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….

 

 

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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.

 

JOHN IS AMONG THE RARE YOUNG TALENTS OF TACURONG CITY, WHO DESERVES SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION. VIEWERS MAY CONTACT HIM AT CELLPHONE NUMBER 09464310454.

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.

 

Ang Makabagong Anyo ng Tacurong na Pinatingkad ng Pagtutulungan

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

 

ANG MAKABAGONG ANYO NG TACURONG

NA PINATINGKAD NG PAGTUTULUNGAN

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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