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I Live in Batasan

Saturday, November 17, 2007 I live in Batasan

I was busy with my computer when I heard this Batasan blast flashed as it happened several days ago in Ch-2. My TV is the most abused thing in the house. It is usually on from dawn till late night even when nobody is there. I don’t remember the time that this habit started. I used to complain about wasted energy and about saving on electricity bills. I also used to turn it off when I saw nobody was watching. I was wrong every time because somebody was always there somewhere yelling that he or she was watching! Damn! Why do people always say watching when they mean listening!

My TV is a few meters behind to my right. Swiveling about 90 degrees, and turning my head a little bit, I could see what’s in it. The blast must have happened just a little while as evacuation of the wounded was in progress live. Batasan complex is all-time covered by media especially when Congress is in session.

I thought it weird that I did not hear the actual bang that caused the damage extended that I was seeing in my screen. It must have been the noise in my place as the night was young or the noise of the TV. I remember the days when I had hard time sleeping at night when congress was in session and the loud-speaker(s) was busy paging drivers of congressmen. I don’t know if they still do that or maybe they have toned the speakers down. I realized I have not heard those speakers for a long time now. Maybe times have changed.

I live in Payatas, in the part that is within the 450-hectare National Government Center or NGC. I moved in, in 1984. Home is less than half a mile from the Batasan complex. I discovered the place way back in 83. Payatas was sprawling grassland with few squatters at that time. The Valderama brothers [kompareng Adam, Joe and Nene] had found the place first.  It was them who showed me in. Ilonggo viajeros found the place good for resting and to cord fighting cocks brought from Negros to be sold in Metro Manila. That’s what the Valderama brothers, fellow Binalbaganon, were. I suddenly liked the place. It was what I needed for my chickens!

When I first came to the place, I used to say that I live in Payatas. But most often conversations went like these: “Which part?”… “In area A.”… “Where is that?”… “Near Batasan”. Brgy Payatas stretches to Montalban, Rizal, from Batasan. Now, I use to say that I live in Batasan and they go like these: “Which part?”… “Payatas”. And that usually ends it. Batasan complex is bounded by Brgy Commonwealth, Brgy Batasan Hills and Brgy Payatas.]

I lived in Marikina when I migrated from Negros in 1982. The place was called Cinco Hermanos subdivision, today known as Montevista. The place is next to Altavista where someone, married to a Tuazon-Arroyo, later became a Senator, a Vice President, and then President of the Philippines, named Gloria Arroyo,  used to live.

In Cinco Hermanos, I used to see Christopher de Leon and Edgar Mortiz playing basketball there. Nora Aunor, Leo Martinez and Vic Vargas lived in there, and also Charo Santos, if I remember all them right. One of the neighbors was Bayani Fernando before he became mayor of Marikina and then MMDA chief today.

No, I did not own the house. I lived with my parents who resided there. I bred game fowls in the place: Democrat-Hatch and Kelso from relatives in Guam, and a Blueface-Hatch hen given me by Kompareng Joel Miranda. I had too much of them by one brood and four hens after a year. Their noise made our neighbors sick! They never complained but I knew it!

Monday, November 19, 2007 Bombing was inside Job

The assumption by Police investigators that the bombing was an insider job is probably nearest to the truth.

It’s not a few times that I’ve been in there. It is the nearest Post office from home. I’ve been there on many other matters. I’d been to the office of congressman Apolinario ‘Jun’ Lozada in the North wing twice, missing him on both occasions. (We used to be schoolmates in Cebu, he was a junior while I was freshman in Talisay, which was before BCCHS.)

I’d been to the office of Congressman Iggy Arroyo once, also missing him. ( He is of Binalbagan in case people don’t know , kasimanwa naton nga iban na guid subong, but I don’t think I have business with his office or him. No acquaintance as they grew up somewhere else.)

