Si Juliet…at ang kanyang “feel-at-home” carinderia

SI JULIET…AT ANG KANYANG “FEEL- AT- HOME” CARINDERIA

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Isang fb friend, si Mark Anthony M. Casero ang nagbanggit tungkol sa akin tungkol kay Juliet na ang nakatawag ng pansin sa kanya ay ang kawalan nito ng kanang kamao subalit masigasig sa pagka-karinderya. Mura pa raw ang mga ulam na paninda.

 

Kaninang umagang-umaga, bago mag-7AM ay pumunta na ako sa address na tinukoy ni Mark…lampas kaunti sa simbahan ng Iglesia ni Kristo, papasok ng San Pablo, bago makarating sa Fernandez Elementary School. Pagdating ko ay tiyempong nagluluto na si Juliet pero walang tindang kape. Nahalata yata na ayaw kong umalis kaya sabi niya ay bumili na lang ako ng kape at may mainit na tubig siya. Tinapat ko agad siya tungkol sa pakay ko na i-blog siya at sa simula ay tumanggi siya dahil nahihiya subalit nang sabihin kong makakatulong ang kuwento niya upang ma-inspire ang iba ay pumayag din.

 

Apat ang anak niya at ang namayapang asawa ay tricycle driver. CASIṄO  ang apelyido niya noong dalaga pa siya. Apat ang anak niya at tinutulungan siya ng kuya niya sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaaral sa bunsong anak. Ang panganay na nasa Grade 9 ay nagtatrabaho sa isang tindahan tuwing Sabado at Linggo kaya nakakaipon at lumalabas na self-supporting. Ang sumunod na nasa Grade 4 ay nakakatulong na sa karinderya. Nang umagang pasyalan ko siya ay nakita ko rin kung paano siyang tinutulungan ng kanyang nanay at kuya.

 

Anim na putahe ang niluluto nina Juliet kaninang umaga – pata, dinuguan (Ilocano style), ensaladang labanos, papaitan, at ginisang monggo. Mainstay o permanente sa menu ang papaitan, pata at dinuguan. Ang mga gulay ay pabago-bago. 7AM pa lang ay maramin nang tumitigil para magtanong kung may naluto na. Ang unang inilatag ay ang ensaladang labanos na hindi inabot ng twenty minutes…ubos agad. Ang mga dumating upang kumain ay nag-ulam ng pata at ilang sandal pa ay inilatag na rin ang dinuguan at papait…pinakahuli ang monggo. Wala pang dalawang oras ay ubos ang panindang ulam! Napansin ko ang parang bahay na atmosphere ng karinderya na parang “dirty kitchen” lang at ang mga kostumer ay libreng maghagilap ng kailangan nila tulad ng sili, at kung ano pa.

 

Habang nag-uusap kami ni Juliet nang umalis na ang kostumer ay nagsimulang maghugas ng pinagkainan ang anak niyang babae na siya ring nagluto ng monggo. Marami kaming napag-usapan ni Juliet na tumalakay sa pasasalamat niya sa suporta ng kanyang nanay at mga kapatid kaya hindi siya nahirapan sa pag-alaga ng mga anak. Hindi siya conscious sa kanyang kapansanan kaya lalo akong bumilib sa kanya. Hindi daw siya susuko sa pagsikap hangga’t kaya niyang kumilos dahil may responsibilidad pa siyang gagampanan para sa kinabukasan ng kanyang mga anak…..MABUHAY KA, JULIET!….SANA AY TULARAN KA NG IBA.

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Survival and Free Will

Survival and Free Will

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

 

I just cannot help but notice that we seem to be reverting back to the days of the Old Testament….every race fighting for survival, and each having a “priest”. For the Christian soldiers, they have their “chaplain” who says Mass or whatever religious service that applies…soldiers are blessed with “holy water” or “prayed over” before they depart for battle. Islamic faithful have their Imams. And, just like in the Old Testament, hideous pagan practices have also proliferated which are viewed as part of the normal way of life.

 

Still, another opinion…there may not be a total cleansing of the world that will come, because, such cleansing could be happening right now – through epidemics, pockets of wars, calamities, inventions that prove more destructive than constructive, and famine. Practically, man is into self-annihilation. But, with the bad, there is the good which is about those who chose the Right Path, and who will remain standing at the end of the day!…that is how Free Will works!

