SERAFIN P. BERNARDO….his journey from Passi, Iloilo to Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat (Part 1)

SERAFIN P. BERNARDO…his journey from Passi, Iloilo to Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat (Part 1)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The ancestral family of  Serafin P. Bernardo is from the Negros province, particulary, Victorias, but settled in Passi, Iloilo which they, henceforth, considered as their hometown. He had a penpal, Ciloy Levita who invited him to check Tacurong for himself if it would suit his adventurous plan to settle in Mindanao. During the time, the undeveloped territory of Tacurong extended as far as San Felipe of Tantangan. In 1946, when the WWII just ended, he finally visited Tacurong to check and went as far as the area that is now covered by Kalandagan and Carmen after which he left again for Passi where he was working as Chief of Police.

 

In 1948, he came back to Tacurong with his family in tow, Elisa Panizales, the wife, and three children, Nenita, Nonito, and Judith. When they arrived in Cotabato, the family took a “ferry” that brought them to Buluan. During the time, visitors with plenty of luggage usually disembarked at Buluan which had some sort of a “pier”. Those with a few luggage went as far as Sapakan, bordering Ligwasan Marsh and crossed the river to Tinumiguez, then proceeded to Lambayong which was well developed ahead of Tacurong.

 

Among the prominent families in Lambayong then, were the Guerreros and Luceros. The only road from Lambayong that ended into a foot trail that branched into several, was a portion of what is now Alunan highway.  For this reason, old Hispanic houses could still be found in the area, prominent among which is the Rapacon residence. The areas encompassing what is today’s downtown were either rice fields or marsh lands. When they arrived in Tacurong, Serafin bought a lot along Mabini St. where he build a big house behind which he built another smaller house that the Levitas occupied. Later he bought another lot near MINPROCOR, particularly, along Quezon Ave. St. which was given to the said family.

 

Serafin’s  youngest daughter, Judith and son, Nonito, recalled that their father purchased 5 hectares of land in an area which was then called “Mangilala” (referred today as the one covered by Carmen and Kalandagan), followed by two more parcels of 5 hectares each. Purchases were also made beside the property by his only sister, Angelica, married to Felix Villalobos, and his youngest brother, Serafin Bernardo, Jr.

 

Later, the 15 hectares were sold, with the proceeds used to purchase lands in what is now New Passi, but which was originally referred to by settlers as “Katil”. It was purchased from DATU KANDELAYANG KAMSA. The purchase was witnessed by DATU KUDANDENG AND DATU LUMINOG. It covered more than 100 hectares of land. With the purchase sealed, he went back to Passi to invite relatives to settle in the place. That was how the Pauyas, Palomos, Parreῆos, Pamposas, Pamas, Palabricas and many more got settled in the area which they aptly named, “New Passi”. According to Tomas Pauya, he came with a group in 1954. Arriving at Lambayong, they hiked up to New Passi…he was very young then, and got enrolled in the New Passi Elementary School when his family arrived. He recalled a classmate, Lagrimas Pamposa as their consistent “First Honor”.

 

Later, the families of French, Garcia, Aguilar, Cunningham, Cordero, Panes, and many others came but settled in the adjacent area, now called Rajah Muda. Many families including those of Jarell and  Braga, also came and settled in Baras and Upper Katungal. As roads from the fast developing Tacurong were constructed, more settlers from Iloilo came and settled at Lower Katungal, Upper Katungal, Baras, New Passi and Rajah Muda. The more adventurous settlers went up to Magon and further on to Tacub where they intermarried with the Bla’ans. An area which is now part of South Cotabato was also settled by Ilonggos, hence, aptly named, “New Iloilo”. The Eastern portion of Tacurong got settled by Ilocanos while those in the North, by other settlers from the various towns of Iloilo.

