Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul   1
Dedication                                         In memory of my father                                       Ignacio Ju...
Table of Contents  Prologue p.5  Ano It Villa Ha Akon pp.6-7  Simplicio Solis  I Love Villa! pp.9-10  Pureza E. Amatosa  V...
Villahanons in Canada: Meeting the Challenges in Their Adopted Country pp.46-49            Dr. Quirino Agote Ragub        ...
Prologue                                  A Window to the Villahanon’s Soul is a tribute to Villareal, a town in Samar I, ...
ANO IT VILLA HA AKONSimplicio SolisMay gin mamahal ko nga usa nga bungto                  May ada mga bus para Catbalogan ...
Idinadasig ko ine nga ak bungto                                            Kay nagkakaurosa mga taghimongto               ...
8   Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
I Love Villa!                             Pureza E. AmatosaI love Villa, the title of the favorite song of the Villareal I...
In the past, our shores would teem with people young and old alike. At present, most of the young peopledon’t bother to go...
Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul   11
Villareal: The Land of My Birth                                        (A Tribute)                                        ...
In my twilight years if you will ask me                                Where I will spend the rest of my days,            ...
14   Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
Public Service, the Villahanon Way                      City Prosecutor Ruperto Bardaje Golong“Twenty years from now, you ...
Jr. as Regional State Prosecutor, I was appointed City Prosecutor ofTacloban City, a position I hold up to the present.To ...
If I Would Have My Name Endure,                            I’ll Write It In The Hearts of Men           By Horacio Alger  ...
It was my home away from home, myinitiation to formal education. A nostalgic trip    Golden Memories of My Schooldown memo...
to gather some firewood for roasting the pig. We knew that after the guests                                               ...
The Villa In My MindBy Maricon Gelera LatojaMention Villa and this image unfailingly comes to mind: theconcrete steps lead...
very fast paced, but our family adjusted to the urban sense of time. And in the process of imbibing urban values, some thi...
Villahanons in the Landof the Midnight SunBy Ruben GerardoWe would never have left our hometown had it not been for the sa...
It is not simple to acquire a management position in a Norwegian company. First, you must be fluent in the Norwegian langu...
Filipinos in Scandinavia hold a good reputation as managers, entrepreneurs and workers. Some are employed managers and dep...
•     Mr. Paul Romano is assigned to Africa                                                                               ...
The Villahanon population in Norway is increasing with one hundred and fifty individuals with roots from Villareal. Most o...
Villa ~ Half a Century                             and More of Remembrances                                               ...
What are some of these memories?                                                                           Having been bor...
Thereafter, life was a blur. We constructed a house in Tayod. But we still maintained our house in the “Uma”, the farm in ...
products of our sea. Having a tinola of sinudsuran is more delicious than the French“bouillabaisse”.         For us youngs...
During summer the cycle was the farm, the sea, picnics, marking the nests of the birds,playing with our kites, fetching dr...
There was abundance of camote, bilanghoy, saging, all sorts of saging you would not                                       ...
One summer, Lope and I were assigned by our uncle, Tay Dadoy Ranera, to takecare of a corn plantation in Tingara. For seve...
My Grade Five schooling was a watershed in my studies. Who was the most brilliant among us? Not Lydia Varela who was Salut...
During summers in high school, I would go to Villa. We had our barkada. We would meet periodically in the imburnals especi...
But our VYCM was nothing compared to the trailblazing achievements of the Villahanon Association of Metro Manila. They hav...
Compared to other Samarnon groups in Metro Manila who would celebrate their fiestas in elegant surroundings such as the Ma...
Presnilla in Sacramento, and many others more. There are now so many of us, Villahanons in Diaspora, we need a huge databa...
With the advent of the Internet, many diasporic Villahanons have become closer to each other. We communicate in the World ...
The foregoing, together with other factors, combined to develop a synergy, a confluence of events and circumstances, makin...
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
Villahanon coffee table book
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Villahanon coffee table book

  1. 1. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 1
  2. 2. Dedication In memory of my father Ignacio Jumadiao-Camilon a Leyteño with a Villahanon heart, who taught me to believe in the potential of Villareal for progress and in the innate gift of every Villahanon to work together for a common cause and to my fellow Villahanons who have kept the hope and selflessly paid forward.2 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  3. 3. Table of Contents Prologue p.5 Ano It Villa Ha Akon pp.6-7 Simplicio Solis I Love Villa! pp.9-10 Pureza E. Amatosa Villareal: The Land of My Birth pp.12-13 (A Tribute) Quintina Gelera-Cabuenos Public Service, the Villahanon Way pp.15-17 City Prosecutor Ruperto Bardaje Golong Golden Memories of My School pp.18-19 Gertrudes Seludo Llarenas-Ragub The Villa In My Mind pp.20-21 Maricon Gelera Latoja Villahanons in the Land of the Midnight Sun pp.22-26 Ruben Gerardo Villa-Half a Century and More of Remembrances pp.27-41 Cesar Torres Villareal, Forever My Home pp.44-45 Terry S. Wickstrom Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 3
  4. 4. Villahanons in Canada: Meeting the Challenges in Their Adopted Country pp.46-49 Dr. Quirino Agote Ragub A Glimpse of My Hometown pp.50-53 Marlon Clint Solis-Camilon Dream Catching in Villareal pp.54-57 Marivel Camilon-Sacendoncillo Acknowledgement4 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  5. 5. Prologue A Window to the Villahanon’s Soul is a tribute to Villareal, a town in Samar I, and many others, call home. It also celebrates the spirit and values of those who trace their roots to Villa and with pride refer to themselves as Villahanons. This collection of poetry, prose and essays gives us an insight into the heart and mind of a diaspora of Villahanons, presenting a palette of their stories, reflections and experiences. It speaks of their love for their hometown and the values that are common to them- love for family, value for education, affinity with nature, a deep sense of community and an openness to share with each other. A Window to the Villahanon’s Soul also tells of heartwarming stories of the Villahanons’ capacity to seize opportunities for a common good, to endure and emerge victorious from difficult times and to revel in life’s blessings. It gives us a perspective of how the legacy of our ancestors provides us the motivation to embrace life and make the most of what it brings.I saw the first rays of the sun in Tunga, Leyte and not in “ The greatest glory in living lies not in neverVillareal. Yet Villa, as we fondly call our hometown, is failing but rising every time we fall.”home to me. It was here where I grew up and was Nelson Mandelanurtured by people who loved me beyond words. My heartis a Villahanon in every way. After a long and at timesarduous journey, I find myself longing for the rest andcomfort that only Villa can give, a longing for the veryplace and the people I call my own.Here are stories that testify to the steadfast, generous, vibrant and resilient spirit thatis unmistakably Villahanon. May the lives shared in this book inspire every Villahanonand countless others to trace your own roots and take pride in where you comefrom. Marivel Gelera Camilon- Sacendoncillo Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 5
  6. 6. ANO IT VILLA HA AKONSimplicio SolisMay gin mamahal ko nga usa nga bungto May ada mga bus para Catbalogan TaclobanBungto Villareal nga natawhan ko May dako nga motorboat para kadagatanKatundan han Samar an iya hinmotangan May ada ha Manila mga pansarakyan“Real village” ha English, matahum nga ngaran Kanan taga Villa gintatag-iyahan.Igin paparayaw ko it Villa ha iyo Para ha Manila di kana magkokoriMay naturalisa nga kinaiya hine nga ak bungto Kay kada semana it ira biyaheMay ada panayoran higluag nga taramnan Lunes ug Huybes, Miyerkoles ug SabadoHiluag nga kadagatan hora hin kaisdaan. Di ka na magkokori, barato pa it pasahi.May ada kahagnaan nga it Villa ginpalibutan Hingangandayan ko naman parte pag aradmanMay mga hagna ha timogan ug dapit sinirangan May gobierno ug pribado, High School nga kakadtuanMay ada ha amihanan sugad man ha katundan May Barangay High Schools kumpleto hin kagamitanTaramnan hiya hin mga homay kanan parag-uma kahuraan Waray nagud iiliwon hit mga nag aaram.Ako naglalaum it Villa ma asenso May mga produkto hin mga liburanDire mapaorhi hit iba nga bungto Mga professionals nga mga bantuganKay hi Mayor boy Latorre buhatan maduruto Mga ahensiya han gobierno, pribado ginpangaptanBuotan ug tangkud hit iya serbisyo. Higtaas nga posisyon, hira gintaporan. 6 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  7. 7. Idinadasig ko ine nga ak bungto Kay nagkakaurosa mga taghimongto Waray mga krimen pagperde hin tawo Kay an panuyo gudla bungto umasenso. Yana nga panahon it Villa tikadto Pag-gios, paguswag hin ka progresibo Hi Mayor Latorre may ada proyekto Bayanihan nga kalsada hiya’n nagmangulo. Ine nga kalsada tikadto ha Kasang-an Gin ngaranan ine “Kalsada Bayanihan” Mga taghimunghto pati baryo Gin buburubligan ine para la mahimo. Mga Villahanon ha iba nga nasyon Dagko nga kantidad an ira donasyon Kay ira panuyo kalsada humanon Para masayon na it at transportasyon. Bungto Villareal hi ikaw palaran An mga anak mo di ka ginpabay-an Ha mga kasakit pati kakurian Ngatanan burublig imo katalwasan. An naturalisa ug kinaiya han bungto hit Villa Puros ginpulsan in nga mga grasya Hatag han Makagarahum pati ni Santa Rosa Hiya man an amon Patrona ha Villa Kami nagdadayaw an mga Villahanon Kan Santa Rosa gugma ug bulig ha amon Kadam-an nga grasya amon nakarawat Salamat, Santa Rosa, Salamat! Salamat!The Author is a retired Head Teacher of the Bureau of Public Schools (now Department ofEducation) after 40 years of government service. After retirement, he ran for public office andwon a seat in the Municipal Council, Villareal, Samar for three (3) consecutive terms (1992-2001). He is also a 4th Degree member of the Knights of columbus, Villareal Council 5847. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 7
