John Patrick Aggabao…the tireless OIC of the Tacurong PNP

John Patrick Aggabao…the tireless OIC

Of the Tacurong PNP

By Apolinario Villalobos


The OIC of the Tacurong PNP starts the day of his Team with a formation during which he tirelessly briefs them about their obligations and responsibilities to the public. As the members of the Police Force stands at ease, he reminds them about their obligations and responsibilities as maintainers and preventers of crimes. And, to be effective in these duties, they should be vigilant and must take note of the unusual observed activities which may not require apprehension. Along this line, those assigned to patrol cars should not close the windows and avoid playing music on their cellphone during their cruise. Extra care should be observed in making apprehensions to avoid the accusation of being brutal. To make the serving of warrants to their subjects, all members of the Force shall be deputized to carry out such responsibility, instead of such being confined to a “warrant officer”. Those are just a few of the reminders that he tirelessly mentions during their formation so that they shall be deeply entrenched in the consciousness of his colleagues.


The briefing also includes reports by the heads of the different administrative units, including the custodian of the blotter. The formation culminates with the physical exercise of the scheduled members for the day.


Before the arrival of OIC Aggabao, many have been apprehensive on the kind of guy that would be assigned in the city, especially, because it was learned that he was young…not yet forty. But when he finally reported for duty, those who were apprehensive were relieved because they found him to be affable… friendly and with an easy smile.  He is so trusting that there are some days when he could be seen walking alone, as his own way of contributing to the foot patrolling effort of his contingent.


During our early morning meeting over a cup of coffee, thanks, to Bogz Jamorabon, he mentioned his commitment to really do his best in assisting the likewise, young mayor, Lina Montilla. He must have been aware of the early apprehensions before his arrival so that he made a resolve to really prove his worth as a “people’s police” and his colleagues’ “partner” in their endeavor to maintain peace and security in the city. The clear manifestation of the latter’s desire is his sharing of his knowledge and experience as regards their dangerous profession.




Francis Lama Torres…blazing his way to the top

FRANCIS LAMA TORRES…blazing his way to the top

By Apolinario Villalobos


Here’s the story of a country boy, born of a big family at the foot of the Dagoma mountain range and raised by struggling parents who depended on the earnings of their father as a photographer. He is practically blazing his way to the top without let up.


I had my first glimpse of Francis Lama Torres, the guy whom many Notre Dameans and Tacurongnons have been mentioning as an excellent event host. That was during the first institutional reunion of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College several years ago, during which I was the “voice” of the college alumni, Carlo Romero for the high school, and City Mayor Lina Montilla, for the elementary. I was very much impressed by his fluency in English and local version of Hiligaynon.


Several months ago, during the birthday party of a cousin, Hazel, her close friend, Bing told me that she found somebody whom she found to be an excellent host. The guy whom I mentioned earlier and the one whom Bing mentioned were, I found out, to be the same.


The next time our paths crossed was when I visited a restaurant known for its indigenous dishes, the FUDZ RESTO, along the highway fronting the Notre Dame of Tacurong College. He was manning the cashier’s drawer. I learned from Cathy, the supervisor of the food outlet that Francis and her son Daryll are business partners and the resto is their first venture. I learned later still, from Cathy that some of their offerings are cooked at home by Francis, himself, early in the morning and which he brings to the restaurants on his way to his nearby office, the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SUKELCO). And, most admirable is his lending a hand at the FUDZ Resto during his lunch break!


Francis currently holds the position of Manager of Area 2 Services Department, but previously, was the entity’s Administrative Services Manager. Still, previous to those jobs, he also taught at the NDTC for 4 years. As an Area 2 Manager of SUKELCO, Francis covers Bagumbayan, Isulan, Esperanza, as well as, Lambayong and its 4 barangays, Matiompong, Katitisan, Kapingkong, and Tambak.



He shared that he is from the beautiful barangay of Masiag, Babumbayan, having been born there in September 18, 1978. He finished his elementary  at the Masiag Central School and high school at the Notre Dame of Masiag, but finished his college at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College.  His father, Francisco E. Torres, Sr., is a photographer who started his craft as a teen-ager while his mother, Candelaria Dapitan Lama, is a typical housewife and a doting mother to him and his 8 siblings. He is next to the eldest, a priest  assigned in Thailand,  while their youngest is taking up Social Work at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College. Francis and his brothers fittingly accorded their parents with a special gift by jointly hosting their Ruby wedding anniversary.


While in high school, he has developed his skill in public speaking and when he studied at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, it was further honed by Felizardo Lazado, one of the faculties who used to administer the school museum and a writer in his own right who continues to express himself through blogs in the internet today. From then on, he has been tapped to host events and his popularity as such spread even after his graduation. While with the SUKELCO, he kept on hosting various events, both of local and national level.


