The Blissful Family of Luis and Paciencia Garcia
of Tacurong City
By Apolinario Villalobos
The couple, Luis and Paciencia Garcia (Tatay Luis and Nanay Pacing) opened the first bakery in our town during the 1950s. It had a big wood-fired oven fed by big chunks of wood, usually, “enyam” or “bignay” and acacia which grew in abundance throughout the extent of the town. I would play on stacked logs in front of the bakery in the afternoon before finally making it home from the dried fish stall of my parents in the market. Practically, every able-bodied member of the family took part in its operation, especially, in manning the counter and the cash box. The Garcias were close to our parents and sometimes our mother would linger awhile in front of the bakery on her way to the market, to chat with both Nanay Pacing and Tatay Luis. In my desire to earn at an early age, I peddled their pan de sal around the town at dawn before I went to school, using a box of Darigold, a popular brand of milk during the time. I was in Grade Three at the time.
During the regular Sunday singing contest held at the town plaza, courtesy of the late mayor, Jose Escribano, paper bags of bread from the bakery were among the prizes. The judges were so strict that at the hint of an off-key, the contestant was disqualified at the sound of a bell. A Levita girl with her golden voice was the consistent winner. The couple also used to donate cookies for the yearly “Flores” celebration held every May. The cookies were served as snacks to the kids who participated in catechetical sessions during which Marian songs and prayers were taught. At the height of evacuation to our town of families displaced from the surrounding areas during the 70’s, they gave the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) specially-discounted price for the bread that the agency purchased.
Tatay Luis had the opportunity to delve into the local politics with successful attempts, but he did not pursue this particular calling, as it got stinky, the height of which was the assassination of the town judge inside the church while he was attending the Sunday Mass. Free from the political clutch, Tatay Luis and Nanay Pacing devoted their time instead, to religious and civic activities of the town, especially, during fiestas.
All members of the Garcia family are achievers, successful in their chosen career and enjoying the fruit of their labor, except for one whose advocacy brought her to her untimely demise. She was Marlene (Esperat), the youngest in the brood, and who worked for the government, particularly, as the Action Officer of the resident Ombudsman of the Department of Agriculture, but left it posthaste, when she discovered unbecoming activities. She later found a niche in the field of journalism, both broadcast and print. In her paramount desire to help her country, she later exposed the anomalies that she stumbled upon at the cost her life. She was murdered, obviously, by a hired killer right inside her home. It took more than 5 years before the Ombudsman finally filed a solid case against the suspects, the then, Agriculture Secretary Luis “Chito” Lorenzo, Undersecretary Joselyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and three others.
Practically, the Garcia siblings were popular campus personalities at the Notre Dame Boys and Girls Departments, what with their strong personality characterized by inherent leadership quality that made them shine in scholastic and extra- curricular activities. The family was known for their closeness that brought them together almost every year during a reunion, in which cousins were also in attendance. Other special occasions were also reasons for them to be together. That was how the good-natured though strict patriarch and the jolly matriarch brought up the family. The eldest of the brood, ultra-active, Valmie, with her crown of thick curly hair, was always the life of any occasion as she let out her antics and biting, though, funny remarks.
I was fortunate to meet Bong (Larry) and Pangkek at Dagat-dagatan, Malabon many years back when I visited another town mate, Judith Bides-Ramiscal who excitedly told me that they were neighbors. After having told of their address I immediately surprised them with my visit. My path crossed with that of Valmie’s during the 50th foundation anniversary of our school, the Notre Dame of Tacurong. At the closing ceremony of the reunion highlighted by a community dancing on the school grounds, she was among the alumni who gleefully bumped shoulders to the beat of the festive music, still the spritely gal that she was during her high school days. We were practically exchanging shouts of greeting above the din of the ear-splitting non-stop disco sound. And, the next time we again met after many years, was via the internet – the facebook. That social medium also got me touched base with her younger brother, Bong.
The Garcias have definitely impressed the mark of their own legacy on the hefty foundation of the City of Tacurong while she was going through the challenges from simple politics gone stinky and threats of cultural unrest. And for that, Valmie and her siblings have their courageous and generous father, Luis, as well as, jovial mother, Paciencia, to thank!