  8. 8. 8 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  9. 9. I Love Villa! Pureza E. AmatosaI love Villa, the title of the favorite song of the Villareal II Central Teachers’ Choir ofwhich I am a member. Yes, I love Villa. Not only because it’s my hometown butbecause it’s where I spent the most precious moments of my life- my grade and highschool days, my colorful married life and my successful career as a teacher.Villa has a unique geographical formation. It is divided into two parts; the higher levelwhich we call Tayud and the lower level which is known as Hawud. There are four longconcrete stairways as means of access going to the church and residential housesof Villahanons who chose to settle there. Thanks to our ancestors who made climbingup an easy task.We have no beautiful beaches like those in Palawan and Boracay but our townsfolkcontent themselves in having picnics in the wharf, Puro or Dukdukon just to have acool and refreshing dive especially when tides are very high during summer.Villa stands out from the many places I had been to. Its people are very religious andpeace-loving. It is also free from danger unlike in other places. Villa is a place wherepeople have good hearts. They don’t harbor ill feelings except for a few who find it hardto forgive their political enemies. To Christians, there are no permanent enemies, onlyforgiveness after any conflict. Our most popular business is chika-chika (story telling)and tsismis (gossip) but nothing to worry because it does not do any harm.Life is not hard here in Villa as our place is rich in natural resources especially theseas. One time a foreigner came to our place and was surprised to see on our tablebig laid shrimps, crabs, lobsters, mud crab weighing more than a kilo, seashells,squid and a big fish cooked with sauce. He exclaimed, “This is a rich person’s diet!”As I reminisce the past, I could still feel the joy when my friends and I would go to theseashore to gather seashells. Our seas abound with seaweeds like lato and dahunan.During those times especially during low tides (masyado hin kahalapad han hubas)we have to wade a few meters away from the poblacion. When we arrived home therewere already boiled potatoes, cassava or bananas waiting on the table to be eatenwith the seashells. To us, this was already a satisfying meal with almost no expenseat all. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 9
  10. 10. In the past, our shores would teem with people young and old alike. At present, most of the young peopledon’t bother to go to the shores anymore.One admirable trait of the Villahanons is the value we give to education. Parents work hard to be able tosend their children to school. Even families who have less in life try their best to send their children to collegeto earn a degree. Villareal is one of the towns that has the most number of professionals including priests.Seldom can you find a home without a teacher or a degree holder. Parents of Villahanon families believe thatchildren are their stronghold when they grow old. Part of our tradition is for the eldest child to finish school andonce she or he lands in a job, she/he sends a sibling to college, and the next child is expected to do thesame. There is a succession of responsibility down to the youngest child. Most often unmarried children alsosend their nephews and nieces to school. Even grandparents help support the education of their grandchildrenespecially when their parents have more kids that they are incapable of sending to school.Villahanons love to celebrate birthdays, weddings, death anniversaries, and the feast of saints. I have nothingagainst our fondness for celebrations, lest I be misunderstood. But to us who are average income earners, itis wise to consider how we can refrain from lavish spending. Usually our savings for a number of days arespent just in one setting. Do you notice that our table is full of foods rich in cholesterol and carbohydrates likesuman, iraid, puto, kutsinta, latik and other delicacies like torta, decana, curioso etc. Due to the abundanceof seafood, and all kinds of carbohydrates, it’s not surprising why our people, young and old alike are sickwith hypertension, arthritis and diabetes. .Hospitality is a beautiful trait which we should cultivate, cherish and be proud of. We Villahanons are knownto be hospitable which makes us different from our neighboring towns. A cordial welcome, a simple meal anda warm bed are enough to make a visitor who has nowhere to go feel at home.Villahanons celebrate family reunions as well as rekindling friendships and fellowship. In these occasionslechon is the main menu. Whatever is the mode of the celebration, this serves as a catalyst of unity andharmony within the family and among Villahanons as well. For these, I love Villa and all it stands for. The Author is a retired elementary teacher who devoted the best part of her life in molding the youth of Villareal. Her zeal for touching lives has continued by way of showing the path to a good spiritual life through catholism. She is married to Bonifacio Amatosa, a retired employee of the Municipal Trial Court.10 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  11. 11. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 11
  12. 12. Villareal: The Land of My Birth (A Tribute) Quintina Gelera-Cabuenos For its rolling hills and verdant plains All through the years our food it sustains For its beautiful islands, rivers, beaches and streams Teeming with fishes, crabs, shells and shrimps. We also have lato and dahunan Seaweeds eaten best with rootcrops from the farm It abounds around the islands, beaches and palms. Best of all it can be told Villa has people with hearts of gold Hospitable, kind and respectful Extending helping hands to all who are in need To ease the sorrows and pains as much as they can give. Thank you Lord for your concern We praise You Lord, Holy be Your Name! Those who tasted failures and frustrations Behind them stand strong people of the town Holding hand to support them and share Troubles and sorrows because they care. If not for Villa, life wont be the same I wouldn’t surely reach the apex of my dreams And life today wouldn’t be free of troubles But because of Villa its contentment and leisure.12 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  13. 13. In my twilight years if you will ask me Where I will spend the rest of my days, No way, it’s still Villa I will prefer Sans riches and affluence it can claim But Villa has more to give than fame It offers an atmosphere of security Emotional stability and harmony with the Lord So I can proudly shout to say Villa is my home, a home sweet home, For here my heart is at rest.The author is a retired District Supervisor of Villareal and served as the First Lady of Villarealfor 20 years. She is an epitome of genuine service to people. She is married to Former MayorAugusto Cabueños, the longest serving Mayor of Villareal. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 13
  14. 14. 14 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  15. 15. Public Service, the Villahanon Way City Prosecutor Ruperto Bardaje Golong“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do,than by the ones you did do. So throw away the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbors,Catch the trade winds in your sails, Explore, dream, discover-” Mark TwainThese immortal lines from Mark Twain present a vivid picture of my life and ushered me towhere I am now. After graduating at the top of our class at the Leyte Normal School, now theLeyte Normal University, with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education(BSEED) in March 1971, I was invited to teach at the Sacred Heart School (EnglishDepartment) and stayed thereat for three (3) years. The following year I taught at the VillarealElementary School, particularly at Brgy. Lam-awan.After a year and a half of teaching in a barrio school, I reassessed my priorities and decidedon a new career-path. I moved back to Tacloban City and joined the Commission on PopulationRegional Office VIII under the leadership of Leo Rama, Regional Director, as Supply OfficerIV . While working at POPCOM, I decided to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.In June 1977, I enrolled at the Leyte Colleges, College of Law and completed a law degree,cum laude in March 1981. While studying to be a lawyer, I moved from POPCOM to theMinistry of Human Settlements as Project Officer II. After four years, I moved to the RegionalCommand 8, to take up a civilian employment as a Research Analyst. In November 1981, thesame year I graduated from the College of Law, I took the Bar Exam and fortunately passedit. Immediately after I took my oath as a lawyer, I opened a law office in Tacloban City with theDean Jose Cusi, Dean of the Leyte Colleges, College of Law as my partner. Law practicewas not that lucrative at the start so I accepted a teaching job at the Leyte Colleges, Collegeof Law where I was designated as Asst. Dean, College of Law.After the EDSA Revolution in 1986 the career service opened a lot of opportunities for lawyersin the country. Judges, Prosecutors and heads of government offices were asked to tendertheir courtesy resignations to pave the way for new appointees of the Aquino administration.I was among the first appointee as City Prosecutor of Ormoc City, an appointment madepossible through the efforts of Cirilo “Roy” Montejo, then Civil Service Commissioner andlater Congressman of the 1st District of Leyte. In September 1991, when the position of CityProsecutor of Tacloban was vacated with the promotion of City Prosecutor Francisco Aurillo Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 15
