Ang Makabagong Anyo ng Tacurong na Pinatingkad ng Pagtutulungan

Speech delivered during the June 12/Independence Day celebration of Tacurong at the grounds of the City Hall….

 

ANG MAKABAGONG ANYO NG TACURONG

NA PINATINGKAD NG PAGTUTULUNGAN

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang Tacurong na dating baryo ng Buluan at may pangalang “Pamangsang” ay mabilis ang pagpaimbulog tungo sa pag-unlad. Animo, siya ay isang taong nagmamadali sa paghakbang tungo sa isang inaasam na layunin…at hindi naman nabigo dahil ngayon ay kitang-kita ang mga resulta ng kaunlaran na tinatamasa. Kabi-kabila ang mga itinatayong mga gusali upang maging mall at paupahan. Lahat nang yan ay dahil sa pagtutulungan ng mga residente at mga dumadayong mangangalakal na galing pa sa ibang bayan na nakapaligid sa lunsod.

 

Nakatulong din ang pagpupunyagi ni Ms. Emilie Pasaporte Jamorabon ng City Tourism Office na sa kabila ng maliit na pondo ay nagawang makapag-conceptualize ng Bird Festival, and ikatlong festival ng lunsod. Walang maipagmamalaking tradisyonal na tourist spots ang Tacurong, maliban sa Bird Sanctuary ng Baras, Monte Vicenteaux Resort ng New Passi, iba pang maliliit na resorts na nakakalat sa iba’t ibang purok at barangay, at mga specialty restaurants. Ang kakulangan ng mga likas na atraksiyon ay napunuan naman, at sobra-sobra pa ng likas na magandang ugali na pinapakita ng mga Tacurongnon sa mga dumadayo…yan ang “goodwill”.

 

Hindi mapag-imbot o selfish ang Tacurong, at walang ibang dapat pasalamatan diyan kundi ang butihing mayor, si Lina Montilla, sampu ng iba pang mga opisyal – vice mayor, Dr. Joseph George Lechonsito at mga City Coucilors.  Patas ang mga ordinansang ginagawa. Walang pinipili sa mga binibigyan ng pagkakataon upang mabuhay nang maayos….yan ang diwa ng sama-samang pagbalikat ng mga gampanin tungo sa pag-unlad.

 

Mababaw ang katagang “pagbabago” para sa Tacurong dahil kung tutuusin ay walang dapat baguhin, sa halip ay dapat paunlarin pa, dahil maunlad na . Kailangan lang naman kasi ang pagbabago ng isang bagay kung ito ay masama o hindi kaaya-aya…na wala sa imahe ng lunsod kahit katiting man lang. At, yan ang “nakakabilib”, kung gagamitin ko ang salitang makabago….at, yan pa rin, ay dahil sa masugid na pagtutulungan ng mga Tacurongnon.

 

Hindi lang iisa ang kulturang umiiral sa buong lunsod ng Tacurong. Ang Ilokano, Ilonggo, Cebuano, Pangasinense, Maranao, Iranum, Maguindanaoan, Bikol, Waray, at Tagalog ay iba’t ibang kulturang maituturing subalit nasa hanay na pangrehiyon o regional…at lahat ay nag-uunawaan…walang hidwaan o kontrahan. Dito lang sa atin may subdivision na sa gitna at hindi kalayuan sa mga bahay ng mga Kristiyano ay may mosque. Dito lang sa atin may simbahang Katoliko na may mga estudyanteng Muslim. Dito sa atin ang mga Ilokano, Bikol, Waray at Tagalog na animo ay mga Ilonggo kung magsalita ng Bisaya. Ang pinag-uusapan natin dito ay iba’t ibang tradisyon, na sa kabila ng pagkakaiba ay may pagkakaisang nakatuntong sa pundasyon ng magandang samahan. Bihira ang kalagayan natin dito sa Tacurong na dapat ay ating ipagmalaki…na guto kong tawaging “cosmopolitan” o “sophisticated”.

 

Hindi tayo dapat mangamba o matakot sa anumang banta na pilit nagpapadiskaril ng direksyon na tinatahak ng lunsod. Ang bantang yan ay dapat pang magpaigting ng ating magandang samahan. At, dahil ito ang huling term ni mayor Lina at iba pang mga Konsehal, ang panawagan ko ay magtulungan tayo sa pagbalikat ng mga gampanin ng mga papalit sa kanila. Huwag nating pairalin ang pulitika na nagsisilbing salot na sumisira ng magandang samahan pati ng magkakapamilya.