 

Serafin also purchased some lands around the Dulawan Estate, the downtown area, and Dadiangas (today, General Santos City). Meanwhile, other areas near New Passi, Rajah Muda, Baras, Katungal, and Lagao were also initially settled by the Garcias and Montillas. The development brought about KENRAM (due to the early produce – kenap and ramie) and ALACor (Ala Corporation). Today, a portion of Lagao is politically recognized as Barangay JC Montilla which is covered with African palm plantations. According to Nonito Bernardo, the Dulawan Estate, included Kapingkong, Tambak, Palumbi, Udtong, and Katitisan.  Lambayong shares the border with Tacurong City’s Barangay Griῆo (formerly, Gansing). An airport station was opened at KENRAM with a short runway for commercial flights utilizing DC-3s.  It was closed when the Surallah station was opened.

 

The first mayor of Tacurong was Mr. Soriano and a photo has recorded his first meeting with the Council and officials. Serafin was among the Councilors. The development of Tacurong was hectic as shown by the organization of FACOMA (Farmers Cooperative and Marketing Association), a farmers’ cooperative with Serafin Limbungan as the first President. At the time, bridges were built along with roads that finally linked Tacurong with Marbel (today, Koronadal City), Isulan leading to Cotabato City and Surallah, as well as, Lambayong and Buluan. Today, the road to Buluan leads all the way to Davao, Kidapawan, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro. Nonito Bernardo also recalled that during election campaigns, they would go to as far as San Felipe in Tantangan, as the latter was still within the political territory of Tacurong. The lone lady and most popular political figure during the time was Amalia Pabilona.

 

Ms. Nenita Bernardo recalled that when they studied in Marbel during the early 1950s, they hiked the distance from Tacurong to the said town as there was no public transportation that plied between them, then. They would hike to Marbel on Sundays with their provisions loaded on a cart pulled by a carabao. On Fridays, they would hike back to Tacurong for the weekend. For their convenience they boarded in Marbel.  With them making the trek were Lucia Paladin, Rafael and Delfin Pama, the Dasmariῆas siblings, Gelacio and Usting Panes.

 

Serafin served as Vice-Mayor in Tacurong for three consecutive terms, finally, retiring from politics to devote his time to farming. He would still wake up at 3:00AM, a habit that he did not change, roll several tobacco cigars for the day, and read what he could find around – magazines and even old issues of newspapers with the aid of an antique kerosene lamp.  Before sunrise, he would be ready to go to New Passi with his adopted son, “Digol” (Rodrigo) driving the “pick up”. He delighted in talking to relatives and farm hands the whole day in the farm. One of them recalled how during planting seasons, everyday he would  bring dried fish to be roasted on coals, while those who were not planting rice seedlings would cook “apan-apan”, kangkong sautéed in ginamos (salted krill paste).  Before dusk, he would be driven back home by Digol.

 

The Sultan Kudarat Electric Company (SUKELCO) building was among his investments in the downtown area  aside from other residential lots, including the more than 700 square meters at Mabini St. where the ancestral house stands. They were purchased with the produce coaxed from the farm. The SUKELCO building is now owned by the said cooperative. As a clarification on his acquisitions, the proceeds for their purchase came from the produce of his farms in New Passi and Baras, which today are planted to African palms.

 

As Vice-Mayor of Tacurong, his wage was not even enough for the dole outs that he made.

I have heard so many stories about his benevolence, such that relatives and acquaintances would trek to their home at Mabini St. to seek financial assistance which he readily gave. His early morning sojourns to his farm was stopped by the onset of a crippling rheumatism that affected his knees. From then on, the only opportunity for him to savor the outdoors was when he was brought to the terrace on a wheelchair where he waved back at friends who passed by. He finally rested at the age of 102.

 

 

 

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John Rey Posadas Aliwalas…young portrait artist and pride of Tacurong National High School

JOHN REY POSADAS ALIWALAS…young portrait artist

and pride of Tacurong National High School

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

John Rey Aliwalas is 16 years old, who lost his mother at a young age and whose father, Jeffrey, drives a tricycle to support him and a sibling. He is the eldest and his sketches have helped him a lot through his studies as a Grade 11 student at Tacurong National High School. The loss of his mother inspired him to to sketch. When his friends discovered his talent, they encouraged him to go on which he did until he found a courage to sketch the portrait of the current mayor of Tacurong City, Honorable Lina Montilla who happily accepted the gift.

