Emma (tula para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)


(para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Sa mga mata niyang animo ay nangungusap

Walang katapat na kasiyahan ang mababanaag

At sa matinis niyang boses, ang kausap na nagagalit

Huhupa, sa damdami’y nag-uumapaw na pagngangalit.


Mapagmahal na kabiyak, inang walang katulad

Sa mga kaibigan ay mapagbigay, kahit siya’y kapos

At handang magsakripisyo sa abot ng makakaya niya

Kapalit na pagtitiis ay buong puso niyang hindi alintana.


Mga huling yugto ng kanyang buhay na nauupos

Inalay sa mapagmahal na Inang Mariang sinandalan

Kaya kahit sa pagkaratay, hirap man siya sa paghinga

Katiwasayan ay maaaninag sa mala-birhen niyang mukha. 


Sa kanyang maaliwalas na pamamaalam sa mundo

Ipinahiwatig niyang sa Diyos tayo ay dapat magtiwala

Dahil sa buhay nati’y Siya lang ang nakakaalam ng lahat

Lalo na ang mitsa nito’t sinding may taning ….

Kung hanggang kaylan lamang sapat.


(Alay ng nagmamahal na pamilya, mga kaibigan at naging estudyante, lalo na ang NDTC Boys’ High School Batch ’70.)



Faded Photographs

Faded Photographs

By Apolinario Villalobos

(Photos from the family library of Ed Collado)


A picture can paint a thousand words, so goes the line of the son, “If”. And, faded photographs can bring memories that for the present are testimonies of how successful people struggled in the past. Faces exude aura of innocence…with their eyes that eagerly stared at the camera, unwary of what the future held for them.


Ed Collado’s mother was among the pioneer teachers of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School while his father was the District Supervisor who painstakingly visited schools in the barrios connected to the town of Tacurong by foot trails winding through rice, corn, and sugar cane fields. Other teachers I could recall during their time were, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan, Mr. and Mrs. Gatumbato, Mrs. Domider, Mrs. Paradero, Mrs. Sucaldito, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Lechonsito, Mrs. Del Campo, Mr. Barber, Ms. Davala, Ms. Paclibar, Ms. Ines, Ms. Paragas, Mrs. Lucentales, Mr. Palencia, while the Principal was Mr. Ben Nicolo. According to Ed, her mother took the pains in keeping photos taken during her time in Tacurong Pilot School.


Children of prominent families went to the school in slippers and shoes with socks, while the rest were barefooted. Free snacks consisted of gruel made from yellow corn grits. Those who failed to bring cups or bowls ate their share using pad paper folded origami style in the shape of a cap.  If there were extra bags brought by the Peace Corp Volunteers, the grits were distributed among the pupils to be brought home. Aside from yellow corn, those that were regularly donated to the school was bulgur wheat, oat meal, and powdered milk.


When I was in Grade Four, Ikea Seki comet appeared which became visible at dawn for almost a week. I could vividly recall the event as the appearance happened during our Boy Scout camping on the track and field of the school. During the time, we almost lost a good friend, Baltazar Subando when he fell from the “monkey bridge” built for the contest among the troops. Among the schoolmates I could recall were, Febe and Lilieth Ancheta, Betty Cu, Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, Gloria Sangke, Catalino Ines, Nonito Bacus, Jaime Bides, Angel Collado, Apolonio de la Peἧa, Cornelio Alegre, Jaime Mariἧas, Elsie Dajay, Homero Palatolon, Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Eleanor Fajardo, the late Chrito Lacanaria, Rey Mijares, Julius Lechonsito, Jimmy Uy, Dani Pendatun, the late Reynaldo Mosqueda…(more names to be added as recalled).


In High School, we became Notre Damians who wore khaki pants with green stripe on the side.  On very special occasions, the Dominican Sisters of the Girls’ Department allowed joint activities with the Boys’ Department during which the musical talents of the students from both departments were exhibited. Ed Collado, Ted Lapuz, and Virgilio Guillermo provided music to the dancing girls, such as Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, and others.


Debating Club was among the most popular organizations in the Boys’ campus aside from the Choreographers’ Club. The members of the Debating Club such Jovino Morte, Cirilo Baldonado, Andres Jordan Jr., Rommel Angel, Nonie Amar, Antonio Hojilla, Eduardo Palomado, Rodolfo Gallega, Virgilio Guillermo, Ed Collado, Felizardo Lazado, Leo Villalobos, Jose Lim III, a certain Cabico, were coached by Mr. Gabertan. The Choreographers’ Club on the other hand had Mrs. Ching Romero and former Ms. Leonor Palabricas as advisers, with the members such as, Dominador Barnachea, Homero Palatolon, Cirilo Baldonado, Ruel Lucentales, Domingo Cargo, Hernanie Baclaan, Eddie Travilla, a certain Nanales, and Ed Collado. The Choreographers’ Club had one successful fund-raising show, the “Rainbow of Rhythmn”.