 

Magkaisa tayo tungo sa pag-unlad pa ng ating lunsod na nag-iisa lang!…ipagmalaki natin na tayo ay mayroong Tacurong, na ang pangalan ay hinango sa “talakudong”, isang malapad na katutubong sombrerong nagsisimbolo ng proteksiyon sa lahat na handang makipagtulungan at walang mapag-imbot na hangarin.

 

Magbuklod-buklod tayo at sa iisang boses ay sumigaw ng SULONG TACURONG!

 

 

 

 

Ms. Flor de la Rosa: Untold Story of a Sacrificing Woman of Tacurong City

Ms. Flor de la Rosa: Untold Story of a Sacrificing Woman of Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Despite her advancing age, beauty could still be discerned on her calm face. After more than fifty years, not only was I fortunate to meet her but had an intimate conversation with her at close range after a hearty breakfast hosted by Nita and Nito Bernardo at their home, and to whom I am so gratified for such opportunity. It was my first time to hear her speak with the typical melodious Visayan tone and delicate voice.

 

Her family used to live in New Iloilo, a sitio of Tantangan which was then part of Tacurong. Today, it is occupied by Jaime, a younger brother, and his second family.  The late mayor of Tacurong,  Jose Escribano was always around when there were affairs in Tantangan. During the time, Flor, who at 19 was a student and about to finish a course in education. It was during one of the occasions in Tantangan that the mayor could have noticed the pretty Flor who was always invited during public occasions. While she was studying in Cotabato city, a bodyguard of Escribano discreetly followd her to make sure that no guy would attempt to court her. The mayor also resorted to “courtin” Flor’s mother and enticed her to put up a business in Tacurong. She was a dressmaker in New Iloilo, then and her husband was managing the logging company of a rich relative in Parang, but on a meager wage.

 

A building was put up then in Tacurong with the ground floor occupied by the Dainty Refreshment which Flor’s parents managed and the second floor was allotted for the whole family. The establishment became famous for its halo-halo and cake which competed with those of the Angelita’s. And, to ensure that it would earn much as expected, the bus terminal was relocated in the vicinity, from its former location in front of the Tacurong Pilot School. For 24 hours, the Dainty Refreshment was open and that was how the de la Rosa family was able to earn substantially.

 

The late mayor had the reputation of getting what he wanted by all means, but not in the case of Flor, for it took him 4 long years to finally get what he wanted. Courting went as far as Manila where Flor continued her studies. When she finally graduated, she taught at the New Iloilo Elementary School, moving on to Tantangan, and when the Dainty Refreshment was opened, she was transferred to Tacurong with the instigation of the late mayor. The principal then of the Tacurong Pilot School was Mr. Abadilla and the District Supervisor was Mr. Llavore. At the Tacurong Pilot School she taught Science and Pilipino subjects. Out of gratitude, Escribano built a building that was later used by the Home Economics pupils.

 

Flor confided that due to emotional pressure, she resigned from her job and went to Manila, although, she feared for the safety of her family who might earn the ire of the late mayor. But as she could not stop him from courting her, she finally softened a bit and accepted her fate…finally, going back to Tacurong to be with her family. While in Tacurong, she would occasionally show herself up in public to assist the mayor during special occasions. That was how she got to be known as the “mayor’s secretary”.

 

When she went back to Manila again, she finally told Escribano once and for all, that she wanted to end their affair and threatened to enter the convent if he won’t concede. It was at this juncture that she saw the good side of the brusque mayor…who begged her not to proceed with her plan, but for them to maintain a platonic relationship. She agreed and the arrangement encouraged her to be with her family in Tacurong again to help manage the Dainty Refreshements, the earnings from which practically sent her siblings to school.

 

During one of her trips to Manila, she met Gregorio Aragona but who used the family name, “Soncuya”. They eventually got married and settled in his hometown, Sara (Iloilo). At one time, her sister, Bernardita who was living in the United States, had a need for a trusted caretaker of her child. Flor viewed it as an opportunity to visit the United States, so she asked Bernardita to let her do the job. In no time, she flew to the States as a tourist and took care of her niece. When she was no longer needed to take for her niece, she took jobs discreetly as she had no legal papers. For 18 years of her stay in the United States, her status did not change as she declined to bite the options to become an American citizen, beside her passport indicated her status as “married”.

