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.)

 

 

Marlene Garcia-Esperat and the Plight of other “Whistle Blowers”

Marlene Garcia-Esperat

and the Plight of Other “Whistle Blowers”

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When I saw the photo of the late Marlene Garcia-Esperat who was murdered because she exposed the anomalies at the Department of Agriculture, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of devastation and palpitated with anger. She was so young and unfortunately, her ideals cut short her dreams. She exposed the anomalies at the Department of Agriculture which was then under Secretary Luis “Chito” Lorenzo whose cohorts were his Underscretary Joselyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and three more personalities, involving the purchase of millions of pesos worth of fertilizer.

 

Marlene made the exposế when she left the Office of the Ombudsman where she was the Action Office of the resident Ombudsman of the Department of Agriculture.  Not long after, she was silenced by a hired gunman right inside her home on the fateful 24th day of March, 2005, as she was obviously, unprotected. She should have been moving around with a security because of her exposếs, but she was not. At the time of her death, she was living with her family in the City of Tacurong, her birthplace. The proud parents are Luis and Paciencia Garcia.

 

The “whistle blowers” risk their career and security of their family after making the painful decision to spill out the proverbial beans of anomalies that they accidentally discover. Some of them make the crucial decision on their own volition while others had to be coaxed into cooperation, and even intimidated by eager prosecutors. Promises of security and financial assistance are made by the government, but are unfortunately, short-lived as the “agreement” had to be “renewed”.

 

Sandra Cam who stands out among the “whistle blowers” organized them for the convenience of the NGOs which are helping them. Also, to make them cohesive every time they make demands in one voice. Unfortunately, the last time that this group was heard was when Cam surfaced during the celebrated hearings of de Lima at the Senate….perhaps, only because, de Lima is her mortal enemy. The big question is where are the rest of them? Have they finally recanted their statements in exchange for big sums or unfortunately, silenced forever?

 

The “whistle blowers” are actually witnesses, who got tagged with such reference because they are supposed to have blown the whistle to alert the government about certain anomalies. But, for how long can they blow the whistle with the kind of government that we have? The expense for their protection is dependent on the budget of the concerned agencies, but the approval of which is also dependent on the whims of the Senate. Worse, the approval of the protection sometimes is granted long after witnesses has put their security in jeopardy when they divulged information at the hearing venue.

 

How many more Marlene Garcia-Esperats will make a sacrifice to make the government realize the loop-holes of its “witness protection program”? How could the Duterte administration use this program to enhance his drive against illegal drugs if prospective witnesses have lost their trust in such program? What is their chance of still standing alive and kicking after his six-year term? …AND, WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DOING ABOUT IT?

marlene-esperat

The Unsung Greatness of Dr. Leo Villalobos

The Unsung Greatness of Dr. Leo Villalobos

Of Tacurong City

By A. V.

 

Son of hardworking and diligent teachers, Dr. Leo Villalobos was consistently on top of his class since he was in elementary. He was the valedictorian of their high school batch and finished his medicine degree at West Visayas State University (Iloilo City) in 1980. Despite the tempting offers from big local hospitals and opportunities abroad, he opted to stay and practice his acquired specialty in our hometown. He grew up in the midst of the town’s need for medical facilities as during the time,  the nearest hospitals with complete facilities were located at Cotabato City which is a good 3 hours away on a public conveyance, and Davao City which is more than the aforementioned time away on perpetually repaired roads. This situation developed his steadfast advocacy that got deeply-rooted in his heart and consciousness.

 

Initially, he admitted patients at their home and stories circulated about his acceptance of affordable amount from patients, even vegetables, chicken and eggs. He did not impose fixed fees. Their home was a simple wooden structure with a deep-well pump in the yard where laundry was done, and which he renovated to accommodate his clinic. The attention that he gave to his patients was so personalized that he would even visit them at their home on his motorcycle. The routine brought him even to far-flung barrios and the people of Tacurong got used to seeing him making his daily rounds. It was this closeness to the Tacurongnons that made them clamor for his running even for Vice-Mayor, to which he obliged. They were hoping that he would proceed to the mayorship which did not happen.

