the photos.


She is also among the reasons why I believe in the wisdom of God for having brought me back to the point in my life where I made a decision to take care of her, to reaffirm it…after several disastrous living-in relationships, and which further made me ponder that my family is NOT limited to my blood relations but the rest of His creatures who I can touch. Where she is now living comfortably is her comfort zone, from which I could not take her away, as she would be emotionally distressed.


It took time for me to decide to finally bring out her story. But I am forced by the circumstance that some people cannot accept their great fortune of having normal and successful siblings and children, and loving wife, and presently enjoying the laughter of their grandchildren. I want them to compare their situation with mine. I cannot even settle down again as I might be unfortunate to get a partner who will not accept my elder sister. That is how I am simply looking at my life. Had my sister been normal and happily settled with a family of her own, I could be somewhere else, most probably in a depressed area, living with the people with whom I feel most comfortable.


The First Time I Got Shocked in the Course of Doing My Random Acts of Sharing

The First Time I Got Shocked

In the Course of Doing My Random Acts of Sharing

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I made a short stop in Luneta where I planned to take a late lunch one Sunday after I finished my rounds in Divisoria and Tondo, I met Aileen, a young woman who sells tinsel ground tarps. She was wearing a hooded jacket and who gave me her sweet smile to entice me to buy. A few steps away was a child who I learned was Tokong, her “daughter”. I bought her five tarps and began a conversation. I learned that at her young age of 23, the father of her 3-year child abandoned them. She consented when I asked to take a photo, so she removed the hood off her head.


After buying them snacks, I continued my queries about her life which led me to learn that she came from Samar almost five years ago to try her luck in Manila. Luck, however, did not smile at her as she transferred from one job to another until she met the father of her child. When she gave birth to Tokong, they were abandoned by the man she thought would be her lifetime partner. She lived with her relatives who ran out of compassion, forcing them to sleep on sidewalk, and thrived on junks that she collected from garbage bins, until a new-found friend, also a vagrant in Luneta told her to sell tinsel tarps to park strollers.


The child was barefooted so I told her that when I come back I would bring a pair of slipper or sandals, aside from clothes for them. After bidding them goodbye and started to walk away, the child shouted to bring toys, too. The shout made me look back in time to see “her” lift up and bit the seam of “her” dress, as a gesture of embarrassment. I was shocked to find out that “she” was a boy, as the nakedness down there showed the glowing evidence – a male organ!


When I went back to Aileen to ask if there was a problem with Tokong, she was at the verge of crying as she told me that she could not afford to buy appropriate clothes for him. That day, he was wearing a dress that was given the day before.  I found out that he gets a change of clothes only if new clothes were given. The impression that one gets by looking at the child is that he is a girl, as the hair is cut with bangs on the forehead.


I asked more questions till she told me that they are spending the night on the park sidewalk, as the gates are closed at midnight. After hearing this, I gave back the tarps that I bought and told her to sell them to others, and handed her some cash courtesy of Perla who is an avid supporter of my effort. I left them with a heavy heart, but with a resolve to be back soonest…..

Luneta Aileen Tokong


The “Funny Money” the Goes A Long, Long Way

The “Funny Money” that Goes A Long, Long Way

By Apolinario Villalobos


The “funny money” comes from “Perla”, a kind-hearted Filipina benefactor based in America. She earns the money from her translation “sideline”, as she is on a regular call to interpret for Filipinos with cases being heard in court, and who have difficulty in speaking English. The “funny” is her lingual concoction for the job that she did not seek, but in a way, accidentally came her way. She has been consistently supporting my RAS (random acts of sharing) which started when she learned of my RAS from my blogs about such advocacy.


What is really funny is the reaction of friends who keep on asking where some of my fund comes from, as if suspecting me to push drugs just to earn extra. They just cannot believe that somebody would send money for total strangers who are in dire need for help. When I add that there was also a time when another friend in London sent money, and still another in America sent a “blessing” through her “balikbayan” sister, their eyes get bigger in disbelief. In exasperation, I just tell them that it is very difficult for somebody to understand the sharing that others are doing if he or she does not have the same advocacy in life….or if he or she does not extend a hand to others as a habit. As expected, these fence-sitting friends fail to get what I mean. The problem with some people is that, they are used to seeing “charitable acts” done only by people who wear t-shirts emblazoned with their mission.


Perla drives or commutes to courts or hospitals where her service as translator is needed. Her benevolence sometimes bothers me, as I would imagine that she could be left with a little amount or nothing for her own needs. Every time I remind her about that, she would send me a message with typed laughter with an assurance that what she sends me is “funny money” earned accidentally from the job that she has somehow learned to like.