Today, those caught in the historic frame of time are successful in their chosen fields. Some are entrepreneurs, overseas professionals, military officers, engineers, nurses, and educators.



The Blissful Family of Luis and Paciencia Garcia of Tacurong City

The Blissful Family of Luis and Paciencia Garcia

of Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos


The couple, Luis and Paciencia Garcia (Tatay Luis and Nanay Pacing) opened the first bakery in our town during the 1950s. It had a big wood-fired oven fed by big chunks of wood, usually, “enyam” or “bignay” and acacia which grew in abundance throughout the extent of the town. I would play on stacked logs in front of the bakery in the afternoon before finally making it home from the dried fish stall of my parents in the market. Practically, every able-bodied member of the family took part in its operation, especially, in manning the counter and the cash box. The Garcias were close to our parents and sometimes our mother would linger awhile in front of the bakery on her way to the market, to chat with both Nanay Pacing and Tatay Luis. In my desire to earn at an early age, I peddled their pan de sal around the town at dawn before I went to school, using a box of Darigold, a popular brand of milk during the time. I was in Grade Three at the time.


During the regular Sunday singing contest held at the town plaza, courtesy of the late mayor, Jose Escribano, paper bags of bread from the bakery were among the prizes. The judges were so strict that at the hint of an off-key, the contestant was disqualified at the sound of a bell. A Levita girl with her golden voice was the consistent winner. The couple also used to donate cookies for the yearly “Flores” celebration held every May. The cookies were served as snacks to the kids who participated in catechetical sessions during which Marian songs and prayers were taught. At the height of evacuation to our town of families displaced from the surrounding areas during the 70’s, they gave the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) specially-discounted price for the bread that the agency purchased.


Tatay Luis had the opportunity to delve into the local politics with successful attempts, but he did not pursue this particular calling, as it got stinky, the height of which was the assassination of the town judge inside the church while he was attending the Sunday Mass. Free from the political clutch, Tatay Luis and Nanay Pacing devoted their time instead, to religious and civic activities of the town, especially, during fiestas.


All members of the Garcia family are achievers, successful in their chosen career and enjoying the fruit of their labor, except for one whose advocacy brought her to her untimely demise. She was Marlene (Esperat), the youngest in the brood, and who worked for the government, particularly, as the Action Officer of the resident Ombudsman of the Department of Agriculture, but left it posthaste, when she discovered unbecoming activities. She later found a niche in the field of journalism, both broadcast and print. In her paramount desire to help her country, she later exposed the anomalies that she stumbled upon at the cost her life. She was murdered, obviously, by a hired killer right inside her home. It took more than 5 years before the Ombudsman finally filed a solid case against the suspects, the then, Agriculture Secretary Luis “Chito” Lorenzo, Undersecretary Joselyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and three others.


Practically, the Garcia siblings were popular campus personalities at the Notre Dame Boys and Girls Departments, what with their strong personality characterized by inherent leadership quality that made them shine in scholastic and extra- curricular activities. The family was known for their closeness that brought them together almost every year during a reunion, in which cousins were also in attendance. Other special occasions were also reasons for them to be together. That was how the good-natured though strict patriarch and the jolly matriarch brought up the family. The eldest of the brood, ultra-active, Valmie, with her crown of thick curly hair, was always the life of any occasion as she let out her antics and biting, though, funny remarks.


I was fortunate to meet Bong (Larry) and Pangkek at Dagat-dagatan, Malabon many years back when I visited another town mate, Judith Bides-Ramiscal who excitedly told me that they were neighbors. After having told of their address I immediately surprised them with my visit. My path crossed with that of Valmie’s during the 50th foundation anniversary of our school, the Notre Dame of Tacurong. At the closing ceremony of the reunion highlighted by a community dancing on the school grounds, she was among the alumni who gleefully bumped shoulders to the beat of the festive music, still the spritely gal that she was during her high school days.  We were practically exchanging shouts of greeting above the din of the ear-splitting non-stop disco sound. And, the next time we again met after many years, was via the internet – the facebook. That social medium also got me  touched base with her younger brother, Bong.


The Garcias have definitely impressed the mark of their own legacy on the hefty foundation of the City of Tacurong while she was going through the challenges from simple politics gone stinky and threats of cultural unrest. And for that, Valmie and her siblings have their courageous and generous father, Luis, as well as, jovial mother, Paciencia, to thank!



