The Filipino Language and its Conversational and Scholarly Characteristics

The Filipino Language and its Conversational

and Scholarly Characteristics

By Apolinario Villalobos


The Filipino as a language is injected with many influences from the different traders who frequented the archipelago during the pre-colonial days. The Spanish and American colonizers who stayed for a long time, practically, impregnated the Filipino culture with their own, that made the latter richer, especially, the language. The result is what today, are being spoken and used in writing by the Filipinos – the language that underwent several stages of transformations.


The unique Filipino language is originally what the Tagalogs of southern Luzon exclusively spoke as their dialect. Aside from Tagalog, other major dialects in the country are Hiligaynon and Karay-a in the provinces of Panay island, the Cebuano in the island of Cebu and other islands of the region as far down south in Davao, Bikol in the Bicol Peninsula,  Ilocano and Pangasinense in the north. The Moroland in Mindanao has its Maguindanaoan, Iranon, Tausug, and Maranao.


To unite the Filipinos, Manuel L. Quezon declared Tagalog as the “common” language, but to give it a bonding character and to remove the exclusive reference to the Tagalogs, it was called “Pilipino”, and still later, “Filipino” which is what it is called until today.


There are Filipino words that are better written than spoken, and vice versa. As a scholarly language, there are also words that are better read in “tula” (poetry), and heard in songs, as well as, part of a formal dissertation. Still, there are words that have better use in speeches, as well as, in swearing. That is what confronts the current generation of Filipinos. Most find difficulty in comprehending some Filipino words that is why, the sympathizing writer has to enclose the English equivalent in parenthesis right after them. Some words that are immoral are translated into English before they can be spoken, too.


The Filipino language further evolved into what is called “Taglish” (Tagalog/English) and is proved to have manifold benefits. The natives of the Cordillera Region who are more exposed to the English language of the missionaries use it, as well as those of the Visayas , who sound awkward when speaking in straight Tagalog, due to their regional accent.


The fast metamorphosis of the Filipino as a language is a manifestation of its steady growth. An outgrowth that many Filipinos did not notice, however, is the “gay lingo” that has become acceptable among the youth. Even the international Aldub TV series employ the “gay lingo” to the delight of its followers. One word worth mentioning is “bey” which is the corrupted form of “baby” and which means “dear”, “love”, “friend”, “sweetheart”, or just anything that connotes closeness. The “pambansang bey” is dearly tagged to Alden Richard, and it means “national love, heartthrob, heart, sweetheart, etc.”


Bloggers are doing their best in spreading the appreciation for the highly- alive Filipino language by using regional words or gay words, at times. The blogs that come in different forms such as free-versed “tula” and free-style essays are in the forms which are not found in any corrupted textbooks used in school. The viewers are then, incited to freely ask for verifications as to what they stand for or what they mean.

Mineral Resources of the Philippines

Mineral Resources of the Philippines

by Apolinario Villalobos

During the pre-colonial days of the Philippines, only gold was mined by the natives. The precious metal was among the reasons why the archipelago was coveted by colonizers. Different mineral deposits are practically distributed among the islands and islets that compose the archipelago.

Gold can be found in the Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Camarines  Norte, Camarines Sur, and Mindanao; chromite in Zambales, Batangas, Mindoro, Masbate, Palawan, Surigao, Agusan, Davao, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, and Mountain Province; copper in Ilocos Norte, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Catanduanes, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Cebu and Tawi-tawi; iron in Ilocos Norte, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Bulacan, Bataan, Camarines Norte, Marinduque, Surigao,Davao and Palawan; natural asphalt in Leyte. Nonoc island is known for its nickel.

Manganese can be found in  Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Coron Island in the Calamian group, Siquijor, Bohol, Bukidnon, and Leyte; coal in Polilio island, Laguna, Quezon, Mindoro, Capiz, Negros, Cebu, Samar, Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur; oil in Cebu, Cotabato, and Quezon; gypsum in Batangas; sulfur in  Camiguin Island; pyrite in Camarines Sur, Palawan and Surigao; soda feldspar in Cebu, Biiran Island, and Sarangani; phosphate in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Palawan, Iloilo, Samar and Bohol; quartz sand in Ilocos Norte; magnesite in Davao; granulite and quicksilver in Palawan. Today, the coastline of Ilocos Norte is gashed with non-stop mining of quartz sand by shiploads.

Romblon is known for its world-class marble which can also be mined in the Mountain Province, Guimaras Island, and Bulacan; guano deposit abounds in Pangasinan, Zambales, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Iloilo and Palawan; silica sand can be found in Lubang Island near Palawan, Dinagat island near Surigao, and in Palawan;  limestone abounds in Cagayan, Isabela, Bulacan, Quezon, Samar, Panay island, Cotabato provinces, Cebu, and Palawan.

It is no wonder that “modern colonizers” salivate at the prospect of economically enslaving the Philippines, on account of her abundant mineral deposits which could be considered as “collaterals” for never-ending renewal of debts. This is also the reason why, the Americans immediately demanded the inclusion of the “Parity Rights” in the Philippine Constitution before total self-governance was finally granted.