  16. 16. Jr. as Regional State Prosecutor, I was appointed City Prosecutor ofTacloban City, a position I hold up to the present.To prepare myself for other job opportunities both in government andthe private sector, I obtained a Master Degree in Public Managementat the University of the Philippines, Tacloban College and a Ph. D. inManagement at the International Academy of Management andEconomics (IAME) in Makati City.My modest accomplishment in government service is a product of Divineintervention, persistence, hard work, good public relations and a lot ofinspiration from my parents MR. & MRS. RUPERTO GOLONG, SR.,my ever loving wife MRS. Daniela Kempis Golong, my children, CarlJeffrey, Joanne (General Manager, SOMERSET Makati, an internationalchain of hotels) and Jason, my brother and sisters, my teachers,classmates at the Villareal Elementary School batch 1963 and at theHoly Name Academy High School batch 1967. Among my classmateswho did very well are Susan Latorre Belez, Tito N. Geli, Jose B.Romano and Carol Conise Mendiola- all successful entrepreneurs basedin Manila, Ramon Castillano, a trading mogul based at Villareal, Samar,Teddy Varela, a Senior Officer at GSIS, Manila, Oscar Mendoza aState Auditor assigned at the Post Office, Manila, Oscar Ricalde, aMall Supervisor based in Guam, Milagros Isaac, a businesswomanbased in the USA,Belen Enverzo Nagpacan, Corazon FabilaneGilbuena, Ofelia Geli de los Reyes, Letecia Golong Araza, all MasterTeachers of the Departmentof Education.I believe that whatever we have in this world are but fleeting fancies.But a good name will always stand the test of times. Allow me to shareone of the guideposts in my life, the words of the famous poet HoracioAlger:16 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  17. 17. If I Would Have My Name Endure, I’ll Write It In The Hearts of Men By Horacio Alger I write my name upon the sand, And trusted it would stand for age; But soon, alas, the refluent sea, Had washed my feeble lines away. I carved my name upon the wood And after years returned again, I missed the shadow of the tree, That stretched of old upon the plain. To solid marble next my name, I gave as perpetual trust; An earthquake sent it to its base, And now it lies overlaid with dust. All these have failed- In wiser mood I turn and ask myself,What then, if I would have my name endure, I’ll write it in the hearts of men. The author is Atty. Ruperto B. Golong, Jr., City Prosecutor of Tacloban City, a law professor, a management consultant and guest lecturer at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban College and Leyte Normal University. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 17
  18. 18. It was my home away from home, myinitiation to formal education. A nostalgic trip Golden Memories of My Schooldown memory lane, of wistful images of greatyears gone by – this is what it’s like to By Gertrudes Seludo Llarenas-Ragubremember my days at Villareal ElementarySchool.Considered the primary university of Villareal,it has produced many notable andsuccessful Villahanons. Its portals holdprecious and unforgettable memories thatremain in the hearts of its alumni. For theyoung Villahanons today who never had theprivilege of witnessing the glory days ofVillareal Elementary School, allow me toshare some fond recollections.The School’s physical structure was differentback then, for there were not a lot of buildings.There was the Azanza Building where mostintermediate grades were located, theGabaldon (concrete) Building, the HomeEconomics Building that housed a busyplayground at recess time, the ShopBuilding, the old building near the acacia treeand a makeshift PTA building. I still recallthat some classes were held in rentedprivate homes within the community to make mobilized to bring sand and gravel everyday when we come to school. There were even someup for the lack of classrooms. afternoons when, instead of cutting the grass in our assigned section in the wide school plaza, our entire school population was mobilized to gather sand and gravel. A minimumThe School’s main entrance was made of number of three trips to gather sand and gravel was required and trips beyond that quota wereconcrete and covered with climbing vines of rewarded with lavish praises or candy treats from our teachers.garlic-scented violet flowers. The pathwayfrom the main entrance to the Azanza Our favorite spot for getting sand and gravel was the seashore just across the old Holy Namebuilding was unpaved, and most of the Academy. There was a time when Apoy Ninay Nunez, the old lady guarding that part of theteachers were reluctant to wear their high- seashore, would drive us away. In fear, we would all scamper in various directions, sometimesheeled shoes for fear it might get stuck in even leaving behind our baskets full of sand and gravel. There was no pantalan(wharf) thatthe mud. To ease this problem, a pathway- time, and the only house closest to the seashore was the that of ‘Tay Benok Castillano. Thatcementing project was undertaken. We were part of the seashore then was the nearest beach resort of Villa. During high tide months,18 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  19. 19. to gather some firewood for roasting the pig. We knew that after the guests had eaten, ‘Nay Meming will surely spot us. True enough, she would almost always see us and invite us to have some of the leftovers. Villareal Elementary School had a wide plaza, which was usually used to host municipal and regional athletic meets. Preparations for hosting these meets would involve the whole school as well as the entire Villa community. In charge of the ground preparation was my father (Ponciano Dalwatan Llarenas) and ‘Tiyo Tonying (Antonino Varela, Sr.). Pupils were made to bring woven lara (coconut leaves) and bamboos to be made into temporary kitchens and bathrooms. Teachers were made to bring beds and beddings for the visiting delegations. Villahanons eagerly awaited these athletic events as delegations from Marabut, Basey 1, Basey 2, Sta. Rita and the host delegations from Villa compete in what was usually a weeklong sports extravaganza. The event would open with a grand parade followed by a welcome dance in the evening for the teachers and heads of delegation. The event was meant not only to showcase the athletic prowess of the competingespecially in May, young and old Villahanons would take a dip delegations, but also to feature their academic and artistic talents duringin the water to cool themselves off from the hot summer days. the Literary Musical Night.Announcement of early dismissals by the school principal never School operettas were held annually. Preparations start as early as Januaryceased to make us jump with joy! For the more adventurous and the directors and choreographers, ‘Nay Corazon (Corazon Dasmarinas-pupils, this spare time was used to pick some guavas in nearby Seludo and Mana Tados (Teodosia Geli-Figueroa), selected lead casts andKalubi-an, just behind the Azanza building; others would walk to all other participants. Some of these unforgettable operettas were Cinderella,Arado until they reach Manggarit, where there were more guavas Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast. The operettas were usuallyto harvest. The pupils who stayed behind, on the other hand, staged at the end of the school year and had become such a treat towould either play in the plaza or play jack stone using a marble Villahanons.ball in the shiny, cemented hallway of the concrete building. This was the Villareal Elementary School of my childhood years. So muchWhenever the school has guests, food preparations were done has changed since and many years have passed, yet the fond and goldenat the Home Economics Building by ‘Nay Meming (Clemencia memories linger, forever etched in my Villahanon heart and mind.Geli-Ricalde) and Tiya Choling (Melchora Dasmarinas-Realino).They would usually ask the help of some students, and the fourinseparables-Zabeth Gelera, Elma Garcia, Eve Garcia andmyself- were always hoping that Tiya Choling would choose tocall on us for help. Sadly, she always selected other pupils. The author is the daughter of the late Ponciano Dalwatan Llarenas andDisappointed but determined to help, the four of us would linger Socorro Dasmarinas Seludo-Llarenas. She was a former teacher at the Villareal Elementary School. She is married to a fellow Villahanon, Dr.around the Home Economics Building. It was during these times Quirino Agote Ragub and they are now happily settled in Ottawa,that Mano Cadio (Leocadio Figueroa) would see us and send us Canada with their two sons, Bap and GR. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 19
  20. 20. The Villa In My MindBy Maricon Gelera LatojaMention Villa and this image unfailingly comes to mind: theconcrete steps leading to the uphill area where the Church islocated. At the age of three (3), those steps were my “stairwayto heaven.” Climbing those steps was long, tiring and precarious,hence caution was necessary. A wrong slip and one could endup with a broken ankle or dislocated hip, worse, a head injury.So climb we did carefully. Little did I know then that those stepswould make for a great metaphor: climbing it is similar toovercoming the challenges that accompany the desire for asuccessful life in the city, and the concrete of which it is madeof is akin to the sense of attachment I will always have for Villa.I come from a generation of Villahanons who grew up for themost part in Manila – I breathed city air, fed on urban values andpaid the price to ride the vehicle of modern dreams. Like mostof my contemporaries, I carried the torch of hope my parentspassed on to me. I was raised on the conviction that educationis a passport to the good life, and that perseverance and honestwork could actually lead you to a life far greater than what Villacould ever offer. I went to private schools that cost far too muchthan what my parents were making in terms of income. But myNanay was adamant - to her, a good education was the only giftshe could give me to ensure my future. The pressure to do wellacademically became a measure of the potential to succeed,so my school age years revolved only around two areas: homeand school. Social interaction was limited to playing with friends,cousins and relatives who come over from Villa to spend a weekor two in our house.Life in the metropolis is probably too seductive to resist thatvery few bother to think about the costs involved – the dislocation,the adjustments, and all the expenses that go with trying tohave a life within the city’s modern standards. Manila life was20 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  21. 