Noeleen’s Gift Shop…a historic commercial landmark in Tacurong City

Noeleen’s Gift Shop

…a historic commercial landmark in Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Noeleen’s Gift Shop had its soft opening in October 1968 just when Tacurong was beginning to metamorphose into a progressive junction with protrusions that led towards Cotabato (today, divided into Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao), South Cotabato, North Cotabato, and Davao. Tacurong is politically within the scope of the Sultan Kudarat province.

 

According to Mrs. Nenita Lao Bernardo, the proprietess, she opened the boutique with just a   capitalization of Php2,800 but by dint of hard work and astute management, she was able to develop it into what it is now…delightfully crammed with affordable novelty items. One can find neatly stacked blankets, towels, branded t-shirts, fashionable apparels, shoes, sandals, home decors, perfumes, colognes, jewelries, watches, trinkets, and various gifts for special occasions.

 

It is interesting to note that the shop today, serves even the third generation of early patrons, as their grandchildren have kept the tradition of trekking to it for anything that they need for various occasions, be they party dress, shoes, or gifts for birthdays and weddings. The boutique is frequented by customers from as far as Esperanza, Tantangan, Isulan, and of course, Buluan. One time, I chanced upon a family of 6 with the mother in colorful malong directing her children to the stacks of items where they should choose what they needed.

 

Noeleen’s is open from Monday to Saturday, as early as 8AM to accommodate customers who would come all the way from surrounding towns.

Magsaysay Park of Tacurong City

Magsaysay Park of Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The park of the city has metamorphosed into what it is today with panoramic landscape accentuated by manicured hedges and shaded by the old acacia trees and palmettos. During the 60’s, the park had a skating rink as its landmark and a few meters away, fronting the west was the stage with basketball court in front. Both the skating rink and the basketball court were used by the farming residents to dry their palay and corn. Free movies were also shown at the plaza, sponsored by the drug merchants, almost one every two months.

 

During the time of the late mayor Jose Escribano, weekends were for amateur singing contests. To add life to the young town which was newly-weaned from Buluan, the vocational schools such as  Aumentado Fashion School, later renamed Grimaldo Fashion School and Parisienne Academy were encouraged to hold fashion shows to showcase the creations of their students who took up dressmaking. Among the favorite models were Didith Ulangkaya, Daisy Villalobos and Charlie del Campo.

 

Jose Escribano later built a swimming pool, the first in the area that covered Isulan, Esperanza, Lambayong and Koronadal, to encourage the influx of weekend picnickers. To make Tacurong more lively, a musical band, Firebrand, was put up, composed of the local firemen to make use of their free time. The band which was permanently quartered at the back of the stage hired a singer from Manila, Lito, whose signature songs were those of the Bee Gees.

 

For easy accessibility to his constituents, Escribano held office at the town plaza, beside the swimming pool which occupied a quarter of the total space of the plaza. It was then called, “Tacurong Resort” which helped in making the town popular in the province.

 

The swimming pool was the first touristic landmark of Tacurong. Today the whole area of what used to be “Tacurong Resort” is the home base of the military Task Force assigned to protect the city.

 

Ang Makabagong Anyo ng Tacurong na Pinatingkad ng Pagtutulungan

Speech delivered during the June 12/Independence Day celebration of Tacurong at the grounds of the City Hall….

 

ANG MAKABAGONG ANYO NG TACURONG

NA PINATINGKAD NG PAGTUTULUNGAN

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang Tacurong na dating baryo ng Buluan at may pangalang “Pamangsang” ay mabilis ang pagpaimbulog tungo sa pag-unlad. Animo, siya ay isang taong nagmamadali sa paghakbang tungo sa isang inaasam na layunin…at hindi naman nabigo dahil ngayon ay kitang-kita ang mga resulta ng kaunlaran na tinatamasa. Kabi-kabila ang mga itinatayong mga gusali upang maging mall at paupahan. Lahat nang yan ay dahil sa pagtutulungan ng mga residente at mga dumadayong mangangalakal na galing pa sa ibang bayan na nakapaligid sa lunsod.