 

John is a consistent honor student who also joins dancing and singing competitions. He confided that he is a self-taught video editor.

 

JOHN IS AMONG THE RARE YOUNG TALENTS OF TACURONG CITY, WHO DESERVES SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION. VIEWERS MAY CONTACT HIM AT CELLPHONE NUMBER 09464310454.

The Muslim Filipino Pastil/Patil and the Japanese Sushi

The Muslim Filipino Pastil/Patil and the Japanese Sushi

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The pastil/patil is a one-dish meal wrapped in banana leaf. It is topped with shredded chicken cooked in soy sauce and plenty of vegetable oil. A variation is the use of fresh water fish such as dalag (mud fish) and tilapia as topping. It is a popular meal ni southern Mindanao, particulary, Cotabato provinces, Zamboanga and Jolo. Today, however, the indication of the presence of a Muslim community in any place around the Philippines are the stacks of this banana leaf- wrapped meal in a store. High grade white rice is used in this dish and the shredded chicken is cooked for hours. What is nice about this dish is the cheap price per wrap at Phpq10 which has not been “updated” for more than 10 years, making it the popular poor Mindanaoan’s meal.

 

Similar in appearance is the Japanese sushi, although, much smaller in size and requires an intricate  preparation. The price of each sushi depends on the variety – the kind of food wrapped and put on top of the rolled Japanese rice. Unlike the pastil/patil, only the rich Filipinos can afford the Japanese sushi, for the cost of the cheapest piece is equivalent to the price of one kilo high grade rice.

Abrazo Rustico Resto Cafe…Italianish oasis in Tacurong City

Abrazo Rustico Resto Café

…Italianish oasis in Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When a facebook friend, Macmac Albenio Delfin referred to me a resto café with an Italian sounding name, I was intrigued. The name he mentioned was Abrazo Rustico Resto Café which when I checked, found it to be within what the Tacurongnons refer to as “Dragon area”, the name being that of a gasoline station-cum-convenient store-cum open-air café. But the Abrazo is an air-conditioned cozy enclave fronting the highway and a few steps from the aforementioned station.

 

I was hoping that after an unfortunate experience in another coffee shop with a name that I would rather forget, this time around, I would be lucky enough to have a better encounter. Just the same, as I had my lesson, I did not expect so much from the service crew of Abrazo.

 

Fortunately, I was more than satisfied when I opened the door and was greeted by the smiling guys at the counter. The café was unpretentiously simple, yet cozy. Compared with other cafes, Abrazo is small which however, has become an advantage as it made the atmosphere assume a homey ambiance. I immediately ordered my favorite coffee mix – cappuccino which came thick in consistency, with accompanying two tube sachets of branded muscovado sugar…another plus for health-conscious customers.

 

Looking around, I was impressed immediately by the miniature antique typewriter safely entrenched in a frame on the wall. Practically, the interior was Italian, even the food offerings. I found out later that Abrazo is popular among students of the nearby VMC, as in a little while, three students came to make an order of pizza and one of the joint’s popular mixed cool drinks. As I observed the satisfaction on the faces of the young customers, I asked their permission for a photo to which they obliged. During that quick visit I failed to meet the owner and resolved to come back in the afternoon to try my luck. At that juncture, I opened up myself to the café staff by revealing to them that I was a blogger, although, they have already permitted me to take photos of the joint without much ado, a show of pride for their coffee shop.

 

When I came back early in the afternoon, two of the staff were talking to a young petite and pretty lady, who I found later found to be the owner. My effort finally paid up! And, I was more than rewarded when I found out that the two gentlemen who just finished their coffee were officers of a reputable bank in Isulan and Tacurong City….proof enough that indeed, Abrazo was a class by itself. The gentlemen gave me their permission to post their photo that I took, but I opted to withhold their name.

 

The owner of Abrazo assumes a facebook name as IRE YSABELLE and I want to maintain her identity as such. What’s important to me at the time was my having touched base with her to express my admiration for her guts in venturing into an arena overflowing with cutthroat competition as the city is literally dotted with various kinds of food outlets from the traditional “pastilan”, carinderia, “batchoyan”, “barbecuehan” and open-air cafeterias.