21. very fast paced, but our family adjusted to the urban sense of time. And in the process of imbibing urban values, some things that wereparticular to being a Villahanon began to erode. In my case, these were language and family ties. Because our family is Manila-based, the firstthing to slowly cave in was my facility with the Waray dialect. I grew up speaking mostly Tagalog at home, and English at school and at work.When I was young, Waray was spoken only by adults and was reserved for serious conversations. Although I can still perfectly understandWaray, I cannot write in it and my grasp of Waray words has diminished significantly through the years. I can still speak it (mostly just to myNanay) but not with the same level of comfort and confidence as I had when I was a kid. Now, I can only stare in wonder while Lola Eca (mygrandmother) and Ate Baby (my cousin) talk animatedly in Waray, complete with hand gestures, about the recent and juiciest topics involvingour Villa-based relatives. It’s like a movie that I could only watch but no longer be a part of.The other major change exacted by city living was the ties with close family members and relatives, which got looser as most of them wereherded to foreign lands. Economic and practical reasons had taken precedence over the need for proximity and family togetherness. Hence,my father chose New Jersey, Rodney chose Saudi Arabia, Regina chose United Arab Emirates, and other relatives chose either Norway,Canada or different parts of the United States. The irregular flow of emails, the infrequent rain of text messages, the once-in-a-blue-moon phonecalls and the ten-minute Internet-based chats have now replaced birthdays and other special occasions celebrated in their company.Despite these changes, my affinity with Villa stays strong. Like those concrete steps, it remains intact even if it may have been weathered bytime. I have been to a number of great places yet there are memories, texture and tastes, which are distinctly Villa. And I connect them all topersons close to my heart. I can tell from a plateful of samples which de caña, torta or moron is made by my Lola Eca. And there isabsolutely no one who can rival the way I cherish the memory of my Lolo Ladis – my maternal grandfather, my first teacher, my Superman.Like other Villahanons, I dream of a prosperous Villa. I dream of a Villareal that can show the rest of the Philippines so much more than theconcrete steps leading to the Church area – a place whose provincial road doesn’t turn into a swamp during the rainy months, a sensibly andefficiently governed municipality with rising household incomes, where trade is active and local industry activities are flourishing, a hometownwith infrastructures in place to make it a worthy tourist destination.I am a Villahanon. Like my contemporaries, I am part of the giant answer to the challenge of developing my hometown, of adding to the numberof concrete steps that will eventually and proudly put Villa on the Philippine map. I am a Villahanon and I will do my share in making Villa a placethat will proudly be ready for the next generation. The author is the eldest daughter of Francisco Bermejo Latoja and Elizabeth Brillante Gelera. She is an assistant professorial lecturer at De La Salle Unviersity Manila, and a research writer-editor at DLSU Angelo King Institute. She is the favorite grandchild of (the late) Ladislao Gelera and is set to inherit all the recipes of her grandmother, Veronica Gelera. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 21
  22. 22. Villahanons in the Landof the Midnight SunBy Ruben GerardoWe would never have left our hometown had it not been for the sake of pursuingour education. The search for greener pastures led us to a far away place. Weleft behind our loved ones, use up all our meager savings in the hope that a newcountry will give us something more – better lives than what the country wecame from can offer.And so goodbyes were said, tears shed, promises made, including the promise to never, never forgetour beloved hometown of Villa.But the Promised Land was not to be. We had to deal with a different language, culture, environmentand ways strange to the one we love and know by heart. We struggled hard to fit into a new culture,understand its nuances, and grow accustomed to the norms of its people.We searched for new friends and tried to win their respect. We struggled to establish ourselves and build new lives. As we adapted to the normsof our new country, we found ourselves in situations where we have to put our Filipino values aside.We charted our lives’ new directions. We got married and raised our children. The family responsibilities became our priority, and soon after, thepromises we kept to ourselves are but a memory away.For us who ended up in the land of the Vikings, in the land of the midnight sun, life has been more comfortable, treated as we were to the SocialDemocratic way of life that offers an equal distribution of wealth among its constituents. Migrants have equal rights to education and healthcare. Working condition is in accordance with the existing labour law. And hunger caused by poverty is unheard of.Scandinavia, particularly Norway, is a beautiful country. It boasts of spectacular fauna and flora, especially during summertime when trees aregreen and flowers are in full bloom. This is also where you could experience the midnight sun and the northern light (aurora borealis). Travellingup to the north of Norway is amazing with its splendid mountains and landscapes. The Norwegian coast with its famous pink salmon also offersmemorable summertime adventures. Autumn reflects the beauty of gold (autumn leaves), and winter makes this country a perfect area forskiing.22 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  23. 23. It is not simple to acquire a management position in a Norwegian company. First, you must be fluent in the Norwegian language, both writtenand spoken. Secondly, a University degree acquired in Asia is not recognized in Norway. One needs one or two years at the NorwegianUniversity to validate the acceptance of one’s education. It requires a lot of will and perseverance to attend night classes to learn the Norwegianlanguage amidst holding a daytime job.In the early 1970s, there were only a handful of Filipinos in Norway. They were Pampaguenos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs and the Visayans, representedmostly by the Villahanons. Most of the Filipinos worked as seafarers and nurses. The population, however, increased in the later years when thefamilies of early immigrants decided to move to Norway. By then, a Filipino association called Filipino Community in Norway was organised,funded by the Norwegian government to protect the rights and look after the welfare of Filipinos in Norway.Within a few years of existence of the Filipino Community in Norway, I was convinced to run for president of the organization. In spite beingconsidered a dark horse from the line-up, I won by a landslide. I was blessed to have been President for three consecutive terms. When I wasfirst elected, it was the time when issues of racial discrimination and mail-order-brides landed on the pages of Norwegian newspapers. Inresponse to these issues, we ratified the Constitution of the Filipino Community in Norway, authored by the late Romulo Gerardo. At present,I am actively engaged in defending human rights through the Filipino Resource Center in Oslo, Norway.A fellow Villahanon in Scandinavia who made his mark in Denmark is Jorge Abainza who became the President of the Filipino Association inDenmark. His sisters Luz and Amelia were active in PUGAD, (People Uniting and Generating Aid for Development); a Danish (NGO) non-governmental organization focused on helping third world countries. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 23
  24. 24. Filipinos in Scandinavia hold a good reputation as managers, entrepreneurs and workers. Some are employed managers and departmentheads of Norwegian firms while others were elected leaders of local labour union. • Mr. Tobias Varela Sr., a Villahanon, served as the Treasurer of The Filipino Community in Norway. • The late Romulo Gerardo, a Villahanon, was the founder of the first Filipino radio in Europe, the Radio Pinoy in Norway, partly funded by the local labour union. • Mrs. Juliana Uy Pedersen, a Villahanon, served a term as the President of the Filipino Adopted Sons and Daughters of Norway. She established the first Filipino Youth ClubHouse in Oslo, financed by the Norwegian local government. • Mr. Gerardo Ma. ‘Kin’ Gerardo (son of the late Romulo Gerardo) manages the Cosmopolite Jazz Club in Norway. • Mr. Roseller Gerardo and Mr. Ramses Gerardo are managing their own Automotive Tire business with Filipino employees.24 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  25. 25. • Mr. Paul Romano is assigned to Africa at the Norwegian Consular Office. • Mrs. Consuelo A. Gerardo is a Department Head at Rødtvet Sykehjem (Hospital for the Aged) in Oslo.Mrs. Ellie P. Gerardo is a Corporate Accountant at the Scandinavian Airlines Systems, Accounting Services Norway. Among the second generation with Villahanon roots, Ms. Meena Gerardo Vij (daughter of Rosalia Gerardo Vij) is serving as a Senior Project Manager at British Telecom in England. • Ms. Meera Gerardo Vij (also a daughter of Rosalia) is a British Barrister (Lawyer), worked at the main office of the European Union in Brussels and is now back in London working in a British Law Office. • Mr. John Lester Gerardo recently acquired his Masters Degree in Information Technology at the University in Oslo and was offered an employment at a Norwegian IT company as Project Supervisor. • Miss Miriam Catherine Gerardo earned her Bachelors Degree in Business Administration at the Oslo School of Management last year and decided to travel to South America (including Peru, Lima) before seeking employment.We have also senior citizens in Norway and among the Villahanons, Mr. & Mrs. Tobias Varela were the first to enjoy these rights. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 25
  26. 26. The Villahanon population in Norway is increasing with one hundred and fifty individuals with roots from Villareal. Most of them are the grandchildren and the great grand children of the late Regulo Gerardo and Mrs. Rosario Gerardo. Other families adding up to the increasing populationof Villahanons in Norway are the Varela’s, Pedersen’s, Abrigo’s, Geli’s and Aringay’s. In Denmark, the Abainza’s, Gerardo’s, Abrigo-Toustrup,and Gutierrez are the growing population among the Villahanons while Sweden has the Amistoso’s, Sacendoncillo’s , Abainza’s and Dasmarinas.Far from our hometown, we also celebrate our Fiesta Villahanon in Norway every last Saturday of August. Our venue is usually the beautifulNorwegian Woods, which reminds us of Manggarit or Losong where we would prepare our local lechon and dance the Curaccha throughout theday. This celebration is a testament of the love of Villahanons in Norway for our hometown and for our patron Saint St. Rosa of Lima.But behind these celebrations lurk our sadness, our longing and our dream to be in Villa once again and be a part of the struggle of theVillahanons’ for a better society. There is an ache in our hearts to give back and be of value to a community we will always belong to, inspite the distance. Our heart bleeds when lives of innocent people in Villa are put to waste, when their rights are thwarted, and when thereseems to be no hope for a better future for the generation. We feel sad to hear the agony of the farmers, fisher folks and schoolteachers in their difficulty to send their children to school. We are angered when the governmental infrastructure projects, which can contribute to the economic stability of our town and people, are purposely neglected. Yet we are hopeful. And as we, Villahanons from the Land of the Midnight Sun, return one day, we shall know and say that indeed we have come home and there is no other place better. Even if we fear that our great grandchildren, the new generation of Villahanon Vikings, might not have a connection with Villareal, we will always keep Villa in our hearts. We shall keep the promise we made. The author is one of the pioneers of the Coca-Cola Bottlers in Norway. He started as a Business Operations Analyst at Coca-Cola Beverages and moved on to being its Account Manager for Logistics at Coca-Cola Drikker A/S. He was later appointed Business Analyst for the Coca-Cola Nordic Beverages covering Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Baltic Countries. He now heads the Logistics Resource Corp. in Norway as its CEO.26 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  27. 