Maguindanao vendors of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines…
Maguindanao vendors of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines…
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.
OUR FAMILY AND STORY OF STRUGGLE IN LIFE
By Apolinario Villalobos
Our family is big. Our parents raised our family at an early age. I was told our father was about 18 and our mother was 17 when they settled down. Had not two of our siblings die, we would be 11. When our parents arrived in Mindanao, they first settled in Basilan and later in Tacurong when they joined our uncle, Serafin Bernardo. Our mother was the only girl in the Bernardo brood, elder to their youngest, tatay Peping who was the father of manong Boy (Serafin Bernardo III).
Upon settling in Tacurong, our parents ventured into a small business – selling dried fish that they purchased in Iloilo. The hardship was not felt by us for our discipline was such that they made us understand that our struggle to survive was part of a normal life. We did not grow up celebrating birthdays or any special occasion. We went to school without “baon”.
I was about 4 years old when our youngest, Oca, who was barely 3 months old, then. I helped in taking care of him so that when he was gone, I had the time to help our parents by selling the old stock of dried fish that we called “reject”, after washing them. At that age, I already knew how to cook rice as I was assigned to bring it to the market for lunch of our parents. I stopped doing it at 5 years of age when I was made to go to school with my elder brother, Tito. As a pupil, I was called “visitor”. During the time, I had collected old newspapers that were used as “lining” of boxes used in packing dried fish. That was how I was able to develop my love for letters and pictures. From the old pages of newspapers that reeked with the smell of dried fish, I discovered the cartoon character, LI’L ABNER and many others. The first word that I learned to spell was PURICO a brand of lard that I was made to buy from stores at a young age of 4. I would fill our yard with the word that I would write on the ground using a stick.
My elder sister Maria Erlinda was among the first students of the Notre Dame Girls Department when it was separated from the Boys Department. My elder brothers were Notre Dameans up to high school as there was no college yet in the town during the time…except Florencio or Tito who finished his college much later in NDTC. During the time, affluent families sent their children to colleges in Marbel (Koronadal), Cotabato City, Davao City and Iloilo City for their college education.
My elder brother, Floriano finished his BS Commerce in Accountancy in Jose Rizal College in Mandaluyong while working at the Mercury Drug at the same time. My elder sister Maria, finished her college education in Cotabato City. Only I and Tito finished our college at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College. In my case, our batch was the last of the graduates as afterwards, the college department of the said school was closed.
Our parents were barely 40 years old when they died, with our father passing away first, followed by our mother in less than a year. I was in Grade 6 when our father died and halfway through my First Year in high school when our mother passed away. My elder brother Tito finished his college as a “working student” – library assistant at NDTC. I was also a “working student” when I entered college in the same school, up to my third year because on my fourth year I was employed by the Department of Social Welfare when Claudio Estante opened a branch of the Region 11 based in Davao City.
In high school, to help me through my studies, I lived with a relative for less than year, a year in Davao with an elder brother’s family during which I studied at Holy Cross of Agdao for my Second Year in high school. The rest of my high school days were spent in Tacurong during which I worked at Panay Vinegar while studying at the Notre Dame Boys Department. I washed bottles and delivered stocks to the stores in the market as an all-around employee. I recalled spending long hours at night pasting brand sticker to bottles when we were flooded with orders from neighboring towns.
Our youngest sister finished her Nursing degree in Davao and fortunately did not standby for jobs as she was able to land a job in Saudi Arabia for a year after a short stint of teaching in her Alma Mater, then went to America for a better opportunity. I did not attend my college graduation at NDTC, as instead, I attended the pre-employment training in Manila to prepare me for my employment at Philippine Airlines where I spent 20 years.