The West Philippine Sea being disputed with China and other neighboring SEAsian countries, and the Ligwasan Marsh in Cotabato are reputed to be rich in natural gas and deuterium. With the predicted exhaustion of oil deposit in the Middle East, industrialized countries are looking for alternative sources of fuel, and the Philippines is among them.

How can the Filipino, then, not fight for his rights, and protect what are his, such as those that have been mentioned?

Mountain Ranges, River Systems, and Volcanoes of the Philippines

Mountain Ranges, River Systems

and Volcanoes of  the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

For the Filipinos, it is important to have a bird’s eye view of their country for better understanding and appreciation. For the foreigners, it is equally important, so that they will have an idea why the Philippines is called, Emerald Isles of the Pacific, Pearl of the Orient Seas, Land of the Rising Sun, etc.

For one thing, the archipelagic country is composed of more than 7,000 islands and islets, depending on the tide. The irregular coastline is about 10,850 statute miles. The Philippine Deep located 40 miles northeast of Mindanao is the deepest ocean depth at 37,782 feet, which is deeper than Marianas Deep which measures 36,640 feet. Volcanic in origin, the total land surface is 114, 830 square miles. The country is divided into main groups such as, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.


Luzon is the northern chunk of the archipelago with Batanes as its northernmost province. The mountain ranges that dominate the Central Plains are: Caraballo del Sur, with the apex located between Abra, Ilocos Norte, and Cagayan. The Caraballo  Occidental is divided into the northern and central, traversing the western area of the Cagayan River. The Sierra Madre which is known in some history books as Pacific Coast Range originates from Baler and covers Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan, making it the longest range in the Philippines. The eastern and southeastern mountain ranges, meanwhile, starts from Caraballo de Baler to San Bernardino Strait, and ends in Mayon volcano in Albay and Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon, both of the Bicol region in the southern tip of Luzon mainland.

The mountain range that begins at Tagaytay, passes through the rest of the province of Cavite, onward through Batangas, ending in Mt. Makiling. Meanwhile, the Zambales range, begins at Cape Bolinao, running along the China coast up to the Bataan peninsula. On the island of Mindoro, the sierra range starts at Mt. Halcon, forking into three, with the northwest ending at Calavite Point which for centuries has been used as a landmark of mariners that cruise through Manila Bay and Mindoro Strait, the eastern fork from Naujan Lake, and the western fork that follows the Mindoro Strait

The river systems of Luzon are: Rio Grande de Cagayan and its tributaries that flow towards Cagayan Valley: the Agno Grande that flows to Benguet and the valleys of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Tarlac; the Abra River while serving as the catch basin of tributaries from the Cordillera, flows to Lepanto, Bontoc and  Abra; and, the Rio  Grande de Pampanga and its tributaries that flow towards the valleys of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan.

Other river systems are: Magat River flows across Isabela and Nueva Ecija with tributaries flowing from the Mountain Province to Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac; Laoag River in Ilocos Norte; Abra River in Abra; Tinig River, Amburayan River, and Chico River in Mountain Province; Tarlac River; Angat River in Bulacan; Marikina River and Pasig River in Metro Manila; Pagsanjan River in Laguna; Maragondon River in Cavite; Tayabas River in Quezon; Labo River in Sorsogon; Pitogo River in Occidental Mindoro; Boac and Mogpog rivers in Marinduque; and, the most famous, Underground River in Palawan.

The volcanoes of Luzon are Mt. Iraya in Batanes, Taal in Batangas, Banahaw in Quezon, Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon, and Mayon in Albay. Mt. Mayon has erupted more than 30 times since 1615; Taal, the smallest volcano in the world has erupted about 30 times, as well, with the most destructive in January 30, 1911 which killed more than 1,300 people, and its last eruption occurred in September 3, 1976.


Negros island is partitioned by a mountain range with northwest to southwest orientation with the protrusion of Mt. Kanlaon as the highest, and the rest are:  Mt. Razor, Mt. Silay Mandalague, and Mt. Malapantao. Panay Island has a north to south orientation of a mountain range that separates Iloilo, Aklan and Capiz provinces from Antique, and with Mt. Madjaas as the highest peak, with the rest: Mt. Agudo, Mt. Lantuan, Caniapasan, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Nangtud, Mt. Nausang, and Mt. Usigan.

The river systems of Visayas are: Panay River in Pan-ay, Sibalom River in Antique, Suaque River in Iloilo, Bago River in Negros Occidental, Mabanga River in Bohol, Ulut and Catubig rivers in Samar.