 

He was not the political type of a guy, so that no grudge was ever developed against him by anybody. His campaign stance did not involve promises and badmouthing of fellow, albeit, opposing candidates, but just simple greetings to the folks who were glad that he conceded to their request. When he won, he did not abandon his responsibilities to the Tacurongnons which made him stay late at night due to the added tasks. But because politics was not really in his heart, he did not pursue it but instead doubled his effort in alleviating the health needs of the locals.

 

It was when he realized the inadequacy of his clinic that he thought of putting up some kind of a medical foundation cum hospital in Tacurong which was aptly and popularly referred to as the  “Medical Mission”. To realize the project, he made spent his own time and money until it finally got inaugurated. The “hospital” is a simple concrete squarish structure with an emergency room and dormitory-type ones, located in front of the Sangguniang Panlunsod building and the Land Transportation Office.

 

Despite his hectic schedule in the Medical Mission Hospital, he saw to it that he got time for his schoolmates during their reunions. His earnings were much lesser compared to private medical practitioners. He was not receiving much from his post as Director of the hospital, being a non-profit institution. He would even shell out his own money as the need would arise.

 

The pressure of his advocacy took its toll as in time, his physical condition deteriorated. Despite his waning health, he still smiles when friends would drop by. What I cannot understand is why, until now, his contribution to the community has not been given recognition. During school reunions, I do not know if he was given a simple certificate of appreciation for putting his Alma Mater on the pedestal of academic prominence. With a heavy heart, I am now bound to believe the idiocy of the “traditional” posthumous recognition of people when they are stiff and dead…..given at their wake. For me it is a big insult to the people whose glaring greatness is not recognized while they are still alive. I would like to call such idiotic recognition in the local dialect as, “pakunsuwelo”.

 

Closely attending to his needs today are his only sister Hazel (Obliada) and son, Wawa (John) who works as a policeman in the city. On a daily basis Hazel would check on his brother while Wawa lives with him, going home only to the neighboring city of Koronadal where his own family lives, during weekends.

 

The parents of Dr. Leo and Hazel are long gone now. They have no other siblings and this thought would at times bring tears to the eyes of Hazel who is lucky to have been married to a generous husband from Quezon province.

The “Good Hands” of Metrobank-Tacurong

The “Good Hands” of Metrobank- Tacurong

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Transacting business gives me jitters, not because of anything else but because of the required IDs and people who will “handle” me. As regards IDs, I am wary about what I have because they might not be honored, and for the people who will attend to me, my apprehension is that they might be snooty, unsmiling, robotic in manner who stick to their rules to the last letter, and most of all, the ambience of the office which can give clients negative feelings at times.

 

During the time I was back to where I saw first the ray of light, in Tacurong, I thought of dropping by Metrobank. The transaction was simple inquiry. Looking at the imposing, albeit, simply architecture office building, I was carried back to the days when the bank was yet renting a ground space in one of the first commercial buildings in my hometown, now a city. Metrobank was the first commercial/universal bank that gave Tacurong a semblance of progress due to its presence. Before its coming, what we had was just the Tacurong Rural Bank that served the needs of the locals and those who live in nearby towns. Transactions were about agricultural loans and savings. That was during the early 70’s, as I remember that some of my batch mates were employed by Metrobank after graduation in 1975.

 

I left our place to work with Philippine Airlines and due to the scheduled training in Manila, was not able to join the graduation. We were the last graduates who were not less than 60, as the college department was temporarily closed due to the unrest that engulfed the province. I had the chance to take a glimpse of the steadily growing bank every time I come home for a day or at my longest stay of 4 days, Finally, I had my chance of experiencing how it felt to be in the “good hands” of the Metrobankers-Tacurong when I thought of inquiring about their offerings.