 

Along this observation, my suggestion is that we should not compare our faith with that of others as the best way towards salvation, as it all depends on HOW we put our faith into practice. Also, we should tolerate “free will” to the fullest, for as long it will not harm anybody when put to practice by the one who made a choice which for him is right.

The Desire to Survive

The Desire to Survive

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

All creatures have the innate instinct to survive, either in their sedentary state that do not involve others or in their struggle against their prey. In an urban setting, the ultimate struggle to survive is what scavengers do – live on what can be salvaged from the dump. The indolent on the other hand, live life the easiest way by resorting to evil acts as means to exploit others.

 

Some plants practically take root even in minute crevices of concrete walls and rock faces of cliffs. Still other plants excrete substance that coat their stem and leaves that some insects living around them use as food, thereby, providing their benefactor protection against their prey.

 

The classic manifestations of man’s struggle to survive are the wars; among the animals, are their deadly encounters with their kind; and for the plants, the effort to reach up higher skyward than others for the best exposure to the sun.

 

Without the desire for survival, the purpose of life is lost.

 

 

Ang Magandang Babae sa Farmers’ Mall (Cubao)

Ang Magandang Babae sa Farmers’ Mall (Cubao)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Isang araw ng Sabado nang manggaling ako sa Antipolo dahil sa pagbisita sa isang dating kasama sa PAL, ay sumakay ako ng jeep na biyaheng Cubao kung saan ay sasakay pa sana ako ng MRT papuntang Baclaran. Ang bilihan ng tiket ay nasa bahagi ng Gateway at Farmers’ Mall. Dahil sa ugali kong palaging nagmamadali ay hindi ko sinasadyang makabangga ng babaeng muntik nang matumba kung hindi ko nahawakan sa braso pero sumabog naman ang laman ng dalawang eco-bag niya na puno ng mga basyong plastic na bote ng softdrinks- kulay green at blue. Habang tinutulungan ko siyang ipunin ang kumalat na mga bote ay noon ko napansing may kasama pala itong batang lalaki. Subalit ang nakakuha ng pansin ko ay ang malaking pagkahawig ng babae sa bida ng isang popular noontime show…ito yong may ka-partner na popular din at ang tandem nila ay nagkaroon ng mahigit isang milyon na viral views. Ibig sabihin ay artistahin ang babae…maganda.

 

Inasahan kong magagalit siya at mumurahin ako kaya abut-abot ang pagsabi ko ng sori. Nang tapatin ko siyang may kamukha siyang artista ay ngumiti siya….mabuti na lang. Nang tingnan ko uli ang bata na tahimik na nakamasid lang sa amin ay naisipan kong imbitahin sila sa Jolibee na nang marinig ng bata ay napangiti na rin. Pinilit kong pumayag ang babae para na rin sa kasama niyang bata na anak pala niya.

 

Habang kumakain kami sa Jolibee ay pinagtapat niyang ang mga may kulay na bote ay gugupitin daw niya sa hugis ng maliliit na halaman upang maging pandekorasyon sa mga mesa at dashboard ng mga jeep. Tinuruan daw siya ng kapitbahay nilang kalalabas lang sa “Munti” (short cut ng Muntinlupa kung saan matatagpuan ang New Bilibid Prison). Ang mga halaga ay naglalaro sa pagitan ng beynte at treynta pesos bawa’t isa. Nakita ko na ang ganitong “street art” noon sa Avenida at Taft Avenue, at nai-blog ko pa. Naglilibot daw silang mag-ina upang mamulot ng ganitong uri ng bote. Subalit pati mga basyong aluminum na lata ng softdrink (popular na tawag ay “in can”) ay pinupulot rin nila sabay pagpakita ng laman ng backpack niya at ng anak. Tinatambayan nila ang mga fastfood centers ng malls at nagti-check din sila sa mga basurahan upang mamulot ng mga ito.  Kailangan daw ang doble- kayod para may pambili ng mga gamit ang anak niyang nasa Grade Three na. Lahat daw ay gagawin niya para sa anak. Sa pagkakataong yon ay nahiya akong magtanong kung nasaan ang tatay ng bata dahil baka isipin niyang tsismoso ako.

