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HEARTS OF MALAYBALAY: Malaybalay, Home of Migrants

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MALAYBALAY CITY (Republished/BukidnonNews.Net, 11 November 2020) Many migrants to Malaybalay during the halyon days came as couples or married into Bukidnon families. Some have disappeared; some have stayed put to date. Still others have followed the Navajo trail back home for good, after staying for so long abroad or elsewhere. It is noteworthy that quite a number of them were products of Thomasite education.

From these families were children born and raised to, later on, become the professionals—like the lawyers, engineers, doctors, dentists, CPAs, educators, architects, agriculturists, nurses, etc. There are the politicians, too. The progenitors of the old migrant families are all gone. Mine, who were indigenous, passed away in the 1980s, after moving to Poblacion Malaybalay from Kalasungay in 1924. During those days then, there were no boundaries as the entire scenery was a jungle.

Because of the decades that have passed, this post which is taken from sheer memory cannot be flawless or complete. This may even have lapses, but it is worth looking into.

The pre-war and post-liberation migrants to Malayabalay later became the pillars of the community as they came with their dental, optical instruments and scalpels. Still others, including the Chinese migrants, had the business acumen to establish the stores, restaurants, hotels, bakeries, even a bus company and the biggest rice and corn mill there was.

Others acquired entire blocks in the center of town that no one realized would become very costly to acquire nowadays. Many became merchants, primed the local economy and provided employment to a lot of people.

Migrants like my old-time neighbors, the Tamins and Intongs and Casimeros were very much around during the pre-war days. The place of the Barrosos, another neighbor, is so proximate to the lot of my late parents that both are separated only by a creek. The Marquezes were there but they left in the 1960s. A neighbor’s son was a childhood playmate, classmate, or peer to date (barkada ba).

Also the Ducusins--cousins Donato and Ciriaco, together with Eusebio Asuncion were the companions of my late father in going on fishing and hunting trips to Can-ayan and the peripheral mountains in the 1930s; even to the marshlands at Bangcud. During those days, columns of wild boar could be seem foraging below the Capitol Building every late in the afternoon.

And the Hidalgos were always there—their home used as headquarters of the Japanese Kempetai during the last war. Like us and the rest of the old residents, they suffered the agony of evacuation.

The Gabases, Gatelas, Permalans, two Valmores families, Torreses, Callaos, Gonzaleses. Mr. Gabas, a postman. Mr. Gatela was a portly layman of the San Isidro Parish Church and acted as the town Santa Claus on Christmas. Mr. Permalan a top-notch machinist. Sgt.Torres was the only radio technician in town. Mr. Joe Valmores, Secretary to the Provincial Governor.

The Tans of Sumpong. Rogato Tan couldn't have raised a family in Malaylabay had he consented on being smuggled to the United States in 1945. The American GIs whom he befriended wanted to put him in a box and load it on a warship. When it left and entered international waters, it would be opened and "bingo"! Anyway, he became a machinist--the finest there was. And if one finds a vintage aparador made of the finest narra in the home of an old family, this can only come from the furniture shop of Mr. Baluran, also in Sumpong.

And of course, the Estradas of Caul and downtown and the Dela Cernas. The latter have given Malaybalay, a very remarkable and admirable contribution in Shepherd’s Meadow where we can all lay to rest our departed loved ones in such a scenic, serene and idyllic place. The area used to be part of a family farm lot where their late father, who was then the Provincial Treasurer, engaged in mechanized farming. And the Sanchezes, Dagasuans, Lapuzes, and Valdezes. The Sabanas were neighbors of the Villegases—their store was the source of Boy Scout uniforms and paraphernalia. And there were the Rubios—their old house still stands strong at Claro M. Recto Avenue.

The Cudals whose matriarch was Marcelina “Grandma” Abello (nee) were a pioneering family, large brood of a family. They were the ones who sowed the seeds of the Baptist Church that has blossomed into a congregaton and reached far and wide. The Oduliios, Mr. Felimon Odulio, an accomplished educator and Division Superintendent of Schools, also married into the Abello Clan.

Some of the Gellor children were contemporaries of my siblings, just like the Romos, Belisarios, Barberans, Belderols (Hi, Myrna), Villas, Pimentels, and Fes.

Many worked in the Provincial Capitol and the Bureau of Public Works (DPWH), others in the Municipio.