The four mountain ranges of Mindanao are: Surigao mountain range that follows the outline of the Pacific coas; Butuan range that serves as the water shed of the Agusan River on the east, and Pulangui river on the west; the Mt. Apo range located in the central and western portion of the island; and the western range, from Iligan Bay up to the shores of Basilan Strait. In Lanao, north of Mt. Iniaoan is Mt. Catmon, while south of Lake Lanao is Mt. Butlig. Separating Cotabato and Lanao are Mt. Maraturang and Ragang volcanoes. Other mountains in Cotabato are Mt. Dinaca, Mt. Bulik, Mt. Magolo and Mt. Matutum. In Bukidnon, the two highest peaks are Mt. Kintanglad west of Malaybalay, and Mt. Kalatungan. Aside from Mt. Apo, another active volcano in Mindanao is Mt. Makaturing in Lanao.

The Rio Grande de Mindanao, fed by the outflows of two lakes, and the largest river system in the Philippines flows to the central plain of Mindanao. The Agusan River which is the second biggest, next to Rio Grande de Mindanao, flows to the basin of Surigao. Other rivers in Mindanao are: Buluan River in Maguindanao, Kapingkong River in Sultan Kudarat, Dansalan River in Cotabato, and Clarin River in Misamis Occidental. Ligwasan marsh occupies a vast tract of area in Cotabato to which some water of the Rio Grande de Mindanao also flows.

Lately, the Philippines has become a favorite mountaineering destination of trekking enthusiasts from other countries, and whose number swelled that of the locals composed of professional bloggers, students and young professionals. Among the most popular are:  Mt Iraya in Batanes, Mt. Dos Cuernos in Cagayan, Mt. Pulog in Benguet, Mt. Halcon in Mindoro, Mt. Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, and Mt. Makiling in Laguna; Mt. Madja-as in Antique; Mt. Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan (Romblon); Mt. Manunggal in Cebu; Mt. Kanlaon in Negros; Mt. Apo in Davao, Mt. Hibok-hibok in Camiguin, Mt. Kitanglad in Malaybalay, and  Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato. I know that more mountains, though not impressive in height but equally challenging, are just waiting to be explored, aside from what I have mentioned.

It is fascinating to know that outdoor sports bloggers do their share in promoting the sport to boost the tourism industry of the Philippines, by posting their discovered peaks as they trek around the country. Browsers need only to use the tags: “Philippine mountains”, “Philippine mountaineering”, “Philippine trekking”, and “Philippine tourism” to access their sites.

Ode to the City of Angels…(Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines)

Ode to the City of Angels
(Angeles City, Pampanga)
By Apolinario Villalobos

With the tarnish in your name now gone
you sparkle with splendor beneath the sun,
To rise in glory, proud but not with arrogance –
you finally succeed by dint of perseverance.

Oh, Angeles! Lucky are your diligent denizens
as they now live in tranquility under your wings,
No woe and fear, just pleasure fill them no end –
a blessing deserved by the fortunate like them.

Cities rise and instead of moving on, some stall
but not with you Angeles… you’ll rise still, not fall,
For time has proven your tenacity, your firmness –
that withstood scores of heart-breaking challenges.

Spread your wings, Oh, Angeles! Spread them wide
as their shadow, to more souls, solace they may provide,
Let those who long for comfort find it in your realm –
In you, let them savor the fulfillment of their dream!

(Angeles has practically made a turn-around, and
rose from a quagmire of bad impression as a “city
of sins” many years ago. Today, it is one of the
veritable tourist destinations in Luzon, located
at the northern outskirts of Manila.)

Across Mindoro Island On Foot and A Raft

Across Mindoro Island On Foot And A Raft

By Apolinario Villalobos

The plan to traverse the island of Mindoro from Calapan to Mamburao, was concocted at the house of Dr. Gus Guerrero of the Mountaineering Association of the Philippines (MAP). The invitation to join their small group was extended just after I, together with the PAL Mountaineers, concluded a cross-country trek of the Leyte Mountain Trail. At the house of Dr. Guerrero slides presentation was made to show the terrain of the Mindoro with all its rivers, tributaries and waterfalls. The plan was to start the trek from Villa Cervesa at Calapan, then trek up the forested side, and the Eagle Pass, to look for the source of Amnay River, then, using a rubber raft, drift down to the China Sea. Gus was confident that everything would be alright as he has explored the area during his stint with the PANAMIN, a government agency that worked for the uplift of the indigenous tribes during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. There were four of us that evening, huddled over several bottles of beer while discussing the trek – Gus Guerero, Vincent Christian, Bobby Sison and I. The plan was to extend the invitation to a limited number of friends due to the “nature” of the expedition.

Finally, Gus was able to get confirmations to join from Bobby Sison, Dul Gemora, Fred Jamili and I. The inflatable life raft which Vincent and I picked up from the Philippine Navy Headquarters at Sangley in Cavite was through the courtesy of the then, Rear Admiral Simeon Alejandro.

Our journey started at a bus terminal in Pasay City on September 18, 1982 for a ride to Batangas City from where a ferry was to be taken for Calapan, Mindoro. There was a threatening storm on that day, so that our sailing from Batangas City to Calapan was not smooth. On board the ferry, Gus, a doctor by profession, briefed us on the use of an instrument for reviving a drowned person.

