The Touching Courtesy Call of Prep Kids to the Honorable Governor, Sultan Pax Mangudadatu

The Touching Courtesy Call of Prep Kids

To the Honorable Governor, Sultan Pax Mangudadatu

By Apolinario Villalobos


What I like with the ambience of the Sultan Kudarat Capitol is that the Honorable Governor, Sultan Pax Mangudadatu is such a fatherly guy that even while having a meeting for as long as it is not a matter of life and death, he can be interrupted, especially, if the unannounced visitors are kids. It happened when I was having a meeting with him. When one of his staff whispered that there were kids who would like to have their photos taken with him, he smilingly obliged.


The pupils of a Methodist Prep school in Esperanza were having an educational tour in the Capitol Building with their parents and a teacher/coordinator, the morning of January 19, 2018. When they learned that the kind-hearted Governor was in his office, the pretty staff who was guiding them around brought them to his office. The governor immediately stood up when the door opened wide and the kids without much ado went to him to put his right hand to their forehead as a sign of a blessing from him. The kids were all well-behaved, while Sultan Pax exuded a picture of a happy grandfather! The group gave him a certificate of appreciation for being a great Patriarch of the province and a gift. As his habit, he read aloud what is printed in the certificate.


With the kids around him, some already having claimed a space on which to slump on the floor in front of his desk, he began his pep talk, as if addressing professionals. He expertly condensed his historical speech into one that fit his audience. And, he did it on the spot without much effort, as if he was speaking to a friend. He even advised the teacher to teach the kids the basic rudiments of physical hygiene such as brushing of teeth.


The scenes that I witnessed that morning were just emotionally touching…inspiring!




The Barangay Grino of Tacurong

The Barangay Griῆo of Tacurong

By Apolinario Villalobos


The Barangay Griῆo was formerly known as Gansing that lies at the boundary shared with the town of Lambayong, formerly, the gateway of settlers from Visayas who settled first in what is now known as New Passi before spreading out to other parts of the once sparsely populated areas that include Tantangan, highlands of Magon and Tacub, and the lowlands of Tacurong. The area was thickly covered with talahib, talisay, cogon and “enyam” (bignay}. Among the pioneer families that settled in the area is the Griῆo, whose patriarch was the late Dr. Manuel J. Griῆo. As he found the land promising, he invited friends in Iloilo to join him. Soon, others who came from Negros also came. Accordingly, the first classes were held in a “bodega” (warehouse) of the Griῆo family where about 50 pupils were taught, and one of the teachers was Ernestina Davala-Alvarez.


Today, Griῆo is a flourishing barangay with the expanse of fertile land shared by rice fields and African palm plantations. Observably, the barangay has a well-maintained system of irrigation canals that provide sustenance to the plantations. It is also among the barangays of Tacurong where Christians live peacefully with Muslims.


The barangay has two Catholic chapels, the Immaculate Conception (main) and San Isidro Labrador, both situated along the highway. According to one of the lay Catholic leaders, the parish priest of the Our Lady of the Candles of Tacurong officiates the Mass during the first and last Sundays of the month. The two Muslim communities have their own respective mosque.


The barangay has an elementary school, the Dr. Manuel J. Griῆo Memorial Central School and a high school, the Virginia F. Griῆo Memorial National High School which has facilities for the senior students of the K-12 educational program of the government. The most popular courses of the senior high school are electronics, welding, cookery, masonry, and hotel housekeeping.


When I went around the barangay, I was fortunate to have been driven on his tricycle by Fernando Gulac, the CVO Unit Commander of Barangay Griῆo whose chairman is Romeo Panes.


Mga Kaibigan kong Muslim na Minamahal ng Diyos

Ang Mga Kaibigan kong Muslim na “Minamahal ng Diyos”

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Tuwing kakain ako sa isa sa mga paborito kong roadside Muslim carinderia, hindi maaaring hindi kami magkatuwaan ng pamilya ng mag-asawang may-ari. Dahil nalibang ako sa pakikipagkuwentuhan sa kanila isang umaga, hindi ko namalayang nakaubos ako ng piniritong dalawang tilapia na medium sized, apat na hiwa ng bangus, dalawang balot na pastil, isang pinggan na tutong (libre), at dalawang mugs na kape….nakakahiya, pero wala akong magawa, yon nga lang naempatso ako. Actually, ginawa ko yon para madagdagan ang kita nang may maipambayad sila sa Bombay kinabukasan