Our short conversation revealed his long-ranged vision for Tacurong, his adopted home. He shared his bright ideas on how the tourism industry of the city could be further developed by utilizing what are already on hand, hence, all doable. His vision goes beyond his course, Bachelor of Science in Commerce (Banking and Finance) enhanced by his Masters in Business Administration, as clearly, his mind is also set on community development, as well.


I could surmise that the guy could go further, having proved that one need not graduate from a big university to be an achiever, especially, because he loves challenges, as he admitted that he prefers field work to that of an office-confined one.



13TH of November is KALIMUDAN FEST 2017’s day for the Job and Business Fair, Women’s Congress and the presentation of the candidates from the different municipalities vying for the MUTYA NG SULTAN KUDARAT 2017. The Honorable Governor, PAX MANGUNDADATU, was the keynote speaker that marked the start of the whole day affair.

The Charisma of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu and the Inspiring Message in His Speech During the BHW Day (November 9, 2017)

The Charisma of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu

And the Inspiring Message in His Speech During the BHW Day (November 9, 2017)

By Apolinario Villalobos


I almost missed my chance to meet Sultan Kudarat Governor, Pax Mangudadatu when my schedule on November 9 got mixed up. Had Lotlot Espinosa, not called me about my promise to join her for the Barangay Health Workers’ (BHW) Day at the Capitol Gym, I could have opted for  two other appointments. The celebration was among those lined up for the more than one month celebration of the Kalimudan Festival 2017…the 19th year.


Inside the imposing Capitol Gym, the BHWs of the different municipalities including those of Tacurong City represented by the Baras Sanctuary, were already jam-packed on the lower level of the bleachers. The groups were colorfully distinguished by the color of their t-shirts. The honorable governor was already almost halfway from finishing his speech when we entered and considered myself lucky to have caught up with his speech filled with historic details about the province. The portion of his speech that first caught my attention was his declaration of utmost GRATITUDE to the Christians for coming during the 1900’s and helped a lot in educating the indigenous inhabitants, especially, the Muslims.


He called on the Sultan Kudaratnons to be TOLERANT in view of the multi-cultured character of the populace. He was practically appealing for UNITY despite differences in religion. He unabashedly mentioned his humble beginnings, practically, struggling to be where he is now, but adding that what he is today, including the political mandates, he owed to God. He underlined his hatred of illegal drugs, thankful that the nation has Duterte as President. But what made his speech very remarkable was his emphasis on the Oneness of God, whatever He is called in various religions which practically struck me. Later, when I sat beside him at the presidential table on stage, I noticed his Masonic ring.


While those seated at the presidential table started to enjoy their lunch, the governor kept on looking around until he stood up, went to the lectern and over the microphone, asked the Jollibee representatives to see to it that everybody was given a packed lunch. I heard a story about his giving his portion of lunch to the guy seated not far from him when he noticed that he has not gotten enough on his plate. With what I have personally witnessed that lunchtime inside the gym, the story about his benevolence has been confirmed.


Before he left the building, he approached the different groups, and that was when I saw how close he is to his constituents. Despite his little more than 70 years of age, he spritely shook hands and gamely allowed himself to be photographed in their company…the sight was overwhelming! For me, he should be appropriately called, the “Bapa of the Masses” (uncle of the masses).


The smile never left his serene face which made him more close to his Rural Health Workers. While looking at him obviously enjoying their company, his soft voice as we conversed a few minutes back, lingered in my mind. I contented myself taking occasional photos and from a short distance, let ecstatic health workers/volunteers savor the special moment with him as for the others to come are for his other constituents…the elders and PWEDs, the artists, etc.


I am praying for your health, Bapa Gov Pax!…More power to you!

SERAFIN P. BERNARDO….his journey from Passi, Iloilo to Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat (Part 1)

SERAFIN P. BERNARDO…his journey from Passi, Iloilo to Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat (Part 1)

By Apolinario Villalobos


The ancestral family of  Serafin P. Bernardo is from the Negros province, particulary, Victorias, but settled in Passi, Iloilo which they, henceforth, considered as their hometown. He had a penpal, Ciloy Levita who invited him to check Tacurong for himself if it would suit his adventurous plan to settle in Mindanao. During the time, the undeveloped territory of Tacurong extended as far as San Felipe of Tantangan. In 1946, when the WWII just ended, he finally visited Tacurong to check and went as far as the area that is now covered by Kalandagan and Carmen after which he left again for Passi where he was working as Chief of Police.


In 1948, he came back to Tacurong with his family in tow, Elisa Panizales, the wife, and three children, Nenita, Nonito, and Judith. When they arrived in Cotabato, the family took a “ferry” that brought them to Buluan. During the time, visitors with plenty of luggage usually disembarked at Buluan which had some sort of a “pier”. Those with a few luggage went as far as Sapakan, bordering Ligwasan Marsh and crossed the river to Tinumiguez, then proceeded to Lambayong which was well developed ahead of Tacurong.


