The Versatile and Environment-friendly BANTILLO STOVE

The Versatile and Environment-friendly


By Apolinario Villalobos


The versatile stove invented by Mr. Alex Bantillo Sr. of Tacurong City can be fed with rice husk, wood, or charcoal. The ingenious stove was conceptualized and designed when Mr. Bantillo opened a restaurant in Tacurong city with an operating cost that, as part of the plan, should not eat up a big portion of the earnings. Raw materials and manpower are out of the question as they are basics in such kind of trade. After a series of afterthoughts, he decided to ponder on the aspect of cooking fuel. Among the products of the city is the charcoal. On the other hand, the city is surrounded with rice fields and rice mills. Firewood is also abundant.


Based on the three locally-available and likewise, abundant traditional fuel, he thought of designing a stove that could be fed with any of them. His design is such that the emitted smoke is filtered, hence, the emission of carbon dioxide is minimized…making the contraption nature-friendly. As regards the rice husks, practically, big heaps are belched out by rice mills. Charcoal and firewood on the other hand are from planted trees and felled forest trees to give way to rural development. In principle, the stove shall also serve as an incinerator as it can also be fed with combustible household waste.


At a glance, the stove of Mr. Bantillo looks like an ordinary box as practically, no smoke is emitted. And, only the big cauldron of broth sitting on one of the burners could make one suspect that it is a stove. According to Mr. Bantillo, he has already received orders for units of his stove from his appreciative customers. He confided, though, that as much as possible, acceptance of orders is controlled as he might not be able to catch up with the demand.


The Bantillo stove is a prominent feature of the operation of the Alex Pata chain that covers the cities of Tacurong (two branches), Koronadal and Isulan. Those interested should better have a close scrutiny of the stove by visiting any of the Alex Pata outlets, for better appreciation and eventual filing of order.


Rowena Soliano: Hardworking Single Mom from the Far Sarangani Province

Rowena Soliano: Hardworking Single Mom

From the Far Sarangani Province

By Apolinario Villalobos


Regular visitors of Isetan Mall along Recto refer to Rowena Soliano as the “girl in black”, although friends call her “Weng”. She hails from Sarangani Province in southern Mindanao. She’s got an exotic face and always chick in her tight-fitting black outfit, that make her stand out in a crowd of shoppers in the mall while delivering ordered snacks to patronizing employees. She also loves to braid her hair in various ways every day that adds to her being a stunning looker. She has been working with a coffee shop located on the fourth floor of the mall where the videoke area is located.


In 2013, she fell in love with a persistent suitor whom she thought was serious in his intention. Unfortunately, their relationship got sour and realizing that something was seriously wrong with their relationship, she broke up with him despite her being pregnant during the time. She went on with her job at the mall, but went home when she was about to deliver her baby. After a year in Sarangani, she went back to Manila and implored her employer to take her back. She left her baby girl, now almost two years old in the care of her mother, to whom she regularly sends money.


Her job at the coffee shop starts at 10AM when the mall opens until its closure at 9PM. She seldom finds time to sit down, as just when she arrives at their stall after a delivery, another set or more of ordered snacks are waiting to be delivered again.  Despite her hectic schedule, her smile never leaves her face. The only break she gets is when she had to take a late lunch – standing. Another short respite is for a stolen moment for light and late dinner, still taken standing.


She is fortunate to have found a kind employer, a reason enough for her to love her job. It was her first job when she arrived in Manila from Sarangani Province. When I had a lengthy talk with her, I told her about the international resort that Manny Pacquiao is putting up in Sarangani. She told me that she was also told about it by her mother. However, she has apprehensions if she could be given the chance to land a job in such big resort due to her insufficient educational attainment. She told me that she barely finished her high school. She is also aware that there are plenty of four-year course graduates in their province and in the field of tourism, yet.


Weng is the opitome of the struggling youth from the province who try their luck in the bustling city of Manila, some of whom are unfortunate to have ended as prostitutes that ply their trade along Avenida. Some became exotic dancers in discreet beerhouses in Recto, Caloocan, and Cubao. Like their elder contemporaries who brought with them their families and ended living on sidewalks while surviving on recyclable junks collected from garbage dumps, the youth from the provinces of Mindanao are left with no choice but take the risk of uncertainties in Manila, rather than be recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA) and Abu Sayyaf.