27. Villa ~ Half a Century and More of Remembrances By Cesar Torres* The expression: “Everyone needs a hometown to love or to hate…” seems to apply to the Villahanons. I am not really sure where I got this. Perhaps, it was an original idea by Samar’s Poet Laureate, Aniceto Llaneta, a classmate in Samar High. When the late Postal Regional Director Andres Cabueños was Editor-in-Chief of “An Lamrag” and Secretary of the Province of Samar, Aniceto and some of our classmates would cut classes to listen to him as a convocation speaker in Catbalogan schools. Those were simple days when we were innocent. We love the written word and admire brainy people. Perhaps, Aniceto got the expression from somewhere else. But to me, the important thing is that this expression somehow captures the sentiments of the Villahanons with respect to their hometown, Villareal, Samar, the only town in the Philippines which has an endearing nickname, Villa. In some Villahanon souvenir publication honoring the Peruvian Saint, the Santa Rosa de Lima, I recall writing about the “dualism” inherent in that expression.”’To love or to hate…’ This is the moral dilemma of mankind. It symbolizes the synthesis of opposites. The dualism immanent in the universe – of beauty and ugliness, of purity and corruption, of heaven and earth.’ We love Villa! We hate Villa! We love Villa… It is like a mantra of the Hindu mystics. The emotional force of this contradiction seems to enchain us to Villa. The bond is stronger than steel.After all, it is forged with every drop of our blood, every beat of our hearts. Thus, even if we are in Singapore, Tokyo,Hongkong, Canada, Norway, or someplace in Europe, in America, in the Middle East, in Australia, Brunei, andother parts of the world, or sailing the high seas as lonely mariners, our thoughts are never far from our hometown. For some of us who are away from the homeland and whose lives seem to be trailing the sinking sunbeyond the western shores of Maqueda Bay, frequent are the times when our minds wonder to those bygonedays. Detailed clarity might be blurring but the general outlines are still lingering in our failing memories. A hometown is where the heart is. It is not necessarily the place where one first saw the light of day, likeme. I was born in Silanga, Catbalogan, Samar, a rich fishing ground many, many years ago. But it is in Villawhere my memories are rooted more intensely. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 27
  28. 28. What are some of these memories? Having been born in the Second World War, as a child, I saw Japanese soldiers in Sigad in full uniform carrying guns with their helmets adorned with twigs that had still green leaves on them. They appeared to be crouching, crawling, then lying flat on the grass with their guns pointed at something. I think there were three of them. Nadulhog kami from our farm in Lam-awan to the bongto, the poblacion, at that time. During the war and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, I think we stayed mostly in our farm in Lam-awan. But even there, I have vague memories of my grandfather, Apoy Amboy (Pablo Ranera), and my aunts and uncles, the entire family, climbing the hills breathing hard, almost gasping. They were escaping from something or someone. One time, we hurriedly went to a shelter hidden in a bamboo grove, mga kawayan, which were growing on both sides of the stream. No one would suspect that there was a shelterdeep in the heart of the kawayan grove. Of course, I did not know why those things were happening to us. But I remember, we would do thisevery time we would hear the frantic banging of the “talutang”, that bamboo instrument used to warn people that danger is imminent. It must have been “Liberation”. I remember there were so many people harvesting rice in our “hagna”. Suddenly the skies were filledwith airplanes, wave after wave after wave. Nobody told me why there were so many airplanes. We just looked up. I did not asked why therewere so many airplanes either. After that, in the early evenings we would sit on our individual “banko”, and face Southeast, and turn our gazebeyond the mountains of Lam-awan. We could see lights streaming in the distant skies beyond the mountains. I learned later that they weretracer bullets. This was during the Battle of Leyte Gulf when the Americans had returned to the Philippines. I have vague memories after that. But I think we went to Tacloban aboard some boats. I remember passing by “Bangon”, and suckingon raw eggs. And in San Juanico Straits nearing Tacloban, there were warships, where I could see naked white men taking showers on thedecks. I did not see an American soldier in Villa. But I remember all those delicious carne norte in long cans, courtesy of the American people.And the woolen blankets. Up to the time when I was in Samar High, we would still use those woolen American blankets, remnants of theAmerican return to Samar.My first day in Grade One, at least, the first early morning, is still clear in my mind. I think together with my aunts and uncles who were goingto school also, we hiked from Lama-awan to the poblacion. It was still dark when we arrived in the elementary school. We were made toassemble below that famous acacia tree where enkantados have been rumored to be in residence. There was community singing. I do notremember the song. My teacher in Grade One was probably the late Mana Anggay.28 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  29. 29. Thereafter, life was a blur. We constructed a house in Tayod. But we still maintained our house in the “Uma”, the farm in Lam-awan.The poblacion was a sleepy town where you can hear the chirping of the crickets, ngiya-ngiya, even at noontime, and the romantic singing ofthe Villahanons especially in the early evenings when they were drinking tuba, men and women. When you walk the grassy streets, you mightstep on dog poo and pig’s leavings – the most “kadiri” to me especially when it happens to you when the ground was wet after a rain – and whenyou go to the laguertas which were green with guava plants, you cannot miss the colorful and rotting waste of many Villahanons. I don’t knowhow many had toilets at that time. There were some of us from Tayod who would go down to Hawod to relieve ourselves. Doing this betweentwo big stones while gazing at the beauty of the starry night and conscious of the gentle swishing of the wavelets around you was almost amystical experience. Unsanitary? Oh yes! But we were one with nature, a process of recycling especially when the fish would gobble them upwhich we then would catch and broil. Aaaarrrrgh!!! We were already in Tayod when I first heard the sound of a motor vehicle in Villa. It must have been stuck in that Bayanihan road. I don’tknow if it arrived intact in the town. I recall also that we pupils in the elementary school had to bring one stone every day to the school, stoneswhich we then deposited on the Bayanihan Road. We would go to the farm to plant rice, corn, camote or bilanghoy or gaway or harvest them. We would go to the farm to get firewood.We would roam the hills and the meadows stupidly trying to kill the defenseless birds with our slingshots. During summer when there was nodrinking water, a group of us, boys and girls and our elders with long coconut tubes on our shoulders, we called them “salod”, would parade onthe trails via the Sigad, to get drinking water. We would have been a sight during moonlight nights, six, ten boys and girls with long bambootubes on their shoulders, marching on the trails one after the otherMy family had no money. But I did see American coins, leftovers of the American occupation. So if we had no viand, and we are sick and tiredof the salty hipon or shrimp paste of salted bahong, of kayod, and kisiyo, of bulad, we would troop to the seashore at low tide, during humbas,para mamangti, looking for seashells – sangpiyad, bukawel, karang karang, tikod hin daraga or just plain dahonan and lato. We would eatsangpiyad raw, we would get two of them, knock them on each other, and scoop out the sangpiyad flesh. One time, I stumbled on a binga. Itwas a happy day for my brother, Lope, and me and my family. Since many Villahanons were “cashless”, the adults would use their nets,sudsod, to catch fish, shrimps, crabs, crustaceans, and other Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 29
  30. 30. products of our sea. Having a tinola of sinudsuran is more delicious than the French“bouillabaisse”. For us youngsters, fishing, swimming, beachcombing, doing errands, going to church,to school, getting firewood, playing were integral parts of our lives. Our toys were wereorganic such as orokay which we used as tires when we were crafting cars and trucks.Except for the plastic heel of worn out shoes which we treasured for our games, our toyswere all biodegradable. We played sato. We would go around the town from Tayod to Rawisto Kan Pia Otot (Barangay Villarosa), hitting that small stick with a long one, while ouropponents would try to catch the short stick; and then running while holding our breaths.There was tatse, barobanyakay where we kicked bundled multicolored rubber bands,nirotigbasay during moonlight nights, rurumba (racing against each other whether in theschool plaza or in the town streets in the afternoons, Virgilio Latorre was unbeatable), tago-tago-ay (hide and seek, I like it very much when the girls would join us especially during darknights or even during moonlight nights provided there were dark nooks and hiding places). I think every Villahanon was a Roman Catholic at that time. So all Villahanons wentto the Church of the Santa Rosa de Lima religiously. We listened patiently to masses saidin Latin, which was of course weird because they were incomprehensible to us, even the“Ora Pronobis and the Pater Noster”. We confessed our sins and took communion. Then wesinned again, whatever they were. We studied cathecism in summer, especially in May. Iwas very good pupil. I even got a Pals Pomade as my reward. In May, we loved watching thegirls in their white uniforms with flower garlands around their dainty heads and their bluesashes around their slim waists. We vowed to marry the pretty ones by eloping with themwhile riding on a white horse to Paradise. At 6:00 o’clock in the evening, the towering kampanaryo would chime with the bells.The kampanaryo which was probably constructed out of the slave labor of the Villahanons,the towering kampanaryo which had a panoramic view of Maqueda Bay to safeguard CatholicVilla from the onslaughts of the Warriors who believe in Mohammed and the Sultanates ofSulu and Maguindanao. It was Angelus time. If we were on the streets, we would stop, makethe sign of the cross, and hurry up to home. At home, after our simple supper, we wouldwash the dishes. And then we would gather around the living room, perhaps the sala for thelikes of Mila Figueroa and Virgilio Latorre who were rich and had big houses. Since therewere no radios, no TVs, no computers, we would listen to our elders tell stories to us, part ofour oral tradition. Usually, the stories were about engkantos and aswangs. And then toprovide more drama and legitimacy to the aswang stories, something would fly overheadmaking the sound of “Wak, wak, wak, wak.” So we had no doubt whatsoever that indeedthere were Aswangs or Wakwaks.30 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  31. 