Among the prominent families in Lambayong then, were the Guerreros and Luceros. The only road from Lambayong that ended into a foot trail that branched into several, was a portion of what is now Alunan highway.  For this reason, old Hispanic houses could still be found in the area, prominent among which is the Rapacon residence. The areas encompassing what is today’s downtown were either rice fields or marsh lands. When they arrived in Tacurong, Serafin bought a lot along Mabini St. where he build a big house behind which he built another smaller house that the Levitas occupied. Later he bought another lot near MINPROCOR, particularly, along Quezon Ave. St. which was given to the said family.


Serafin’s  youngest daughter, Judith and son, Nonito, recalled that their father purchased 5 hectares of land in an area which was then called “Mangilala” (referred today as the one covered by Carmen and Kalandagan), followed by two more parcels of 5 hectares each. Purchases were also made beside the property by his only sister, Angelica, married to Felix Villalobos, and his youngest brother, Serafin Bernardo, Jr.


Later, the 15 hectares were sold, with the proceeds used to purchase lands in what is now New Passi, but which was originally referred to by settlers as “Katil”. It was purchased from DATU KANDELAYANG KAMSA. The purchase was witnessed by DATU KUDANDENG AND DATU LUMINOG. It covered more than 100 hectares of land. With the purchase sealed, he went back to Passi to invite relatives to settle in the place. That was how the Pauyas, Palomos, Parreῆos, Pamposas, Pamas, Palabricas and many more got settled in the area which they aptly named, “New Passi”. According to Tomas Pauya, he came with a group in 1954. Arriving at Lambayong, they hiked up to New Passi…he was very young then, and got enrolled in the New Passi Elementary School when his family arrived. He recalled a classmate, Lagrimas Pamposa as their consistent “First Honor”.


Later, the families of French, Garcia, Aguilar, Cunningham, Cordero, Panes, and many others came but settled in the adjacent area, now called Rajah Muda. Many families including those of Jarell and  Braga, also came and settled in Baras and Upper Katungal. As roads from the fast developing Tacurong were constructed, more settlers from Iloilo came and settled at Lower Katungal, Upper Katungal, Baras, New Passi and Rajah Muda. The more adventurous settlers went up to Magon and further on to Tacub where they intermarried with the Bla’ans. An area which is now part of South Cotabato was also settled by Ilonggos, hence, aptly named, “New Iloilo”. The Eastern portion of Tacurong got settled by Ilocanos while those in the North, by other settlers from the various towns of Iloilo.


Serafin also purchased some lands around the Dulawan Estate, the downtown area, and Dadiangas (today, General Santos City). Meanwhile, other areas near New Passi, Rajah Muda, Baras, Katungal, and Lagao were also initially settled by the Garcias and Montillas. The development brought about KENRAM (due to the early produce – kenap and ramie) and ALACor (Ala Corporation). Today, a portion of Lagao is politically recognized as Barangay JC Montilla which is covered with African palm plantations. According to Nonito Bernardo, the Dulawan Estate, included Kapingkong, Tambak, Palumbi, Udtong, and Katitisan.  Lambayong shares the border with Tacurong City’s Barangay Griῆo (formerly, Gansing). An airport station was opened at KENRAM with a short runway for commercial flights utilizing DC-3s.  It was closed when the Surallah station was opened.


The first mayor of Tacurong was Mr. Soriano and a photo has recorded his first meeting with the Council and officials. Serafin was among the Councilors. The development of Tacurong was hectic as shown by the organization of FACOMA (Farmers Cooperative and Marketing Association), a farmers’ cooperative with Serafin Limbungan as the first President. At the time, bridges were built along with roads that finally linked Tacurong with Marbel (today, Koronadal City), Isulan leading to Cotabato City and Surallah, as well as, Lambayong and Buluan. Today, the road to Buluan leads all the way to Davao, Kidapawan, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro. Nonito Bernardo also recalled that during election campaigns, they would go to as far as San Felipe in Tantangan, as the latter was still within the political territory of Tacurong. The lone lady and most popular political figure during the time was Amalia Pabilona.


Ms. Nenita Bernardo recalled that when they studied in Marbel during the early 1950s, they hiked the distance from Tacurong to the said town as there was no public transportation that plied between them, then. They would hike to Marbel on Sundays with their provisions loaded on a cart pulled by a carabao. On Fridays, they would hike back to Tacurong for the weekend. For their convenience they boarded in Marbel.  With them making the trek were Lucia Paladin, Rafael and Delfin Pama, the Dasmariῆas siblings, Gelacio and Usting Panes.