The unselfish sharing of Perla always reminds me of the comment of my two “balikbayan” friends who tried to treat me to a lunch. On our way to the restaurant inside a mall, I saw an emaciated mother and her child who was holding on to a black garbage bag half-filled with empty plastic bottles. Both were staring at the customers eating fried chicken at a lunch counter near the aircon van terminal. When I told my friends to go ahead and that I would just follow in a few minutes, as I would like to buy packed lunch for the mother and her child, they told me not to bother, as “we can just pack our left- over for them after our lunch inside the mall”….they meant “doggie bag”. What they said made me adamant and which also made me decide not to join them anymore despite their pleading. When they left, I bought three packed lunch for the three of us – I, the mother and her child, and enjoyed it in the farthest corner of the terminal where we slumped on the floor. That lunch made my day….and, for which was spent part of Perla’s “funny money”.





Life’s Sorrows and Joys, Pleasures and Pains

Life’s Sorrows and Joys,
Pleasures and Pains
By Apolinario Villalobos

Life is not a bed of roses, so they say…
And it is not always pleasure that we feel
But pain that can be like death, as well…
Life is also specked with sadness and sorrow
But beyond them, is always a bright tomorrow.
The pain of birth that convulses a mother
Becomes a joy, with her babe’s cry like no other.
There is sorrow for those who cry for food
But joy with thought, they’re more loved by the Lord.
The world wallows in pains of greed and abuse
But there is always hope that in life hereafter –
Man’s face will shine with joy… forever!

Denise Michaela….para kay Denise Michaela Balili-Roa

Denise Michaela
(para kay Denise Michaela Balili-Roa)
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Siya’y isang munting anghel
na sa amin ay ipinagkaloob ng Panginoon,
Naging ilaw namin
na hinintay sa tagal na panahon,
Gabay namin sa pagsuong
sa daluyong na di maiwasan,
At pag-asa na sa amin ay nagtutulak
patungo sa magandang kinabukasan.

Sa buhay namin
siya ay isang kayamanan,
Na ga-bundok mang ginto
ay di kayang tumbasan,
Pumapawi ng paminsan-minsan
naming kalungkutan,
At may ngiting nagpapaliwanag
ng makulimlim na kalangitan.

Tahimik kung minsan
wari’y may iniisip na di malirip
sa murang gulang
nakakatuwa siyang pagmasdan,
Sa mga gawi niyang mistulang
matandang malalim ang iniisip,
Siya ang bundle of joy
na sa aming dugo’y
buhay na dumadaloy!

Life’s Sorrows and Joys, Pleasures and Pains

Life’s Sorrows and Joys,
Pleasures and Pains
By Apolinario Villalobos

Life is not a bed of roses, so they say…
And it is not always pleasure that we feel
But pain that can be like death, as well…
Life is also specked with sadness and sorrow
But beyond them, is always a bright tomorrow.
The pain of birth that convulses a mother
Becomes a joy, with her babe’s cry like no other.
There is sorrow for those who cry for food
But joy with thought, they’re more loved by the Lord.
The world wallows in pains of greed and abuse
But there is always hope that in life hereafter –
Man’s face will shine with joy and forever!

Pasko na Naman…

Pasko Na Naman…

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Simoy ng hanging mahalumigmig ang hudyat sa pagsapit ng paskong hinihintay ng mga Kristiyano.

Susundan ito ng awit ng mga namamaskong bata at matatanda, at ang himig, sa saya ito

ay punung-puno.

Mga parol na naggagandahan at mga ilaw, sa kutitap ay nagpapasiklaban, at naaamoy ay

mga kakaning mabango.

Ano pa nga ba at ang buong daigdig ay hindi magkandaugaga sa paghanda sa pagsapit ng

kapanganakan ni Hesukristo.

Pasko na naman…panahon ng pagsasaya dahil ang mga tao ay nabuhayan uli ng hinahangad na pag-asa.

Pasko na naman…panahon ng pagbibigayan na walang pag-imbot, kaya buong puso kung mag-abot sa kapwa.

Pasko na naman…lahat ay nagdarasal na sana man lang ay maibsan ang nararamdamang sakit pati na pagdurusa.

Pasko na naman…sanlibutan ay umaasam na matamo ang minimithing kapayapaan sa buong mundo…sana…sana…

Ang Mga Senior Citizen sa Pilipinas

Ang Mga Senior Citizen

Sa Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Tulad sa ibang bansa, dito sa Pilipinas

Ang senior citizen ay buhay- maaliwalas

Dapat lang namang sila’y bigyan ng pansin

Upang mapanatag ang isip nila’t damdamin.


Kaliwa’t kanang discount, ini-enjoy nila

Upang ang buhay naman nila, guminhawa

Sa biyahe ay may discount, pati rin grocery

Kasamang mga apo, weekend din sa Jollibee.