As additional information about our journey, our eldest Leonardo worked in a company as a “pay master” despite his having finished first year college. Next to him, Leopoldo finished Law and had a stint as Chief of the COMELEC in Davao City and Tagum. An elder siter, Daisy who used to model for the Grimaldo Fashion School died at a young age in Manila, another elder sister, Maria Erlinda was a teacher and has also passed away, next to her, Floriano has retired from his job at Mercury Drugs in Manila as branch Supervisor, then Tito or Florencio who journeyed from a teaching job in Notre Dame of Lebak during the time of Fr. Silvestre, to a job in the HR department of Alcantara and Sons in Davao City, then as researcher for the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), then as a Recruitment Officer of the United Laboratory, and finally as Manager of the Training Division of the United Coconut Planters Bank, has also passed away. Our youngest, Felanie is a nurse and lives in America while an elder sister, a deaf/mute is still alive and is the center of our attention.
I could say that our parents succeeded in rearing us by instilling in our person the kind of discipline that made us survive our journey in life.
By Apolinario B Villalobos
that others think are impossible,
the woman I know
through impeding hurdles
would just simply breeze through.
Her mother’s strength and loving ways
tempered by her father’s intelligence
and innate golden values –
her overpowering person shows..
A woman of fiery temper
and a heart brimming with affection,
the woman I know
always fights for the righteousness
not much for her own
but for others who, though abused
can’t fight back
as guts and persistence
are what they lack.
She is the woman I know,
who, on some occasion
could be furious or let out tears
in a candid show of emotion.
She oozes with intelligence
that she would unselfishly share
just like the comfort
of her tender motherly care.
Could there be other women
just like this one I know?
(The author is a Grade 10 and 15-year old student of the Tacurong National High School. The essay garnered First Prize during the Essay Writing Contest in commemoration of the National Disaster Resilience Month held at the Tacurong Pilot Elementary School on July 3, 2018. Her coach is Ms. Marites Goce.)
ON PREPAREDNESS WHEN TRAGEDY OR CALAMITY OCCURS
By Joanna Marie Goloyugo
Humans are given the gift of life and have very strong survival instinct. The need to preserve life courses down through their mind and body, especially, when faced with life and death situations. The survival instinct pushes to strive their way out of chaos, forcing them to thin, “I need to stay alive”. Unfortunately, this instinctive urge is not enough to save humans from direly threatening situations that result from unforeseen occurrences caused by Mother Nature, as well as, other human beings. In this regard, there is a need for preparedness as it can mitigate or lessen the physical, mental and emotional trauma when a unforeseen events occur.
The abrupt occurrences of typhoon, floods, earthquakes and other calamities, leave the Philippines shaken and in complete tatters…shambles…disarray. They create chaos in the affected communities and to be blamed partly is the negligence of man. The victims leave the world, their cold remains viewed for a lasting memory of their loved ones. Here’s why….despite all the conducted drills, trainings and seminars, the nation still faces devastating results from calamities and disasters. Lives are lost, properties are destroyed, despite which, the people never learn, making the government re-evaluations useless. Lessons are never learned.
The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) encourages citizens to be prepared for emergency situations. The Republic Act 1-121, NDRRM Act that was implemented on May 2010 has four core functions: Mitigation and Prevention, Preparedness, Response, Rehabilitation and Recovery. They serve as guides in the drills conducted in schools and workplaces, and should also be observed in homes to prepare families for the occurrences that result to huge losses, both in life and property. At the helm of this effort is the Secretary of Department of National Defense (DND), Ricardo Jalad. Its aim is to transform the country’s emergency management system from “Disaster Relief and Response” to “Disaster Risk Reduction”. The aforementioned RA 1-121 repealed the Presidential Decree No. 1566 that was enacted in 1978, the emergency management of which centered only on the hazards and impacts of a disaster or calamity. On the other hand, the current law provides that the citizens should be prepared for them to know what to do before, during and after an occurrence.