 

Both I and my nephew were in our best “ukay-ukay” attire – cheap walking shorts and faded t-shirt, and of course, in our favorite slippers. The smiling guards opened the door for us. We found the bank full of clients, proof that they are really “bankable”. As we waited for our turn, my nephew approached somebody if we could be attended as what we wanted was just inquiry. We were referred to the Marketing Destk…and the rest was the smooth handling that I was expecting.

 

My visit to the bank proved that its famous jingle which includes the line, “you’re in good hands with Metrobank”, is indeed, true.

Speech of Ramonito Pernato, President of Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accounts (PICPA)

(RAMONITO PERNATO belongs to the Batch’70 of NDTC Boys High School (Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines). His family popularized the chicken barbecue in Tacurong way back in early days of the 1960s, and which became known as “Mauring’s Barbecue”. He literally worked his way up the social ladder to be where he is now, the 2016-2017 NATIONAL PRESIDENT of the PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTS (PICPA). He is among the “golden products” of Notre Dame that I am personally proud of.)

 

 

MESSAGE DELIVERED DURING

THE 71ST PICPA ANNUAL CONVENTION IN DAVAO CITY

 

 

Time is running so fast, only to find out that we are all gathered today in Davao City, the venue and the home of the co-host, the PICPA Davao Chapter to celebrate our 71st PICPA Annual National Convention. We have chosen Davao City as the venue over a place in Sultan Kudarat Province, the home of the co-host, the PICPA Sultan Kudarat Chapter because the City has adequate facilities, resources, and various tourist destinations to offer around the Southern Mindanao Region.

 

The 71st Annual National Convention, as always been said in any annual convention, is a time for us to renew our acquaintances and friendship, share our concerns and issues, our joys and sadness, and to work out on the challenges we are now facing in the volatile and complex business and economic environment.

 

Despite some hitches as we are moving forward to achieve our goals, this Annual National Convention is also an occasion for all PICPANs as a family to establish or re-invigorate affected relationship so that we can put aside our personal differences and move forward to become more humane and professional.

 

Also, the 71st Annual National Convention Committee has worked hard and came-out with technical sessions and fellowships which will meet the needs of each PICPAN to “LEVEL UP” and go beyond our comfort zones, and be ready to face the challenges of the times with confidence and competitive spirit.

 

Daghang Salamat!

 

Mabuhay ang PICPA!

 

mon-pernato

Si Jose Escribano…dating meyor ng Tacurong (Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines)

Si Jose Escribano…dating meyor ng Tacurong

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Bago naging meyor si Jose Escribano ay nagkaroon na ng iba pa ang bayan namin na dating baryo ng Buluan. Hindi gaanong natandaan ang unang mayor, pero sa pagkabanggit sa akin ng isang matandang nakausap ko ay isang “Guerrero” daw. Ang mga baryong mauunlad nang panahong yon maliban sa Tacurong na ang dating pangalan ay Pamansang, ay San Manuel at San Pablo kung saan karamihang nakatira ay mga Ilocano.

 

Dayo naman si Jose Escribano na galing sa Igbaras, Iloilo. At nang panahong yon pa rin, ang ibang pamilyang dayuhan na naaalala ko at itinuturing na mga Kristiyanong pioneer ay ang mga, Lapuz, Paraico, Bernardo, de la Cruz, Paclibar, Ballena, Nicolo, Palmes, Catudan, Velasco, Valdez, Guillermo, Panes, Pauya, Subaldo, Arzagon, Grimaldo, Garcia, Barroquillo, Limbungan, Lucentales, Cordero, Betita, Magbanua, Cordero,Travilla, Saludes, Rapacon, Pernato, Dayon, Cajandig, Besana, Lagon, Gomez, Custodio, Arendon, Albenio, Aniversario, Ferrer, Fajardo, Collado, Cargo, Rapacon, Sotto, Dajay, at Purisima.