May isa pang benepisyong ini-enjoy nila

Matindi ito’t nakakagulat, nakakainggit talaga

Dahil kapag inabot ng ganitong edad sa gobyerno

Mangurakot ka man, baka aabutin mo ay abswelto!


Ang Masaya Kong Nakaraan

Ang Masaya Kong Nakaraan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Hindi ito isang kuwentong mala-nobela. Kuwento ito ng masasayang araw ng aking kabataan. Makulay pa. Noong nasa elementarya ako, kasama ang ilang abenturista ring mga kaklase, namumutol kami ng kawayang Hapon sa isang bukid upang gawing sumpit. Upang magkaroon kami ng pambalang monggo, pumupunta kami sa palengke upang mang-umit nito sa mga bilaong nakatiwangwang lang, at pinupuno namin ang aming bulsa. Yong kasama naming isa, siguro nagsisisi sa mga ginawang pang-uumit kaya ngayon ay nakikibahagi ng mga salita ng Diyos bilang tanda ng pagsisisi. Yong isa, namayapa na.


May mga sinamahan din akong mga kaibigan na mahilig sa pag-akyat sa puno. Sa kanila ko natutuhan ang patiwarik na pagbitin sa sanga. Natuto akong bumaba sa puno ng santol na puno ang damit ng ninakaw na bunga, animo ay buntis, habang ang hindi kayang maipit ng damit ay naglalaglagan sa pagitan ng aking mga hita. Wala kaming pera subali’t masaya kami.


Noong panahon na wala pang kuryente sa bayan namin, ang mga nagpapa-party ay gumagamit ng Petromax, at para lang masabi na romantic daw, mga kandila naman ang sinisindihan na kung mangaupos ay pinapalitan ng gaserang de-gas kaya kinabukasan paitiman ng ilong ang mga nagsidalo, dahil sa nalanghap na usok. Ang music naman, mula sa de-bateryang phonograph o “phono”, kaya pabilisan ang pagsayaw ng twist at kung anu-ano pang mabibilis at magagaslaw na “stroke” dahil kapag humina ang baterya, maski kantang “limbo rock” ay nagiging pang- sweet dance na lang, hanggang sa tuluyan nang mamahinga ang “phono”, kaya goodnight na sa isa’t isa kahi’t maaga pa…mahal kasi ang baterya.


May mga haranahan akong inabot. Isa sa mga hinarana ay kapatid kong hindi naman kagandahan, nagustuhan lang yata ang hagikhik nito na nakakaaliw. Minsan, nagalit ang tatay namin, kinuha ang arenola, binuksan ang bintana at ibinuhos ang laman sa labas, yon pala may nagpapasakayle ng gitara sa ibaba. Ang nakikita sa sine na sinasabay sa pagharana ang pagnanakaw ng manok ay totoo. Ginawa ito ng isa kong pinsan kasama ang kanyang barkada isang gabi. Nakadalawa sila ng “nasungkit” na manok, habang ang iba sa kanila ay kumakanta. Sa gabi kasi, ang manok na nakadapo sa sanga ng puno at tulog ay nasusungkit ng kawayang may maikling patungan sa dulo, kung saan lilipat ang manok na susungkitin. Ibinababa ang manok sa sungkit kung malayo na sa bahay na hinarana, kaya walang problema maski mag-ingay pa ito.


Madalas ang sunog sa amin kung pasko – mga parol, hindi bahay. Mahilig kasing gumamit ang mga nagkakaroling ng parol na ang ilaw sa loob ay sinindihang kandila. Malalamang may nasusunog na parol kung may nagtatakbuhan at nagkakahulang aso. Ang usong ibigay noon ay hindi pera, kundi kung anong mahahagilap sa mesang prutas o tirang kakanin. Siguradong pera ang matatanggap ng nagkakaroling kung magbibigay sila ng sulat sa mga tatapatang bahay. Ang mga mahiyain naman na nagkakaroling, kumakanta habang nakatago sa likod ng puno, malapit sa bahay o di gaya ay sa halamanan. Maghahanap pa ang maybahay kung saan ang kumakanta para abutan ng saging o kamote na nilaga.


Ang mga sinehan sa amin, amoy- ihi at ang mga upuan ay maraming surot, pero napapagtiyagaan. Ang isang sinehan ay naging dalawa, naging tatlo, hanggang naging apat. Nauso ang mga “plus bom” na palabas. Ito yong mga pelikulang may mga isiningit na malalaswa kaya ang tawag ay “plus bom” na ibig sabihin ay “plus bomba”. Bomba ang tawag noon sa mga pelikulang malaswa. Kung magpalabas nito sa amin ay walang pakialam ang mayor. Abot hanggang kalsada ang ingay ng halinghingan ng mga artista, para bang nang-aakit pa ng mga manonood, kaya ang mga abenturista kahit menor de edad, nagkandapunit ang mga high school ID dahil sa pagpapalit ng birthday. Hindi pinatawad ang mga pelikula ni Joseph Estrada at Fernando Poe, Jr. na siningitan din ng mga “plus bom”, pati ang kay Nora Aunor. Nagkakagulatan na lang sa loob ng sinehan, ang hindi makatiis, lumalabas.