 

Nagtitinda din daw siya ng mga gamit ng mga kaibigan at pinapatungan niya ng kaunting tubo. Lahat daw ay tinitinda niya – mga maaayos na lumang damit, sapatos, sandals at dinagdagan ng pabirong, “maliban sa puri”.  Tinanong ko kung nagpi-facebook siya, sagot niya, “malay ko sa facebook na yan”. Ipinakita niya ang lumang cellphone na Nokia, yong basic model na pang-text at tawag lang, na may flashlight. At sinabi din niya na hindi pa siya nakakapasok sa internet café na madalas nilang madaanan. Busy daw siya sa kanyang “business”.

 

Upang hindi siya ma-turn off at mag-isip ng masama tungkol sa akin ay hindi na ako sumubok na kunan sila ng anak niya ng retrato, kahit talagang gustong-gusto ko dahil sa ganda ng mukha niya. Lalabas kasi akong presko dahil noon pa lang kami nagkakilala. Nang banggitin niyang sa iskwater ng Tala (leprosarium) compound sila nakatira ay nagulat ako dahil nakarating na ako doon, subalit hindi ako nagpahalata. Nagkunwari akong may kamag-anak sa Malaria na madadaanan papunta sa kanila. Dahil diyan ay ibinigay niya ang address nila dahil sinabi ko ring interesado ako sa mga binebenta niyang second-hand cargo shorts na maraming bulsa.

 

Bago kami naghiwalay ay nagpalitan kami ng cellphone number upang masigurong nasa bahay silang mag-ina kapag matuloy ang pamamasyal ko sa kanila. Cherry ang ibinigay niyang pangalan sa akin….

 

The Trail to Masiag from Bagumbayan (Sultan Kudarat)…profile of the Filipinos’ endeavor to survive

The Trail to Masiag from Bagumbayan (Sultan Kudarat)

…profile of the Filipinos’ endeavor to survive

By Apolinario Villalobos

(PHOTOS BY RENE AQUINO, Administrative staff – Masiag Annex/BNHS)

 

 

The winding and muddy ribbon of trail shown in the accompanying photos leads to the Masiag Annex of the Bagumbayan National High School. Bagumbayan is a young municipality of Sultan Kudarat province. It is peopled by those from the older towns of Isulan, Esperanza, and Tacurong, with some purportedly, to be current migrants from the Visayas. During the middle of ‘70s, Bagumbayan figured as one of the most affected areas in Cotabato, caught in the midst of altercation between the Islamic “Black Shirts” and Christian “Ilaga”. And, Masiag then, was dotted by huts of farmers which were distributed kilometers away from each other. At the height of evacuation, Bagumabayan was listed as among the origins of both displaced Christian and Muslim families, aside from Esperanza, Lambayong, Tinumiges, Udtong, Katiko, Buluan, Datu Paglas, and unknown sitios beside the Ligwasan Marsh.

 

When Claudio Estante opened the Department of Social Welfare office in Tacurong to cover the Sultan Kudarat province, the primary purpose was to serve the evacuees, I was the lone staff initially hired and the branch was under Region XI based in Davao City, with Agrinelda Miclat at its helm as Director, but today, due to expansion program of the agency, the branch is under Region XII. As we were overwhelmed by the burden of statistics gathering and relief distribution, additional personnel were hired from Notre Dame, and which included, Ruel Lucentales, Renato Hingco, Dominador Lictawa, Mildred Palabrica-Balili and a little later, Felizardo Lazado. Teddy Lapuz volunteered his services for the organization of displaced youth. Soon afterwards, full time Social Workers were sent by the Regional Office to augment the workforce of the Welfare Aides and the lone Youth Welfare volunteer.

 

The trails today are not what we used before when we visited Bagumbayan, as they were more of ruts impressed by wheels of carts and sleds drawn by carabao or water buffalo. Relief distribution was concentrated at Esperanza, but occasionally, on “clear” days, distribution effort was extended up to Bagumbayan to reach out to those who refuse to leave their farm. From where we were posted with military escorts, intermittent exchange of volleys of shots could be heard. Several times, Esperanza and Bagumbayan were cordoned off which practically deferred the travel of buses and private vehicle to Cotabato City for days. DSW was closely in touch with the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army at Isulan for updated news on the situation of the towns surrounding Tacurong. There were days that we would encounter jeepneys loaded with casualties and wounded. The two hospitals in Tacurong – Tamondong and Eugenio were always full as they admitted both Christian and Muslim patients.