Tatlo ang ampon ng mag-asawa na pinag-aaral nila sa abot ng kanilang makakaya. Ang isa ay may magandang boses (sa isa sa mga larawan ay ang may hawak na pusa at pula ang damit). Pinagmalupitan daw sila ng dating tinirhan nilang kamag-anak at halos hindi pinapakain kaya ipinuslit nilang mag-asawa upang maalagaan at mapag-aral. Barung-barong ang kanilang tinitirhan at ang kanilang lutuan ay walang bubong. Sa palagay ko ay tumutulo pa ang bubong ng kanilang tulugan dahil pinagtagpi-tagpi lang na yero at plastic tarps. Sa halip na gumastos daw kasi sa pagpapabubong ng lutuan, inuuna muna nila ang mga pangangailangan ng mga bata tulad ng damit at baon, dahil lahat ay nag-aaral. Ang bunsong anak na lalaki ay oversized ang t-shirt na damit nang umagang yon na halatang pag-aari ng tatay niya na sa larawan ay walang t-shirt man lang. Ang analysis ko ay pinasuot ng tatay ang t-shirt niya sa anak…baligtad pa!


Araw-araw ay may pinapakain din silang “pandita” at mga pusang namamasyal sa kanila. Bukod sa pagpapakain sa “pandita” ay binibigyan pa nila ito ng pera dahil nagdadasal ito sa puwesto kasama nila, bago siya umalis. “Blessings” ang turing nila sa lahat ng dumadating sa kanilang buhay kahit halos hindi sumasapat ang kanilang kinikita, na ang patunay ay ang pagpapabalik nila sa naniningil na Bombay kinabukasan dahil wala pa silang pambayad sa inutang na pera. Bilib ako sa ama ng pamilya dahil sa prinsipyo niyang kahit kaunti lang daw ang matira sa araw-araw na kinikita, kung may nangangailangan, ay dapat daw tulungan. Alam kong nakikita ng Diyos ang ginagawa nila at ang kanilang magandang kalooban ay siguradong matutumbasan ng tulong balang araw….magagawan ng paraan.


Ang mga tulad nilang masasayang tao sa kabila ng kakapusan ang nagpapaalala sa akin ng mga kaibigan ko sa Tondo. Pakiramdam ko, makakain lang ako ng tinitinda nila ay para na rin akong “blessed”….sila ang gusto kong tawaging mga “minamahal ng Diyos”.

The Bright Prospect and Development of Shopping Malls and Supermarkets in Tacurong City

The Bright Prospect and Development of Shopping Malls and Supermarkets

In Tacurong City

By Mark Abeto Dionesio


The City of Tacurong is is located at the center of SOCCSKSARGEN. It is 92 kilometres (57 mi) from General Santos City, 96 kilometres (60 mi) from Cotabato City and 178 kilometres (111 mi) from Davao City. It is situated at the crossroads of the Davao-General Santos-Cotabato highways, and is the financial, commercial, education, and recreation center of the area. It serves the needs of 15 neighboring municipalities. People from these areas go to Tacurong to sell their products, purchase their needs, pursue education, avail of medical and health services, and seek recreation. As an important hub of the Mindanao transport grid, Tacurong is visited by numerous passengers and transients on their way to the cities of Davao, Cotabato, General Santos and even Cagayan de Oro.


It is the catch basin of economic development in the province of Sultan Kudarat, aside from being the center of commerce with a captured market from other municipalities of the province including the provinces of South Cotabato and Maguindanao. In the newly legislated Comprehensive Land Use Plan, there is a need for more viable business areas, and a more business-friendly and streamlined processing of permits and licenses to make the city more favorable to the investing party. The absence of big shopping malls and supermarkets in the City of Tacurong have many residents to go to the shopping malls of Koronadal and General Santos cities even with all the inconveniences attendant to it.


Investing in the establishment of shopping malls and supermarkets in this city will assure a profitable return of investment (ROI) and huge economic payback. The potential market demand for shopping malls is big, based on the growing population of the city which was pegged at 101, 081 residents as of 2015. The city being strategically located at the center or at the crossroads of neighboring municipalities in the western part of Sultan Kudarat and the nearby province of Maguindanao, the demand for the aforementioned facilities is invariably much higher.