31. During summer the cycle was the farm, the sea, picnics, marking the nests of the birds,playing with our kites, fetching drinking water with our salod, getting firewood from the farms sometimesfrom the mangroves in Pangpang, rising early and going to bed early too. During Christmas, there were panarits, Christmas Carols, and lantern contests. Even in thefarms, there were groups who would walk from one hill to another hill singing the panarits all night long.And on Christmas Day in the poblacion, the Child Jesus would be paraded around the town. A kiss anda ting-a-ling of the bells of the Sacristans would earn the Church P0.01. One centavo at that time couldstill buy you a butterball candy. There was some kind of a physical, cultural, economic, and political divide between Tayod andHawod. There were “warfares”, “invasions” among the young warriors of Tayod and Hawod. The weaponswere organic. Just bamboo guns with bullets carved from the roots of a tuber. There were haringas,water guns. Nobody died of course, like what is happening now between the soldiers and the NPAs andthe MILF and the MNLF and the Abu Sayyaff. The world has become more civilized and more advanced. Since there was no radio, no TV, no movies, and many could not afford to go to Catbalogan towatch a movie, entertainment for special occasions such as the fiesta in August, was through a“Komedya”. The rehearsals were done on a site near the building of the Holy Name Academy. Theusual theme was the classic confrontation between systems of belief represented by the Mujaheddinsof Saladin and the Knights of Richard the III and the Crusaders (perhaps the mysterious KnightsTemplar), a confrontation that goes back to Granada in 1492 and which continues to unfold today andcould sound the death knell of mankind. It seems this Villahanon Komedya was known far and wide.Visitors from the neighboring towns and as far away as Carigara in Leyte, would come in boatloads towatch the Villahanon Komedya, sell their wares, partake of humba and other delicious Villahanonpreparations for the fiesta, imbibed on tuba and whisper sweet nothings to Villahanon lasses. And theVillahanon swains would do the same to lovely lasses from such neighboring towns as Zumarraga. Thelate Villahanon educator and icon, Ninang Maring Romano, told me that there would be hundreds ofboats anchored from end to end on the Villa waterfont. The late Eduardo “Dadoy” Hilbano was a toweringfigure in this art form.While there was scarcity – having scrambled eggs seasoned with the fragrant sibuyen or having friedchicken were abnormal occurrences – there was also abundance. In August, the rice harvested in theprevious planting season could not last the whole year through. So families had to make do with duma,root crops, and corn, which seems to be the favorite of the Cebuanos. However, cooking corn grits withcoconut milk with a buraw barol embedded in the daba and then partaking of the combination is beyonddescription. We would close our eyes with the delicious preparation. And as a test how delicious thecombination was of corn, cooked in coconut milk and barol nga buraw, we had to gulp water from acoconut shell because we were thirsty (hinihibol). Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 31
  32. 32. There was abundance of camote, bilanghoy, saging, all sorts of saging you would not believe the variety of saging at that time, silot, pako, fresh air, tubo, bokawel, tuba, bulad, sisi, fruits, sweet, luscious fruits, pasayan, and fresh fish. Tabangongo was and still is a delicacy. Having tabangongo with bihud or mother bangus, bangrus, which were so fat and so cheap and hanananaw, a sting ray with white liver which was the main ingredient of binakhaw, can make you forget everything else, even your girl friends or boy friends, including your numerous “Good Fors” from Mana Sabel and Mana Leling. Crabs, oh boy. One time, there were so many crabs that you don’t need to use a net to capture them. They would swim to the surface of the sea, almost begging you to scoop them to your containers. Crabs, crabs, crabs, fat, tasty crabs with aligue. And there was sarad, and bahong. Lope, to earn some money, had become a proficient sarad diver. One time when I visited Villa from Catbalogan, I saw him selling sarad by the bucket. And surprise! His hair had become blonde, bleached by the interaction of the sea, the sun, the air, and the salt. Years later, when I had gone to Tawi Tawi, the Badjaos there would remind me of Lope. And here in America, the green-eyed, blonde, lily-skinned Caucasians would remind me of Lope and sarad. Indeed, Maqueda Bay and the Bay of Villa were so rich with the bounties of God and Nature. And the Villahanons, young or old did not flinch from hard work. The rainforest of Villa and Samar were majestic in their splendor. Almost pristine, primeval, untouched. You cast your gaze to the mountains, and the trees would be towering in the distance. Lope and I went to the jungles of Sibahay one time. There I climbed a fully grown Kamagong tree, a tree whose wood is ebony black, and now so rare. They say the Kamagong wood is harder than steel and is more precious than gold. And because the “web that sustains life” was perhaps still in perfect balance, in the late afternoons and the early evening, there were thousands and thousands of birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors flying from the hinterlands of Villa and Samar to roost in the islands off Villa such as Puro. One time, Pepito Varela, admittedly the most popular crooner of his generation, the late Jose Negado, and I borrowed a boat. We were on our way to Banquil, to serenade my classmate with whom the musician Jose Negado was “eyeing”. With a full moon lighting the entire Bay of Villa, we rowed towards Banquil. When we reached the sandbars separating Puro and Pacao, we had to get off from the boat and drag it over the sandbar. It was low tide. We rested after our exertions. And then Padé Joe took out his trumpet, blew on it, trying to accompany Pepito who was beginning to croon his Mario Lanza favorite of “Overhead the Moon is Beaming” inspired by the magic of the moonlight. It woke up all the birds resting in the trees of Puro. There was a cacophony of sound. We made the sign of the cross and stopped. Subdued and silent, we continued with our rowing to Banquil and came back to the bongto at 2 o’clock in the morning. I think the Protectors of the Birds punished us for disturbing their rest. Sablay (Padé Joe) did not marry the object of our harana in Banquil. Mana Petra was his destiny.32 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  33. 33. One summer, Lope and I were assigned by our uncle, Tay Dadoy Ranera, to takecare of a corn plantation in Tingara. For several weeks while the corn was growing, Lope andI, as soon as we would wake up in the morning, would put on our buri hats, strap thesundang to our waists, and hike as fast as we could to Tingara from our house in Tayod. Wehad to be there early to shoo away the birds who would feast on the sweet corn. One time,we arrived very early. While Lope was roasting corn ears, I climbed a nearby tree which wasladen with fruits. I was there, leaning on the tree trunk when green and white parrots, picoyand abucay alighted on the tree where I was hidden by the foliage. I think the birds musthave noticed me. But they were not bothered by my presence. They just went on eating thefruits of the tree. Those were halcyon days for us Our breakfast was roasted corn. Ourlunch was roasted corn and broiled fungus. Sometimes we had roasted wild bird, tikling.And we roamed the hills and the meadows and hobnobbed with the wildlife. I finished up to Grade Five in the Villareal Elementary School. Our poverty was nota hindrance to “the life of the mind”. The library was bursting with books. I would borrow oneand bring it to Lama-awan. There, I would read the colored books by the light of the kerosenelamp. Children will always play and dream. Dr. Jesus Reyes, “Esong”, and I were seatmatesin Grade Two . During recess we would discuss how Superman might go to Korea, fight theenemies of the American and the Filipino soldiers. The late Benedicto “Ubaw” Rapanan wasa very good friend too. We would go under the Gabaldon Building and try to catch thoseinsects burrowing on the sand and play with them. As a teacher, we believed the late TayAntonino Varela was a universal genius. He would teach us social studies, then music, andwas in charge of our plots which were planted with pichay. Of course, every Saturday, wewould visit our pichay plantation. One time, a classmate, Bernardita Gabrinao who onlyspoke the language of the Imperialistang Taga-ilog was on her way to their farm nearby. Wewere teasing Virigilio Latorre to Bernardita. In a fit of anger, Bernardita stepped on thepichay plot of Virgilio. To replant his pichay plantation, Virgilio had to borrow some seedlingsfrom the rest of us without our permission.The political bad blood among families in Villa was unavoidable even among us youngsters.This was apparent between the Latorres et al and the Gelis et al. I forget now what was theimmediate cause. But suddenly, here was the late Potenciano Geli and Virgilio Latorrefighting it out in that Gabaldon building. To even the odds, I think Poten got a piece ofbamboo, a gamon. I believe Virgilio’s eyebrow was cut. I remember blood was spurting fromhis face. Somehow, we must have been able to pacify the protagonists. I think years laterwhen the two had become wiser, they would remember that incident as some sort of a rite ofpassage to manhood. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 33