Sarangani, the province of Weng,  is already infiltrated with NPA and drug dealers. The tentacles of Abu Sayyaf which is notoriously known for its kidnap-for-ransom activities have also been wriggling around the area for a long time, too. Worst, job opportunities in Sarangani is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. These are available at General Santos City, the nearest urban area, but for hopefuls like Weng, no opportunity is left, considering the thousands of graduates from several colleges and universities around the southern Mindanao area every year.


How can we then blame provincials like Weng for coming to Manila and add up to the already teeming population of the city? Yet, those who have not experienced distressing life in the province just cannot restrain themselves from uttering hurting invectives.   And, practically adding salt to the wound, are the incessant and oft-repeated arrogant declarations of the president about jobs and progress that the country and the Filipinos are enjoying!…and, under his administration, yet!…but the big question is, where are they?


Why Filipino Foods are not Popular Abroad Compared to those of other Asians’

Why Filipino Foods are not Popular Abroad

Compared to those of other Asians’

By Apolinario Villalobos

To put a straight answer to the question….it’s because names of Filipino foods in classy restaurants are “proudly” in Spanish or French, unlike those of other countries with authentic native names. As we know, people of other nations, especially those in the west, prefer the exotic, the native…and not what they already have in their country. So, in their desire to try something exotic, they would go to Korean, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai restaurants for a taste of Asia.

I am expressing this concern after reading an article in a weekend supplement of a broadsheet about a Filipino cook who has gone places, and the write-up is complete with photos of recipes that are his masterpieces – all with French names, though prepared with native ingredients! Filipino cooks who prefer to be called “chefs”, are obviously, so ashamed to name their dishes based on the main ingredient that they use. Perhaps, they should name, for instance, snail cooked in coconut milk, just as “ginataang kuhol”, the fern tops salad as “kinilaw na pako”, the “pinakbet” as just that, as named, coconut pith salad, as “kinilaw na ubod ng niyog”, misua soup as “sopas na misua” instead of “angel’s hair soup”, etc. There is, however, a problem with the “bird’s nest soup” that should be named “sinopas na laway ng ibon”.

There are a few Filipinos based in other countries, and who have ventured into the restaurant business, but most still prefer to hide their Filipino identity by using foreign-sounding names for their establishment, afraid that they will not attract customers, other than fellow Filipinos. Most also prefer to offer Mediterranean dishes introduced by the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines, such as the “arroz Valenciana”, “chorizo”, “estofado”, etc. when these can be prepared the Filipino way and given Filipino names. The hypocritical effort is obviously, an acrid residue of colonial mentality.

It is interesting to note that, in Arab countries, “saluyot” is used as an ingredient in spicy chicken curry, but in our country, only the lowly Filipinos eat the said vegetable, despite the already known fact, that it can prevent diabetes. A classy Chinese restaurant in Manila serves “alugbate” as an appetizer, but again, only mostly Visayans appreciate the said vegetable which is also known as Madagascar spinach or Chinese spinach, and those who cook it, know only of monggo as the appropriate taste enhancer. Still in the Middle East, one way to prepare eggplant is to sauté it in oil and spices until it becomes mushy, which then, is eaten with bread. But in the Philippines, despite the abundance of eggplant, what most Filipinos know as a dish for it is “tortang talong” or an ingredient in “pinakbet”, or an insignificant ingredient in “achara” or pickles, and still for the lowly, “binagoongang talong” or just “inihaw na talong”.

In Thai restaurants, they serve “bagoong rice” with thin slices of green mango and toasted dried krill (alamang) or baby shrimps on the side. Filipinos love it, but local carinderias do not serve them or only very few even attempt to cook it at home, despite the availability of ingredients in wet markets. Still, Filipinos do not mind paying for the pricey Thai coffee, although, it is just an ordinary black coffee mixed with “condensed milk”, that can be prepared at home. And, to top it all, the mentioned offerings are listed in the menu with Thai names!

So far, only the street food vendors are bold enough to give their palatable goodies “exotic” names, such as ‘adidas” for chicken feet, IUD for chicken intestine, “pares” for soupy mixture of shredded beef, cow skin, chili flakes, soy sauce, and toasted garlic – paired with quick-cooked fried rice.

When Fiilipinos have foreign visitors, they are brought to classy restaurants, unless the latter request for something local. Oftentimes, no initiative is taken by most Filipinos to introduce what are ours. A classic attempt, however, was made by a Filipina when she brought her German guest to a mall and went to the Filipino section for candied tamarind. While picking up a pack, the host was proudly talking about the fruit as being abundant in the Philippines. When the guest looked at the label, she saw a “Made in China” printed prominently as the source of the product!….well, at least the proud Filipina tried.