 

Nakatulong din ang pagpupunyagi ni Ms. Emilie Pasaporte Jamorabon ng City Tourism Office na sa kabila ng maliit na pondo ay nagawang makapag-conceptualize ng Bird Festival, and ikatlong festival ng lunsod. Walang maipagmamalaking tradisyonal na tourist spots ang Tacurong, maliban sa Bird Sanctuary ng Baras, Monte Vicenteaux Resort ng New Passi, iba pang maliliit na resorts na nakakalat sa iba’t ibang purok at barangay, at mga specialty restaurants. Ang kakulangan ng mga likas na atraksiyon ay napunuan naman, at sobra-sobra pa ng likas na magandang ugali na pinapakita ng mga Tacurongnon sa mga dumadayo…yan ang “goodwill”.

 

Hindi mapag-imbot o selfish ang Tacurong, at walang ibang dapat pasalamatan diyan kundi ang butihing mayor, si Lina Montilla, sampu ng iba pang mga opisyal – vice mayor, Dr. Joseph George Lechonsito at mga City Coucilors.  Patas ang mga ordinansang ginagawa. Walang pinipili sa mga binibigyan ng pagkakataon upang mabuhay nang maayos….yan ang diwa ng sama-samang pagbalikat ng mga gampanin tungo sa pag-unlad.

 

Mababaw ang katagang “pagbabago” para sa Tacurong dahil kung tutuusin ay walang dapat baguhin, sa halip ay dapat paunlarin pa, dahil maunlad na . Kailangan lang naman kasi ang pagbabago ng isang bagay kung ito ay masama o hindi kaaya-aya…na wala sa imahe ng lunsod kahit katiting man lang. At, yan ang “nakakabilib”, kung gagamitin ko ang salitang makabago….at, yan pa rin, ay dahil sa masugid na pagtutulungan ng mga Tacurongnon.

 

Hindi lang iisa ang kulturang umiiral sa buong lunsod ng Tacurong. Ang Ilokano, Ilonggo, Cebuano, Pangasinense, Maranao, Iranum, Maguindanaoan, Bikol, Waray, at Tagalog ay iba’t ibang kulturang maituturing subalit nasa hanay na pangrehiyon o regional…at lahat ay nag-uunawaan…walang hidwaan o kontrahan. Dito lang sa atin may subdivision na sa gitna at hindi kalayuan sa mga bahay ng mga Kristiyano ay may mosque. Dito lang sa atin may simbahang Katoliko na may mga estudyanteng Muslim. Dito sa atin ang mga Ilokano, Bikol, Waray at Tagalog na animo ay mga Ilonggo kung magsalita ng Bisaya. Ang pinag-uusapan natin dito ay iba’t ibang tradisyon, na sa kabila ng pagkakaiba ay may pagkakaisang nakatuntong sa pundasyon ng magandang samahan. Bihira ang kalagayan natin dito sa Tacurong na dapat ay ating ipagmalaki…na guto kong tawaging “cosmopolitan” o “sophisticated”.

 

Hindi tayo dapat mangamba o matakot sa anumang banta na pilit nagpapadiskaril ng direksyon na tinatahak ng lunsod. Ang bantang yan ay dapat pang magpaigting ng ating magandang samahan. At, dahil ito ang huling term ni mayor Lina at iba pang mga Konsehal, ang panawagan ko ay magtulungan tayo sa pagbalikat ng mga gampanin ng mga papalit sa kanila. Huwag nating pairalin ang pulitika na nagsisilbing salot na sumisira ng magandang samahan pati ng magkakapamilya.