  34. 34. My Grade Five schooling was a watershed in my studies. Who was the most brilliant among us? Not Lydia Varela who was Salutatorianlater. Not Esong Reyes. Not Virgilio Latorre who became Valedictorian one year later. Not Poten Geli. Not Cesar Torres. If you ask us to vote,I think we would vote for Aring (Agripina) Varela. (She left Villa when we were young. But I saw Aring once in Tongao, Butuan when I was roamingPilipinas in the company of “lovely friends”. When Justice Eddie Nachura was just USEC of Education, I was always thinking of asking him tolook up the address of Aring. It never happened. But I have always this fond memories of a dear, brilliant, always cheerful classmate.) As I said, I continued my studies in Catbalogan in Grade Six. In my first year in Samar High in 1953, I was surprised to see VirgilioLatorre in our class. Madé Doding Conise (Gertrudes Conise-Ocaña) was another Villahanon in our class. We had become orphans. So Lope and I stayed with an uncle in Manila, Tay Beboy Ranera. While in Manila, we sold newspapers,magazines, and comics. We knew the Santa Ana, Paco, San Andres, Pandacan districts, including the shanty areas, like the palm of ourhands. After making the rounds, we would take our breakfast – a P0.05 bottle of Sarsaparilla, and I think two pieces of pan de coco worth P0.05.Elsa stayed with our Apoy Nanang (Juana Teves Hermida) in Villa. After months of trying to survive with dignity in Manila, our fortunes changed. My uncle, Bienvenido Torres was looking for me. Becauseour father was a soldier in World War II and was listed as missing in action we were finally given some compensation for his services and hislife. I went back to Catbalogan. I was still able to enroll in Samar High for the second year, but I was late by two periodical periods. But throughthe intercession of a kind woman, a science teacher in Samar High, Mrs. Engracia Garcia, I was admitted during the Third Departmental period.She is a mentor whose memory is deeply etched in my heart. Lope in the meantime, enrolled in Quezon City as Freshman. One time he hadno money for jeep fare. So he walked from his school to Pandacan where he was staying. A nice two-hour hike.In the Samar High, Lydia had joined us. With Virgilio, it became a reunion of sorts. In Samar High, I believe we Villahanons were blazing trailsalso. For instance, there was never any doubt that Virgilio would someday become Governor or Congressman of Samar. He was our studentpolitician par excellence. In fact, when we were just Third Year, he would have beaten Eddie Nachura for President of the Student Council if Iwas not Eddie’s candidate for Vice President. His charisma and self-confidence was undeniable. Well, God works in mysterious ways. Virgiliowas destined for other things such as being a top brass in the regional administrative system but with the risk of his pants being burned. Withher brief stay with us in Samar High, the beautiful Lydia was a member of the high school social elite. I was in Samar High when I had my first real job, supposedly with a wage. It was a government job. Ever the kindest person that he hasalways been (one time in Tacloban, when Mano Alding Oreo and I were going to Villa to campaign for a congressional candidate, he gave mehis last P0.10 centavos), Virgilio gave me three days of the five days he was allotted in the road work by his uncle Mayor Fidencio Latorre —cleaning and maintaining that now famous Bayanihan Road of shrubs and debris that were littering the road. For three days in summer, I wouldwake up early in the morning. Bring bahaw and fried usu-os as my balon. strap the scabbard of the sundang to my waist, put on a buri hat, walkto a place somewhere beyond Igot and do our work. I forgot now who were my fellow laborers. But I really worked hard because even at thattime I believe that it was the people of the Philippines who were paying us for our work. And I did not want to cheat on them. I waited and waited for my wage of my three days of hard work. I never got it. Not even Virgilio could tell me what happened to my wageor if he got it in his name or someone got the money and pocketed it. This was my first official encounter with my Government.34 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  35. 35. During summers in high school, I would go to Villa. We had our barkada. We would meet periodically in the imburnals especiallyduring moonlight nights. We would debate, trying to impress each other with our facility of English, serenade the girls, engaged in theoccasional irignom and picnics on weekends. Since we were teenagers valiantly trying to impress the girls, we would wear bakya, woodenclogs, all over the town. The Japanese had not yet discovered the manufacturing of those rubber sandals which pollute the environment. We graduated from high school in 1957. There were no graduation parties and rejoicing. Ramon Magsaysay, the CIA-backed Presidentof the Philippines, had died in a plane crash in Cebu. After our commencement rites, I went to Villa, as an onlooker of the graduation in WestCoast Academy. While there, we were looking towards Catbalogan which was burning to the ground right at that very moment. Surprisingly, Iwas not worried; perhaps because I had few personal belongings in Catbalogan. Sometimes, it is nice to be poor.I ended in the University of the Philippines. While in Manila, we Villahanon students obviously gravitated to each other — Budick Yu, Vincentand Nonong Figueroa, Ubaw Rapanan, Ising Endrina, Nanding Hilbano, Lydia and Raul Varela, Edith Latoja, the lovely Evelyn Latoja, Liit andBing Tizon, Gingging Dasmariñas who was our junior, the Seludos (Maruja, Douglas and their siblings) Gironedes “Neding” Gelera, later onAndrew Varela, then Pacit Varela, Felisa Tandinco, Baby Godo Gelera who was not a drunkard like us, Titing Gelera Latorre who was more ofa Guiuananon than a Villahanon, and some others, and of course Lope. We became the core of the “Villareal Youth Club of Manila”, VYCM. Iwas its President. I think we helped in celebrating the fiesta in Manila. But we did have some meetings. I remember quarreling with CaridadPaco over some inconsequential issue. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 35
  36. 36. But our VYCM was nothing compared to the trailblazing achievements of the Villahanon Association of Metro Manila. They have shownthe way. I just hope they do not get waylaid by the wayside, groping in the dark recesses of pride and lack of humility. When I would drop out from the U.P. I would end up in Villa bothering Mikolo “Kalig”.Miguel Presnilla. He was already a teacher at thattime. And of course, he was a very popular and sought after teacher. Very romantic, great with his fingers, especially when he was strummingthe guitar and using those slender fingers for all activities. God, created him that way. So I would go with him to Bangon, to Plaridel. There Iwould help in the Pintakasi, repairing a school building among others. I would go with the Ugdok (eel) catchers. One time, Batá Pepe Moraborwho motored to Bangon to sell some fish, labas, wanted to take me back to Villa, worried that the tagnok would eat me out. Then from Plaridel,we would walk the mountain trails to San Andres and visit Araceli Abainza, Gloria Latoja, and the other lady teachers in San Andres. From SanAndres, we would hike to San Roque. We even went to Bino-ongan and Santa Rosa and gobbled up Libook. We had no money to buycigarettes. So we roasted tobacco, crumpled the tobacco leaves and rolled them in paper to make a tigol. I would go back to Manila after a stint of serenading the Villahanon teachers in the barrios and picking up, sagol, choice fishes for kinilaw from the tables of Mana Payang and scribbling all those innumerable “Good Fors” some of which are still probably outstanding. And with the inspiration and prodding of Lydia who had come back from America, I had to finish my studies, especially when Mara and Alexander were already around. But our house in Project 2 in Quezon City and Sampaloc were still veritable half-way houses for Villahanons who had no place to stay in Manila. To finish my studies, there were times when I would not go home once I knew that there was drinking going on in the house. After all Lope and Nanding Hilbano, Nanding who was the best curacha dancer I have ever seen in Manila, were still the drinking buddies of most Villahanons, including the new members of the Lepanto Boys, Mano Ramon Hilvano, the late Padé Prudy Geli who entrusted to me her daughter Dada, and the late Tiboy Latorre, who was so hard to control when he was drunk. Sometimes we would hold him by his hands, and his feet and dump him on a taxi and bring him home. In the Villareal community in Metro Manila, we would still see each other especially during the celebration of the Feast of the Santa Rosa de Lima.36 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  37. 37. Compared to other Samarnon groups in Metro Manila who would celebrate their fiestas in elegant surroundings such as the ManilaHotel, where only the elite and those with money could savor the grace and ambiance of a Catholic and Christian tradition devoted to God andHis Saints, in contrast, the Villahanons, at least when I was still there, would reach out to everyone. Nobody would be turned away, even thosewho were definitely gatecrashers and freeloaders. Precisely, as a response to our Catholicism and graciousness, celebrating the Feast of theSanta Rosa in Metro Manila was characterized by popular and grassroots responsibility. From a single hermano or hermana during its earlyyears, now there are so many of them and they all come from all over the world especially from Norway, whose trailblazer was Rosalia Gerardo.I think she was the first Filipina and Villahanon in Norway and Europe. After saying “No” to the beckoning of America in 1983, with a heavy heart, uncertain what the future would bring, I decided to try myluck in this land of milk and honey, the former colonial master of our people, the most powerful and richest country in the world. With $10 that I borrowed from Fe in my pocket I boarded the Northwest Jumbo Jet to San Francisco in November 1985. Except for ex-DAP Executive Vice President, Dr. Segundo Romero, Jr. I did not tell anyone in the UP that I was leaving. When I told my staff in Ayala that Iwas leaving in the afternoon on that very day, there was lamentation. Mara and Alexander followed, arriving in the University Town of Berkeleyon December 24, 1985. It was a very humbling and frustrating experience in San Francisco during the early months of our arrival. Only