A Nation is Like a Restaurant

A Nation is Like a Restaurant

By Apolinario Villalobos

A nation is like a business enterprise such as a restaurant. The nation’s president is equivalent to the restaurant’s manager. As the lawmakers formulate laws and policies that shall make the nation stable, so do cooks come up with dishes that should attract clientele that shall establish the likeability of the restaurant. The waiters, assistant manager, dishwashers and the rest of the staff of the restaurant, correspond to the plain citizens, government officials and employees of the nation.

Just like a restaurant that is poorly managed, thereby, fail to attract customers, so will a nation  fail to attract visitors due to poorly- managed total governmental system. Just like a restaurant whose menu contains the concocted dishes that should taste real good, the nation should also have infrastructures and programs for the convenience and satisfaction of visitors. If the customers of a restaurant are not satisfied with the advertised menus, they feel fooled, just like a nation that will earn the ire of unsatisfied visitors who experienced the chaotic traffic, blackouts, disrespect and opportunism of taxi drivers, and wavering security on the streets.

A restaurant needs only to satisfy its customers who will spread with their unsolicited word-of-mouth advertisement their good impressions, just like a nation whose satisfied visitors do not need prodding in telling their friends back home about their nice and memorable experience.

Just like a restaurant, a nation can also face bankruptcy…

Weird daw ako….awwww, c’mon….unique at kamangha-mangha siguro, pwede pa!

Weird daw ako….awww, c’mon!
…unique at kamangha-mangha siguro, pwede pa!
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Nang minsang may sinamahan akong mga kaibigan upang kumain sa isang karinderya pero hindi ko nagustuhan ang mga naka-display na ulam, humingi na lang ako ng sardinas na nakita ko sa shelf. Humingi din ako ng maraming siling labuyo na sinabay ko sa pagsubo ng pagkain. Sabi ng isa naming kasama, weird daw ako. Noong isang beses naman na kumain ako sa karinderyang magsasara na, dahil wala nang ulam akong inabutan at pati ang kanin ay tutong na lang, inorder ko na lang din ang tutong at humingi ng catsup para pang-ulam. Tanong ng anak ng may-ari ng karinderya… “ano yan?”

Gusto ko sanang sabihin noon sa kaibigan ko na, “kung hindi mo kayang kumain ng sardinas at sili, ako kaya ko, kaya bumilib ka na lang”. Pati yong anak ng may-ari ng karinderya na ayaw maniwalang kinain ko ang tira nilang tutong na karaniwan na nila sigurong tinatapon ay gusto ko sanang barahin ng tanong na, “mayaman ba kayo?”, pero nagpigil na lang ako, dahil kapag pinagsalitaan ko sila baka talagang lalabas ang tunay na pagka-“weird” ko!

Paano na lang kung malaman nilang ang saging na hinog ay sinasawsaw ko sa toyo?…ang abukado ay winiwisikan ko ng suka at sinasabayan ko ng sibuyas kung kainin , sa halip na lamasin sa asukal, gatas, at lalagyan pa ng yelo?…at ang piniritong sunny side up na itlog ay winiwisikan ko ng patis o sukang maanghang?…at wala akong ganang kumain kung walang sili na talagang pinanggigigilan kung nguyain upang sumarap ang sinusubo kong pagkain?…ang kape ay nilalagyan ko ng kending maanghang na “snow bear”, pulbong sili, cinnamon, at luyang dilaw…o di naman kaya ay dinurog na nilagang kamote? Baka himatayin sila!

Sa isyu ng sandwich, ang ibang Pilipino, kung sa bahay ay ayaw kumain ng tinapay na pinapalamanan ng gulay. Pero, bakit sa Jollibee at MacDo, kumakain sila ng tinapay na may kamatis, sibuyas at letsugas? Siguradong ang reaksyon dito ng mga nagpipilit na class sila ay ang pagsabi na tinatabi nila ang mga gulay. Sino ngayon ang “weird”? Di ba yan ay isang weird na kaipokrituhan? Paano na kaya kung ang ipapalaman sa tinapay ay tortang talong o ginisang kamatis at sibuyas o ginataang kalabasa o beko?…o di kaya ay catsup lang? …sigurado, may sisigaw ng, “yuck!!!”