 

Magkaisa tayo tungo sa pag-unlad pa ng ating lunsod na nag-iisa lang!…ipagmalaki natin na tayo ay mayroong Tacurong, na ang pangalan ay hinango sa “talakudong”, isang malapad na katutubong sombrerong nagsisimbolo ng proteksiyon sa lahat na handang makipagtulungan at walang mapag-imbot na hangarin.

 

Magbuklod-buklod tayo at sa iisang boses ay sumigaw ng SULONG TACURONG!

 

 

 

 

Ms. Flor de la Rosa: Untold Story of a Sacrificing Woman of Tacurong City

Ms. Flor de la Rosa: Untold Story of a Sacrificing Woman of Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Despite her advancing age, beauty could still be discerned on her calm face. After more than fifty years, not only was I fortunate to meet her but had an intimate conversation with her at close range after a hearty breakfast hosted by Nita and Nito Bernardo at their home, and to whom I am so gratified for such opportunity. It was my first time to hear her speak with the typical melodious Visayan tone and delicate voice.

 

Her family used to live in New Iloilo, a sitio of Tantangan which was then part of Tacurong. Today, it is occupied by Jaime, a younger brother, and his second family.  The late mayor of Tacurong,  Jose Escribano was always around when there were affairs in Tantangan. During the time, Flor, who at 19 was a student and about to finish a course in education. It was during one of the occasions in Tantangan that the mayor could have noticed the pretty Flor who was always invited during public occasions. While she was studying in Cotabato city, a bodyguard of Escribano discreetly followd her to make sure that no guy would attempt to court her. The mayor also resorted to “courtin” Flor’s mother and enticed her to put up a business in Tacurong. She was a dressmaker in New Iloilo, then and her husband was managing the logging company of a rich relative in Parang, but on a meager wage.

 

A building was put up then in Tacurong with the ground floor occupied by the Dainty Refreshment which Flor’s parents managed and the second floor was allotted for the whole family. The establishment became famous for its halo-halo and cake which competed with those of the Angelita’s. And, to ensure that it would earn much as expected, the bus terminal was relocated in the vicinity, from its former location in front of the Tacurong Pilot School. For 24 hours, the Dainty Refreshment was open and that was how the de la Rosa family was able to earn substantially.

 

The late mayor had the reputation of getting what he wanted by all means, but not in the case of Flor, for it took him 4 long years to finally get what he wanted. Courting went as far as Manila where Flor continued her studies. When she finally graduated, she taught at the New Iloilo Elementary School, moving on to Tantangan, and when the Dainty Refreshment was opened, she was transferred to Tacurong with the instigation of the late mayor. The principal then of the Tacurong Pilot School was Mr. Abadilla and the District Supervisor was Mr. Llavore. At the Tacurong Pilot School she taught Science and Pilipino subjects. Out of gratitude, Escribano built a building that was later used by the Home Economics pupils.

 

Flor confided that due to emotional pressure, she resigned from her job and went to Manila, although, she feared for the safety of her family who might earn the ire of the late mayor. But as she could not stop him from courting her, she finally softened a bit and accepted her fate…finally, going back to Tacurong to be with her family. While in Tacurong, she would occasionally show herself up in public to assist the mayor during special occasions. That was how she got to be known as the “mayor’s secretary”.

 

When she went back to Manila again, she finally told Escribano once and for all, that she wanted to end their affair and threatened to enter the convent if he won’t concede. It was at this juncture that she saw the good side of the brusque mayor…who begged her not to proceed with her plan, but for them to maintain a platonic relationship. She agreed and the arrangement encouraged her to be with her family in Tacurong again to help manage the Dainty Refreshements, the earnings from which practically sent her siblings to school.

 

During one of her trips to Manila, she met Gregorio Aragona but who used the family name, “Soncuya”. They eventually got married and settled in his hometown, Sara (Iloilo). At one time, her sister, Bernardita who was living in the United States, had a need for a trusted caretaker of her child. Flor viewed it as an opportunity to visit the United States, so she asked Bernardita to let her do the job. In no time, she flew to the States as a tourist and took care of her niece. When she was no longer needed to take for her niece, she took jobs discreetly as she had no legal papers. For 18 years of her stay in the United States, her status did not change as she declined to bite the options to become an American citizen, beside her passport indicated her status as “married”.