Lydia was working.Despite my qualifications, I could not find a job. We were helped by very kind Calbiganons, Ester Ocenada-Benigno and her cousins, and aBasaynon whose name we have forgotten but whose kindness is forever engraved in our hearts. Finally, when we had the time and theresources, we gravitated to our kind. First to the Calbiganons, because Lydia is half-Calbiganon. Theirs was the first fiesta we attended inAmerica. Then the Catbaloganons, after all I was born in Silanga. Then the Villahanons whose leaders and concentration were in Los Angeles.But several years would pass before we could go to Los Angeles. As a symbol of our solidarity and unity with all Villahanons all over the world,we never succumbed to the siren song of forming our own Villahanon association in San Francisco, especially if the only purpose was just tocelebrate the fiesta. We thought we should organize a pilgrimage to Lima, Peru and devote whatever resources we could spare to helping ourhometown, instead of focusing so much on our fiesta celebration here in America. For us, therefore, there was only one community of Villahanons all over the world. We referred to ourselves as “The VillahanonsInternational” which include Esdras, Inday, and Ponso Romano in Northern California, Ruben Gerardo and other Villahanons in Norway,Quirino Ragub and his beloved Tunding who has a penchant for burning pants of his beloved cousin, Nora Colles-Chawla, Ada Quijano-Reyes,Soledad Agote in Canada, Nora and other Royandoyans, the Hilvanos (the late Godfather of the Villahanons, Mano Sotero Hilvano, sons Victorand wife, Doctor Mansueta and Angelito), Gery Hilvano in Las Vegas, and their cousins, who spell their names differently, the Hilbanos, inSouthern California and Las Vegas, (Mano Joe, Belen), Mana Bangbang and Ate Grace Arcallana, the Ricaldes (Mana Oswalda and the late Fr.Nick), the admirable couple, Dina Seludo and Frank Bunuan, Clarito and Mana Mila Seludo, Mana Juling Gabompa who has a lovely house ontop of a hill in Northern California, the Seludos-Tabungars, Caridad Paco, Mana Cordying Daluraya, Suki, Tening, and Zenaida Ygat in California,the Varelas in the Midwest, Lotlot Fallorina, Mana Nina Latorre-Ras and lovely daughter, Bingbing, Dave Yu, the finance whizz who waited 8hours to be picked up at the San Francisco Airport, Aida Geli, Rufino and Jimmy Obregon, Ralph Brillante who has severed his relationship withVillahanons in California, Mana Lily Fabilane and brother, Isidro, and Mana Ruthie Dougherty whom we visited regular and now we do not seeanymore, Gina Cabueños and Dennis Blanco, Joanna Aboga and her gracious American husband, Bob Foster, our ever reliable, classmateMinda Geli, Godofredo “Baby” Gelera, one of the pioneer Villahanons in California, Padre Pepe Garcia in Canada, and the family of Judith Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 37
  38. 38. Presnilla in Sacramento, and many others more. There are now so many of us, Villahanons in Diaspora, we need a huge database. For thoseI cannot remember, please forgive me. The next Villahanon historians will rectify our lapses. In America, we tried to combine our religious piety with civic works for our hometown, little things for our church, the schools (books andscholars for the Holy Name Academy), innovative arrangements such as “The Paolo Lean Torres Pimentel Partners in Learning”, a collaborationwith the Cambaguio and the Central Elementary Schools), the community, such as the Stairway to Heaven of The Clan led by Vincent Figueroa,supporting the publication of the pioneering “Budyong Han Villa”, which was staffed by Villahanon writers and poets and printed by using amimeograph machine, and organizing the Omawas Foundation which unhappily resulted in the unnecessary and tragic death of two belovedcommunity leaders, Mano Joe and Mana Nitnit Dalwatan and Elma Figueroa’s suffering. But for the courage and bravery of Mila Figueroa, oneof the most respected leaders of our community who chose to stay in Villa to serve our people, instead of staying in America as a highly paidFlorence Nigtingale, many more would have lost their lives. All for nothing. We need to honor Mano Joe and Mana Nitnit, mga Baraan ngaSusgaran han Bongto. We remember with fondness the late Epifanio Nuñez. Together with his wife, Flor Marasigan, they mobilized the Villahanons inCalifornia on helping our church. We have that aborted Kamorayaw Cemetery Project of the Villahanons International, of course. The souls ofthe dead Villahanons are wailing in the nether world because of a promise that remains unfulfilled. But the dream is there. Kun diri kita, itonsunod nga henerasyon. Kun diri yana, iton sunod nga panahon. There were profound changes among Villahanons too. For once a Villahanon Parish Priest, Fr. Jun Cinco, could hobnob with his flockin America, not just in Villa and Metro Manila. Through the very illustrious and eminent Archbishop Jose Palma, Villahanon priests could visitus in San Francisco and other parts of America. As fate would have it, a Villahanon, Marivel Sacendoncillo, could exercise some authority and influence to send local governmentexecutives, such as Mayor Renato “Boy” Latorre, (and sister Calbiga Mayor, Luzviminda “Bebot” Latorre) to train in Canada. Before this, ourmayors could only travel to Lamingao, to Catbaloganon, to Tacloban and to Manila on official business with some relaxation in some nightspots. After all, it was so tiring and tedious following up official business in the bureaucratic bowels of the Philippine Administrative System,especially if one has a hangover. The singular importance of our democratic social structure and its concomitant egalitarianism — we do not distinguish ourselves fromeach other whether tuminongnong or a timawa or whether Manila-born or fresh from San Francisco, New York, Canada, or Norway or fromInasudlan, San Andres or Himyangan — separates us from other groups. There is also that oneness with everyone which somehow culminatesin the hermandad and celebration of the fiesta in Metro Manila where one is deemed not to have fully complied with the unwritten initiation ofbeing a Villahanon if one has not yet become a sponsor of the Santa Rosa fiesta. Finally, there is our characteristic as thinkers, visionaries, anddreamers. Sometimes, like the eloquent Fr. Rudy Romano or the Calubids, and others, we pay with our lives. All these and other factors provideus with a dynamic community of Villahahons linked to each other all over the world.38 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul
  39. 39. With the advent of the Internet, many diasporic Villahanons have become closer to each other. We communicate in the World WideWeb with a flick of a “computer mouse”. Aside from long distance calls, there is cell phone texting, Yahoo Messenger, Web Cameras, and themost popular of all, electronic mail. Our brilliant municipal consultant and local government planner, Armando “Boy” Ridao transmits hugecomputer files from the municipio to me in California, files which contain the comprehensive development plan of the town under the leadershipof Mayor Reynato “Boy” Latorre and his fellow municipal officials. I chat on real time with Jim Gabree, the Amerian husband of Marjorie Hilvanoin Guintarcan, through a computer which is connected to the Internet through “satellite broadband”which does not need land-based telephoneconnections. I used to chat with my godchild, Jeanette Presnilla, in Tacloban while I was in San Francisco. Indeed, our familiarity with theInternet makes us tower above many other groups all over the Philippines. As of last count, for instance, we have three websites and electronicdiscussion groups. Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul 39
  40. 40. The foregoing, together with other factors, combined to develop a synergy, a confluence of events and circumstances, making us amodel all over the Philippines and the Third World. When we took on this mind-boggling collaborative project to repair and cement this 8-kmpublic road through Tiklos or Bayanihan, a project that has never been done voluntarily in the history of the Philippines, a project that involvesmassive use of the Internet, a project where even our school children are helping, we showed the world that poor as we are, we can hold ourheads high with dignity. The corrupt and the nincompoops do not dangle us by their dirty little fingers anymore. Of course, we Villahanons are not angels. I once stumbled on Ruben Gerardo’s “Villahanon Forum”, a discussion medium in theInternet. I could not believe at the lack of principles, the cowardice, the unkindness, and the quality of the exchanges. I could not discern anygraciousness and humility. People would just fling accusations left and right without any evidence. They hide under aliases. It is dishearteningto realize that the kind and noble intentions of Ruben’s Villahanon Forum has been hijacked and mutilated by unprincipled individuals. It ispractically reeking with unimaginable evil. We will self-destruct if we don’t wake up from our psychosis. Hurling accusations while hiding under aliases and fictitious names aresymptomatic of a sick society, a society of political, cultural, and civic misfits. We have to wrench ourselves from the old ways of doing things.We cannot continue to be hating each other without letup. We will explode with our unflinching hatred at our fellow Villahanons. It is critical that we transcend our myopic and tongao-like perceptions of our roles in our municipality, in how we confront the challengesfacing Villa, the entire Philippine society, and the world. Our almost deliberate inability to do this is what makes unlovable. Even then, we continue with our mantra: “We love Villa! We hate Villa! We love Villa….” And if we are believers in the Peruvian Saint,Santa Rosa de Lima, and all the other saints whose sainthoods are being celebrated by all Villahanons in our 38 barangays and by theirassociations in Metro Manila, there is no doubt that love will triumph, that good will vanquish evil and hatred. I end this labor of love with some lines from the Ecclesiastes: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak, A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” And from Desiderata: “Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”Editor’s Note: When I requested Mano Cesar to contribute an article, I was thinking that busy as he is, he would only come out with a one-pageor two-page piece that he can finish in one setting. When he called me and asked how long his article might be, I told him that it should be 5to 6 pages. I was wondering what was taking him so long. It turned out that he has decided to write about the Villahanons covering a period40 Windows to the Villahanon’s Soul

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