 

Nakagisnan ko na lang na meyor si Escribano (mas popular na tawag sa kanya), dahil inabot ko siya noong dekada sisenta. Kung pumunta ako sa tambakan ng munisipyo upang mamulot ng tinggang pangselyo (sealing lead) ng mail bags na galing sa Post Office ay nakikita ko siya sa balkonahe ng lumang munisipyo na humihitit ng tabako. Wala akong kamuwangan sa pulitika noon kaya hindi ko nabigyan ng kahalagahan ang kanyang pagka-meyor dahil tuwing makikita ko siya sa balkonahe ay tinatawag ko lang siyang “Escribano”. Kumakaway naman at ngumingiti pa.

 

Nang mag-elementaray na ako ay nalaman ko na ang kanyang pagkatao…. mabagsik pala siya. Ang mga magnanakaw na nahuhuli ay pinapakain ng tae sa inudoro ng kubeta ng munisipyo. Nilulublob ang ulo nila sa inudorong pinagamit muna at hindi ini-flush. Mahilig din siyang manapok on-the-spot ng mga may kasalanan, kahit pulis.  Kaya siguro noong maliit pa ako ay wala ako halos nalamang may mga nakawan sa amin. May nagkuwento sa akin na ang hindi lang niya mapakialaman noon ay si “ tatay Usteng (Aguilar)” na nakatira sa baryo Rajah Muda.

 

Noong panahon din niya nagkaroon ng mga sintu-sinto sa amin, sina Juan, Aida, at Alip. Minsan ay nakita kong may inutusan siya upang bigyan ng biscuit si Juan. Noong panahon ding yon, tuwing Linggo ay may “amateur” (singing contest) sa plaza. Lahat ng contestant ay may regalo agad na isang supot ng tinapay na donation ng Garcia Bakery. Dahil walang kuryente, ang pailaw ay galing sa isang generator na ang ingay ay mas malakas pa sa boses ng kumakanta. Ang may boses na disintunado ay binabatingtingan upang tumigil na pero may regalong isang supot na tinapay. Ang palaging nananalo noon ay isang babaeng may apelyidong “Betita”. Kalaunan ay nakilala rin ang galing nina Grace Perales, at Eufemia Alcon.

 

Nagpagawa si Escribano ng swimming pool sa isang bahagi ng plaza namin. Wala naman masyadong gumagamit maliban sa Kastilang si “Mr. Fernandez” dahil talaga palang atleta ito at swimming ang linya niya, at magaling pang mag-dive. Pinagawa ang swimming pool para sa kasiyahan ng mga mamamayan. Ang mga kinuha niyang bumbero ay marunong tumugtog ng mga instrumento ng combo na kanyang itinatag at pinangalanang “Fireband”. Nagkaroon ng dalawang combo, at ang isa ay dumayo pa sa mga beer house at night club sa Manila. Sa panahong yon sila nakapag-recruit ng mga babaeng mang-aawit mula sa Maynila na dinala sa bayan namin. Isa sa mga dinala nilang singer ay si Helen.

 

Sikat ang bayan namin dahil sa “Fireband”  at magagaling na mga singers tulad ni Lito  na ang kinakanta ay mga pinasikat ng mga grupong “Bee Gees” at “Animals” (nagpasikat sa awit na “House of the Rising Sun”). Palagi silang iniimbita upang tumugtog sa mg kapistahan, at nakakarating pa sa Cotabato City. Malaking bagay ang kinikita nila sa pagtugtog dahil allowance lang naman ang binibigay sa kanila bilang mga bumbero. At upang lubusang mapakinabangan ang combo, nagpatayo rin si Escribano ng “night club” (sa panahon ngayon ay category lang ng beer house) sa palengke malapit sa katayan (slaughterhouse). Dahil sa night club na ang tawag ay “Kayumanggi”, napilitan ang mga nagtitinda sa palengke na panatilihing malinis at walang amoy ang bahaging yon ng palengke na dating tinatambakan ng basura.