A big fraction of the populations of the neighboring municipalities that would cater to the shopping malls and supermarkets, such as, Isulan (90,682), Bagumbayan (63,700), Esperanza (63,207), Sen. Ninoy Aquino (43,508), Norala (44,635), Tantangan (40,461), Lambayong(77,013), President Quirino(41,408), Buluan, Maguindanao(50,088), Datu Paglas,Maguindanao (28,387), Tulunan, North Cotabato (56,513) and Mlang, North Cotabato (95,070) could add up to the fast growing of Tacurong’s own population.


For the current year of 2017, it would be safe to assume that the combined population would be nearing half a million – a significant consumer base that will make the establishment of shopping malls and supermarkets in Tacurong an attractive investment. The southern towns of Maguindanao composed of Datu Sangki Ampatuan, Maganoy, and northeastern, such as, Buluan and Datu Paglas can also be a captured market for the said venture.


To date, Tacurong City boasts of the internationally-renown Monte Vicenteaux Resort located at Barangay New Passi, as well as, the equally-popular resorts in Barangays Baras and Buenaflor, such as, the Jarrell Resort and Bonbon Resort, respectively. Add to that the Baras Bird Sanctuary of the Malana family, and of course, the colorful, Kalimudan Festival of Isulan and the city’s own, the Talakudong Festival …and, what an investor gets is one whole interesting package!


Two Incidents that Made Me Have an Utmost Respect to Governor Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat

Two Incidents that Made Me Have an Utmost Respect

To Governor Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat Province

By Apolinario Villalobos


I do not know the guy personally, except as  being a well-loved governor of Sultan Kudarat based on the stories that I have heard. But two incidents that I personally encountered confirmed the stories about his benevolence and fatherly character.


During the Kalimudan Festival 2017, I attended the Rural Health Workers’ Day at the Capitol Gym after missing the Children’s Day, the day before. I needed to have something to blog about the festival that I have missed for several years. I took photos of the different groups that took turns in showing their patiently-rehearsed numbers at the center of the basketball court. On the stage was the presidential table where officials including the honorable Pax Mangudadatu were seated. Later, I sat two paces away from him and had a chance to observe him.


When lunch was served, he did not touch his food while the rest were enjoying theirs. He was looking at the Rural Workers from the different municipalities of the province, and who were occupying the bleachers and it dawned on me that he was also observing the Jollibee reps who were distributing packed lunches. After awhile, he stood up and took the microphone through which he asked the Jollibee reps to say, “please, pakibigyan ang lahat ng mga tao ng pagkain… at baka pwedeng bilisan lang…”. He did not return to his seat, until everybody had their lunch in styro box.


Just recently, I dropped by his office but found him surrounded with staff and visitors. His secretary made take a seat not far from him, so that we could immediately talk after the last staff with documents for signature would have left. What caught my attention was his softly- spoken remark to a staff who explained to him about a project that was intended for Muslims. He said, “ayaw ko ng ganyan….gusto ko para sa Christians at Muslims….hindi lang Muslims”. The staff withdrew the documents. When he noticed me, he smiled and shook my hands and before he stood up for a meeting in another room, we had a comparably lengthy talk.


For those who are not familiar with the province of Sultan Kudarat, Muslims and Christians inhabit its lowlands and the highlands are by the Lumads. The province used to be part of North Cotabato when the original Cotabato Province was divided into two – North and South. Later, North Cotabato was further divided resulting to the creation of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao. Isulan is the capital town of Sultan Kudarat.

Pax Mangudadatu

The Isulan Public Market (Sultan Kudarat Province, Philippines)

The Isulan Public Market (Sultan Kudarat Province, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos


Isulan, although, the capital of Sultan Kudarat Province, and where the capitol and some regional offices are located, is still a struggling municipality. But the decision by the local administration to give priority to the development of a clean public market is wise. The market site is conveniently divided into the “wet” and “dry” sections with pre-fabricated stalls….all, neatly arranged…and, most importantly, with clean toilets.