 

Meanwhile, her husband took in a lover which came to the attention of Flor only much later. What triggered their separation was the reply of her husband to one of her queries if he had been missing her to which he replied, “please come home and bring the bacon”. Such blatant reply immediately made Flor decide not to go home, as she felt that her husband was just after her earned dollars. Despite her decision, she could not hold herself from sending money to him when he got sick.

 

In year 2000, she went back to the Philippines but dropped by Iloilo to visit relatives and also surprised her late husband’s lover. As she did not harbor any hatred in her heart, she even gave the widowed lover of her husband, three thousand pesos…her gift to their two children. She then, proceeded to New Iloilo in South Cotabato to be with her mother. But not long after, she decided to buy a house in Tacurong City where she now lives with a trusted aide.

 

While in the city, she faithfully attended the early morning Mass every day. Later, she was enticed to join the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP) which prays the Holy Rosary after the Mass. She was in the middle of this hectic devotion when she met a friend who introduced her to another spiritual passion, and this time, as a member of the Servants of the Holy Trinity, a healing ministry and prayer group whose main base is in Negros Occidental. She joined her friends, Lina Lacanafrancia and Margie Calansag during their pilgrimage to the movement’s base on what the pilgrims consider as the “holy mountain” of Escalante where a “prayer house” is located, and where an image of the Holy Child Jesus in enshrined. She was also brought to the “holy mountain” of Calinog to visit another shrine. From then on, her small group would make an almost monthly visit to Escalante, while that for Calinog, they do during the Holy Week. The two shrines have become beneficiaries of her benevolence, as with the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Candle in Tacurong.

 

Ms. de la Rosa is the eldest in the family raised by hardworking couple, Salvador and Fe. Her siblings are Elsie, Salvador, Jr., Manuel, Rodolfo, Aurea, Bernardita, Corazon, Jaime, Ricardo, and Lorena. Their grandfather on their mother side had a German blood, while their grandmother had Chinese. On their father side, their grandfather was an Ilocano who married a mestiza, and who belongs to the Navarro clan.

 

She has no regrets for not having a child of her own, for she presumes that her being in such situation prepared her for motherly missions – for her family and other people. Before we parted our ways, she confided that during her high school days in Notre Dame of Marbel, she was often chosen to play the role of the Virgin Mary during Marian processions.

 

Up to the time that I was writing this blog, I could not believe that I had been talking to Ms. Flor de la Rosa and even kissed her check…..she, who was the misunderstood woman in my youth, although, with a celebrated status, and whose life today is devoted to Jesus and Mary.

 

 

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao…thanks to Mayor Lina’s Compassionate Administration

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao

…thanks to Mayor Lina Montilla’s Compassionate Administration

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The tag of Tacurong City, “Limpyo Tacurong”, means “Clean Tacurong”. This is an offshoot of the Resolution 021-6th SP, Series of 2014 that created the “LIMPYO KALOG” PROGRAM primarily authored by Hon. Psyche Sucaldito, with co-authors: Hons. Joselito L. Cajandig, Benjamin P. Fajardo, Jr., Welson U. Ferrer, Cirilo Y. Flores, Rodrigo P. Jamorabon, Ariel Ferdinand M. de la Cruz, Jose Remos P. Segura, and Paulino R. Ledda . The resolution was necessitated by the onset of dengue fever during the time, making the cleaning of canals/waterways and street potholes with stagnated water as targets. The resolution also called for the participation of residents and stall owners in the market and whose trades required water, such as fish and meat vendors, carinderias and beauty salons. The ordinance enjoined practically, all Tacurongnons to keep their premises generally clean, hence,  also required the cutting of grasses that mosquitoes use as breeding grounds during the rainy season.

 

When I visited the city lately, particularly, the wet market, I was impressed by the sight of a buko juice vendor sweeping the area around his pushcart and table for the plastic tumblers and juice jar. He also neatly stacked empty green buko shells and their trimmings inside the pushcart. Beside him during the time was also an ambulant fish ball vendor who was picking up barbecue sticks and plastic tumblers that he deposited in a garbage bag positioned not far from his cart.

 

When I entered the wet market, I was equally impressed by the generally clean fish and meat sections, and was further surprised because even the stalls for the fresh fish such as mudfish, catfish, tilapia, and gourami, did not give out a foul smell! The floor was of course, wet but not “flooded” with water from the concrete stalls, as the latter were constantly wiped by the vendors.