 

Nang maghanap si Claudio Estante, ang nagtatag ng DSW sa bayan namin ng magiging assistant niya, sa opisina ni Escribano siya pumunta upang humingi ng reference. Halos lahat ng tinanong niya ay ako ang binanggit kaya ako ang nakuha. Nakilalal ako sa opisina ng meyor dahil tuwing may operation-Linis ang school namin sa paligid ng palengke ay palaging ako ang nagko-coordinate sa opisina ng meyor. Dahil diyan, pwedeng sabihing nakatulong ang opisina ni Escribano sa pagsimula ng informal kong career dahil nang panahong yon ay nasa third year college pa lang ako.  Ang sentro ng evacuation noon dahil sa labanan sa pagitan ng mga “Black Shirts” (Muslim) at “Ilagẳ” (Christians), ay ang bayan namin. Taga-consolidate ako ng listahan ng mga evacuees na dinadala sa DSW Regional Office sa Davao, at ang trabaho ko ay tuwing Sabado lang at Linggo pero hanggang gabi naman at ang ilaw na gamit ko ay “petromax”. Nang panahon ding yon namayagpag si “Toothpick”, lider ng mga “Ilagẳ”. Marami rin akong mga classmate na “Ilaga” na ang pagkakakilanlan ay ang malakas na amoy ng “X-7”, mumurahing pabango na may halong isang bagay upang maging agimat at upang maging epektibo ay tuwing Biyernes lang sila kung maligo.

 

Nang ideklara ang Martial Law ay nasa fourth college year na ako. Pinatawag ni Escribano lahat ng mga estudyante ng mga eskwelahan sa bayan namin upang i-meeting sa plaza. Ang layunin niya ay magpaliwanag tungkol sa Martial Law. Ang hindi niya alam ay may isang babaeng kalaban si Marcos na napapunta sa bayan namin at nangampanya laban sa Martial Law pero naipit dahil inabot ng deklarasyon kaya hindi makalabas, pero ako ang gumawa ng paraan upang makalusot sa mga outpost hanggang makabalik siya sa Maynila.

 

Nang nasa plaza na ang lahat ng mga estudyante, nagsimula na siyang magpaliwanag pero nalabuan ang lahat. Ang masama, nang magtanong siya kung sino ang gustong magtanong, ako ang itinulak ng mga kasama ko dahil nagkataong nakapuwesto kami sa harap ng stage. Dahil wala akong magawa ay nagsimula na akong magtanong subalit nawala ako sa sarili at nakalimutan kong meyor ang kaharap ko dahil panay pagbabara ang ginawa ko sa bawa’t paliwanag niya. Ang isang close-in bodyguard ay hindi yata nakatiis kaya lumapit sa kanya at nagbulong pero narinig ko pa rin, na ang sabi ay: “ano, mayor tapuson ko na ini?” (ano, mayor tatapusin ko na ito?), na ang tinutukoy ay ako. Pero narinig ko naman ang sagot sa kanya ni Escribano na, “indi… kilala ko pamilya sini” (huwag… kilala ko ang pamilya nito). Ang tiyuhin ko kasi ay vice-mayor niya. Magtatanong pa sana ako, pero biglang may nagpaputok kaya nagkagulo na. May humila sa akin mula sa stage at halos pagapang kaming lumayo. Mula noon sinundan na ako mula sa bahay hanggang sa eskwelahan ng isang “PSG” ni Marcos. Ang grupo pala ng “PSG” ay nangupahan sa bahay lang ng mga Guillermo malapit sa school namin.

 

Bago ako umalis sa amin ay pinatay ang municipal judge namin, si Judge Wenceslao Valdez, sa loob ng simbahang Katoliko. Isa siya sa mga mahigpit na kalaban ni Escribano. Matagal ang imbestigasyon subalit bandang huli ay lumabas din ang resulta na nagturo kay Escribano bilang may pakana. Nahuli din daw ang inatasan o “triggerman” na bumaril.

