The Versatile and Environment-friendly BANTILLO STOVE

The Versatile and Environment-friendly

BANTILLO STOVE

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.

 

May Isang Roger…

May Isang Roger…

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

May isang Roger (hindi tunay na pangalan) akong nakilala sa barangay na aking dinaanan. Napansin ko kasi ang isang magandang resort na pang-international and kalibre. Nang magtanong ako ay binanggit ang pangalan niya kaya hinanap ko. Ang nakilala kong may-ari ay naka-short ng maong at t-shirt na kupasin at may mga butas, parehong halatang binili sa ukayan.

 

Ayon sa kanya, hindi siya degree-holder dahil kapos sa pera ang kanyang mga magulang. Magsasaka ang kanyang tatay at may maliit na tindahan naman ang kanyan nanay. Pagtatanim at pag-aani ng palay ang kanyang kinalakihang trabaho at isa pang kapatid na lalaki na si Zaldy (hindi tunay na pangalan). At kahit sa baryo ipinanganak at lumaki, hindi naging hadlang ang kanyang katayuan sa kanyang pinangarap na maginhawang buhay pagdating ng tamang panahon.

 

Wala siyang diplomang pinagmamalaki , pero proud siya dahil ang kanyang kapatid na babae ay naging degree holder at nagkaroon ng mataas na puwesto sa isang government agency, at tatawagin kong Myrna (hindi tunay na pangalan). Hindi rin siya naiimbitahan sa mga pagtitipon sa bayan dahil ang mga barkada niya ay tulad din niyang mga taga-baryo. Lahat silang magkakapatid ay nagsikap sa abot ng kanilang makakaya upang mapakinabangan ang kapirasong lupang kanilang nililinang. Ang buong pamilya nila ay nagsiksikan sa isang maliit na bahay na unti-unting dinugtungan upang magkaroon ng kaluwagan sila sa pagkilos sa loob lalo na sa pagtulog.

 

Hindi siya nasiraan ng loob nang pumanaw ang kanilang mga magulang, at sa halip ay pinag-ibayo pa niya ang kanyang pagsisikap bilang panganay sa mga lalaking magkapatid. Sinubukan niyang mag-buy and sell ng palay at nagtagumpay naman hanggang makapagpatayo ng gilingan (rice mill) at makabili ng trak ng panghakot ng mga palay. Lalo pa siyang nagtagumpay nang makapag-asawa ng isang masinop at magaling humawak ng pera. Sa pag-usad ng panahon nagkaroon sila ng mga anak na naigapang nilang mag-asawa upang lahat ay makatapos ng kolehiyo.

 

Dahil ang kanilang baryo ay nasa paanan ng burol kung saan ay natuklasan ang isang bukal, naisipan niyang magpatayo ng isang maliit na resort na sa kalaunan ay lumaki at lumawak ang nasasakupan. Nagkaroon ito ng mga overnight facilities at mga fish pond na ang inaaning tilapia, hito at dalag ay binebenta rin sa mga taong hindi naliligo sa resort. Sa kabila ng pagiging busy ay nagawa pa niyang tumakbo bilang Barangay Chairman at nanalo naman. Lalo pang naging tanyag ang kanyang resort dahil sa kanyang katayuan bilang opisyal. Sa kabila ng natamong tagumpay, hindi nakitaan ng kayabangan si Roger. Naka-tsinelas pa rin siya palagi, naka-maong na short pants at t-shirt na binili sa ukayan.

 

Bilang pasalamat sa natamong tagumpay, regular na nag-aambag si Roger sa isang parukya (parish) na nag-iipon ng pera na magagamit sa pagpapatapos ng simbahan.

SI ROGER ANG PATUNAY NA HINDI KAILANGANG MAGKAROON NG DIPLOMA UPANG UMASENSO. KAHIT ANG ISANG TAO AY GRADUATE PA SA ABROAD O KILALANG UNIBERSIDAD KUNO (NA ANG MGA ESTUDYANTE AY MAHILIG MAG-RALLY PARA LANG MASABING MATALINO KUNO DAHIL ALAM ANG MGA NANGYAYARI SA GOBYERNO), WALA RIN SIYANG SILBI KUNG WALANG DISKARTE SA BUHAY….ANG NABANGGIT KONG URI NG MGA ESTUDYANTE ANG MASASABI KONG NAKAKAHIYANG BATIK NG LIPUNAN!