 

What I observed were manifestations that the “LIMPYO KALOG” has been consistently implemented. A “bonus” for the shoppers is the utmost courtesy of the public market personnel such as, gate overseers and the public toilet attendants. The city administration is also very humane as regards the collection of the daily local market tax imposed on vendors. I found out that the “arkabala” that the vendors pay is very affordable at 5 to 10 pesos. The incumbent mayor, Lina Montilla clearly understands the situation of the small business folks who try to make both ends meet in order to survive. In this regard, one can find old women selling wild vegetables such “kulitis” (local spinach), kangkong, lupô, and small snails, that they gather from rice fields, or children selling banana blossoms, the proceeds from which may not even be enough to buy rice that could feed a family of four for two days…yet, they persist in doing their honorable trade rather than beg.

 

The city is not rich compared to her contemporaries. It is for this reason that much-desired projects take some time to be realized. But, what is important at the moment, though, is the peaceful co-existence of the Muslims and Christians, be they neighbors or vendors. The city has even taken an extra step that gave her a compassionate image – by welcoming tricycle drivers from the neighboring towns of Quirino, Buluan, Lambayong, Tantangan, and Isulan. This is the reason, perhaps, why hospitals, clinics, barber shops, restaurants, groceries, and beauty parlors pockmark the length of avenues and the public market, as they also serve the residents of the mentioned towns that surround the city. All are manifestations of “goodwill” for which the city has been known for…or simply put, the city of Tacurong is not selfish…or shall we call it, economic strategy?

 

The influx of shoppers from neighboring towns could be observed during market days such as Wednesday and Saturday during which all alleys of the market are filled with farm produce from as far as Esperanza, Bagumbayan, Isulan, Lambayong, Buluan, Quirino, New Iloilo and Tantangan, and marine products from General Santos City, Davao, and Zamboanga. The air is filled with intermingling of dialects such as Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Ilocano, Maranao, Iranun, Maguindanaoan, and of course, Tagalog. Haggling is encouraged by vendors themselves, as most of them had to dispose of their wares at noon time. Interestingly, prevalent is the use of “’gâ”, the contracted form of “palanggâ” or “pangga” which in Tagalog means, “mahal”, and in English, “love”. When one haggles in the market, he or she says, “pila ni ‘gâ ?” (love, how much is this?)… or if one asks a friend if he or she has taken her meal, the question is, “nakakaon ka na, ‘ga?”the word is used with honest brotherly and sisterly connotation, without even a faint trace of carnal desire.

 

Tacurong City’s strategic location at the crossroads of South Cotabato, North Cotabato/Davao, and Maguindanao, has not just made her as some sort of the nucleus of the region’s commerce, but has also given her an impression as the COSMOPOLITAN CITY OF SOUTHERN MINDANAO.

 

Mga Presumptions and Thought-Provoking Questions

Mga Presumptions and

Thought-Provoking Questions

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

BAKA GUSTO NG MGA LIFE ADVOCATES KUNO NA I-CONDEMN ANG PAGPATAY SA MGA MIYEMBRO NG MAUTE GROUP NA PUMASOK SA MARAWI CITY DAHIL SA KARAPATAN KUNO NILANG MABUHAY….O DI KAYA AY BAKA GUSTO NILANG IPA-IMBISTIGA SA UNCHR….O DI KAYA AY GUSTO NILANG IDAGDAG SA KASO NI DUTERTE NA ISINAMPA NILA SA INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE.

 

BAKA GUSTO RING SABIHIN NG ILANG GURANG NA OBISPO NA MAY KARAPATANG MABUHAY ANG MGA PINATAY NA MIYEMBRO NG MAUTE GROUP AT WALANG KARAPATAN ANG MGA SUNDALONG SILA AY PATAYIN DAHIL DIYOS LANG ANG MAY KARAPATANG GAWIN ITO.

