Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

On my way to the bus terminal of Tacurong city where I was to take a van for Davao, I saw a Badjao woman who was carefully covering the seat of a motorbike with a piece of corrugated cartoon, supposedly to protect it from the scorching heat of the sun and a sudden downpour. I talked to the woman and asked for her name which she gave as “Tillah”. She told me that she has four children who has the same “job” and that they are positioned in strategic corners of the city. By strategic, it means where motorbikes park. Even car owners concede to have the hood of their cars covered with a piece of cartoon.

 

The cartoons are the dismantled corrugated boxes that the Badjaos ask from store owners and had seen good old days as containers of milk, sachets of instant noodles, etc. The collection of dismantled boxes become precious belongings of these boat and stilt house-dwelling Filipinos. They are paid Php5 for their “service”. In the evening, the cartons become their sleeping mats that cover the cold pavement of a sidewalk where they could spend the night.

 

Further asked about her family, she told me that she is a widow with four children. Having no source of income in Zamboanga, except begging, they ventured inland, trying their luck in any town along the way, as they seek a “greener pasture”. They are lucky to have stayed longer in Tacurong because of the benevolence of the residents.

 

Hopefully, I would be able to meet the children of Tillah….perhaps, when I come back to the City of Goodwill.

Si Merly…nagtitiyaga sa barya-baryang kita

Si Merly…nagtitiyaga sa barya-baryang kita

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

6:30AM noon nang mapadaan ako sa puwesto ni Merly. Papunta ako sa isang bakery na may kapehan subalit nang maamoy ko ang nilulutong ulam na kabisadong-kabisado ko ay bigla akong napatigil at nagdesisyong sa puwesto niya ako magkakape at kakain ng niluluto niyang tortang talong, isa  sa mga paborito ko. Pagkatimpla ko ng kape ay kumuha agad ako ng dalawang pirasong torta at inilagay sa platito, subalit nadismaya ako nang malaman kong wala pang kanin…hindi pa daw siya nakapagsaing dahil nag-iipon pa ng kita upang pambili ng kahit dalawang kilong bigas na isasaing.

 

Ang ginawa ko ay inubos agad ang dalawang torta at sinundan ng dalawa pa kaya may 40pesos na siya dahil 10pesos lang ang tortang talong. Nang maramdaman kong kaya ko pang lumamon ng torta, kumuha uli ako ng dalawa pa kaya sa kabuuhan, may 60pesos na siyang pambili ng bigas dahil binayaran ko na agad ang kape na 10pesos. Dali-dali siyang umalis upang bumili ng bigas sa di-kalayuang tindahan at ipinagbilin sa akin ang puwesto. Hinabol ko siya ng bilin na ang bilhin niya ay ang manila-nilaw na nakita kong tig-32pesos lang kada kilo, na siya ngang binili. Buhaghag ang uri ng bigas kaya hindi malata o masyadong malambot.

 

Habang nagluluto siya ay ikinuwento niya ang kanyang buhay. Siya ay taga-San Pablo, isang barangay ng Tacurong at may 61years old na asawang nagda-drive ng tricycle. Nang tinanong ko siya kung may mga anak siyang nag-aaral ay sumagot siyang meron at iginagapang nilang mag-asawa upang makatapos ng junior high school man lang, na ang equivalent sa dating sistema ng edukasyon ay 4-years high school. Si Merly ay 58 years old at kahit mahina ang katawan ay nagpipilit na gumising ng maaga upang makapagluto ng pagkain, makapaglaba at makapaglinis bago pumunta sa maliit niyang karinderya na katabi ng mga puwestong nagtitinda ng uling, junks, at mga coco lumber.

 

Pagdating ni Merly sa puwesto ay naglalaga agad siya ng mga itlog at nagpapakulo ng tubig parasa thermos. Iisa lang ang lutuan ni Merly kaya hirap siya subalit wala siyang magagawa dahil puhunan nga lang daw ay kinakapos na siya. Ang lutuan niya ay nakapatong sa lupa at ginagatungan ng uling o kahoy. Nakapagsaing lamang siya nang maubos niyang i-torta ang mga talong na nakababad sa binateng itlog.

