The Exotic Deep-fried Locust

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.




The Barangay Grino of Tacurong

The Barangay Griῆo of Tacurong

By Apolinario Villalobos


The Barangay Griῆo was formerly known as Gansing that lies at the boundary shared with the town of Lambayong, formerly, the gateway of settlers from Visayas who settled first in what is now known as New Passi before spreading out to other parts of the once sparsely populated areas that include Tantangan, highlands of Magon and Tacub, and the lowlands of Tacurong. The area was thickly covered with talahib, talisay, cogon and “enyam” (bignay}. Among the pioneer families that settled in the area is the Griῆo, whose patriarch was the late Dr. Manuel J. Griῆo. As he found the land promising, he invited friends in Iloilo to join him. Soon, others who came from Negros also came. Accordingly, the first classes were held in a “bodega” (warehouse) of the Griῆo family where about 50 pupils were taught, and one of the teachers was Ernestina Davala-Alvarez.


Today, Griῆo is a flourishing barangay with the expanse of fertile land shared by rice fields and African palm plantations. Observably, the barangay has a well-maintained system of irrigation canals that provide sustenance to the plantations. It is also among the barangays of Tacurong where Christians live peacefully with Muslims.


The barangay has two Catholic chapels, the Immaculate Conception (main) and San Isidro Labrador, both situated along the highway. According to one of the lay Catholic leaders, the parish priest of the Our Lady of the Candles of Tacurong officiates the Mass during the first and last Sundays of the month. The two Muslim communities have their own respective mosque.


The barangay has an elementary school, the Dr. Manuel J. Griῆo Memorial Central School and a high school, the Virginia F. Griῆo Memorial National High School which has facilities for the senior students of the K-12 educational program of the government. The most popular courses of the senior high school are electronics, welding, cookery, masonry, and hotel housekeeping.


When I went around the barangay, I was fortunate to have been driven on his tricycle by Fernando Gulac, the CVO Unit Commander of Barangay Griῆo whose chairman is Romeo Panes.


Panawagan sa Mga Naghahasik ng Pangamba

Panawagan sa Mga Naghahasik ng Pangamba…

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Ang panawagan na ito isang simpleng tangka upang mabuksan ang inyong isip at maantig ang inyong damdamin tungkol sa mga ginagawa ninyong paghasik ng pangamba sa mga kababayang namumuhay ng mapayapa…silang mga nagtatrabaho ng marangal at mga kabataang nag-aaral upang balang araw ay makatulong sa bayan.


Sa ginagawa ninyong panghoholdap at pangri-rape, sana ay maisip din ninyo na kayo ay may mga mahal sa buhay na maaaring gawan din ng ginagawa ninyo…maliban na lang kung kayo ay nag-iisa sa buhay. Kawawa ang mga biktima ninyo na ang hangad lang ay kumayod nang maayos upang may maipakain sa pamilya. Ang mga kabataang nilalakasan ang loob sa pag-uwi mula sa eskwela kahit mahirap sumakay ay may mga pangarap sa buhay tulad ng pagtulong sa pamilya at bayan.


Masakit para sa mga mahal sa buhay ng mga biktima ninyo ang makita silang kalunus-lunos ang kalagayan pagkatapos pagnakawan at saksakin o di kaya ay gahasain pagkatapos pa ring pagnakawan. Hindi madaling tanggapin ng mga anak ang mawalan ng amang naging biktima ng panghoholdap, na maliban sa nawalan na ng perang pambili ng bigas, ay nasaksak pa!


Alam kong may mga pangangailangan kayo at ang iba sa inyo ay tinuturing na kapit sa patalim ang panghoholdap. Subalit may paraan para kayo ay kumita sa marangal na paraan…nang hindi nakakaperhuwisyo ng kapwa. May mga pilay o lumpo na nakakayang magtinda o di kaya ay mga kabataang nagtatrabaho bilang crew sa mga fast food chains upang kumita ng pang-tuition…. Ilan lang silang kumakayod ng marangal…bakit hindi ninyo gayahin ang kanilang pagsisikap?


Nang dahil sa ginagawa ninyong panghoholdap pagkatapos magkunwaring namamasada ng traysikel sa gabi, ang mga lehitimong mga traysikel drayber ay hindi na tuloy pinagkakatiwalaan…pati mga naghahabal-habal sa ibang barangay at bayan. Malaki ang epekto sa kabuuhan ng isang bayan ang ginagawa ninyong paghahasik ng pangamba. Paano pang uusad ng pasulong ang isang barangay, bayan o lunsod kung pinipigilan ninyo dahil sa inyong ginagawa? Kung kayo ay nakatira sa isang maliit lang namang bayan, dapat ay makipagtulugan na lang kayo sa lokal na pamahalaan para na rin sa kapakanan at kapakinabangan ng inyong pamilya ng .