Dul Gemora who went ahead to Calapan days before to look for Mangyan porters was at the Calapan wharf upon our arrival. Everything was well coordinated as we disembarked from the ferry up to the time we left for Villa Cerveza, a sitio of Victoria, and a last-minute shopping for additional provisions.

At Barangay Cerveza, Dul introduced us to our Mangyan porters, whom he got from Baco, a nearby district. Barangay Chairman, Isabelo M. Malamanis of Villa Cerveza, accommodated us for the night. Casually, he asked us for our “mission”. He could not seem to comprehend that what we were doing was just for fun. We told him that, as gambling is for gamblers, liquor is for drunkards, so is mountaineering for us – nature lovers. He accommodated us for the night and introduced us to his two trusted men who would guide us up to the mouth of Amnay River.

Before we retired for the night, he did not stop from discouraging us by confiding that the river could have swelled due to incessant rains, and there was yet, the raging typhoon, and worse, the population of the leeches must have tripled due to the rainy season! All we told him was, we leave everything to the Lord!

At dawn, Fred Jamili had a nightmare. I had to nudge him awake to stop him from waking the neighborhood up with his shouts of “where?…where?”. When asked about it over breakfast, he told us that he could not recall anything. We just presumed that perhaps, he was dreaming that we got lost and in despair, he shouted.

Day 1

It was a pleasant day when we left the barrio to start our trek, despite the forecast the day before, about a typhoon that would whip Mindoro. We left just before the sun was up. In no time, we reached Aglubang River whose rushing water reached up to our waist at the deepest, and spans about twenty meters at its widest.

After Aglubang, we made it to Ibulo River in less than an hour, and which was swollen a little bit according to our guides. After crossing it, we rubbed our bodies, clothes, socks and shoes with laundry soap to deter the leeches which abound in the area.

After about an hour of trek, the leading guide pointed to the mountain ahead of us, indicating that it was Mt. Balagayon. It was yet a little farther, but which we had to cross before reaching the Eagle Pass. At the foot of the mountain lived Nganga, a Bicolano who had been in this part of the island for a long time, and came to be called such name because of his habit of chewing betel nuts that made his mouth, eternally blood red. He was supposed to join the guides up to the mouth of Amnay River because of his thorough knowledge of the area. Unfortunately, he was sick, so we had no other choice but be satisfied with the two from Villa Cervesa.

From Nganga’s house, it was an upward trek following a Mangyan trail that wound through the thick forests of Mt. Balagayaon. True to Mr. Malamanis’ words, leeches were at their thickest at this time of the year, and they feasted on us! We had to stop from time to time to check each other for the leeches that needed to be removed from our face, ear and eyes. Some clung firmly. Practically, the soap was no match against them. One after another, the Mangyan porters groaned under the weight of the 62 kilos life raft which each of them carried at an interval of fifteen minutes.

There was an intermittent drizzle before we reached Balisong which we targeted at noontime, but failed to do, so that we were forced to take our lunch by the river while taking a break for twenty minutes. The drizzle became a downpour. Along the way, I learned from one of the guides that the name of the place, Balisong, referred to a small waterfall that gently cascades down boulders covered with creepers and ferns.

Our going was slow because of the stops for the regular check we made to each other for leeches, aside from the slippery trail that we were following. While negotiating one of the ridges, Bobby unfortunately slipped on a flat rock. He was thankful to a bush which stopped his fall, though he sprained his left knee as a result. His fall caused a commotion among the Mangyan porters because they thought, he encountered a snake.

We reached Ugos River late in the afternoon under a heavy rain. Instead of tents, we decided to use three ponchos as shelter that we pitched on an elevated area. It barely accommodated the thirteen of us, including the guides and the Mangyan porters.

Day 2

The following day, we broke camp after a light breakfast and moved on despite the heavy rain. It was a tough start for us, while aiming for the Eagle Pass. The thick primary forest this time yielded one more kind of leech, a green one with yellow stripe, in addition to the black ones that abound on the ground.

From behind the thick foliage, we could hear the distant gurgling of a river which we were told was still Ugos. We were following a Mangyan trail leading towards the west as we moved on, and the forest becoming thicker. At about noontime, the leading guide told us that we had to follow another trail because the old one which they were using before was gone. Everybody became impatient, especially, Gus who told us earlier that we were supposed to come out of the forest into a vast cogonal area at about noontime. The group decided then, to blaze another trail leading towards the river below. Reluctantly, the leading guide consented while the other one was sent to find out the extent of the trail that we were following.

We went down the ridge, practically wading through thick clumps of cogon grass while Fred was left halfway to give signal to the rest if it was alright for them to follow us. Meanwhile, Dul took charge of the equipment. In half an hour, we were able to blaze a new trail. Unfortunately, it was not Amnay River that we found. One of the guides refused to join us further up, for fear perhaps of the several waterfalls that we had to negotiate. With just a mumbled instruction for us to wait for him, he went up again. We were left shivering in the rain for about an hour and a half. After almost an eternity, the guide returned with Tony, a Mangyan whom he found working in a “kaingin” on the slope of the nearby mountain. After a brief introduction, we were on our way again with Tony leading us. Halfway up, Gus stopped to bandage his left knee which was giving up.