Many months ago, I was intrigued by the statement of a commentator of a radio station based in Koronadal City who said that the public market of Isulan is better than that of their city (Koronadal)….that was before it was razed down by fire. I had the chance to visit the Isulan public market one afternoon when I dropped by on my way back to Tacurong from Bagumbayan. The commentator was right as I found the Isulan public market just wondrously amazing!… although, of course, there is traffic at the two junctions that serve as the gateways to the market site which is a normal phenomenon in any developing town around the country. I must admit that, although, I hail from Tacurong, a close neighbor of Isulan, the last time I visited the latter was more than twenty years ago…and expectedly then, I was amazed by the transformation that I saw.


If local governments of third and fourth class municipalities and cities are craving for tourists, especially, foreigners, they should take note that the first “spot” that these visitors want to see is the local market, the “tiangges”…the stalls that are filled with local produce, fruits, vegetables, fishes, etc., aside from street foods, and not expensive cafes that serve spaghetti, pizza, hamburger, etc. because they can have them in big cities. It is in the public market where tourists could observe and feel the local culture and see the true colors of the community. What these tourists want to capture with their cameras are photos of market vendors and their wares…their friendly smile. Isulan is on the right path of becoming a popular tourist haven or at least, a jump- off point from where visitors can visit nearby touristic destinations.


Lest I be misunderstood, I would like to make it clear that I am not discouraging the mushrooming of modern establishments. But while this kind of establishments have affluent financiers, most of which are from other localities, the lesser business investors who are the indigenous residents need the support of their LGUs…and, this important concern should be taken into consideration.


Local governments should learn from other Southeast Asian nations that have no skyscrapers to boast, but are crammed with foreign visitors the whole year because of their exotic setting.


As an information, the governor of Sultan Kudarat is Honorable Pax Mangudadatu. And, the mayor of Isulan is Honorable Marites Kapunan Pallasigue.

Si Duterte at ang Tatlo niyang “Masugid” na Kritiko Kuno

Si Duterte at ang Tatlo niyang “Masugid” na Kritiko Kuno

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Kailangan ng bawa’t bansa ang “fiscalizer” at ang lider naman ay “critic”, pero dapat pakaisipin ng bumabatikos kung gaano “kadami” ang makikinabang sa gagawin niya kung ihahambing sa ginagawa ng lider para sa buong bansa. Hindi lahat ng ginagawa ng isang lider ay sinasang-ayunan ng LAHAT kaya may kasabihang “you cannot please everybody”. Subalit kung seguridad at kapakanan ng NAKARARAMI ang nakasalalay, bakit kailangan pang MAMBULABOG ANG MGA DETRACTORS?…MAY SUGGESTION BA SILANG NASUBUKAN NANG EPEKTIBO?


May mga paraan upang ipakita ng “opposition” sa mga mamamayan na sila ay aktibo, hindi lang sa animo ay personal nang pagbatikos sa isang lider. Kung wala rin lang “laman” o kabuluhan ang binibitiwan nilang mga salita….TUMAHIMIK NA LANG SILA DAHIL LALO LANG SILANG LUMULUBOG SA KUMUNOY NG KAPALPAKAN.




Kung tungkol sa droga ang pag-uusapan, walang binatbat sina Trillanes, Hontiveros at Drilon kay Duterte na sa pagiging mayor pa lang ng Davao ay marami nang karanasan tungkol sa bagay na nabanggit. Ang tatlo, kahit sa Maynila nakatira ay malamang nakatuntong lang sa Tondo kung panahon ng kampanyahan para sa eleksiyon at may kasama pang sangkaterbang mga alalay at bodyguards.


Kung tungkol sa Martial Law sa Mindanao ang pag-uusapan, walang karapatang magsalita ang tatlong nabanggit na nagpapakatalino kuno…. dahil hindi sila taga-Mindanao kaya hindi nila nadadanasan ang mga nangyayari lalo na ang banta ng kaguluhan sa Marawi na ginawa ng Maute group. Kung magkagulo sa Mindanao, ang tatlo ay walang pakialam dahil sa Maynila sila nakatira.


Ang dapat sagutin ng tatlong nabanggit ay kung mayroon bang maaaring pumalit kay Duterte. Isa ba sa kanilang tatlo?…si Pnoy Aquino uli”….si Gloria Arroyo uli”?….si Lacson?….si Cayetano?…si Poe?…si Robredo?



duterte and sarah