 

Ang hind ko makalimutan sa sinabi ni Merly ay, “ayaw kong maging katulad namin ang aming mga anak dahil kaming mag-asawa ay hanggang grade 2 lang….gusto naming matutong magbasa ng maayos at makapagsulat ang mga anak namin upang hindi maloko ng ibang tao….alam mo naman sa panahon ngayo…”. Yan si Merly, magiting na ina!

The Hedonistic Celebration of Special Occasions by Impoverished Filipinos

The Hedonistic Celebration of Special Occasions

By Impoverished Filipinos

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Many Filipinos borrow money to celebrate special occasions such as birthday, fiesta, and anniversaries…I mean here, Filipinos who cannot even afford three square meals a day. They hinge their desire on the wrong justification that the celebration is just once a year, anyway. What they forgot is that the obligation to pay the debt could stretch for not less than three months, especially, if the money is from a loan shark who slaps suckers with as much as 20% interest per month! These unthinking Filipinos are blinded by arrogance as they want to show others that they can afford to splurge money. They also forgot that the people who know them are already aware about their impoverish status in life, so that any effort to cover it up, is useless.

 

The hedonistic way of celebrating special occasions among Christians is an influence from pagan Romans who were converted into Christianity. The Roman Saturnalia was celebrated for days with fun – dancing, drinking, eating, and sexual activities with wild abandon. Not only was Saturnalia celebrated without let up but anything that can be used as an excuse. This hedonistic practice was brought to the Philippine archipelago by the Spanish friars who preceded the contingents of armed conquistadores who came on galleons. The friars used the celebrations that they masked with spirituality to entice the natives to come down from their mountain abodes with eventual motive of converting them.

 

Today, the influence is so deeply rooted that it has practically ruined the character of Filipinos in general. As mentioned earlier, many Filipinos would go to the extent of borrowing money from loan sharks in order to celebrate “debut” of daughters, fiestas, birthday, etc, for one day, and suffer from the consequence for months!

 

On the other hand, those who can afford to feed a barangay as a way of celebrating their birthday, for instance, may go ahead, as nothing could stop them, not even this blog that serves as just a simple reminder, and which they may even view as an idiocy!

 

 

The Crooks in our Midst

The Crooks in Our Midst

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The crooks in today’s world are known by several names – skimmers, hackers, scammers, pickpockets, pimps, fakers, drug lords, drug pushers, etc.

 

There are jet-setting crooks who bring their dubious trade in other countries. In the Philippines there are foreigners who are ATM machine skimmers, and who successfully entered the country as tourists. Some of these are bomb-making experts who ply their trade in many countries for varying handsome fees….with some already in the Philippines sharing their knowledge with local terrorists in the name of religious advocacy. Filipino pickpockets travel to Hongkong and the casinos in the US to ply their trade.

 

In Manila, particularly, along the stretch of Recto Avenue, fakers of documents, openly solicit clients. Not far away is the Avenida where pimps approach moneyed-looking guys who are shown photos of supposedly “virgin” and pretty and still, supposedly “young students” who need money for their tuition fee. And, of course, among these crooks are the pickpockets, with some of them decent-looking.

 

Air-con buses that ply the provincial routes from Manila are not spared by fake evangelists who deliver lines from the Bible and then approach passengers to ask for “donation”. And, another group of bus-hoppers is composed of distraught-looking guys and women who show Xeroxed copy of death certificate of supposedly relatives whose remains could not be interred due to lack of funds. I encountered several crook women who showed photos of supposedly members of their family and who are in the hospital and who badly needs financial assistance.

 

Fly-by-night tour operators have their own kind of modus operandi to successfully swindle sucker tourists, both local and foreign. They advertise too-good-to-be-true cheap tour packages to popular tourist spots complete with several days stay in first class resorts or hotels….payment is online, as the transaction has been made in the same way. Soonest as payment is made, the swindled client is left hanging in the air, as not even the promised transfer service did not materialize.

 

Other crooks in our midst are those who can’t seem to have a peaceful mind until they have borrowed money from “friends”, and without any intention to pay. I consider them “leeches” as they suck blood from their trusting friends. Unfortunately, many of this kind are supposedly educated, professionals who know that what they are doing is wrong, yet, they persist on exploiting others.

 

There are many more crooks, as those I mentioned are just some of them. Every one could have been a victim in one way or another, and through small or big deal….as the world is full of them!