Serafin served as Vice-Mayor in Tacurong for three consecutive terms, finally, retiring from politics to devote his time to farming. He would still wake up at 3:00AM, a habit that he did not change, roll several tobacco cigars for the day, and read what he could find around – magazines and even old issues of newspapers with the aid of an antique kerosene lamp.  Before sunrise, he would be ready to go to New Passi with his adopted son, “Digol” (Rodrigo) driving the “pick up”. He delighted in talking to relatives and farm hands the whole day in the farm. One of them recalled how during planting seasons, everyday he would  bring dried fish to be roasted on coals, while those who were not planting rice seedlings would cook “apan-apan”, kangkong sautéed in ginamos (salted krill paste).  Before dusk, he would be driven back home by Digol.


The Sultan Kudarat Electric Company (SUKELCO) building was among his investments in the downtown area  aside from other residential lots, including the more than 700 square meters at Mabini St. where the ancestral house stands. They were purchased with the produce coaxed from the farm. The SUKELCO building is now owned by the said cooperative. As a clarification on his acquisitions, the proceeds for their purchase came from the produce of his farms in New Passi and Baras, which today are planted to African palms.


As Vice-Mayor of Tacurong, his wage was not even enough for the dole outs that he made.

I have heard so many stories about his benevolence, such that relatives and acquaintances would trek to their home at Mabini St. to seek financial assistance which he readily gave. His early morning sojourns to his farm was stopped by the onset of a crippling rheumatism that affected his knees. From then on, the only opportunity for him to savor the outdoors was when he was brought to the terrace on a wheelchair where he waved back at friends who passed by. He finally rested at the age of 102.




The Unsung Heroism of Teachers

The Unsung Heroism of Teachers

By Apolinario Villalobos


Teachers become the second parents of children as they step inside the school campus. I do not want to dwell on their wage as everybody knows that despite the adjustment, still, it is not commensurate to their effort and time spent in school. Weekends sometimes see them in school sprucing up their rooms to make them conducive for the learning of their young wards. If they are lucky, they get support by way of budgeted “allowance” from their superiors for the aforementioned expense which oftentimes is not enough so that they are forced to shell out their scrimped savings.


I know of teachers who are supporting in their own affordable way, pupils who go to school without breakfast. They include these unfortunates in their packed lunch or sandwiches. Those assigned in far-off or remote schools, with some beyond several hills and swift rivers, had to spend for the fuel of their “single motorcycles”. Some viewers of my blogs are teachers and they told me that they are also spending for their own teaching materials…actually, a traditional practice that include even the purchase of floor wax, brooms and dust pans.


They may have been able to collect simple jewelries…hard-earned investments, but according to my teacher-friends, it took them several years to complete the payment made on installment basis. On school days, they have to wake up at dawn to prepare breakfast for their family, leave home for school before 6 or 7AM, stay in school till 5:00PM or beyond, tackle the flood during rainy months on the way home, immediately attend to their family upon arriving home, and work on their modules till late in the evening for the next day. Due to bad traffic, many would arrive home as late as 9:00PM.


Many teachers become spinsters and bachelors because of their dedication to their job. Some say, they have no time for the “loving-loving”. Worse, many also develop TB due to unhealthy condition in their workplace. The consolation that they get from their job, especially, if they are handling kids is the loyalty and devotion from them. These brought about common statements from their pupils, “….sabi ni Ma’am…”. “…ayaw ni Ma’am niyan…”. etc.


I remember my teachers in Tacurong Pilot Elementary School, such as, Mrs. Paradero, Mrs. Sucaldito, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Barber, Ms. Davala, Mrs. Amar, Mr. Palencia, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Domider. In NDTC Boys Department such as, Mr. Elmer Festin, Mr. Jamorabon, Ms. Uy, Mr. Cabiles, Ms. Hojilla, Ms. Palabrica, Mr. Gabertan. In NDTC college department, such as, Mrs. Lechonsito, Mr. Canzana, Ret. Judge Jacosalem Makilala…..and many more. (I hope viewing schoolmates and classmates can help me out recall names….please add.)


Alas! Without “Ma’am” and “Sir”, where would I be?

John Rey Posadas Aliwalas…young portrait artist and pride of Tacurong National High School

JOHN REY POSADAS ALIWALAS…young portrait artist

and pride of Tacurong National High School

By Apolinario Villalobos


John Rey Aliwalas is 16 years old, who lost his mother at a young age and whose father, Jeffrey, drives a tricycle to support him and a sibling. He is the eldest and his sketches have helped him a lot through his studies as a Grade 11 student at Tacurong National High School. The loss of his mother inspired him to to sketch. When his friends discovered his talent, they encouraged him to go on which he did until he found a courage to sketch the portrait of the current mayor of Tacurong City, Honorable Lina Montilla who happily accepted the gift.


John is a consistent honor student who also joins dancing and singing competitions. He confided that he is a self-taught video editor.