THE PRETTY TARROSA SISTERS OF TACURONG
…FATIMA, YOLANDA AND LOURDES
By Apolinario Villalobos
When Tacurong was politically weaned from Buluan, the once flatland punctuated with pockmarks of marshes was obviously showing signs of fast development. The Oblates of Notre Dame came to establish a school and church which later adopted a patron, Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Seἧora de la Candelaria); enterprising migrants from Luzon and Visayas filled market stalls with various merchandises that came all the way from Cotabato City and Iloilo City; Chinese businessmen from Cotabato City and Dulawan came, too, to open better-stocked stores; the Dulawan Bus Company, and Cotabato Bus Company included the struggling town to their route over dusty roads to Davao City and Cotabato City; a fashion school (Aumentado, later Grimaldo) was opened, actually, a vocational school which taught hair styling and dressmaking; two more schools were opened, the Lyceum and Magsaysay Memorial College, and later, another vocational school, the Parisenne was opened. Meantime, the elementary school, Tacurong Pilot School was steadily flourishing. But the most prominent establishment was the Rural Bank of Tacurong.
The bank was managed by the Tarrosa couple who hailed from Iloilo. Clients came from as far as Isulan, Esperanza, Buluan, Tantangan, and Surallah. The couple had fair young daughters, Fatima, Yolanda and Lourdes…all long-haired and fair-skinned. Those are my recollection of the pretty sisters, as I used to go to their house, because their brother happened to be a classmate when I was in elementary. Their brother who was at the head of our class, as he was unquestionably intelligent had a unique name, being three- Jesus Armando Antonio. Among the three names, classmates chose “Antonio”. He would invite two or three of his classmate to their home, and which included me, where we grilled eggplants from their garden for our late lunch. Tony pursued his high school in Iloilo while we were left to continue our studies at Notre Dame for Boys.
The sisters seldom ventured outside their home which intrigued and challenged the young hombres of the town. They would just be seen on school days and during Sundays on their way to the church with their mother. Their long flowing black hair set them apart from the rest of the girls of the town, and which emphasized their modesty. I recalled the eldest, Fatima, to have played the role of a Virgin Mary during processions, a role which was also played by another long-haired and fair lass, Concepcion (Mrs. Cainglet today), as well as, Rosemarie Mojado and Aileen Jordan.
As Junior-Senior prom would approach, daring college and high school students would pray hard to all the saints before facing their strict mother to seek permission for the girls to grace the occasion with their presence as to be paired with any of them was an honor. They would find out that the mother was not so strict after all as she would readily give her permission for as long as it was asked with all respect.
The intrigued and curious of the town learned that the sisters and their brothers left the town to pursue their studies in Iloilo and Manila, particularly, University of the Philippines. When I was new in Manila, having just joined Philippine Airlines, I was able to visit them at their apartment in Diliman. Many years elapsed after that without any communication until I was invited to an informally organized “reunion” by Manuel Delfin, and which Tony was said to attend. Unfortunately, I failed to make it.
Practically, I had no idea how to reestablish my contact with the Tarrosa siblings until a colleague in PAL, John Fortes, gave me an old photo of two ladies and I was surprised to learn that one of them was Yolanda, while the other one was Olive Rocha. He told me about Lourdes’ being a UP campus personality. I kept the brownish photo hoping that I could one day show it to Yolanda and the opportunity came when we became “facebook friends.” After getting her permission, I am gladly posting the photo with this blog. In the photo, she is the one on the right, with long hair.