Marlene Garcia-Esperat and the Plight of other “Whistle Blowers”

Marlene Garcia-Esperat

and the Plight of Other “Whistle Blowers”

By Apolinario Villalobos


When I saw the photo of the late Marlene Garcia-Esperat who was murdered because she exposed the anomalies at the Department of Agriculture, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of devastation and palpitated with anger. She was so young and unfortunately, her ideals cut short her dreams. She exposed the anomalies at the Department of Agriculture which was then under Secretary Luis “Chito” Lorenzo whose cohorts were his Underscretary Joselyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and three more personalities, involving the purchase of millions of pesos worth of fertilizer.


Marlene made the exposế when she left the Office of the Ombudsman where she was the Action Office of the resident Ombudsman of the Department of Agriculture.  Not long after, she was silenced by a hired gunman right inside her home on the fateful 24th day of March, 2005, as she was obviously, unprotected. She should have been moving around with a security because of her exposếs, but she was not. At the time of her death, she was living with her family in the City of Tacurong, her birthplace. The proud parents are Luis and Paciencia Garcia.


The “whistle blowers” risk their career and security of their family after making the painful decision to spill out the proverbial beans of anomalies that they accidentally discover. Some of them make the crucial decision on their own volition while others had to be coaxed into cooperation, and even intimidated by eager prosecutors. Promises of security and financial assistance are made by the government, but are unfortunately, short-lived as the “agreement” had to be “renewed”.


Sandra Cam who stands out among the “whistle blowers” organized them for the convenience of the NGOs which are helping them. Also, to make them cohesive every time they make demands in one voice. Unfortunately, the last time that this group was heard was when Cam surfaced during the celebrated hearings of de Lima at the Senate….perhaps, only because, de Lima is her mortal enemy. The big question is where are the rest of them? Have they finally recanted their statements in exchange for big sums or unfortunately, silenced forever?


The “whistle blowers” are actually witnesses, who got tagged with such reference because they are supposed to have blown the whistle to alert the government about certain anomalies. But, for how long can they blow the whistle with the kind of government that we have? The expense for their protection is dependent on the budget of the concerned agencies, but the approval of which is also dependent on the whims of the Senate. Worse, the approval of the protection sometimes is granted long after witnesses has put their security in jeopardy when they divulged information at the hearing venue.


How many more Marlene Garcia-Esperats will make a sacrifice to make the government realize the loop-holes of its “witness protection program”? How could the Duterte administration use this program to enhance his drive against illegal drugs if prospective witnesses have lost their trust in such program? What is their chance of still standing alive and kicking after his six-year term? …AND, WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DOING ABOUT IT?


Meet our “Agot”…Erlina Diaz…proud alumnus of Notre Dame of Tacurong

Meet Our “Agot”…Erlina Diaz

…proud alumnus of Notre Dame of Tacurong

By Apolinario Villalobos


During my college days, I had the opportunity to meet people with interesting personalities. They were very much different from my high school buddies as our college that time was co-ed. During my high school days, the girls were separated from us boys. While we were under the shadow of the Oblate Director, the girls were under the wings of the Dominican Sisters.


Although I got separated from some of my high school friends who were financially fortunate to pursue their college in bigger colleges in cities, most stayed behind just to be with the Oblates. Our motley group of Liberal Arts students was the smallest compared to those who belonged to BS Commerce, and the combined BS Education and Elementary Education.


From among the new faces, Ruel Lucentales and I sort of naturally and casually got stuck with a bespectacled and frizzy-haired, though cute girl from Isulan – Erlina Diaz. In no time at all, we developed some kind of a clique – the three of us, although, we were still close to our other classmates such as Norma Burias (now Mrs. Boeh), Cesar Cruz, Talama Makilala (Saavedra), Luz Garnica, and many more.


Ruel and I called Erna our “agot” which in the Hiligaynon means “youngest”. Before classes would start, the three of us were spontaneously drawn toward each other. And, as if on cue, would ask each other about what each of us got for the previous day’s assigned readings. There were times that our discussions would result to ill-feelings due to pride as nobody would like to give in and come out wrong. But, after a few days, we would again be meeting, as if the previous serious discussions did not happen.


We parted ways after graduation. While I joined Philippine Airlines, Ruel got stuck with the Department of Social Welfare which both of us worked for as working students when we were in fourth year, while Erna taught at the Notre Dame of isulan where she finished her high school. Ruel, later became the Director for Region XI of the said agency based in Davao and moved up to the national level as Assistant Secretary, the position he held at the time of his demise. Erna on the other hand, moved on to become the Principal of their school. And, as I have developed some kind of loyalty with PAL, I stayed with it for twenty years, after which I drifted among companies and government agencies as Consultant.


