BEYOND THE FOUR WALLS: Some crazy inspiring young Bukidnon achievers   


Composer Jem Robert Talaroc during the awarding ceremony of the 2018 NCCA Composerʾs Prize
Photo from Silliman University website   

By Walter I. Balane

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/06 December 2019) We used to have a long and exhaustive list of them – the young achievers from Bukidnon who made a name in the national and international scenes. Clearly, we need some updating.

Let me use this podium to hail the achievements of some of them. Note, this is just a very short list that I made over the Christmas break.

Carina Dayondon
The first on the list is Carina Dayondon, who hails from Don Carlos, Bukidnon. She is on top of the list not because we are town mates (I used to live in the now very progressive dusty old south) but because she has conquered the seven highest peaks in all seven continents.

Aside from her adventures, Ms. Dayondon is a Junior Grade Lieutenant at the Philippine Coast Guard. I first heard of her when she was considered the second ASEAN woman to conquer Mt. Everest in 2007.

Last December, we read at that Dayondon conquered Mount Denali in North America  in 2006, Mount Everest in Asia in 2007, Mount Elbrus in Europe in 2013, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia  in 2014, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2015, Mount Aconcagua in South America  and Mount Vinson Massif in Antartica, both in 2018.

Mind you, while interviewing for my 2007 story on her conquest of Mt. Everest, someone told me her first climb was of course our very own Mt. Kitanglad, in 1995. My wish: to interview Carina and see what her thoughts are about conservation of the mountains and other protected areas in the province and the rest of Mindanao. I want to know her thoughts, too, about helping the indigenous peoples who live and help protect these protected areas and consider it their ancestral domain. How about the idea to work on making Bukidnon a nature trek destination, full scale as a tourist attraction?

Harvey M. Tolibao
His name is the loudest I can hear if we talk about visual art so far, because of associations to Marvel and DC comics that we also see on movies.

An article describes Tolibao as ʺone of the most highly-regarded Filipino comic book artists in the world.ʺ

He was reported to have drawn some of the most popular superheroes including DC’s Green Arrow and Green Lantern, Dark Horse’s Star Wars and Marvel’s Iron Man, Avengers, X-Men, X-Force, Silver Surfer and more.

This superstar illustrator used to be one of the students of Bukidnon National High School. When I was studying at Malaybalay City Central School, I used to hear about Tolibao Arts and Signs and I think he really belonged to a family of artists.

I learned that Harvey did not get the opportunity to draw for top comics on a silver platter. But he was a guy who saw the silver lining when challenged by a critic or a mean job. I was touched by the detail provided in the interview that one time he has to work as a messenger in Manila. While stuck on traffic or waiting for new tasks, he drew. While inside a jeepney or bus on a heavy traffic day, he drew on paper or tissue.

His simple beginnings and humble experiences brought him to where he is now. One of his big time jobs was to draw Star Wars with no less than my idol George Lucas of the Star Wars enterprise, impressed on his work.

I know he is very busy, but how I wish some of my students at Bukidnon State University can meet him and be inspired personally by his personality and achievements.  I really hope some of my friends from among the tribal youth in Dalwangan and Imbayao, Malaybalay City; in Simsimon, San Fernando; in Panadtalan, Maramag and in Portulin, Pangantucan can meet him, especially those who aspire to venture into visual arts and portray their tribeʾs stories and heroes like Agyu, in their drawings.

Jem Robert Talaroc
National media also shared to us that another young man from Bukidnon, Jem Robert Talaroc, who hails from Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, has made Bukidnon proud. Talaroc won the National Culture and the Arts (NCCA) 2018 Composersʾ Prize on December 10, for his composition, for orchestra ʺAnimaʺ.

Talaroc borrowed the melody of his winning piece from an Ifugao chant and melody symbolized the ever present vitality of Mother Nature in the fast-changing world. According to the Silliman University website, he finished his Bachelor of Music Major in Composition from SU.

We learned that the prize he won is for composers on concert hall music, which started in 2016. It was created by NCCA to encourage the continuing development of a pluralistic culture by the people themselves and to have a direct hand in the development and enrichment of the genres in Philippine music literature, as stated in the SU website.

This is truly an encouraging victory for Talaroc and hopefully, his municipal government in Manolo Fortich and our provincial government in Bukidnon can recognize him and tap him for some initiatives in music for the youth.

The musician was very humble and accommodating when I looked him out on FB. He gave a response to my message and agreed on an interview on my free time.

One of the things I wanted to ask him:  IP music is also thriving in Bukidnon what are his suggestions for them? I know he has been a fellow of the Banaue International Music Composition Composition.  I am sure the Asian acclaimed  composer would still want to take back to Bukidnon some of his blessings.

Can he also help make use of music to take away the youth from illegal drugs? Is this something he can do to our community?

I also would like to mention the achievements of BukSUʾs very own Vincent Jhun O. Dorias, who recently won as one of the 2018 Ten Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Students and also Ms. Cherrybelle Ferolino for placing in the Top 10 of the September 2018 Licensure Examination for Teachers. (LET).

There are more young Bukidnon achievers out there. There are also those unsung achievers. We hope to include them in our list for #BukidnonYoungAchievers. If you know someone, let us know by nominating them to the list.

The author is a faculty member of the Social Sciences Department of Bukidnon State University. He spends his free time as one of the volunteer editors of the online community publication BukidnonNews.Net. You can reach him via