Sa isyu naman ng ispageti, ang alam lang na sarsa ng ibang Pilipino ay yong may karne. Para sa kanila kung hindi karne ang sauce, hindi ito ispageti. At kapag tomato sauce lang o sariwang kamatis at sibuyas o laman- dagat tulad ng hinimay na piniritong galunggong, sea shells o sea weeds, o di kaya ay hinaluan ng pinakbet, o ginisang sardinas, lalo na ng hinimay na piniritong tuyo, o di kaya ay giniling na talbos ng kamote at malunggay na isang uri ng pesto sauce, o di kaya ay winisikan ng ginisang bagoong isda….siguradong magiging weird na itong pagkaing Italyano para sa kanila! Ang noodles na ispageti ay parang kanin, kaya pwedeng sabayan ng kahit na anong ulam, pwede nga kahit brown sugar o molasses lang. Ang ibang Pilipino nga naman, nanggaya lang ng pagkaing banyaga na akala nila ay class…palpak pa!
Kung mimili sa ukay-ukay o department store, ang una kong pinupuntahan ay ang section ng mga naka-sale at kung wala akong magustuhan, saka ako pumupunta sa regular section. Weird daw ako dahil may pera naman na magagastos, bakit ko pipigilan ang sarili ko? Yong kaibigan kong unang nagsabi nito ay madalas umutang sa akin dahil wala sa ayos kung magbadyet. Binara ko siya ng simpleng payo lang naman na: “kung ako ikaw, titingnan ko muna ang kakayahan ko sa paggastos bago mamili, at hindi yong makapamili lang ay uutang dahil hindi kaya ng bulsa”. Sa awa ng Diyos, hindi pa rin nagbago…manhid yata!…yan ang “weird!

Minsan pa rin, may naisama akong kaibigan sa Baseco Compound (Tondo). Bago kami pumasok sa mga iskenita, winarningan ko siya na huwag niya akong tawagin sa tunay kong pangalan dahil iba ang ginagamit ko sa lugar na yon. Nandilat ang mga mata niya, sabay tanong ng bakit daw, may dugtong pang “ang weird mo…wanted ka ba?”. Nang ipaliwanag ko na pulitiko at artista lang ang nagbo-brodkast ng pangalan sa ibang tao for obvious reason, hindi niya ako naintindihan. Nang dinagdagan ko ng, “ hindi kailangang malaman ng tinulungan kung sino ang tumulong”, lalo siyang nahilo. Mula noon hindi ko na siya isinama, at baka lalong mahilo sa mga kutos ko dahil pasaway lang!

Maraming bagay na ginagawa ang iba, na hindi ginagawa o hindi kayang gawin ng iba. Subali’t hindi nangangahulugang sila ay “weird”, na tulad ng tawag sa akin ng kaibigan ko. Negative kasi ang dating ng salitang “weird”. Puwede pa sigurong sabihin na “naiiba, unique” o “nakakamangha” dahil ang dating ng mga salitang yan ay may kaakibat na pagkabilib.

Sa buhay naman ng tao, kung mahirap siya at may kakaibang gawi, tinatawag na “weird”, pero kung mayaman, ay sinasabing may sariling “statement”. Para bang, kapag mahirap ang isang taong hindi diretso ang tingin, tawag sa kanya ay duling o sulimpat, pero kung mayaman, ang tawag ay banlag at ini-Ingles pa na “slanting eyes”. Kung mahirap na tao ang may galis, ang tawag sa kanya ay galisin, pero kung mayaman, siya ay may “allergy” lang, kahit para nang mapa ang eczema at nagnanaknak na ang balat sa kapal ng galis. Sa isa pa ring sakit sa balat ng mahirap, ang nagsusugat at nagnanana na, kung tawagin ay bakukang, pero kung sa mayaman, ang tawag ay “skin eruption”!

Kung mahirap ang tao, ang tawag sa mabaho niyang hininga ay mabahong hininga talaga o bad breath, kung mayaman, ini-Ingles sa mahirap intindihin na “halitosis”, kaya sa mga hindi alam ang meaning, bago nila malaman, halos himatayin na sila kung nabugahan na ng toxic breath ng mayamang kaibigan. Ang tawag sa taong mahirap na may maitim na balat ay “ulekba” o “negro”, pero kung mayaman, ang tawag ay “sun tanned” o “golden brown”. Ang taong mahirap na maputla ang kulay ay tinatawag na kulay-patay o sakitin, pero kung mayaman, tinatawag na “kulay porselana” (porcelain). At, kung payat ang mahirap, tawag sa kanya ay “tisiko” o my TB, di kaya ay “bangkay”, pero kung mayaman, tawag sa kanya ay sexy o slim!

Sino ngayon ang “weird”…na ayaw magpakatotoo?