 

 

The Bird Festival of Tacurong City (May 12-13, 2017)

The Bird Festival of Tacurong City (May12-13, 2017)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The just concluded Bird Festival of Tacurong City, held on May 12 and 13 has been a resounding success with several travel bloggers and prominent personalities who are nature lovers in attendance. A contingent from ABS-CBN from Davao City also covered the duration of the affair which included activities such as forum on birdwatching and nature conservation at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, photo exhibit at the bridge area of Fitmart, bazaar, and art exhibit highlighted by actual application of tattoo on willing visitors, by local tattoo artists at the parking ground of the sanctuary.

 

The Baras Bird Sanctuaty is located in the barangay of Baras which is a few-minute drive from the downtown area. Owned by Rey Malana and subsidized by the city government, it is situated along the eastern bank of Kapingkong River. Bamboo groves and madre de cacao trees or “kakawate”, many of which are more than 50 years old provide home to the indigenous and migratory birds from mainland China and neighboring Southeast Asian countries. But, dominant among the avian population is the locally known “tagak” or heron.

 

The sanctuary started as an ordinary “farm” of the Malana family with bamboo groves providing shade to the long stretch of the river bank. When Rey who took care of the property observed the steady arrival of birds which eventually enhanced the increasing population of the indigenous ones, he decided to protect them.  Foremost of his restrictive policies is the non-entry of vehicles beyond the entrance shaded with the branches of trees and bamboos creating an impression of a tunnel. This is necessary to prevent the disturbance of the bird, especially, the nesting ones.

 

Due to the popularity gained by the sanctuary, thanks to the discreet visit of bloggers who shared their experience among their followers, the local government under the stewardship of Mayor Lina Montilla, initially, provided support. Later, the local tourism office headed by Ms. Emilie Jamorabon, tried hard how to harness the popularity to boost their tourism effort. With the early festivals having shown encouraging results, Ms. Jamorabon sought support from friends for the rest of the festivities that followed.

 

The avian festival has decidedly boosted the tourism program of the city which to date is already gaining ground due to the mushrooming of inland resorts located along the peripheries of the downtown area, most especially, in Baras and New Passi, home of the internationally-known Monte Vicenteaux Resort. According to Ms. Jamorabon, more plans are being conceived to encourage birdwatchers from other parts of the country to visit Baras. Among the plan is the putting up of viewing posts and accommodation facilities that would follow the concept of “nature tourism”.

 

The Baras Bird Sanctuary, is the first-ever community- protected avian haven in southern Mindanao. It provides a serene oasis in the midst of vast palm oil plantations that stretch from Montilla, Katungal, up to New Passi. From the air, the canopy of the palm trees looks like a stretch of dark jade panorama….no wonder the winged creatures found solace among the branches where they built their nests to mark their well-chosen home!

 

Ed Palomado and His ANGEL’S FOODS AND SPEECH COMPLEX

Ed Palomado and His ANGEL’S FOODS AND SPEECH COMPLEX

In Tacurong City

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I knew him since high school days as a hardworking student who consistently exerted an effort to be part of various extra-curricular activities due to his oozing self-confidence. Volunteerism was innate in his character as he likewise, unselfishly did his best to contribute for the success of projects in which he was involved. He even tried the terpsichorean group when he joined our Choreographers’ Club under the tutelage of Mrs. Ching Romero and Mrs. Leonor Pagunsan. Among those whom I could recall who were members aside from me and Ed were, Homero Palatolon, the late Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Ruel Lucentales, Ed Collado, Ming Barnachea, Jaime de la Rosa, Baltazar Subando, the late Jaime Mariῆas, Leo Villalobos, Cirilo Baldonado, Pedrito Oani, Ramon Laforteza, Rommel Angel, and Eduardo Nanalis.