Interim Batasan Pambansa during the time of President Marcos

I remember the place had no fortification not even fences. The place was sort of a playground or a park. Nice place for bikes and for flying kites. There were two driveways, one facing Filinvest or Brgy Batasan Hills and another facing MSSD and Brgy Payatas like we see them today. Each had small sentry post placed at them. Guards on posts used to be unmindful of people and vehicles going in and out. Who would in a place that was so unsecured!

At the posts people would stop by as formality, or to ask for direction into the Batasan, or maybe checked by guards at random. Going inside the buildings were different. Guards were posted at every entrance and at there they were more scrutinizing. Philippine marines had a barrack in the sprawling complex.

I used to make phone calls in the place in those days. Outside North wing was a telephone, nearest one from home, that anybody had used for free. Not many people made calls in those days, so most often I had the telephone to use for hours had I wanted to.

Time has changed. It was in the time of Ms Cory Aquino that construction of walls were started. I remember I went there and talked some masons and carpenters constructing them if they would care to go with me to EPZA, Rosario, Cavite, where I was working as construction foreman as I needed more hands.

Since the walls, nobody casual, man or vehicle, goes in there without being looked over, identifications and purposes included, by guards at the entrances of the Batasan complex…

Sunday, December 02, 2007 Where Was Everyone After BCCHS?

I’m sure Batch would be interested where I’d been and what I’ve been doing after BCCHS. I’ll go back since migrating to Metro Manila.

Before migrating to Marikina, I used to manage pigs. No, I don’t mean careless, insensible, selfish, gluttons, stinking, dirty, chauvinists, racists, fascists or what. I mean swine. No, I mean four-footed hoofed mammals as in pork, bacon, pork chop or ham.

I was Pig Farm manager. The farm was called San Jose Farms owned by the Gomezes in La Castellana. The farm, like everywhere else, was then bankrupt because of the sugar collapse. I saw Butchoy Gomez in there, a huge fat fellow, kingpin of the Gomez family. I had the impression of him as a very sad, broken hearten man. San Jose Farms was then under PNB Trust and was down to P5 million debts, no small amount in those days, from the P2 million when it was first given up for trust. He was not my boss.

Kompareng Joel G. Miranda had recommended me to (Jose?) Pepito Gomez, son of one-time Governor Bepoy Gomez, and one favorite nephew of Butchoy. Pare Joel is inter-related to them [to include the Ferias, Montillas and the Arroyos (?) of La Castellana- Isabela- Binalbagan] through his mama whose family name happened to be Granada.

The pig farm section was a howling vast complex on a 10-hectare lot set aside of the sugar plantation. The Piggery, at 10-thousand heads capacity, I understand, was the biggest of its time, which was before Robina, Monterey, San Migs, or the likes today. At 100-sow level operation, I felt we occupied less of a tenth of the farm’s facilities. Boss Pepito borrowed the farm from his uncle. We shared his dreams of restoring the Piggery to its glorious past and perhaps to make it greater.

I believe the place was the best. The hacienda had its own hydro electric power plant that supplied every home in the hacienda. It powered our feed mills aside from a commercial ice plant owned and operated by the hacienda. Also, crystal clear, cool, mineral water came uninterrupted via gravity-fed 3-inch pipes laid from the springs of Mt. Canlaon. Water must have come from a great height as pressure on my head during showers was great. I had them letting go 24 hours a day in every pen so we did not stink. And we did not use pressurized pumps to blast-clean the sties. I learned a lot in there. Never was a boring moment in the place.

Everyone in our family had left Negros at that time- Leyte, Metro Manila, Guam, except me. Everyone was unanimous and strong on wanting me out, too. Sad, but I had to say goodbye to boss Pito in the end.

I came to work in a place called Dowell Containers and Packaging Manufacturing Corp, next to EEI and across Philippine Blooming Mills by the Pasig River, while in Marikina. I owe that one to kasimanwa and next door neighbor in Binalbagan, Syoto Co. Who has forgotten the smart businessman but poor gambler of Binalbagan! Papa Luis and him were like father and son. I heard he is making good in restaurant and food catering somewhere in Mandaluyong today.

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