Masaya sa bayan namin kapag may dumating na van ng “cortal” dahil magpapalabas sila ng libreng sine sa plaza. Kanya-kanyang puwesto ng upuan sa harap ng van, magdadapit-hapon pa lang. Pagkatapos ng palabas, magbebentahan na ng mga gamot, na kung isipin ko ngayon ay baka mga expired na kaya pino-promo. Pero wala akong nalamang namatay sa amin dahil sa expired na gamot. Nagbebenta ako ng sinangag na mani kung may libreng palabas na sine.


Madalas ding magpa-“amateur” ang mayor namin na ang ibig sabihin ay amateur singing contest, sa plaza. Ang mga pampalubag- loob na premyo ay tinapay na donasyon ng nag-iisang bakery sa amin. Obligadong magbigay ang may-ari dahil baka isara ang bakery niya, matapang kasi ang mayor namin. Marami palang may magagandang boses sa amin. Ang isang maalala ko ngayon ay may apelyidong Levita. Naalala ko rin sina Grace Perales, at Eufemia Alcon na naging wedding singer. Parehong mga elementary pupils sina Grace Perales at Eufenia Alcon noong sumikat sila sa amin.


May dalawang “unit” ng combo ang mayor namin. Ang isa ay tumugtog sa isang beerhouse sa Pasay na nakita ko pang kasama sa isang eksena ng pelikula ni Joseph Estrada. Yong isa ay permanente sa bayan namin upang magpasaya sa mga tao tuwing Linggo. Nagdala ang mayor namin ng dalawang magagandang singer mula sa Maynila. Nagbukas din siya ng isang “night club” sa may bandang palengke, katabi ng katayan o slaughter house. Tinawag itong “Kayumanggi Club”. Ang combo naman ay tinawag na “Firebrand Combo”, dahil ang mga tumutugtog ay nakalista sa payroll ng munisipyo bilang mga bumbero. Yong tumutugtog sa Pasay ay “self-liquidating” dahil ang sweldo ng mga miyembro ay galing sa kita nila, pagkatapos kaltasan ni mayor. In fairness sa kanila, talagang magagaling tumugtog at kumanta, lalo na ng mga kanta ng Bee Gees at Tom Jones. Sa buong probinsiya, bayan lang namin ang may combo, dalawa pa.


Regular ang pagdating ng mga peryahan tuwing piyesta sa amin. Kinakaibigan naming magkakabarkada ang mga nagbabantay sa entrance ng circus upang makapasok nang libre. Binibigyan namin ng prutas na nahihingi namin. Nasuyod naming magkakasama ang buong bayan sa paghanap ng mga prutas upang hindi kami pabalik-balik sa ilang bahay. Minsan, nakawala ang ahas na kasama sa palabas, paliliguan sana subali’t gumapang palabas ng tent, takbuhan ang mga batang nag-iistambay. Sa takot ko, dalawang araw akong nilagnat.


Magandang magbalik-tanaw sa mga masasayang araw noong kabataan natin. Nakakapagbigay ng ngiti. Iba talaga ang panahon noon, masaya kahit walang computer at malls.





Kaligayahan….para kay Bing Paragas Calbone


(para kay Bing Paragas Calbone)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Kaligayahan ang paggising

Sa haplos ng malamig na simoy

Ng ginintuang bukang-liwayway

Hudyat ng bagong araw, bagong buhay.


Kaligayahan ang mga kapitbahay

Na ang mga tahanan ay binubuhay

Ng halakhak ng kasiyahan at ng sigla

Tanda na sila ay punong-puno ng pag-asa.


Kaligayahan ang supling na dumating

May mala-rosas na pisngi, tawa’t ngiti

Na sa iyo’y nagdala ng luha’t kaligayahan –

Damdaming halos wala kang mapagsidlan.


Kaligayahan ang makatulong sa ibang tao

Na hindi mo inaasahang sa iyo ay ibabalik

Dahil ang tanging hangad mo’y maipakita

Na walang katumbas, pagmamahal sa kapwa.


Kaligayahan ang hindi na maghahangad pa

Ng mga bagay na sa buhay na ito’y makakamit

Dahil mas mahalaga ang sa Kanya’y sampalataya –

Maigting at tagos sa puso na dapat nating nadarama!