 

Upon graduating from college , he worked for the newly-opened Metrobank in our town and also tried teaching, but finally, decided to open the first-ever speech clinic for the whole region of southern Mindanao that includes the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and cities of General Santos and Koronadal, as well as Tacurong which was yet, a town then. The clinic was based in the latter, with the structure seemed to float in the midst of newly-opened subdivisions and rice fields, far from downtown. Clearly, it was a financial risk on his part, but he went ahead because he wanted to help the young of the region improve their communications skill.

 

His hard-earned savings went to the initially, box-type structure that housed the speech clinic, the procurement of several units of desk-top computers and high-tech gadgets to ensure an effective tutorial program. The project was a dream- come- true for Ed, as he loved public speaking. He did not pursue masters in any field related to the trade that he chose, learning the ropes by self-study, instead.

 

Despite the distance from the downtown area, the speech clinic grew in popularity by word of mouth. Electric power was also intermittent during the time, so that the comfort of students was jeopardized. Nevertheless, both students and proprietor persisted. In time, the clinic trained local talents as well as those from neighboring areas, and who were sent by their respective school to compete in inter-school public speaking competitions….and almost always, they would come home victorious.

 

Ed confided that their family love food and cooking so that when he saw an opportunity to diversify, he chose catering and hosting of social activities. He expanded the speech clinic facilities to include a pictorial corner in the garden, a big banquet area and air-conditioned mini-auditorium fitted with high-tech gadgets. Locals and patrons from neighboring towns were delighted so that in no time, the ANGEL’S FOODS AND PALOMADO SPEECH COMPLEX became deluged with reservations. Families, as well as, students who graduated from the different schools in the city also held their reunions in the complex. Even government agencies that held seminars found the facilities amenable, as could be gleaned from their comments.

 

When I visited the complex lately, summer classes for kids were ongoing. From the auditorium I could hear youthful voices with American accent delivering elocution pieces. Ed, himself, opened the classes with initial amplified tutorials.

 

When finally, we had a serious chat in his office, he told me about his long list of reservations and his schedule of procurements for the things that he would need to satisfy the requirements of patrons whose reservations were made months ahead of their scheduled activities. The whole of May is filled with scheduled activities. He spoke in slowly-spoken words and low-tone because of a stroke that made him bed-ridden for several months. The unfortunate occurrence bloated his monthly personal expense by more than Php20,000 due to the drugs that  he needed for recuperation and maintenance of a feeble health. Instead of pitying him, I admired his persistence to walk slowly on his own, without even the help of a cane, while his left hand limply rested on his side.

 

But the most that I admire in his person is his big heart because of the extended family that he maintains, and consisting of relatives, the young ones of which, being sent to school as far as Davao city. To reciprocate his kindness, they help him in the operation of the food and speech clinic complex.

 

The Most Benevolent must have let him live longer because of his advocacy founded on unselfish compassion!

Emma (tula para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)

EMMA

(para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Sa mga mata niyang animo ay nangungusap

Walang katapat na kasiyahan ang mababanaag

At sa matinis niyang boses, ang kausap na nagagalit

Huhupa, sa damdami’y nag-uumapaw na pagngangalit.

 

Mapagmahal na kabiyak, inang walang katulad

Sa mga kaibigan ay mapagbigay, kahit siya’y kapos

At handang magsakripisyo sa abot ng makakaya niya

Kapalit na pagtitiis ay buong puso niyang hindi alintana.

 

Mga huling yugto ng kanyang buhay na nauupos

Inalay sa mapagmahal na Inang Mariang sinandalan

Kaya kahit sa pagkaratay, hirap man siya sa paghinga

Katiwasayan ay maaaninag sa mala-birhen niyang mukha. 

 

Sa kanyang maaliwalas na pamamaalam sa mundo

Ipinahiwatig niyang sa Diyos tayo ay dapat magtiwala

Dahil sa buhay nati’y Siya lang ang nakakaalam ng lahat

Lalo na ang mitsa nito’t sinding may taning ….

Kung hanggang kaylan lamang sapat.

 

(Alay ng nagmamahal na pamilya, mga kaibigan at naging estudyante, lalo na ang NDTC Boys’ High School Batch ’70.)

