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.

 

 

A Call from the Youth of the Land…Let Harmony Breed World Peace!

A Call from the Youth of the Land…

Let Harmony Breed World Peace!

By Ed Palomado

 

Let harmony breed peace the world over…yes!…give it a chance! That is our call, we, the youth of the land to you, our elders and parents with differing advocacies and views that have been splitting the world into segments of disparity. The world is a sphere and should have insured the smooth flow of relationship among men as there are no corners that serve as hindrances…that is why God made it as such.

 

We did not ask to be born into a world beset with chaos due to mere differences in the color of our skin and the diverse tongues that are supposed to bind the world together. Add to them cultures and traditions that have differing propensities.

 

We did not ask to be born into a world quivering on a foundation weakened by uncertainties as to what the future would bring. In the meantime, more innocent newborn are being brought forth as the hands of time tick with reminders about our hazy destiny. Where should we go from where we stand today?…yes!…where, beloved elders and parents?

 

Greed has pathetically overshadowed humane principles, having been fed by the unrelenting selfishness of many world leaders. And, pride has blinded the same arrogant leaders who do not give a damn while treading on the path leading toward aspired success that must be had at all cost. They failed to see the rights of others that they trampled to make their covetous desire come true. We, the youth are among the trampled, a misfortune that have cut short a life that could have made us savor what lies ahead of us.

 

Why must we, the youth, suffer for all of these?

Why can’t there be even a bit of tolerance for all the differences that ensued when God created humanity?

Why can’t tolerance be observed as a show of respect to what others believe in?

Why can’t there be just music instead of the cracking guns that spit forth death?

Why can’t there be love instead of hate?

And, why can’t we extend a hand of compassion, instead of one gripping a gun?

 

If we let tolerance prevail, there would be understanding…if we let love overcome our hate, there will be compassion….and, if we give harmony a chance, there will be a soothing and delightful tranquility, as everything would just fall into their proper places with synchrony that shall bring forth peace!

 

So, now I am asking again…why not give peace a chance to rule the world?

 

(An oratorical peace composed by Ed Palomado for a student in his speech clinic, and which I edited.)

 

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.