“Tikug” Mats Started My Advocacy in Manila
But Nurtured as a Student in NDTC
By Apolinario Villalobos

After my stint in Tablas station (Romblon) with an initial job as Ticket/Freight Clerk of Philippine Airlines in early ‘80s, I was transferred to the Tours and Promotions Division in Manila. For practical and economic reasons, I stayed in a boarding house along Airport Road in Baclaran, as our office was at the old Domestic Airport (today, Terminal 4). During the time, what is now as ASEANA City, was yet, a body of water – Manila Bay, from the seawall of which the famed sunset could be clearly viewed. From late afternoon to early evening, I and some of my co-boarders would spend time at the seawall killing time. We would observe some people dragging their belongings in plastic and tattered shoulder bags while strolling along the boulevard, some were with their family. Before we would go back to the boarding house, we observed them spreading blankets on the grassy ground on which they rested for the night.

The scenes of elderly people and children sleeping on the ground without mat made me restless for several days. When I went back alone one early evening at around 6pm, I strolled up to the portion of the boulevard in front of the Aristocrat Restaurant in Ermita. I saw the same scenes – people lying on spread cloths and blankets on the grass.

When Boy Loquias, a new PAL recruit who was undergoing training at the PAL Training Center at the Gate 1 of Nichols Air Base joined us at the boarding house, I was glad upon learning that he was from Bohol which afforded me the opportunity to speak in Cebuano more often. When I brought him to the then, Dewey Boulevard, he was amazed to find the boulevard sleepers. Jokingly, he said that we better join them rather than spend for the boarding house. Honestly, however, he confided that something must be done to help them and asked, “asa ang SWA?” (“where is SWA?”, for which he meant Department of Social Welfare or DSW). When I mentioned giving them cheap “tikug” mat from Mindanao, he agreed. During the time, a piece of said mat was priced between 40-50pesos at the Islamic Center in Quiapo, unlike today that a single-sized costs between 120-150pesos. “Tikug” mats which are colorfully dyed are made in Cotabato.

From then on, I scrimped on my personal needs to save for mats. When Boy Loquias learned about my plan, he gave me part of his training allowance. Another co-boarder, Sammy, who was a member of the combo that performed at the Ugnayan Beer House, across our boarding house, also contributed. Initially, we were able to purchase 2 dozens of mats for which I was able to get a discount. It was not enough. I raised another amount from my saved per diem allowance, as my job then, required me to travel a lot. I also refused to accept the contribution of Boy whose allowance was just enough for his needs, especially, from Sammy who had two kids left with his wife in Naga City.

My visits to the Islamic Center in Quiapo for purchases of “tikug” mats led to my side trips to “Avenida” known for prostitutes who could be seen prowling the avenue for prospective customers, from early afternoon to early morning, the following day. I was staggered by what I observed and experienced at the Avenida. Daringly-dressed women openly made proposals while holding my hand but which I gently refused. On early mornings, not yet 7AM, thickly-rouged and obviously ageing prostitutes would ask an amount for a cup of coffee in exchange for sexual favor. From such encounters, I was able to strike friendship with many of them that developed into trust which became my passport to their dwellings in the slum along the banks of Reina Regente River. There, I met snatchers, swindlers, sex peddlers and their families. As pre-planned, I did not give them my real identity for my own safety. What they knew was that I was a job-seeker from the province and my thick Cebuano accent helped a lot, as many of them were also Bisaya.

Events oozing with colorful adventures made my curiosity stronger that led me farther to Arranque, Divisoria, Pritil, Malabon, Bagong Bayan (Dasmariἧas, Cavite), Tala Leprosarium, and Baseco Compound where I was able let out my pent up desire to share. It also led me to three other guys who had the same desire and with whom blessings were shared with those dwelling along the bank of Pasig River and Recto yearly, from the last week of November to the first week of December.

My advocacy was nurtured while I was a student of Notre Dame of Tacurong (NDTC) and nobody, even my family and closest friends knew about it, not even my colleagues in PAL later on, except Boy Loquias who was assigned at Tablas after his training, and where he raised his family. It was only when I shared my “adventures” on facebook due to the prodding of some friends, though with much hesitation, that they came to know about them. I just consoled myself with the thought that my sharing such adventures would, hopefully, make others realize that one need not be rich to be able to share blessings with others…and, that they can do the same, if they wish.