 

Today, with relative peace that envelops the province of Sultan Kudarat, the local government is exerting much effort in reaching out to those who have gone beyond the last frontier, particularly, toward the slopes of Mt. Dagoma which is profusely covered with forest of hard wood that draw illegal loggers. An aging former lawmaker even admitted on TV that he had been holding on to his logging concessions in that area for a long time in a desperate effort to explain his tremendous wealth, perhaps to convince the people that he did not dip his fingers into the coffers of the government as did some of his colleagues who were involved in “pork barrel” scams.

 

Teachers and office staff of the Masiag Annex are from the Main Bagumbayan National High School. They practically trek their way to their assigned post, rain or shine. Those with single-engine motor bikes are fortunate, though. These altruistic teachers do not hesitate to sacrifice part of their measly wage to buy instruction materials needed to be effective in their vocation. Situations such as shown in photos have necessitated the use of “habal-habal”, motorcycles used as some sort of a commuter service for an affordable fee.

 

For the resourceful Filipinos in Mindanao, what has been kindled by an endeavor for survival has definitely laid down the foundation for progress…as Mindanao is full of such opportunities. Meanwhile, the  Bagumbayanons  and Masiagnons are patiently treading along the trail towards the fulfillment of one!

 

 

Isang Umaga, sa Kubol ng Kaibigan kong Nakatira sa Bangketa

ISANG UMAGA SA KUBOL NG KAIBIGAN KONG NAKATIRA SA BANGKETA…

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang kaibigan kong ito ay may dalawang anak na ang panganay ay limang taong gulang na nag-aaral sa  DSW prep/kinder school, at ang nakababata ay limang taong gulang naman. Nakatira sila sa isang sulok ng eskinita malapit lang sa Recto/Divisoria at ang tinitirhan ay isang kubol na ang bubong ay pinagdikit na dalawang malapad na trapal na ibinigay ko noong Pebrero. Ipinako ng kaibigan ko ang isang bahagi ng  trapal sa pader. Dahil malapad, nasakop ang kariton at dalawang bangko na gawa sa binaklas na mga kahong dating may lamang imported na prutas galing Tsina. Sa araw ay all-around ang gamit ng dalawang bangko kung pagdikitin – kainang mesa, desk ng anak kung mag-aral ng leksiyon, at patungan ng mga nalinis na gulay na pambenta.

 

Sa kariton natutulog ang mga bata, ang mag-asawa naman ay dalawang bangko. Dati ay naglilibot sila upang mamulot ng mga mapapakinabangan sa mga basurahan, subalit nang mag-aral na ang panganay ay pumirme na sila sa sulok na kanilang “tinitirhan” ngayon. Pamumulot ng mga itinapong gulay na lanta at reject ang pinagkikitaan nila kaya alas-tres pa lang ng madaling araw ay nasa tambakan na sila ng mga itinapong gulay dahil agawan ang nangyayari.

 

Umaga noon, bandang 6:00 AM at kararating lang nila mula sa pamumulot. Habang pinupunasan ni misis ang panganay na anak upang ihanda sa pagpasok sa eskwela, nag-usap naman kami ni mister habang hinihintay naming uminit ang tubig na pang-kape. Ang bunso naman ay mabilis na nakatulog.

 

Ako:     Mukhang marami kayong maibebenta mamaya.

Siya:     Sana ay mabentang lahat dahil may bibilhing pang-project ang anak ko.

Ako:     Ano ba daw na project?

Siya:     Sabi ng titser niya ay album daw ng mga hayop kaya bibili pa kami sa National Book Store, sa Avenida, ng mga larawang gugupitin na lang mamayang hapon.

Ako:     Marami daw ba ang kailangang mga retrao ng mga hayop?

Siya:     Oo yata, eh….kakausapin ko pa ang anak ko pagdating niya mamayang hapon, pagkasundo ni misis. Pero depende din sa ikakasya ng pera.