 

Meanwhile, her husband took in a lover which came to the attention of Flor only much later. What triggered their separation was the reply of her husband to one of her queries if he had been missing her to which he replied, “please come home and bring the bacon”. Such blatant reply immediately made Flor decide not to go home, as she felt that her husband was just after her earned dollars. Despite her decision, she could not hold herself from sending money to him when he got sick.

 

In year 2000, she went back to the Philippines but dropped by Iloilo to visit relatives and also surprised her late husband’s lover. As she did not harbor any hatred in her heart, she even gave the widowed lover of her husband, three thousand pesos…her gift to their two children. She then, proceeded to New Iloilo in South Cotabato to be with her mother. But not long after, she decided to buy a house in Tacurong City where she now lives with a trusted aide.

 

While in the city, she faithfully attended the early morning Mass every day. Later, she was enticed to join the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP) which prays the Holy Rosary after the Mass. She was in the middle of this hectic devotion when she met a friend who introduced her to another spiritual passion, and this time, as a member of the Servants of the Holy Trinity, a healing ministry and prayer group whose main base is in Negros Occidental. She joined her friends, Lina Lacanafrancia and Margie Calansag during their pilgrimage to the movement’s base on what the pilgrims consider as the “holy mountain” of Escalante where a “prayer house” is located, and where an image of the Holy Child Jesus in enshrined. She was also brought to the “holy mountain” of Calinog to visit another shrine. From then on, her small group would make an almost monthly visit to Escalante, while that for Calinog, they do during the Holy Week. The two shrines have become beneficiaries of her benevolence, as with the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Candle in Tacurong.

 

Ms. de la Rosa is the eldest in the family raised by hardworking couple, Salvador and Fe. Her siblings are Elsie, Salvador, Jr., Manuel, Rodolfo, Aurea, Bernardita, Corazon, Jaime, Ricardo, and Lorena. Their grandfather on their mother side had a German blood, while their grandmother had Chinese. On their father side, their grandfather was an Ilocano who married a mestiza, and who belongs to the Navarro clan.

 

She has no regrets for not having a child of her own, for she presumes that her being in such situation prepared her for motherly missions – for her family and other people. Before we parted our ways, she confided that during her high school days in Notre Dame of Marbel, she was often chosen to play the role of the Virgin Mary during Marian processions.

 

Up to the time that I was writing this blog, I could not believe that I had been talking to Ms. Flor de la Rosa and even kissed her check…..she, who was the misunderstood woman in my youth, although, with a celebrated status, and whose life today is devoted to Jesus and Mary.

 

 

Reynaldo Torrecampo: Madiskarteng Mekaniko at ang Pag-ibig niya kay Elvira

Reynaldo Torrecampo: Madiskarteng Mekaniko

at ang Pag-ibig niya kay Elvira

 

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nang pasyalan ko si manong Naldo ay nalaman kong halos malabo na ang kanyang mga mata at tulad ng dati ay mahina pa rin ang kanyang boses kapag nagsalita. Sa pag-uusap namin ay nabanggit niyang una siyang nagtrabaho bilang driver sa Davao City bago kinuha ni Serafin Bernardo na noon ay Vice-Mayor ng Tacurong. Lumipat siya sa pamilya nina Upeng Paciente at Leoncio Yap at dahil hindi naman araw-araw ang kanyang pagmaneho para mag-asawa, siya ibinili ng tricycle. Natuto siyang magkumpuni ng motorcycle kaya tuwing nakakaluwag siya ay umiistambay siya sa mga gasolinahan upang magkumpuni ng mga motorcycle, at ang kita ay iniintriga naman sa mag-asawang employer niya.