Unfortunately, despite the directives from the government, some agencies both private and public do not conduct drills regularly. If they do, the concerned people treat the drill as some kind of a “play”…without seriousness. This attitude practically, makes the objective of the emergency preparedness fly over their head. In some schools, teachers observed that the students do not give much thought of the drill being conducted. Their nonchalance shows that they do not care much about the importance of the drill and its use for any untoward occurrence in the future. Some are observed without seriousness in practicing the ducking which is about the covering of the head with both hands, a simple act which is neglected by many participants.
When seminars and orientations are conducted by the agency involved in rescue, disaster prevention and risk management, many students are observed as not paying attention to the resource speakers. They chat with away the time with seatmates, play with their cellphones, or worst, skip such activity that their school has painstakingly arranged for them.
Knowledge plays a very important part in a person’s chance for survival. Even a simple rule such as avoiding large or tall objects, trees or buildings due to the possibility of their collapsing, is vital to survival. For this effort, there is a concerted effort among concerned agencies and the schools to make the students aware of the value of disaster preparedness. Along this line, rescue agencies of local governments conduct seminars and trainings in school with the aim of preventing or minimizing the damaging effects on humans and properties.
Meanwhile, the acquired knowledge may not be enough as there is always the possibility for panic to strike, especially, during the actual occurrence of an earthquake for instance and horrific car crash or accident as they make the mind blank which hinders the chances of survival. To quote Laurence Gonzales, the author of the bestselling book, “Deep Survival”, he said, “It’s been proven that if you put someone under pressure, he can’t solve simple mathematical equations or recall a sequence of words.” He added that, “In effect, losing your cool makes you stupid. That’s an oversimplification but emotions and reason work together like a seesaw. The higher emotion a person feels, the lower becomes his ability to reason. But reason is what’s going to get you out of trouble.”
There have been many instances where people know what to do but their emotion becomes unstable and because of extreme pressure and fear, they fail to adapt to the situation at hand. In the case of the well-known tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic, a survivor stated that when the water began to fill the ship, the passengers went into frenzy, jumped out of the window right into the cold ocean…others grabbed a hold to overloaded lifeboats which almost capsize while others just stood still, shocked. As mentioned earlier, though man has the innate survival instinct like animals, but when caught in perilous moment, some chose to stand still like a deer staring at the headlights of an oncoming car, practically waiting to be bumped.
Laurence Gonzalez spent three and a half decades studying survivors’ stories, taking note who have lived or died and reasons why. Finally, he concluded that, “Personality, emotions, attitude and how well a person can cope to adversity have much more to do in survival than any type of equipment.”
To be mentally and emotionally prepared is a very crucial factor in survival. This reminder has been repeatedly mentioned in seminars, trainings, and drills – a statement that holds the key to the gate of survival, summarized in two words, “Don’t Panic”. As aforementioned, it is essentially important to stay collected and calm during chaotic times so that the brains can function properly which includes avoiding careless mistakes or reckless actions which are usually spurred on by the heat of the moment.
LDS psychologist, Dr. Ella Gourgouris, one of the leading experts in Traumatic Stress Response stated, “One of the best ways to get the mind to perform under pressure is to physically practice beforehand. Dr. Terry Lyles, a fellow psychologist under the same department as Dr. Gourgouris also added, “The more prepared you are, the panicked you are going to be when things go wrong. But you have to practice it…it is not enough just to know it.”
The DRRM applies the preparations through seminars ad trainings conducted by agencies, among which are the Red Cross and the Junior Emergency Response Team (JERT) member using scenarios where in which a disaster has hit a community and capable residents apply first aid to the injured. Such activity could create a prepared mindset which is very necessary. In schools, frequent drills and trainings could also create a prepared mindset such that when the alarm is sounded throughout the campus, students are supposed to immediately go to the designated evacuation area with the teachers doing headcounts to make sure that none is missing.