 

 

Faded Photographs

Faded Photographs

By Apolinario Villalobos

(Photos from the family library of Ed Collado)

 

A picture can paint a thousand words, so goes the line of the son, “If”. And, faded photographs can bring memories that for the present are testimonies of how successful people struggled in the past. Faces exude aura of innocence…with their eyes that eagerly stared at the camera, unwary of what the future held for them.

 

Ed Collado’s mother was among the pioneer teachers of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School while his father was the District Supervisor who painstakingly visited schools in the barrios connected to the town of Tacurong by foot trails winding through rice, corn, and sugar cane fields. Other teachers I could recall during their time were, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan, Mr. and Mrs. Gatumbato, Mrs. Domider, Mrs. Paradero, Mrs. Sucaldito, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Lechonsito, Mrs. Del Campo, Mr. Barber, Ms. Davala, Ms. Paclibar, Ms. Ines, Ms. Paragas, Mrs. Lucentales, Mr. Palencia, while the Principal was Mr. Ben Nicolo. According to Ed, her mother took the pains in keeping photos taken during her time in Tacurong Pilot School.

 

Children of prominent families went to the school in slippers and shoes with socks, while the rest were barefooted. Free snacks consisted of gruel made from yellow corn grits. Those who failed to bring cups or bowls ate their share using pad paper folded origami style in the shape of a cap.  If there were extra bags brought by the Peace Corp Volunteers, the grits were distributed among the pupils to be brought home. Aside from yellow corn, those that were regularly donated to the school was bulgur wheat, oat meal, and powdered milk.

 

When I was in Grade Four, Ikea Seki comet appeared which became visible at dawn for almost a week. I could vividly recall the event as the appearance happened during our Boy Scout camping on the track and field of the school. During the time, we almost lost a good friend, Baltazar Subando when he fell from the “monkey bridge” built for the contest among the troops. Among the schoolmates I could recall were, Febe and Lilieth Ancheta, Betty Cu, Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, Gloria Sangke, Catalino Ines, Nonito Bacus, Jaime Bides, Angel Collado, Apolonio de la Peἧa, Cornelio Alegre, Jaime Mariἧas, Elsie Dajay, Homero Palatolon, Hernanie Baclaan, Domingo Cargo, Eleanor Fajardo, the late Chrito Lacanaria, Rey Mijares, Julius Lechonsito, Jimmy Uy, Dani Pendatun, the late Reynaldo Mosqueda…(more names to be added as recalled).

 

In High School, we became Notre Damians who wore khaki pants with green stripe on the side.  On very special occasions, the Dominican Sisters of the Girls’ Department allowed joint activities with the Boys’ Department during which the musical talents of the students from both departments were exhibited. Ed Collado, Ted Lapuz, and Virgilio Guillermo provided music to the dancing girls, such as Rodina Ballena, Ninfa Loot, and others.

 

Debating Club was among the most popular organizations in the Boys’ campus aside from the Choreographers’ Club. The members of the Debating Club such Jovino Morte, Cirilo Baldonado, Andres Jordan Jr., Rommel Angel, Nonie Amar, Antonio Hojilla, Eduardo Palomado, Rodolfo Gallega, Virgilio Guillermo, Ed Collado, Felizardo Lazado, Leo Villalobos, Jose Lim III, a certain Cabico, were coached by Mr. Gabertan. The Choreographers’ Club on the other hand had Mrs. Ching Romero and former Ms. Leonor Palabricas as advisers, with the members such as, Dominador Barnachea, Homero Palatolon, Cirilo Baldonado, Ruel Lucentales, Domingo Cargo, Hernanie Baclaan, Eddie Travilla, a certain Nanales, and Ed Collado. The Choreographers’ Club had one successful fund-raising show, the “Rainbow of Rhythmn”.

 

Today, those caught in the historic frame of time are successful in their chosen fields. Some are entrepreneurs, overseas professionals, military officers, engineers, nurses, and educators.

 

 

Kabungsuan Yadao Makilala…fallen but not forgotten

KABUNGSUAN YADAO MAKILALA

…fallen but not forgotten

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

After leaving Tacurong without even attending our college graduation due to the urgent call of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from Philippine Airlines, I also left behind my friends and family without entertaining the idea of when I would be with them again.