 

 

On Squatting…Again

ON SQUATTING…AGAIN

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, PARTICULARLY, THE BARANGAYS SHOULD BE BLAMED FOR THE PROLIFERATION OF SQUATTERS AS ONLY THEY, ARE THE ONES IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE LATTER. INDIRECTLY, THE NEXT LEVEL OF LGU – TOWNS AND CITIES CAN BE BLAMED, TOO. PART OF THE REGULAR  REPORT OF BARANGAYS SHOULD BE THE PRESENCE OF SQUATTERS IN THEIR AREAS AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING ABOUT THEM. AND, THE MUNICIPAL AND CITY GOVERNMENTS SHOULD POUND THE BARANGAYS FOR THEIR INACTION.

 

THE BARANGAY SHOULD IMMEDIATELY PUT A STOP TO ANY ATTEMPT OF SQUATTING. UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS NOT BEING DONE SO THAT IN TIME, THE SMALL CLUSTER OF MAKESHIFT HOMES BECOMES ANOTHER BARANGAY BASED ON POPULATION.

 

WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (DILG) DOING ABOUT THE IRRESPONSIBLE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS?….NOTHING!!!

 

THE DILG AND OTHER CONCERNED AGENCIES, ONE OF WHICH IS THE DSW, WAIT UNTIL THE SQUATTING PROBLEM HAS COME TO AN UNCONTROLLED LEVEL BEFORE THEY ACT BY DEMOLISHING HOMES AND RESETTLING INFORMAL SETTLERS TO RELOCATION SITES THAT ARE NOT FIT FOR HABITATION DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF BASIC FACILITIES AND SAFE ROADS THAT THE UPROOTED CITIZENS  AND THEIR CHILDREN COULD TAKE TO THEIR JOBS AND SCHOOLS  IN THE URBAN AREAS WHERE THEY CAME FROM.

 

THIS PROBLEM IS “HISTORIC” IN NATURE, AS IT HAS BEEN GIVING THE GOVERNMENT A HEADACHE SINCE THE COMMONWEALTH DAYS OF THE COUNTRY….BUT, OF COURSE, THE BLAME NATURALLY GOES TO THE IRRESPONSIBLE OFFICIALS, AS EARLY ON, CUDDLING OF SQUATTERS FOR THEIR RELEVANCE DURING ELECTION HAS BEEN A CORRUPT TRADITION.

 

TOTAL ELIMINATION OF SQUATTING SHOULD NOT FORM PART OF DUTERTE’S PROMISES TO THE FILIPINOS AS THIS CONCERN IS A WORLD-WIDE PHENOMENON THAT HINGES ON POVERTY, ESPECIALLY, IN THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES LIKE THE PHILIPPINES. DUTERTE SHOULD PROMISE ONLY DOABLE PROJECTS TO MAKE HIM A “REALISTIC PRESIDENT”….NOT A QUIXOTIC OR A DREAMING ONE.

Si Rex at ang Kanyang Pamilya

Si Rex at ang Kanyang Pamilya

ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nagkurus ang landas namin ni Rex (ayaw niyang ipabanggit ang apelyido niya) sa 7-11 store, tapat ng Robinson’s-Imus. Nagkakape ako noon habang hinihintay ko ang pagbukas ng mall kung saan naroon ang store ng computers na may magaling na technician na naging suki ko na, si Allen. Nang umagang yon, ang suot na pantalon at polo shirt ni Rex ay halatang hindi na-plantsa pero hindi naman gusot talaga, at ang sapatos na suot ay mumurahing rubberized na itim pero naka- medyas naman siya.

 

Napansin kong nakatingin siya sa kape ko kaya inalok ko siya, at nang tumanggi ay tumayo  pa rin ako upang ibili siya. Sa halip na inumin agad ang kape, medyo nahihiya pang nagtanong kung pwede daw akong magpasa sa kanya ng load dahil iti-text daw niya ang supervisor ng inaaplayan niyang grocery, bilang merchandiser. Papasahan ko na sana pero nalaman kong Globe ang gamit niya at ako naman ay Smart kaya hindi puwede. Binigyan ko na lang siya ng sampung pisong pang-load. Bago umalis upang magpa-load ay saka pa lang siya nagpakilala at iniwan din ang belt bag.