 

I assumed however, that her courage is enflamed by her penchant for Italian foods, foremost of which is the pizza and java beverages that the joint’s barista yummily concocts. Simply put, she is fond of Italian foods, a variation of Mediterranean cuisine. Her fondness is shown by Abrazo’s various food and drink offerings that customers may not tire of coming back. By the way, customers who want to relax while tapping on their smartphone or laptop may be glad to know that wi-fi access is free!…check out “Abrazo Rustico” on fb to find more about this joint operated and staffed by energetic young-blooded Mindanaoans.

Marawi….Oh, Marawi!

Marawi…Oh, Marawi!

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Marawi…Oh, Marawi!

Sa ‘yong sinapit, kami’y nakikidalamhati

Nagkagutay-gutay dahil sa mga nag-umpugang lakas

Kaya ngayon, animo ay kalansay na lamang ang mababakas.

 

Lunsod ng marangyang kultura

Kamaranawang niyayakap ay Islam

At ang iba naman ay ang Kristiyanismo

Subalit nagkakaunawaan kaya walang gulo.

 

Hindi nagpagapi sa mga Kastila

At kahit sa iba pang mga banyaga

Dugo ng mga magigiting ay dumanak –

Mga bayaning Maranaw, hindi mahahamak!

 

Nagsimula sa Gitnang Silangan

Adhikaing sa Marawi’y pinagpilitan

Islam nga kung ituring, pero di tanggap

Dahil sa karahasan nito na di mapaglingap.

 

Maute Group ang nagpasimula

Na sa lunsod ay unti-unting naglipana

At  nagpataranta sa mga naninirahan doon

Nagulat sa mga ratatat at dagundong ng kanyon!

 

Kalunos-lunos ang mga eksena

Dinig sa mga radyo at TV, lahat ay nakita

Na ikinagulat at nagpayanig sa mga Pilipino

Pangyayaring hindi inasahan, mistulang dilubyo!

 

Di pinansin kumalat na kuwento

Tungkol sa napansing kilos ng ibang tao

Marami ay dayo, naglipana sa buong lunsod

Na sa daloy ng pamumuhay sila’y nagpatianod.

 

Nang magkaroon ng perhuwisyo

At sa kapulisan ay dumagsa ang reklamo

Noon lang nalamang di tsismis ang kumalat

Dahil buong Marawi ay nasa loob na ng lambat

Kaya nang kapulisa’y magsikilos…huli na ang lahat!

Tacurong then, and today…

Tacurong then, and today…

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When I was born in Tacurong in 1954, the most popular area was the plaza with a swimming pool, a skating rink and a multi-purpose court in front of a stage. 80% of the streets were not cemented. The public market was dilapidated. The whole town was not completely lighted despite the presence of the cooperative power supplier. There were only 3 clinics. There was no rotunda where the traffic from Marbel, Davao, Lambayong, and Isulan converged. Notre Dame College was lighted in the evening by an age-old generator at the back of the old wood-structured convent. The Catholic church was not filled with wooden benches. There was a lone mosque at the Apilado subdivision. The only reputable resort was the Lacson Resort at Calian. The only decent barbecue outlet was the Mauring’s (Pernato). There were 4 dilapidated movie houses, Real, Nonoy, Ideal, and Prince.

 

Today, there may be no movie theaters but the Tacurongnons are not bored because of hi-tech entertainment gadgets. I went around the city and found that only a few of short streets are not cemented, and which may not take a long time to be covered with concrete. Big canals are being constructed. There are malls so that the locals need not go to Gensan or Davao or Marbel, although there is a slight difference in prices. Decent restos have mushroomed all over the city, even at unexpected corners of barangays. Hospitals and clinics including derma, ortho and dental have likewise mushroomed. The Notre Dame College has developed tremendously and additionally, there are now plenty of colleges, both public and private, as well as, high-end prep schools.