 

Ngayon, 2016, ang bayan namin ay isa nang maunlad na lunsod sa pangangasiwa ni Mayor Lina Montilla. Wala na ang swimming pool at gumanda na rin ang liwasan. Bago na ang bulwagang panlunsod, subalit hindi giniba ang dating munisipyo na nasa likod lang nito kaya ang inudorong pinaglulubluban ng ulo ng mga magnanakaw ay nandoon pa rin.

 

Ms. Bernardita S. Paclibar and Ms. Nenita P. Bernardo…my beloved cousins, my strict teachers

Ms. Bernardita S. Paclibar and Ms. Nenita P. Bernardo

…my beloved cousins, my strict teachers

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

 

Looking back to the days when I was young, I fondly recall my cousins who have been part of my growing up. One was “Ms. Paclibar”, a cousin who was also my teacher in Grade Three, and who was known for her strictness. She was fair, as inside the classroom, I was treated as just one of her pupils. I also experienced spanking and ear-pinching. But every time I visited my “lola” Sayong, their mother, she would offer me fruits from their yard, especially, ripe guavas. If none has been picked on that day, she would tell her younger sister, Heidi (but I fondly called “Lily) to pick some for me.

 

She chose to stay single till the day she died, as were most of the teachers of the past years. It was a most appropriate decision because when their parents were ageing, she contributed a lot in caring for them. When I was in college, I recalled her hair to have changed color from brownish black into cloudy white, but fitted her mestiza features. That was also the time that she began calling me by my nickname, while I called her “nang Deting”,  as when I was in elementary she would call me in school by my family name. I failed to attend her wake and funeral as I was out of the country when the news of her demise reached me.

 

In college, a cousin was also one of my teachers, “Ms. Bernardo”. She handled our science subjects. A University of the Philippines graduate (BS Pharmacy), she was supposed to be a pharmacist by profession. But after a short stint in such field, she chose to stay put in our town and teach in the only Catholic school, the Notre Dame. Practically, she was among the pioneers of the school together with the Canzanas, Jamorabons, Romeros, Josefina Lechonsito, and, Mr. Nicolo who later became principal of the Tacurong Pilot School.

 

As a science teacher she was in-charge of the school “laboratory” with its donated few microscopes, few boxes of thin crystal slides, preserved insect specimen in jars of formalin, and science reference books. It was in that sparsely –furnished room where I saw my first amoeba and other flagellates, cross section of leaves and stems, and microbes in a drop of water from a canal. What took root in my memory was her admonishment of the whole class for the failure of one or two classmates , with a clear reminder that no one can help us but ourselves in order to have passing grades. Being a perfectionist, she expected all of us to pass, and eventually, graduate. We shared the same idea that the school and books can help but intellect is innate in all of us, hence, we become what we are by our own doing…which made me proud of her and our parochial school with its sparsely furnished library.

 

She exuded sophistication in her tailored dresses, mostly cotton, as she gracefully walked her way from their house to the school and her being slender helped a lot in radiating such image. Her seemingly eternally coiffed hair also added to her classiness.

 

Their father was our clan’s “Tata” who contributed a lot in making our town what it is today, a flourishing city, as he was a long-termer Vice-Mayor. When he finally succumbed to complications which forced him to stay home, my cousin and teacher whom we fondly call “nene Nita” stayed by his side, until a full-time caregiver was hired.

 

Today, at an advanced age of almost eighty, “nene Nita” lives at their ancestral house with her youngest sister, Judith, while the younger brother, Nonito, lives not far from them.

 

Both the Paclibars and Bernardos are among the pioneer families of Tacurong City. But, to my two strict teachers…and beloved cousins, my recognition is more than their being members of the prominent pioneer families of our place. They are among those to whom I owe much of what I am today.