Kung wala kayong hinahasik na pangamba sa inyong kapwa, ang ating bansang nakalugmok na sa kahirapan, kahit paano ay makakaraos kahit bahagya. Lahat tayo ay Pilipino kaya walang ibang dapat na nagtutulungan sa isa’t  isa kundi tayo….para sa katiwasayan ng kasalukuyan at kaginhawahan ng ating hinaharap.  Sana ay magbago na kayo….



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

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

By Apolinario Villalobos


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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




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

JOHN REY POSADAS ALIWALAS…young portrait artist

and pride of Tacurong National High School

By Apolinario Villalobos


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


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



BADONG PIDO…mapalad na nilalang sa kalinga ni Jose “Beng” Lim V at kanyang pamilya

BADONG PIDO…mapalad na nilalang

sa kalinga ni Jose “Beng” Lim V at kanyang pamiya

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Sa kabila ng pagiging “special guy” ni Badong, napakapalad niya dahil nasa kalinga siya ng pamilya ni Jose “Beng” Lim V. Subalit bago tuluyang naampon ng pamiya Lim si Badong, napansin siya noon ng mga empleyado sa hardware store, kung saan ay halos araw-araw itong tumatambay sa counter kaya nakasanayan na rin nilang bigyan ito ng pagkain. Kalaunan ay pinasundan siya upang malaman kung saan talaga siya umuuwi at laking gulat nila nang malamang sa sulok ng isang gasolinahan na malapit sa bagong Tacurong public market (New Isabela) siya natutulog gamit ang nakalatag na karton. Akala nila ay may pamilya itong inuuwian at nakakatuwaan lang ang paggala sa araw.


Kinausap ni Beng si Badong at inimbitang sa kanila na tumira na ikinatuwa naman nito. Ang unang nakagaanan ng loob ni Beng ay si Ranger, na tinawag nitong “boss Ranger”. Si Beng naman ay tinawag niyang “Ninong” at ang misis nito ay “Ninang”. Sinubukan ng mag-asawang ipasok siya sa eskwela subalit hindi siya nagtagal dahil sa kanyang kalagayan. Napag-alaman din nila na ang makakapagpapirmi kay Badong sa bahay ay TV.


Pautal-utal kung magsalita si Badong subalit pinipilit ng pamilya na maunawaan siya. Naging malapit din siya sa mga anak ng mag-asawa at ayaw nilang mawala ito sa kanila. Subalit isang araw ay may nakakita sa kanya sa store at nagsabi kay Beng na taga-General Santos daw ito at sa pangangalaga ng Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Pinagpalagay nila na maaaring hindi sinasadyang nakalabas siya ng tinitirhan at nakatiyempong makasakay ng bus na biyaheng Tacurong City. At dahil nasa bagong public market ang bus terminal, naghanap na lang ito ng isang sulok na matutulugan. Mabuti na lang din na hindi siya naliligaw at nakakabalik pa sa kanyang tinutulugan tuwing gumala siya sa downtown area na kinaroroonan ng hardware store ng mga Lim.


Masama man sa kalooban ng pamilya ay nagdesisyon silang ibalik si Badong sa DSWD kaya naghanda sila ng despedida party para sa kanya. Si Beng mismo ang naghatid sa kanya sa General Santos, subalit nang iwanan na niya ay nagwala ito at nagpilit na sumama pabalik sa Tacurong. Walang nagawa ang DSWD kundi ang gawing pormal ang pagpaalaga kay Badong sa mga Lim. Ngayon, dinadala na rin ni Badong ang apelyidong Lim.


Ang turing kay Badong ng mga Lim ay talagang kapamilya. Sa lahat ng okasyon ay kasali siya, pati sa taunang cross-country ng Tacurong City Bikers na pinamumunuan ni Beng bilang Presidente. Sa loob ng 6 na taon ay kasa-kasama siya ng tropang bikers at itinalaga sa support o backup.


Ayon kay Beng, gusto niyang makita pa rin ni Badong ang kanyang mga magulang upang maging kumpleto ang pagkatao nito. Dagdag pa niya, kung sakaling mangailangan din ng tulong ang magulang ni Badong, baka matulungan din nila. Kahit  pautal kung magsalita si Badong, halatang nagpipilit itong maunawaan ng iba, at dahil normal ang turing sa kanya, na-develop ang kanyang self-confidence.


“Mongoloid” si Badong, subalit nakitaan ko siya ng katalinuhan nang sagutin niya ang mga tanong ko, at sa palagay ko ay nakatulong ng malaki sa unti-unting paglinang ng kanyang karunungan ang pagmamahal na hindi lang pinapakita kundi pinapadama din ni Beng, ng kanyang asawa at mga anak.


Nagpapasalamat ako sa pamangkin kong si Daniel Paclibar na miyembro ng Tacurong City Bikers dahil siya ang  nagparating sa akin ng kuwento ni Badong.

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.