 

Mula sa pagkalinga ng mag-asawang Upeng at Leoncio, nalipat naman siya sa pamilya Biῆas na ang negosyo ay pagba-buy and sell ng mais at palay. Tumagal din siya ng ilang taon sa pamilya subalit nang dumating sa Tacurong si Po Ban o mas kilala sa pangalang “Pedro” na kaibigan ng mag-asawang Biῆas, napakiusapan siyang alalayan ito dahil ng nagtayo ng negosyong pagawaan ng commercial vinegar na ang tatak ay “Panay Vinegar”,  at nagdi-distribute din ng mga produkto ng London Biscuit Co. (LONBISCO).

 

Nang mamatay si Po Ban, umalalay muna si manong Naldo sa naiwang pamilya at nagpatuloy sa pagmaneho para sa pamilya na ipinagpatuloy ang negosyo. Subalit dahil mas nakahiligan niya ang bagong natutuhang pagkumpuni ng mga makina ng motorcycle, siya ay nag-resign at nag-full time sa ganitong gawain. Umistambay siya sa isang bahagi ng plaza araw-araw para mag-abang ng mga magpapagawa hanggang sa naging tanyag siya sa buong bayan. Isang pulis ang nagpayo sa kanya na kumuha na ng puwesto kahit maliit upang magkaroon siya ng matatawag na permanenteng “motor shop”, kaya napilitang kumuha ng isang home lot sa Apilado subdivision.

 

Dahil kinilala ang kanyang galling sa pagkumpuni, sinundan siya ng kanyang mga kostumer na lalo pang dumami. Kalaunan ay nakabili na rin siya ng mga makinang kailangan sa uri ng kanyang trabaho, mga sophisticated at imported pa. Bukod sa mga makina, nakabili pa rin siya ng isang kotse. Sa ipinundar na bahay namatay ang una niyang asawa na si Letty. Samantalang ang ibang mga anak na natuto na ring magkumpuni ay nakatulong sa shop.

 

Sa gulang na 73 nang mabiyudo, napagpasyahan niyang mag-asawa uli at ang nagbigay sa kanya ng pagkakataon ay isang teacher na si Elvira Beligan, na 60 years old nang sila ay magpakasal. Nagtatrabaho si Elvira bilang District Planning Officer ng Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) at nakatalaga sa Datu Paglas (Maguindanao).  Masayang nagsasama ngayon sina manong Naldo at Elvira na nakitaan ng sipag kaya kung nasa bahay ay halos hindi tumitigil sa pag-asikaso ng iba’t ibang uri ng halaman. Mayroon din silang mga gold fish na pang-good luck.

 

Pinatunayan nina manong Naldo at Elvira na ang pag-ibig ay walang pinipiling gulang o edad. Hindi nakayang hadlangan ng panahon ang pag-usbong ng pag-ibig sa isa’t isa…“harangan man ng mga sibat ang kanilang mga landas patungo sa isa’t isa”….yan ang misteryo ng pag-ibig.

 

 

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao…thanks to Mayor Lina’s Compassionate Administration

Tacurong: The Cosmopolitan City of Southern Mindanao

…thanks to Mayor Lina Montilla’s Compassionate Administration

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The tag of Tacurong City, “Limpyo Tacurong”, means “Clean Tacurong”. This is an offshoot of the Resolution 021-6th SP, Series of 2014 that created the “LIMPYO KALOG” PROGRAM primarily authored by Hon. Psyche Sucaldito, with co-authors: Hons. Joselito L. Cajandig, Benjamin P. Fajardo, Jr., Welson U. Ferrer, Cirilo Y. Flores, Rodrigo P. Jamorabon, Ariel Ferdinand M. de la Cruz, Jose Remos P. Segura, and Paulino R. Ledda . The resolution was necessitated by the onset of dengue fever during the time, making the cleaning of canals/waterways and street potholes with stagnated water as targets. The resolution also called for the participation of residents and stall owners in the market and whose trades required water, such as fish and meat vendors, carinderias and beauty salons. The ordinance enjoined practically, all Tacurongnons to keep their premises generally clean, hence,  also required the cutting of grasses that mosquitoes use as breeding grounds during the rainy season.