After almost an hour, we came out of the forest into a sea of cogon grass! On our right, we could distinctly hear the sound of a river which Tony confirmed as Amnay. As if for a climax, the Eagle Pass made us gingerly trudge on its two-foot wide ridge with a length of about 400 meters. And, this we had to do without looking at both sides – practically cliffs covered with grass. Bobby got another scare of his life when he slipped again! Our effort was compensated with the fantastic view of the ribbon-like and foaming Amnay way below!

On the banks of the river were Mangyan huts that constitute Barrio Ugos. Barangay Chairman Garong allowed us to use one of the communal huts which could normally accommodate five families. Tony, the Mangyan guide who led us down refused to accept the money that we offered as remuneration for his effort. Instead, he asked for some amount of salt which we readily gave. The suppressed joy on the face of Tony upon receiving the bag of salt gave me a tingling sensation down my spine.

That afternoon, we tried the rapids of the river using the modular type life raft that the Philippine Navy lent to us. They had five separate air modules which we thought would be very advantageous considering all the threatening rocks and boulders. But during the test run, we found out that we were helpless against the current. Also, in our group, only Fred and Bobby were familiar with paddling. On the aspect of running this kind of river, everybody was zero in experience. So there was no disagreement on leaving everything to fate. We were already one day behind the planned itinerary.

Day 3

We woke up early to prepare ourselves for the start of our “critical” journey. There was no solid food taken, except for a bite of chocolate downed with coffee and milk. This, according to Gus would prevent choking when somebody gets drowned! That early morning, too, the guides and porters from Villa Cervesa left us.

Just when everybody was raring to go, we found the front half of the raft’s main chamber deflated! There was a hole, obviously, that we fortunately discovered after an almost thirty minutes of search. It got patched up eventually. Since the start of our journey that morning, we got stuck eight times and got caught in a whirlpool! We managed to run only about seven kilometers of the river when we finally stopped before a fast bend strewn with protruding rocks. The bend was where the Ugos also flowed, so that one can just imagine the current as a result of the merging.

We were trying to reach a consensus whether to avoid the bend by carrying the raft and our packs to the other side or go on when Pidyo Mondejar spotted us – from the other side. We introduced ourselves by hollering to him. We threw the life rope to him to support us while crossing the river to his side. He was such a helpful fellow and we found out that he was working at a nearby ranch owned by a certain Dr. Tolentino and Judge Abeleda.

He was told by a Mangyan about the presence of strangers – us, so he came to investigate. He warned us about the gorge and a waterfall that are dangerous down which we were targeting. An investigation was made, and it was confirmed, so that we decided to avoid the bend. We carried the raft on the other side then, and went on with the run with Pidyo who enjoyed the bumps and his occasional fall. We managed to cover about two kilometers until darkness caught up with us. Pidyo suggested that we spend the night at the ranch, and leave the raft by the bank.

The ranch was supposedly just “behind the hill” ahead of us. But the muddy trail made our progress sickeningly slow. Until finally, pitch darkness enveloped us. Pidyo admitted that he was sort of confused as he was losing the trail, despite the help of two flashlights. After about three hours of walking like zombies, we finally reached the ranch. Each one of us just tried to find a cozy corner for the night…without giving attention to the pang of hunger.

Day 4

The following day, Pidyo and Gus inspected the river for calculations. When they came back, they reportedly failed to see the gorge. In other words, there was indeed, a waterfall that drops to several meters!

After breakfast, we discussed our strategy. The plan decided on was to ride the raft until it reached the bend where it would be allowed to fall down the waterfall and go with the current up to the bend at the ranch where I would be waiting. Those who rode the raft, would retrace their way back to the ranch. At the last minute, however, they decided to ride on the raft and take chance in falling with it down the waterfall which they enjoyed, even the bumps on the boulders. Pidyo even fell down but before anybody could react, he was back to his place in the raft, as if pulled by a rubber band!

At the ranch, over lunch, Pidyo was excitedly giving hint that he would like to experience the run all the way to the China Sea in Mamburao. It would be impossible, except if one of us should give up his space. I decided to do it – give my place to Pidyo and trek my way to Mamburao over mountain trails with three Mangyan boys as guides.

Day 5

The following morning, the three Mangyan boys and I started out just before sunup. The boys were Nito, Lito and Canoy. They warned me of several mountains that we had to traverse and several rivers that we had to cross. I thought it to be just okey, considering my experience in the just concluded mountaineering and river trekking along the Leyte Mountain Trail.

First we followed Amnay River until we reached Labongan River which we crossed. It was waist deep but the current was strong. Ikbo river was next, and then, Amnay again where I was almost carried far downstream by the strong current, had I not taken hold of a boulder. From Amnay, we trekked up Mt. Kabalagonan where monkeys greeted us with their shrieks. We continued on to Tingo mountain without resting a bit until we reached Sipuyo River which we had to cross again, after which we went up Mt. Palasa and onward to Mt. Hibaltang where we met two Mangyans. This time, rain fell. We doubled out time to reach a Mangyan village at the foot of another mountain where we planned to have lunch. At about noontime, we found a Mangyan hut where we rested and took our lunch of rice, mushrooms found along the way, and shrimp caught in the river.

