Archive for the ‘Masbateno’ Category

The Calm Before The Storm: A UP Ibalon Saga

December 1, 2008

by Mighty Baylon


I always fancied UP students to be bright. And as bright persons I thought they will be able to sift truth from facts. After all, UP was strong in empirical research.

I was hoping the queer incident I mentioned in my last article [“One Stormy Night In August 1995: A UP Ibalon Saga”, 12/01/08] will blow away after the contentious UP Student Council election. I thought that with the founders and senior members still around and being UP students they will not be brazen enough to change UP Ibalon’s history while we are still alive (but later it turned out that I was wrong in this).

It is with hope that I reminisced that though UP Paglaom was torn asunder by the CONCOMSA (Consultative Committee on Student Affairs, a predecessor organization before the full-pledged restoration of the UP Student Council) elections in 1974, it survived in the form of UP Ibalon [See my article, “The Formation And Legacy Of UP Ibalon: A Testimony”, 11/14/08]. And UP Ibalon lived to be the organization and home of the Bicolanos in UP Diliman and this is Ibalon’s legacy.

There were no other recognized UP Bicolano organizations at that time except for UP Lawod, the organization of students coming from Masbate [See my article, “A Multitude Of Bicolano Organizations In UP Diliman: The Present Problem And The Lessons Of The Past”, 11/15/08], which I didn’t really mind because Masbateno is considered a separate language and only a minority speaks Bicol in Masbate. But my initial impression of UP Ibalon is it is a small and troubled organization (a membership roll of 23 and with debts to pay). With a UP Diliman Bicolano population estimated to be 700 I can surmise that the situation is volatile.

We were asked by the President of UP Ibalon, Gerlin Catangui, to help in their upcoming traditional high school students’ contest, the Padunungan, which will be held in Legazpi City during the semestral break. It was Gerlin’s wish that the project earn enough so that all UP Ibalon debts will be paid and all unpublished souvenir programs of the previous years will be printed and distributed. She feels it was the shame of UP Ibalon that it cannot live to its commitment and promise to the donors and sponsors.

Flushed with the success of the premier of the movie “Congo”, I tapped my UPIAA Treasurer, Dan Daz, to help them out and teach them how to launch projects with enough sponsorship. Through Dan, UP Ibalon was able to tap former sponsors in “Congo”. We also tapped and the Ibalon alumni in Albay was enthusiastic in helping them on other logistical concerns. In my recollection of the project, the Ibalon couple Kulas and Lea Sala, Mac Pavia, Dean Jun Perdigon and the late George Evangelio comes to mind as the most active of its supporters.

The project achieved its highest goal and UP Ibalon’s debts were paid and all the souvenir program backlogs were erased. I thought it would usher a new era of mutually beneficial cooperation between the resident and alumni organizations of UP Ibalon. In my analysis of the “Congo” premiere, it was obvious that the UPIAA (UP Ibalon alumni Association) needs the warm bodies the UP Ibalon can provide and UPIAA can help the resident organization in a lot of ways.

It is thus with hope and enthusiasm that the resident and alumni organizations jointly prepared for the December 1, 1995 anniversary celebrations.

But illusions were soon shattered and this just turned out to be the proverbial calm before the storm.

Dimasalang, Masbate: A Place of Sextilingual People

November 5, 2008


Dimasalang, Masbate, a normally laid-back, rustic but usually obscure place is in the headlines lately because of the recent ferry sinking claiming the lives of at least 40 people including many children.  Ironic that quiet, obscure places are suddenly put into national attention not because of some achievement but because of some big tragedy or calamity that visits them.  This is what happened to San Fernando, Romblon which suddenly became world-famous because of the ‘Princess of the Stars’ sinking.  Gaining notoriety their natural characteristics and charms are sometimes just put to the shadows.

Dimasalang is the center of the 3rd congressional district of Masbate which comprises the eastern portion of Masbate island. The sunk ferry, the ‘Don Dexter Cathlyn’  which is actually a wooden motor launch or motor boat is the town’s service to their alternate commercial center which is Bulan, Sorsogon.   It usually leaves Dimasalang at 1pm arriving in Bulan after nearly 4 hours of travel.  It leaves Dimasalang at 8pm the next day.  Like most motor boats in remote inter-island corners, it serves not just  people but also cargo like a truck or bus of the inter-island seas.

In Dimasalang like most towns of the 3rd district of Masbate, it is not unusual for one to ask a question in the Waray tongue and get answered in Bicol or Cebuano or Masbateno.  All four are considered languages in their own right.  The four tongues has a high degree of mutual intelligibility because it all belongs to the Bisayan group of languages.  Given the fact that most Filipinos speak English and Tagalog/Pilipino, many people in this corner of the Philippines are actually sextilingual (speaking six languages).  But for people here that travel to western Masbate, it is probable that they even speak a seventh language, Hiligaynon, the lengua franca of that place.

Maybe, of all places in the Philippines this little corner of Masbate is the greatest melting pot of Philippine languages.  And all because of sea lanes served by quaint, little launches the size of yatchs.  This place aside from its connection to Bicol has connections to the nearby islands.  Go to Cataingan and a daily motor boat is available for Calbayog City, (Western) Samar.  Move over to Placer or Cawayan and several motor boats ply the Cebu route daily.  Go to the town of Milagros and a daily boat to Roxas City, Capiz and Estancia, Iloilo is available.  Go to Mandaon and boats are available for Romblon and Lucena City, Quezon.

The town on the southeasternmost tip, Pio V. Corpus (Limbuhan), which has its own boat service to Cebu, whose lengua franca is Cebuano produced the current medical director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, Dr. Julius V. Lecciones, who is a member of UP Ibalon.  Proof that being raised in a remote corner of the Philippines is no hindrance in rising to the top.

Dimasalang might have gained temporary notoriety but for me what a heck of a place!