 

When I visited the city lately, particularly, the wet market, I was impressed by the sight of a buko juice vendor sweeping the area around his pushcart and table for the plastic tumblers and juice jar. He also neatly stacked empty green buko shells and their trimmings inside the pushcart. Beside him during the time was also an ambulant fish ball vendor who was picking up barbecue sticks and plastic tumblers that he deposited in a garbage bag positioned not far from his cart.

 

When I entered the wet market, I was equally impressed by the generally clean fish and meat sections, and was further surprised because even the stalls for the fresh fish such as mudfish, catfish, tilapia, and gourami, did not give out a foul smell! The floor was of course, wet but not “flooded” with water from the concrete stalls, as the latter were constantly wiped by the vendors.

 

What I observed were manifestations that the “LIMPYO KALOG” has been consistently implemented. A “bonus” for the shoppers is the utmost courtesy of the public market personnel such as, gate overseers and the public toilet attendants. The city administration is also very humane as regards the collection of the daily local market tax imposed on vendors. I found out that the “arkabala” that the vendors pay is very affordable at 5 to 10 pesos. The incumbent mayor, Lina Montilla clearly understands the situation of the small business folks who try to make both ends meet in order to survive. In this regard, one can find old women selling wild vegetables such “kulitis” (local spinach), kangkong, lupô, and small snails, that they gather from rice fields, or children selling banana blossoms, the proceeds from which may not even be enough to buy rice that could feed a family of four for two days…yet, they persist in doing their honorable trade rather than beg.

 

The city is not rich compared to her contemporaries. It is for this reason that much-desired projects take some time to be realized. But, what is important at the moment, though, is the peaceful co-existence of the Muslims and Christians, be they neighbors or vendors. The city has even taken an extra step that gave her a compassionate image – by welcoming tricycle drivers from the neighboring towns of Quirino, Buluan, Lambayong, Tantangan, and Isulan. This is the reason, perhaps, why hospitals, clinics, barber shops, restaurants, groceries, and beauty parlors pockmark the length of avenues and the public market, as they also serve the residents of the mentioned towns that surround the city. All are manifestations of “goodwill” for which the city has been known for…or simply put, the city of Tacurong is not selfish…or shall we call it, economic strategy?

 

The influx of shoppers from neighboring towns could be observed during market days such as Wednesday and Saturday during which all alleys of the market are filled with farm produce from as far as Esperanza, Bagumbayan, Isulan, Lambayong, Buluan, Quirino, New Iloilo and Tantangan, and marine products from General Santos City, Davao, and Zamboanga. The air is filled with intermingling of dialects such as Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Ilocano, Maranao, Iranun, Maguindanaoan, and of course, Tagalog. Haggling is encouraged by vendors themselves, as most of them had to dispose of their wares at noon time. Interestingly, prevalent is the use of “’gâ”, the contracted form of “palanggâ” or “pangga” which in Tagalog means, “mahal”, and in English, “love”. When one haggles in the market, he or she says, “pila ni ‘gâ ?” (love, how much is this?)… or if one asks a friend if he or she has taken her meal, the question is, “nakakaon ka na, ‘ga?”the word is used with honest brotherly and sisterly connotation, without even a faint trace of carnal desire.

 

Tacurong City’s strategic location at the crossroads of South Cotabato, North Cotabato/Davao, and Maguindanao, has not just made her as some sort of the nucleus of the region’s commerce, but has also given her an impression as the COSMOPOLITAN CITY OF SOUTHERN MINDANAO.

 

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!