 

Nang makabalik pagkatapos magpa-load ay nag-text agad sa supervisor ng inaaplayan niya para i-confirm na darating siya.  Ipinagtapat niya na naglakad lang daw siya mula sa kubo nila sa isang bukid na malapit sa isang kilalang subdivision. Wala daw talaga siyang pera dahil ang kinita niya sa pagbenta ng ilang taling kangkong at talbos ng kamote sa palengke ng Imus, madaling araw pa lang ay ibinili niya ng dalawang kilong bigas at apat na pirasong tuyo para may makain ang dalawa niyang kapatid bago pumasok sa eskwela….siya ay hindi na nag-almusal para may matirang kanin at ulam sa nanay niyang maysakit. Ang natirang barya ay ibinigay niya sa kanyang nanay para maipon at maipambili ng gamot. Bago daw umalis ay naglaga na rin siya ng talbos ng kamote para pandagdag sa inihaw na tuyo – almusal ng kanyang nanay. Sa nabili niyang apat na tuyo, bale tig-isa sila at ang share niya ay kakainin niya sa tanghalian.

 

Ang pambayad sana sa pagpa-repair ng laptop ko ay ibinigay ko na lang sa kanya at sinabihan ko siyang kapag natanggap sa trabaho ay ipagpatuloy niya ang ginagawa niyang pag-alaga sa mga kapatid at maysakit na nanay. Sa patuloy na pagkuwento niya, maliit pa lang daw sila ay iniwan na sila ng tatay nila, kaya kung saan-saan daw sila tumira, pati sa bangketa ng Baclaran hanggang makarating sila sa Imus kung saan ay  nakakita sila ng matalahib na bukid. Nagpaalam daw sila sa may-ari ng lupa bago naglinis ng lalagyan nila ng tulugan – actually, tarpaulin na nagsilbing bubong. Mga karton na palagi nilang dala ang higaan nila.

 

Nakaipon ng mga kahoy ang dalawa niyang kapatid na namumulot ng junks kung walang pasok kaya unti-unti nilang nabuo ang kubo. Noon ay tumambay daw siya sa Imus market upang magkargador at magtawag ng pasahero sa termina ng jeep. Pinayagan silang magtanim ng gulay sa paligid at ang tubig na pandilig ay galing sa poso (deep well pump) ng may-ari ng lupa. Nang magkaroon ng pagkakataon ay nag-aral siya ng Refrigetation sa TESDA. Ang TESDA certificate ang ginamit niya bilang patunay ng tinamong educational attainment sa pag-apply ng trabaho bilang merchandiser. Kahit matanggap bilang merchandiser, magtitinda pa rin daw siya ng kangkong at talbos ng kamote sa madaling araw. Kung palarin, baka madadagdagan ang paninda niya ng kalabasa dahil ilang buwan na lang ay malalaki na ang bunga. Nag-usap na daw sila ng mga kapatid niya kung paano silang makatulong sa pag-ani ng mga talbos tuwing hapon na ibebenta naman niya sa madaling araw. Ang dalawa niyang kapatid ay sa isang public school na nasa tabi ng LTO-Imus, nag-aaral…naglalakad sila sa pagpasok at pag-uwi. Si Rex ay 23 years old, sinundan siya ng 9 na taong gulang na kapatid na lalaki at ang bunsong babae ay 7 years old naman…ang nanay naman nila ay 52 years old. Nangako akong papasyalan ko sila dahil alam ko naman ang binanggit niyang bukid.

 

Kung ang KARAMIHAN MAN LANG SANA ng mga kabataang Pilipino ay tulad nina Rex at mga kapatid niya, SANA AY WALANG GAANONG PROBLEMA ang ating bansa….

Ang Kaunlaran

ANG KAUNLARAN

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Mga nagtatayugang gusali sa lunsod

Nagliliparang mga sasakyan

Mga ilaw na nakakasilaw

Kaya’t gabi’y parang araw.

 

Mga kamangha-manghang kagamitan

Sa mga tao ay nakakaagapay

Kaya’t buhay na guminhawa

Dapat pasalamatang biyaya.

 

Subali’t kasabay ng natamong ginhawa

Kapalit naman ay pagkalimot

Na sa likod ng mga natamo-

May ISANG naglalang ng mundo…

MUNDONG  NASAULALA…

AT, ANIMO’Y NAGAHASA!

 

Notes:

Nakakaagapay – helps, big help, assists

Naglalang – created

Nasalaula – abused, exploited, “binaboy”