It is suggested that for a better observation of behavior in a threatening situation, unannounced or surprised drills should be conducted with the alarm sounded without prior notice to anyone except the top management of an establishment or institution, for instance. That way, those affected can be observed if they instinctively do the ducking properly, aside from protective acts. After the event, analysis of what have been observed can be made and corrections can be made as necessary. The affected should be made to feel the fear and the accompanying adrenalin rush, aside from the pressure and panic which can be made as basis in the evaluation based on which guidelines on how they could remain calm and cool during adversities could be made, thereby, avoiding eventual death.
Being alive is the most wonderful gift humans have ever received. But staying alive is hard as unexpected events could claim lives as fast as the speed of light. Humans can prevent this by being prepared for any eventuality that does not necessitate being a part of an organization or big group and to be able to help, one need not be a member of a response or rescue team. Know what to do during unfortunate events, hence, having been prepared for these is more than enough to mitigate the nation’s economic losses and human casualties. And, when the unfortunate events occur, institutions and agencies all over the country can proudly exclaim that, “WE ARE PREPARED!”.
I LOVE YOU TACURONG!
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Maskin ano pa ang ihambal nila
Indi gid nila ako mapasala kon sin-o ako
Kay diri sa Tacurong ako ginbata
Nga ginapadayaw ko gid sa iban nga tawo.
Nawala man ako ng ilang dekada
Lumingon pa rin ako sa mga nakaraan –
Mga araw na tigib ng saya’t ligaya
Talagang ‘di makakalimutan kaylan man.
I will not be what I am today
As I trace my roots to beloved Tacurong
For which more progress I pray
And praises that I could shout in a song!
Daghan pud ko ug gipangandoy
Bisan ug sa kalsada sige pud ko ug dulâ
Nangandoy ug maayong kinabuhi
Maningkamot, di gyud mangayo’g kalu-oy!
Ang pagsisikap ko ay nagbunga
Kaya sa maliit na paraan ay ibinabalik ko
Mga biyaya na aking natamasa
Pagtanaw ng utang loob na noo’y ipinangako!
Here I am, my beloved Tacurong
Indi ta gid tana pag-ikahuya maskin san-o
Dahil kung hindi sa iyong pagkanlong
Basi’g wâ gyu’y nahitabo sa akong pagkatawo!
I LOVE YOU TACURONG!
I work hard to be free,
but still no one seems to appreciate me;
I know I’m okay, but i still feel awful.
I have peers and friends
many of them, I know they love you (me) ,
but it doesn’t feel like they do.
I’m doing something to make me feel better
but i just don’t know how to.
Man, I’m smiling,
but i wake up every day
with this weird feeling
stacking up problems
that are so unnecessary,
but i hope someday
I’ll wake up happy and merry…
I know this struggle’s gonna last
and i want to end it… fast.
The Exotic Deep-fried Locust
By Apolinario Villalobos
Locusts (apan in Bisaya; balang in Tagalog) contain a high level of chemicals known as phytosterols that could control heart-related diseases. The chemicals block the absorption of cholesterol, a chemical which increases one’s risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. This exotic delicacy is also loaded with fatty acids, minerals that boost immunity, fights cancer and prevent the onset of inflammation in body organs, aside from protein.
These insects are patiently caught in the evening during which they rest on the ground. The gatherers use flashlight to light their way around, practically, picking up the sleeping locusts from grassy fields.
The first step in cooking is by killing them through suffocation in sacks after which they are cooked in tamarind leaves enhanced with a little vinegar, after which they are sun-dried. When they are thoroughly dry, deep-frying follows which takes from forty minutes to an hour, to ensure crispiness.
The locusts thrive on leaves. Woe then, to bamboo groves, trees, rice and corn fields that they spot along their path as they darken the sky with their vast number. Interestingly, the locust is mentioned in the Bible as part of the diet of the Chosen People.
A small plastic pack of deep-fried locusts costs Php20 in the public market when it is in season. In southern and central Mindanao, the sources of this exotic delicacy are Polomolok, General Santos and Isulan.