 

Today, the young Tacurongnons are updated in their fashionable outlook. The city plaza has assumed an exotic image. There are a number of resorts, foremost of which is the Monte Vicenteaux Resort….plus, a nature reserve, the Baras Bird Sanctuary. Fashion parlors are everywhere. Food items in the market are cheap and plenty due to the influx of commodities from neighboring cities and towns.

 

The local government is lenient in its policies which is an advantage to small entrepreneurs, resulting to the mushrooming of small and medium businesses. Market marshals who are on guard 24/7 are very helpful to shoppers. The fish and meat sections of the wet market do not stink.

 

One can have a decent lunch of pastil or patil and boiled egg, with free soup – all for Php20. The dirty ice cream sold around the city has at least four flavors to choose from including durian. Four scoops on a small cone is Php5…served in a bread as sandwich is Php10.

 

The Tacurongnons are multi-lingual so that strangers need not worry about miscommunication, as even vendors can speak good English and Tagalog.

 

What more can a Tacurongnon ask? Why not just help in making the city become more lively and exude with a warmer goodwill. Let us not ask for the moon in view of the small budget that the local government is trying to make use to the fullest in realizing the most needed and relevant projects.

 

SA HALIP NA BUMATIKOS….TUMULONG!….KUNG HINDI MO KAYA, TUMAHIMIK KA!…HUWAG MAGING TRILLANES SA SARILING BAYAN!

The Philippine Brassware

The Philippine Brassware

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The Maranaos of Lanao find brass as a good object on which they express themselves artistically. Be it on lampstands, “gong”, plant holders, jars, ash trays, and food trays, the Maranao brass artist whose deft hands have been made sensitive by years of experience, imprint his personal expression of the “okir” and “naga” art forms.

 

Synonymous to the southern culture which in itself is exotic, the brassware is usually considered as an object that could enliven any living room, office, restaurant corners, or hotel lobby. Those who visit Marawi City, Jolo, Zamboanga City or Cotabato City, always see to it that they have purchased a brass item to be brought home as a souvenir. Not only are the brassware kept for their decorative value, but also for their cultural significance.

 

While brass handicraft is a waning source of income for some families in other Muslim provinces that have become outlets and showcases, in southern Lanao, particularly, Tugaya, locals still consider it their source of income. Here, some of the artisans still use the crude centuries-old foundry and casting methods. Despite the crudeness of the craft in Tugaya, the cottage industry is struggling for its perpetuation.

 

It is said that the craft was brought to Tugaya by a local trader, Maruhom Maulia, who got the knowledge from his trading trips to Tampasok, Sabah, where brass and bronze items were manufactured. Eventually, while at Tugaya, he fell in love and married the Sultan’s daughter.

 

According to Dr. Manitua Saber, an authority on Islamic arts, the techniques used by the artisans of Tugaya are similar to those being used in Bali, Sumatra and Brunei. Furthermore, he said that the technology could have found its way to Southeast Asia by way of China or India, in 1,000 A.D.

 

There are two processes practiced by the Maranao artisans, such as, the stamping and drip wax techniques. It is interesting to note that the tools which the artisans use are also made by them, usually out of the local materials.

 

In the stamping technique, brass plates are incised using a home-made “compass” to determine the size of the expected design.  Several plain plate tied together are etched or punched with intricate designs of “naga” or “okir”, or both, before they are formed into the desired item. Brassware produced out of this method, are cheaper compared to the drip wax technique which is more tedious, as it involves more time and processes. The latter, actually, revolves around the “mold” technique, and being crude, needs several phases to complete the process.

 

The brassware comes in many forms and uses. Those who are not familiar with the use of the items, would resort to just one thing – use them as decorative accessories in homes and offices. It is not surprising therefore, to find homes whose tables in the living room are accented with brass betel nut containers, open flat iron, small gongs or kulintang set and urns.

In Pasay City, brass and bronze items from the small ash trays and betel nut containers to big jars and urns can be found at the Philtrade Center, beside the World Trade Center, along Roxas Boulevard. Similar items can also be found in the Ermita district of Manila and the Islamic Center in Quiapo.