 

KUNG ANG PARING NA-HOSTAGE NG MAUTE GROUP SA MARAWI AY NAGKATAONG BANGAG NA ADDICT ANG GUMAWA, HALIMBAWA, SA LOOB MISMO NG SIMBAHAN HABANG NAG-MIMISA ANG PARI, ANO KAYA ANG GAGAWIN NG SINASABI KONG ILANG OBISPO NA SAGAD-BUTO ANG GALIT KAY DUTERTE?….THESE OLD GUYS SHOULD REMEMBER THAT ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN UNDER THE SUN!…ANG NAKAKAHINDIK ISIPIN AY KUNG AAKALAIN NG ISANG BANGAG NA ADDICT, NA ISANG BABAENG NAKA-GOWN ANG NAKA-SOTANANG PARI AT KANYANG GAGAHASAIN….KUNG MANGYARI YAN, ANO KAYA ANG SASABIHIN NG ILANG MATANDANG OBISPO NA GALIT KAY DUTERTE?…MAGPAPASALAMAT KAYA SILA SA DIYOS DAHIL NAGING MARTYR ANG GINAHASANG PARI?

 

KUNG ANG ISANG INOSENTENG SANGGOL AY NAPAPAGKAMALANG TIYANAK NG ISANG BANGAG NA ADDICT KAYA PINAPATAY NIYA….O DI KAYA ANG ISANG LOLA AY INAAKALA NIYANG ISANG TIN-EDYER KAYA NIYA NAGAGAHASA, PARI PA KAYANG NAKA-MAHABANG SOTANA ANG HINDI NIYA PAGKAKAMALANG NAKA-GOWN NA BABAE…LALO PA KUNG WALANG BIGOTE O BALBAS?

 

Points to Ponder About the Martial Law for Mindanao

Points to Ponder About the Martial Law for Mindanao

By Apolinario Villalalobos

 

  • Political terrorism has become the issue in Mindanao, not religion, as even Muslims are saddened by the murderous spree committed by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group.

 

  • There are parties or sectors that are against Federalism and the only way to derail the move is by creating a chaos to divert the attention of the government.

 

  • There are giant investors who are against the government’s move to stop logging and mining for the sake of nature conservation. The only way to make them go on with their spurious activities is by ousting Duterte from his post. They have initiated their plan by bringing out “witnesses” and by filing a case against him at the International Court of Justice. By doing so, they would like the world to view Duterte as a “murderer”. They even have the temerity to go back to historical heresies while he was still the mayor of Davao City, despite the fact that the courts in Davao City found him innocent.

 

  • Terrorism in the Phlippines is clearly rooted in Mindanao. If it will not be uprooted or at least checked by declaring Martial Law, it will definitely spread all over the Philippines, especially, Manila as shown by “test explosions” committed by terrorists who claim connection with ISIS, perhaps, to check the capability of the PNP and military. Terrorists in Mindanao are very vocal about their supposedly connection with the ISIS.

 

  • Many Filipinos who are not from Mindanao, hence, did not experience the harrowing experience of being caught between warring factions are so insensitive as to make them declare that Martial Law is against human rights!

 

  • Those who are afraid of the Martial Law are incorrigible law offenders: drug addicts, drug pushers, drug lords, hoarders of food items, employers who do not remit SSS contribution of their employees, employers who exploit their workers by not paying the right wage, arrogant drivers who are fund of dropping names of government officials when caught violating a traffic rule, robbers, pimps, child labor trafficker, illegal recruiters, etc…..and of course, terrorists!

 

  • It is just right for the PNP and the military to set up checkpoints and be strict in checking the motorists, especially, for their ID, as according to the media, members of the Maute group are allegedly going around without ID and easily meld with the local crowd as what they did in Marawi City. Now, expect the human rights advocates to cry foul due to the strict inspections!

 

  • Despite the glaring unrest in Marawi City due to the Maute group’s intrusion, Trillanes still have the gall to taunt Duterte as overly excited to declare Martial Law for Mindanao. With such kind of unbecoming reaction from the future ex-senator, will he still command respect from the Filipinos?….does not Trillanes ever contemplate on the possibility of the terrorism to overflow to other parts of the country?….or could it be that he and his group has a hand in it, as the group would never have such courage without sufficient funding and IMMORAL SUPPORT? ….JUST ASKING LANG NAMAN!

Martial Law for Mindanao is Long Overdue

Martial Law for Mindanao is Long Overdue

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The gruesome killings in Marawi, the encounter at Bagumbayan (Sultan Kudarat), between the MILF and the Philippine military, the pockets of bombings in southern Mindanao are all indications that the sitting president, Rodrigo Duterte is being challenged as to how far he can bend backward without straining his spine. He has been tolerant for some time and he did it more than enough. It is high time that he should flex his muscles.