The Albertos and Valenzuelas of Barangay Mangelen in President Quirino, Province of Sultan Kudarat (Philippines)…and their Political Leadership


By Apolinario Villalobos


For one thing, Barangay Mangelen is the birthplace of the current mayor of President Quirino, Hon. Azel Valenzuela- Mangudadatu, and whose mother belongs to the Alberto family that was among those the pioneers who tilled the once swampy land of what was once part of Suben. On the other hand, the current Barangay Chairman is her younger sister, Hon. Cherry Valenzuela. But what is more interesting is that the founder of the barangay Mangelen was her grandfather,  Mariano Alberto, father of her mom, Lolita. It’s the trust of the early residents that made her late father Medencio,  become the undefeated barangay Chairman of the fledgling “barrio”. An uncle, Virgilio Alberto also had a stint as a one-termer barangay Chairman, and I was fortunate to have met him in the morning of May 19, 2020 when I visited him at their home. I learned that he was also a one-termer Vice-Mayor of Presidente Quirino, formerly known as Sambolawan, which together with Tacurong City, were former “barrios” of Buluan,  a flourishing Maguindanao town that benefited from the flow of commerce along the Big River or “Rio Grande” that sliced through it.


The Albertos has a long history of political leadership.  According to Mr. Virgilio Alberto who was a retired military officer,  their father, Mariano who was then a Councilor of Buluan founded Barangay Mangelen on the land that was donated by Datu Luminog who was then, the mayor of the aforementioned town…that was during the early 1960s. Virgilio’s sister, Lolita married Medencio Valenzuela, and whose eldest daughter, AZEL, married to a Mangudadatu, is currently, the mayor of President Quirino. Her younger sister, Cherry is currently, the barangay Chairman of their birthplace, Mangelen. The rest of the siblings are Sheila Mae, Jennifer, and Novy.

The  Albertos and Valenzuelas  arrived in the vast wetland in 1935 during which the homestead program was at its height.  The area that they settled in, was politically part of Suben. Further east, the area  was then known as Sambolawan. The patriarch of the Albertos, Mariano who was married to Justiniana,  embarked on  a political career that landed him a post  as one of the Councilors of Buluan, a good arrangement as he represented the settlers in Suben.  As the settlement grew, Mayor Luminog decided to separate it from Suben, and in the process donated the land that they have been cultivating. To show their gratitude, the settlers named their “barrio” Mangelen after Mayor Luminog Mangelen.


With the establishment of the barrio of Mangelen  that was weaned from Suben to become  a new political unit under Buluan, Mariano Alberto was chosen by the settlers to become their first “Teniente del Barrio”. The son, Virgilio had his chance to spearhead their barangay for one term, and later became the Vice-mayor of President Quirino. His brother –in-law, Medencio Valenzuela and husband of his younger sister, Lolita also became a Barangay Chairman but he recorded a feat as the undefeated leader until he finally decided to give way to other trusted fellow Ilocanos.  As fate would have it, two of his children inherited his political leadership….Cherry who is the current Barangay Chairperson of Mangelen, one of the barangays of President Quirino, at the helm of which as the current mayor is Azel who is married to a Mangudadatu of Buluan.


During my talk with Mr. Virgilio Alberto, he fondly recalled his 28 years in his combined police and military career.  He confided that he was a police officer when he was called to render duty in the military during the Martial Law, the time of dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.  As he got no choice, he tried his best to do his job well until the time of his retirement. He met his wife, Susan, who was then, teaching at the Lyceum of Southern Philippines in Tacurong.  The couple is blessed with eight offspring: Robinson, Ricardo, Rafael, Virgilio Jrl, Glenn, Virna, Lochinvar and Dexter. When I visited the family, I was with my nephew, Nonoy who is their godchild during his baptism and his marriage.

At the rate good things are going including a provincial road being constructed towards the direction of the western barangays that include Mangilala,  to connect with the Alunan highway that cuts through Tacurong  and leads towards South Cotabato, Mangelen is  definitely facing a bright future.






Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Para akong nakahukay ng ginto ng makilala ko si Madam Guiariya sa terminal ng mga multi-cab na nagbibiyahe sa Datu Paglas at Buluan. Ang unang nakatawag ng aking pansin ay ang kanyang damit at mukha na kahit may mga kulubot ay nakikitaan pa rin ng ganda. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko nang pumayag siyang makunan ko ng larawan at nakipag-usap pa sa akin.


Noon ko nalaman na dati pala siyang barangay chairperson ng Pandag, Maguindanao at naging mayor nito nang mai-angat sa pagiging bayan. Dating barangay ng Buluan, Maguindanao ang Pandag. Sa pag-uusap namin ay nabanggit niyang nadanasan din niyang mag-araro ng kanilang bukid nang siya ay mabiyuda, sabay pakita ng kanyang mga kamay na nakitaan ko ng mga bakas ng humilom na sugat sa pagkakahawak ng bakal na araro. Masayang kausap si Madam Guiariya at napansin ko rin ang maliksi niyang pagkilos sa kabila ng kanyang gulang na 76 na taon….at sa kanyang pananalita ay mahahalata ang kanyang talino.