One time, I surprised Erna with an unannounced visit in her new-found retirement job as the High School Principal of the Valdez Mother and Child City College (VMCC) (Tacurong), founded by Dr. Bonifacio Valdez, one of the prides of our Alma Mater and city, being an indefatigable civic leader who heads several organizations. Erna was still wearing spectacles and with a strong Hiligaynon twang in her accent, but the sharpness In her delivery of words as she spoke was still evident. With fondness, we recalled days spent with our teachers and classmates. I purposely did not remind her, though, that our batch was the last, as the college department of the school was temporarily closed due to the meager enrollees aside from the prevailing unrest at the time.


As I was treading the dusty path from the gate of the VMCC toward the main road when I bid her goodbye, I was feeling great with the thought that we may be the fortunate last batch of our dear school, Notre Dame, but we showed our best as we are proudly and continuously waving her banner of green and white.


St. Catherine of Siena (dedicated to the Notre Dame-Siena of Tacurong City)

St. Catherine of Siena

(Dedicated to the Notre Dame-Siena of Tacurong City)

By Apolinario Villalobos


She could have been

Just another pretty face in the village,

But the call of the Lord

Came loud, strong and intense

That nothing could block the path

She chose that led to Him

Whose Heart bursts with blinding grace

And warmth that’s just so overwhelming.


Dedicating her life to the Lord

She lived with simplicity,

And despite the affluence of her family

She led a life filled with frugality;

She spent her time with the unfortunates

Who could barely make both ends meet

Making sacrifice stand for what it’s meant

As that was her cherished dream ever since.


Writing her way to prominence

She tried her best to be heard

For the sake of her countrymen;

Though the goings were tough

For favorable consequence,

She was not deterred

For instead, her courage

Was prodded on by insistence.


As the Lord’s intellectual instrument

She did her best with the pen’s power

Patching up the rift that beleaguered the Church –

This she did while helping the destitute;

She lighted up gloomy nights with her radiance

For without even a single complaint

She made lost souls find their way

Back to the Lord – just like any other saint.


The world is lucky for her legacies –

Courage toughened by perseverance

Patience intensified by wisdom

Humility bolstered by endurance

Simplicity anchored on diligence;

Nobody has ever thought

That intercession of such a dainty girl –

Much later by others, shall be sought.


St. Catherine …

She is all that women should emulate –

Pretty, yet modest and humble to the highest

Ever submissive to the Lord’s will

Never asking why she must suffer for others

Taking to heart every thing she did

In the hope that someday –

The Church would, at last, be united!


(The former Notre Dame Girls Department of Tacurong City that used to be under the Dominican nuns, is now under the administration of the nuns who belong to the Order of St. Catherine.)



Speech of Ramonito Pernato, President of Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accounts (PICPA)

(RAMONITO PERNATO belongs to the Batch’70 of NDTC Boys High School (Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines). His family popularized the chicken barbecue in Tacurong way back in early days of the 1960s, and which became known as “Mauring’s Barbecue”. He literally worked his way up the social ladder to be where he is now, the 2016-2017 NATIONAL PRESIDENT of the PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTS (PICPA). He is among the “golden products” of Notre Dame that I am personally proud of.)







Time is running so fast, only to find out that we are all gathered today in Davao City, the venue and the home of the co-host, the PICPA Davao Chapter to celebrate our 71st PICPA Annual National Convention. We have chosen Davao City as the venue over a place in Sultan Kudarat Province, the home of the co-host, the PICPA Sultan Kudarat Chapter because the City has adequate facilities, resources, and various tourist destinations to offer around the Southern Mindanao Region.


The 71st Annual National Convention, as always been said in any annual convention, is a time for us to renew our acquaintances and friendship, share our concerns and issues, our joys and sadness, and to work out on the challenges we are now facing in the volatile and complex business and economic environment.


Despite some hitches as we are moving forward to achieve our goals, this Annual National Convention is also an occasion for all PICPANs as a family to establish or re-invigorate affected relationship so that we can put aside our personal differences and move forward to become more humane and professional.


Also, the 71st Annual National Convention Committee has worked hard and came-out with technical sessions and fellowships which will meet the needs of each PICPAN to “LEVEL UP” and go beyond our comfort zones, and be ready to face the challenges of the times with confidence and competitive spirit.


Daghang Salamat!


Mabuhay ang PICPA!