 

When he took over the land’s highest position from a lenient president, he did not lose time in calling for cooperation. But because of his obvious plan to rid the country and the government in particular, of crooks, practically, everybody with selfish motives became apprehensive. Turncoats and opportunists who thought Duterte is no different from the past presidents are shocked by his steadfast and feisty moves, so now, they are having second thoughts if they would still support him or finance his detractors which some are already doing.

 

How can Martial be not applicable to a country like the Philippines, especially, Mindanao where unrest is already brewing? How can “due process” be applied to the case of a terrorist caught red-handed while about to detonate a bomb? How can “due process” be applied in the case of  drug-deranged and useless citizens who rape innocent young women, and even elders, fit to be their grandmother? How can “due process” be applied in the case of drug lords who have constructed drug laboratories right under the very nose of conniving law-enforcement agencies? How can “due process” be applied in Marawi City where gruesome killings are being committed by the Maute Group? The supposedly “due process” has just created animosity among the victims of criminals due to delayed application of justice.

 

HIHINTAYIN PA BA NA KUMALAT ANG TERORISMO SA VISAYAS AT LUZON…LALO NA SA MAYNILA?

 

Clearly, there is a concerted effort to oust Duterte from his post. And, those who have conceived this evil design could be the concerned parties whose selfish interests have been railroaded.  Again, Martial Law for Mindanao is long overdue. Why worry if you are not guilty?

 

And, obviously, the terrorism in Mindanao is no longer hinged on religion but politics and money!

 

 

The Elisa P. Bernardo Elementary School in New Passi, Tacurong City

The Elisa P. Bernardo Elementary School

In New Passi, Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

It was a scorching afternoon when I was invited by Judith Bernardo to New Passi, a barangay at the foot of Magon Hill, after we met at a party, hosted by a cousin. I deemed it another adventure, so I accepted her invitation as I was curious about her project or donation for the school named after their mother, Elisa Panizales Bernardo. As I had still time to be spent in the area, I thought it would be a worthwhile trip.

 

From the city of Tacurong, we drove over the paved highway, turning left at the junction where the San Lorenzo Ruiz parish church was located, just across the Cordero mango grove. Both sides of the road were shaded by the thickly-foliaged African palms. Very noticeable was the fast development of Baras, where the Bird Sanctuary and the Jarell Resort are located, as well as, Upper Katungal. Practically, houses of indigenous materials stood proudly side by side with colorful concrete ones which were made more interesting by their contemporary architecture. I even noticed a lodging inn with an obviously western block design. Very noticeable, too were the number of small convenience stores (sari-sari stores) and small stalls filled with wet market commodities, that lined both sides of the tidy road. Their presence manifested the affluence of the residents.

 

We dropped by the Barangay Hall of Baras where Judith delivered donated sets of aprons needed for a certain project. I learned that she has been engrossed in various projects in Baras and New Passi for several years now. When we reached New Passi, we went straight to the site at the back of the Principal’s office where a two-burner stove of concrete and bricks was being constructed. It was intended for the feeding program of the school for the children of poor farmers, and which was initiated by Judith’s elder sister, Nita. As a background, the feeding program was conceived by Nita when she learned about the heavy absences every Monday and Friday. She was told by the principal at the time, Charlie Braga, that many students are impoverished, so that most of them would go to school without taking breakfast at home. From then on, Nita regularly donated I sack of rice which volunteer mothers and teachers cooked into gruel.

 

On the other hand, the sight of teachers and mothers cooking gruel on makeshift stove on the ground made Judith decide to have a sturdy stove made for them. The design is such that combustible wastes except those made of rubber and plastic could be used as fuel. She personally looked around for able masons who could undertake the construction.

 

Adjacent to the school is a small parcel of rice field donated by the late Serafin Bernardo to the school so that it would be able to generate an income for projects. Since the time of Charlie Braga as principal, it was well-maintained.  Incidentally, Mr. Braga has been transferred to the neighboring school of Baras as a promotion. He was also responsible for the picturesque landscape of the school, the main avenue of which is lined with hardwood trees. Pockets of flower gardens are also distributed throughout the campus.

 

The other concern of both Judith and her sister, Nita is the lack of library. There had been plans for its construction but unexpected problems would always crop up. On our way back to the city, Judith confided her wish that someday the project would be realized, but realistic that I am, I told her that assistance from concerned sectors is necessary, First, a structure had to be built and second, books are needed to fill the shelves. The project would surely involve a considerable amount. I confided that I have the same wish….but with a hope that benevolent hands would “touch” the school someday.