Immediately after our lunch, we started for Pentin, the last river that we had to cross. It was tough treading on the knee-deep, soft sandy and muddy banks of the river until we reached a safe portion which we crossed. I was wrong to assume that everything would be fine after all the river crossings. The typhoon that hit the island of Mindoro two days before, inundated many rice fields and caused the overflowing of two lakes. Mud was knee deep but we went on traversing the one last hill before finally reaching barangay Pinagtorilan.

Looking back from atop the hill, I consoled myself for having reach this far, alive after the trek over several mountains and twenty-six crossings of the major rivers and their branching outflows due to the flood. Pinagtorilan still showed some signs of the inundation which it suffered resulting from the onslaught of typhoon Ruping. Barangay councilman Jose Iῆigo told us that the water rose to about seven feet. The kind barrio official accommodated us for the night.

Day 6

We left Pinagtorilan early the following morning for Sta. Cruz. Earlier, I decided that we hike all the way to the said town but changed my mind when I saw Canoy limping. We therefore, just hiked for about sixteen kilometers over partly -flooded roads, then we turned left at a junction for Puyo where an outrigger canoe could be taken for Sta. Cruz which was another sixteen kilometers away, yet. The outrigger fetched us at about noontime and I was glad that we need not transfer to another canoe if we just follow the shallow part of the sea and negotiate a river all the way up to Sta. Cruz. While on our way to the open sea, we encountered four big waves that soaked my backpack including the camera which I failed to put inside a plastic bag.

Upon reaching Sta. Cruz, my Mangyan guides stayed behind for their trek back to their village, while I took a jeepney all the way to Mamburao airport where I found the rest of the group – Fred Jamili, Dul Gemora, Dr. Gus Guerrero and Bobby Sison, relaxing. Also, on hand to meet me was the PAL station manager who remarked that we accomplished something never done before, and during a typhoon, yet. I found out that those who took the river were able to make it to China Sea as planned despite difficulties, although faster compared to my trek and river crossing, as they reached Mamburao ahead of me by about four hours.

That day, there was no scheduled PAL flight so we had the whole airport terminal for our tired bodies. We consoled ourselves with the thought that despite our inexperience in canoeing, we were able to make it – traverse Mindoro Island, from Calapan to Mamburao, on foot and a raft in six days!

Isang Pagbabalik-tanaw

Isang Pagbabalik-tanaw

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Upang maiwasan ang sobra-sobrang paninisi sa bagong administrasyon, maganda rin sigurong rebyuhin ang mga nakaraan upang maunawaan kung paanong nagkaugat ang korapsyon sa ating bansa. Gawin ang pagbalik- tanaw, kahi’t pahapyaw man lang.


Bago dumating ang mga Kastila, may mga original nang Pilipino, na talagang purong dugong Pilipino ang naninirahan sa mga isla ng Pilipinas, kanya-kanya nga lang sila ng teritoryo. Hindi nagkakaisa sa ilaim ng iisang lider, subali’t maganda ang samahan. Nang dumating ang mga Kastila, nakapagdiwang ng Misa sa isang isla na ngayon ay pinagtatalunan pa kung yong Limasawa ba ng Leyte o Masao sa Butuan. May nag-alburutong isang datu, si Lapu-lapu ng Mactan, kaya naputol ang misyon ni Magellan. Nang dumating si Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, naipangalan sa hari ng Espanya ang mga isla – unang pangangamkam.


Naging Kristiyano ang ilang mga Pilipino dahil naguyo sila ng mga misyonaryo. May mga Pilipinang inanakan ng mga prayle – unang pangbabastardo. Itinayo ang Intramuros upang maihiwalay sa mga tsino at mga katutubo na naninirahan sa tabi ng Ilog-Pasig ang mga Kastila – unang deskriminasyon.


Nang magkaroon ng kumpul-kumpol ng mga “rebelde” sa pangunguna ng Katipunan na itinatag ni Andres Bonifacio, nabahala ang mga Kastila kaya sinupil lahat ng mga inaakala nila ay pag-aaklas laban sa kanila. Pinabaril ng mga Kastila si Jose Rizal sa Bagumbayan (Luneta) sa kanyang mga kababayang mga sundalo – unang kabayanihan.


Namatay si Bonifacio sa Mt. Buntis dahil sa pulitika, lumutang si Emilio Aguinaldo na ipinagpatuloy ang pakipaglaban sa mga Kastila. Napapayag siyang ma-exile sa Hongkong. Nagkaroon ng kasunduan ang Espanya at mga Amerikano na nagdaos pa ng moro-morong “digmaan”, yon pala ay binenta na ng Espanya ang Pilipinas sa Amerika – unang pagtraidor sa tiwalang ibinigay ng Pilipino sa Amerika na akala ni Aguinaldo ay tutulong sa upang labanan ang mga Kastila.