Ako:     Sana kung iilan lang, pwede nang gumupit sa mga lumang diyaryo na mabibili sa junk shop…mura pa. Black and white nga lang.

Siya:     Ganoon ba?…naku, eh di punta na lang ako sa junk shop diyan sa kabilang kanto. Sigurado ba?

Ako:     Oo….pili ka lang ng mga lumang diyaryo na may mga larawan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno at mga pulitiko…..mga hayop naman sila, eh….mga hunyango, buwaya, buwitre, ulupong, at aso.

 

Sa huling sinabi ko, matagal akong tiningnan ng kaibigan ko at sabay kaming tumawa, pati ang

misis niyang nakikinig pala ay napautot sa katatawa!….sumigla ang umaga namin habang

pinagsaluhan ang tutong na kaning nabili ko sa suki kong karinderya na sinabawan ng mainit na

kape…lalo pang pinasarap ang almusal namin ng inihaw na tuyo.

 

Ang kaibigan ko ay isa sa anim na nabigyan ng bagong kariton na pinagawa ko sa sa isang

karpintero sa Bambang, dahil kinumpiska ang dati nilang ginagamit nang magkaroon ng

sidewalk operation ang Manila City Hall noong bagong umupo si Duterte bilang presidente.

Naging biktima sila ng pagpapakitang-gilas ng LGU social workers.

 

Lito and Inday: Couple Who Toils Every Precious Minute of the Day

Lito and Inday: Couple Who

Toils Every Precious Minute of the Day

by Apolinario Villalobos

 

Lito and Inday Balanay who have two beautiful daughters, are a typical couple who literally makes use of every precious minute of the day to earn an honest living. They start their struggle as early as 5AM. A mug of coffee for each, serves as breakfast. Whatever solid food they take becomes their “brunch” for the day. Inday, using a “traysikad”, pedals her way to the bakery in the neighboring subdivision, a kilometer away from their home, while Lito uses a bike…both, to pick up their respective stock of pan de sal (bread of salt), a popular breakfast staple of Filipinos. Starting their rounds at 6AM, they are finally through peddling at about 7AM.  After turning over their earnings to the owner of the bakery, out of which they get their meager “commission” for the day, they go on their separate way back home.

 

As soon as she has arrived home, Inday prepares her wares for her sidewalk ambulant store, still using her “traysikad”. She positions herself for this other endeavor in front of a big and popular grocery, one kilometer from their home. Her clients consist of drivers who buy sticks of cigarettes, biscuits, and candies. Lito, on the other hand, prepares his tools for his sideline – scheduled minor repair jobs of homes around the subdivision. Meanwhile, their two daughters are left in the care of a trusted niece. Sometimes, the two girls provide their mother company, as she sells her wares on the sidewalk.

 

The couple confided that they have to double their effort in earning for the future of their daughters, as the eldest, Kristine, is already nine years old and the youngest, going seven years old. They are lucky to have found a vacant lot which they are renting at Php1,500.00 per month, and on which they built a shack using junk materials, some of which were given by friends. Only half of their home’s floor has been cemented thinly, and the rest of the painstakingly leveled ground is covered with a junk sheet of linoleum. Despite the inadequacies for a comfortable life, the family is a picture of contentment.

 

Lito and Inday, both in their early 40’s, are “Bisaya”, with the former being a “Waray” and the latter, a Surigaonon. The Bisayans are known for their resourcefulness and diligence. When asked what she wishes for to make their life more comfortable, Inday, who refers to their home as “bahay ng kalapati” (pigeon hole or cubicle), replied, “a cooking gas tank”, while letting out a hearty and crisp laugh. Although, they already have a single-burner stove with a gas tank, she wants a standby one, in view of the fluctuating price of this basic commodity. Besides, Inday also plans to cook rice cakes, hoping that she could earn more. As for Lito, he would like to have more tools to help him in his trade. Meanwhile, the two girls just want umbrella.

 

While the family of Lito and Inday are happy in their rickety home assembled from junks and with their wishes that they treat as just such – wishes, other families who live in air-conditioned homes can’t seem to find contentment and happiness if they have not capped their summer with their regular jaunts – weeks in Disneyland (America), shopping in Hongkong, or sunbathing in Boracay, or they don’t have the latest gadgets that their kids could boast to their playmates.