 

Many years later, every time I went home, I developed the habit of just staying for several hours in our town crammed with unannounced quick visits to relatives and friends. In the list, Bong and his elder sister, Talama (Kingan) who was my classmate and barkada were always included. I was happy to learn about his settling down and small business. And, I thought, that was it….that he would just be some sort of a businessman, but I was wrong.

 

We met again after more than ten years, but that time, it was at Ayala Avenue during a rush hour as it was a little past five in the afternoon. He excitedly told me about our friends and his forthcoming job. Much as I would like us to have a better place for our conversation, he insisted that we visit Ephraim Collado, his barkada, who was temporarily staying at a nearby place in Makati. After that visit, we exchanged contact numbers. And, when I called him up months later, I found the number to be that of DILG’s but surprised when told that he was in Bilibid. I got panicky because I thought he was detained, until the lady who answered the phone told me that he was “on duty”. The next time I called, I finally talked to him but he was in a hurry so he gave me his address in Muntinlupa. Our quickie phone conversation made me realize that he was with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) of the DILG. I failed to visit him due to my hectic schedule.

 

It was Talama who told me more about his job as a warden at Bilibid when I visited her at her office in the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Tacurong. The next time I learned about the job of Bong was when I read about the news on his exposition of a certain scandal in Bilibid. It was a one-of-a-kind revelation because Bilibid was never thought to be immersed in any scandal as it is a correctional institution, hence, “clean” and free from corruption.

 

I had an opportunity to talk to him through his cellphone while he was already staying in undisclosed places for security reason. What I could not forget was when he told me, “sayang, Pol (the Makilalas call me Pol)….damo pa tani ako sang isiling pero tagilid na ako….bahala na sila sa statements ko…” (…I am disappointed, Pol…I could have revealed more…but I am now in an awkward position….it is up to them on what to do with my statements…) I advised him to pack his things and leave his thankless job, and help his wife back home to develop their business. I also told him to call me anytime, as I was just around and ready to help, but he did not. I contented myself in monitoring the progress of the investigation until the heat of excitement cooled off.

 

One day I got a surprise call from him during which he told me that he was under a protective custody and was about to change his number, so I told him to call me soonest as he got a new one. I told him not to text me as I wanted to hear his voice, to be sure that he was still be alive…I was serious when I told him that. Several years later, I was told that he was back to our place, but I failed to check if he had with him any security escort.

 

When I visited again our hometown, I dropped by his home in New Isabela and glad that I did because I found out that their bedridden mother with whom I was close, was under his care. He had no “security”, so I asked what happened to the “protective custody”, to which he just gave me assurance that he was safe. We had a lengthy talk in their small gazebo over cups of coffee and before I left he showed me his collection of decorative and medicinal plants, so I kidded him to go into herbal medicine business instead of going back to BuCor. He and his wife urged me to always drop by every time I was in town, and they gave me as a foremost reason, their mother who was with them. That was several years ago before Duterte was elected as president.

 

Late afternoon of February 4 2017, Bogz Jamorabon texted me about Bong’s assassination as he got wind of it from a TV news broadcast. I was shocked…first, because I did not expect him to go back to BuCor, and second, because even if he did, I assumed he was safe, with president Duterte as the new president. That evening, I realized that those who wanted to finish him off must have known that he still got plenty of anomalous information about the Bilibid that could eventually pin down de Lima who was then, the Secretary of Justice. I could not sleep that evening as our last phone conversation before he went into protective custody kept creeping into my mind.

 

With the passing of Bong, I am resolved not to be overcome with hate, but rather, pity to those who want to silence him forever. I pity them because for a pittance, they allowed themselves to be used in hindering what could have been the flow of good intention from a guy who just wanted to help his fellowmen.

 

But, for Bong…he may have fallen, but his ideals will never be forgotten. I am proud of him and so are his friends and family, our school, Notre Dame, for having been part of his growing up with great values oozing out of his person. Unfortunately, his unwavering trust in the new administration pushed him off the cliff…

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