Nagkaroon ng ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig, iniwan ng mga Amerikano ang mga Pilipino sa kamay ng mga Hapon. May pangakong “I shall return…” kaya’t hinayaan munang magahasa ng mga Hapon ang karangalan ng Pilipinas, lalo na ng mga Pilipina, na naging comfort women ng mga Hapong sundalo. Nakabalik nga si MacArthur, subali’t hindi pa rin lubusang pinaubaya sa mga Pilipino ang pag-enjoy sa tinatawag na demokrasya, kaya tawag sa mga Amerikano ay “big American brother”, at ang tawag sa Pilipino ay “little brown brother” – pangalawang deskriminasyon.


Kinopya ng Pilipinas ang saligang batas ng Amerika, nagkaroon ng mga eleksiyon na nagluklok ng mga presidente. Lumitaw na hindi pa handa ang mga Pilipino sa tinatawag na demokrasya, maraming dispalenghadong programa. Ang tinaguriang “mambo President”, si Magsaysay, namatay sa pagbagsak ng eroplanong sinakyan niya. Ang sabi ng iba, sinadya daw na pabagsakin ang eroplano – unang manipestasyon ng “dirty politics” sa bansa.


Nagsunuran ang ibang eleksiyon, may mga kwento ng mga kandidato na ginagawan ng kaso ng mga nakaupo sa administrasyon, upang makulong dahil kalaban sa pulitika. Ang isang kwento ay tungkol sa isang nagrebyu para sa pagsusulit ng abogasya sa loob ng kulungan. Nakapasa naman, topnotcher pa! Pinaglaban niya ang kaso niya sa korte, nanalo siya, absuwelto. Tumakbong senador, umiral ang emosyong Pilipino na mahilig sa madramang nobela, nanalo siya. Dahil matalino daw, nanalo ding presidente ng bansa. Siya si Ferdinand Marcos. Nang nakita daw niyang hindi na kaya ng demokrasya ang pagkontrol sa mga katiwalian, gumamit siya ng kamay na bakal… nagdeklara ng Martial Law – kung ilang dekadang umiral. May mga napansin nang gulangan, nakawan, korapsyon wika nga sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno. Subali’t under control daw. Maraming proyekto ang mga naipatayo, tulad ng Cultural Center Complex, mga pagamutan para sa mga maysakit sa bato at puso, LRT, Coastal Road, at marami pang iba. Marami ring pumaligid sa pamilya… mga taga-bulong daw, lalo na sa First Lady.


Pinababa si Marcos dahil pinapatay daw niya si Ninoy Aquino. Umiral na naman ang emosyon ng Pilipino. Pinalitan siya ng biyuda ni Ninoy, na iniluklok daw ng People Power na pinakialaman din ng isang Obispo, ang namayapang Jaime Sin na nanawagan ng mga tao upang suportahan ang biyuda. Maraming dumating, nagpiknik sa EDSA, nagpista sa pagbenta ang mga sidewalk vendors dahil maraming dumating na walang pagkaing dala. Nang maupo na si Gng. Cory, marami ang natuwa dahil ang akala nila ay mawawala na ang korapsyon pati ang mga taong mahilig umaligid-ligid at tumambay sa Malakanyang. Napansin ng ilang militante sa Armed Forces ng bansa na wala namang nangyaring maganda kaya nagkaroon ng maliitang kudeta. Domoble ang napansing dami ng korapsyon, dahil nasilip ang kahinaan ng pamunuan na umasa sa mga dati nang nasa poder at sanay sa paggawa ng kamalasaduhan. Walang mga konkretong proyekto para sa bansa.


Nagkaroon ng bagong presidente, si Fidel Ramos. Sa ilalim ng kanyang administrasyon, kaliwa’t kanan ang bentahan ng mga properties ng gobyerno, kasama na ang mga ahensiyang nagpapatakbo ng mga pangunahing serbisyo tulad ng kuryente at tubig, napasakamay ng mga pribadong kumpanya na may mga kasamang banyaga sa korporasyon. Mabuti na lang at hindi natuloy ang para sa Manila Hotel. Kasama sa plano ang mga ospital at base military sa pagitan ng Makati, Pateros, at Pasig (may Global City na doon ngayon). Kasama itong mga bentahan sa hangarin ng bagong pamunuan na makasabay sa trend ng globalization na sinalihan ng Pilipinas, na bandang huli ay napansing hindi rin nakabuti, sa halip ay lalo lang nagpadami ng mga nagugutom dahil sa pagsirit ng mga presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Na-deregulate ang pagkontrol sa langis na siyang pinakamalaking indulto. Nagkaroon ng “open skies” kaya nagdagsaan ang mga international airlines sa bansa, tumiklop ang Philippine Airlines, hindi nakaya ang kumpetisyon. Wala ring nagawang mga konkretong proyekto para sa bansa, ang mga korapsyon lalong namayagpag daw, komisyunang kaliwa’t kanan sa pagbenta ng mga propredad ng bansa – unang pagkanulo sa soberinya pang-ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.


Nagkaroon ng artistang presidente, si Joseph Estrada, bise- presidente ang ekonomista daw na si Gloria Arroyo, propesora pa. Maraming artista ang nahirang na tumulong sa kanya kasama na yong nagpa-popular ng kasabihang, “weather- weather lang, yan….”. Hindi natapos ang termino ni Joseph Estrada dahil sa kaliwa’t kanang napansin daw na bulilyaso…na-impeach. Nadamay sa mga kontrobersiya ang may ginintuang boses na si Nora Aunor – unang patunay na nakakahila ang pagiging tanyag.


Pumalit si Gloria na nagsabi agad na hindi tatakbong presidente, subali’t bago matapos ang minanang trabaho mula sa na-impeach na si Joseph Estrada, may divine intervention daw na tumulong sa kanya upang magdesisyon siyang tumakbo na lang. Tumakbo nga at sinubukan ng mga tao, parang okey naman, subali’t sa umpisa lang pala. Unti-unting nabisto ang mga palihim daw na mga transaksyon, dawit pa ang asawa. Nang mawala sa puwesto, nagsingawan ang mga baho, umalingasaw, matindi.


Nang maupo ang isa na namang Aquino, si Noynoy Aquino, nangakong makikinig daw sa mga utos ng mga tao. At ang mga Pilipino ay aakayin niya sa matuwid na daan. Lumampas lang ng kaunti sa kalahati ng kanyang termino, naglitawan ang mga kasong kahindik-hindik! Animo sinakluban ng langit ang sambayanan…na feeling ay parang inagawan ng pagkain. Nakawin ba naman ng mga taong pinagkatiwalaan nila ang pera ng bayan…mga taong ibinoto dahil matatalino daw. Yon pala, ginamit ang katalinuhan upang mapaikutan ang mga batas! Kasama daw diyan yong mga itinalaga mismo ng pangulo sa mga puwesto! Ito na ang pinakamatinding pagkanulo ng gobyerno sa tiwala ng taong-bayan!


Hindi marinig ng pangulo ang mga utos ng taong bayan… natatalo ng lakas ng mga bulong ng mga nakapaligid sa kanya, mga miyembro daw ng Student Council, ng mga dating classmate, ng mga kabarilan sa shooting range, at ng kung anu-ano pang bintang ng media. Hindi rin niya maakay ang sambayan tungo sa tuwid na daan dahil wala pang na-construct na maski kapirasong distansiyang ganitong matinong highway o kalsada man lang. Ang mga nagawa kasing yari sa aspalto, ilang ulan lang, animo ay binagsakan ng pira-pirasong bomba, kaya uka-uka. Ang mga yari sa semento, dahil sa kanipisan, ilang buwan lang animo ay binarikos sa dami ng mga crack na sanga-sanga.


Nagsimula sa isang maliit na korapsyon, lumala nang lumala. Yan ang kuwento ng Pilipinas…ng animo ay ginahasa na ating Inang Bansa!…isang malungkot na pagbabalik-tanaw, na mas malungkot pa sa isang Korean nobela, na kinahihiligan ng mga Pilipino, na ang iba ay nagtataas ng mga nakatikom na kamay sa harap ng TV camera at sumisigaw na inosente ang mahal nilang……alam nyo na! Hindi daw nagnakaw…inosente, hangga’t hindi napatunayan! …walang nakakita, lalo na yong babaeng may piring nga naman sa mga mata! Sige na nga!



(Pasensiya na sa kahabaan ng diskurso…nadala lang ng kanyang damdamin ang nagsulat, nagka-stiff neck nga sa kalilingon sa mga nakaraan. Lalong pasensiya, sa mga gumagamit ng smartphone sa pagbasa na hindi sana nag-overheat. Nag-take chance lang ang sumulat dahil libre ang mag-post.)


Mt. Dos Cuernos (Cagayan Valley’s Paradise)

Mt. Dos Cuernos

(Cagayan Valley’s paradise)

By Apolinario Villalobos



A valley of green

            and a little

of almost everything.

Alas! There, she sprawls

            dented with hills

            gently sliced by a great river

            that sparkles

            under the searing sun –


A land made great

            by sun-tanned people

            patient and frugal all

            whose strong hands

            shaped the valley

            into a haven-

            fit for man.

And, beyond-

            riding the undulating

            horizon of green

            Dos Cuernos beckons.

Mysterious horns

            that harbor secrets

            for centuries

            and songs of the wild

            hummed by birds

            that make trees sway-

            songs, bewitching and gay.

A bit of paradise on earth-

            Dos Cuernos

            scented by Nature’s breath

            oozing from petals

            that cram unlikely nooks

            and moss-laden branches

            equally tempting

            souls whose praise they sing.

Dos Cuernos

            go on with your call

            that more may savor life

            in your bosom as meant to be

            we just hope and pray

            that you’ll last –

            until eternity.