In the 1950s, as far as I can remember, Malaybalay had only one EENT in the person of Dr. Cid who later moved his clinic to Cagayan de Oro; two physicians, Dr. Florencio Flores, Sr. and Dr. Antonio Evangelista, Sr. ; two dentists, Dr. Fausto Feliciano and Dr. Casiano Navarro, Sr. (Hi! Boy, Rondel and Nono!!!!). There were migrant lawyers like Atty. Guba (law office at the Callao residence, who run unsuccessfully against Mayor Lorenzo Dinlayan. There was Provincial Fiscal Hemirio Garcia, Sr. The Justice of the Peace was the adorable Judge Jesus Murillo.

If we wanted to dine outside or date our girlfriends, buy bread or eat pancit, ha ha, ha, ha, we went to Ayen’s Bakery and Restaurant, owned by the Chings. It was the best Place to go. Of course, there was Ahcham and Asiong bakery. Up in Sumpong was Dainty Bakery owned by the Medranos’. For travelers enjoying life, we had Peak Hotel (of the Tan Neris), Bade’s Hotel and Balbon Hotel.

To shop for groceries, Namarco store, owned by the Limbos, and the good old M. Aking Store. which remained standing for so long until recently. Oning’s Store of Mr. Tito Micayabas.

For textile, Ong Liam Commercial, and for petromax (kerosene lamp sa una sigig bumbahan aron di mamatay) and gas stoves, etc, New Look and Bukidnon Trading where kerosene in cans (taro) were sold. The taro was also used as measuring container in buying corn and palay and also for the bandillo.

Elpo and Marcelo rubber shoes, blankets and mosquito nets (kinahanglan gyud ang moskitero kay way korente ug suga ug daghan lamok), at the streetside store of Mr. Felicisimo Tenorio, the Reyeses and other Batangueños and Caviteños.

And keep a memento of family gatherings, baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, interments in the old cemetery which was a taboo for us young children, and other occasions or when one wants to have his picture for the love of his life, there was ONLY ONE PLACE TO GO--NATIONAL STUDIO of the Martes, where one has to sit like a totem pole for a good picture because the heavy Eastman camera on tripod was extremely sensitive to movements and Mr. Joe Marte or his camera man, si Iyo ba sa una, had to cover himself with a cloak while peeking at the rear end aperture to take a look at the inverted image of the one posing. Pictures taken by National Studio never faded and are still in the albums of the old families of Malaybalay.

Beside the BNS was Tabios Rice and Corn Mill which was so huge that it had to be powered by a 99HP Blackstone Diesel Engine. And there was Tabios Enterprises that was managed by Mrs. Basilia N. Tabios, while her husband and patriarch of the clan, Mr. Guillermo Tabios, Sr. minded the mill. The depot of the family-owned bus company, the Malaybalay Express Lines (Malaybalay’s pride) was near the mill, by the roadside of the highway.

For entertainment, MIDWAY THEATER and the Sky Room (that stood on a lot of the Estradas) where the BPHS Class 65 held its Jr.-Sr. Prom.

Others became educators who helped in the foundation and formation of the Bukidnon Secondary Normal (now BSU) that was established by the Thomasites. Bukidnon Provincial High School was also put up. Mr. Pacifico Ramos, Sr. was the Normal Dean, Mrs. Maria A. Borja (Hi, Ella), the Bukidnon Normal Laboratory School Supevisor, teachers in English were Mr. Zacarias Manuel and Mrs. Pricilla Sayson. There was Mrs. Rufina P. Murillo also at the BNLS. The Tortola brothers, too.

San Isidro High School was moved from Mampaalong St on the site of the RVM Dormitory to its present site, and needed more teachers.

The lone jeweler was Mr. Garcia whose place, the Luzonian Jewelry Store, was near the town plaza (it is still there managed by a child).

Ubiquitous was the Fortich House, home of the family whose patriarch, Don Manolo Fortich, founded the Province of Bukidnon. It was the home of the first lady member of Congress, Cong. Remedios Ozamis Fortich and Governor of Bukidnon, Carlos O.Fortich. Close to their place is presently home of the family of the late Balbino Eugenio, an educator.

A Merchant or buyer of abaca hemp (lanot ba) was Pingga, a China man. Seller of rubber bands, shoe polish and brush was another Mr. Garcia, a tall and stocky fellow. If one wanted to have his piglets castrated, there was Mr. Artajo.

Savory home cooked food was at Diding’s Carinderia of Mrs. Ebora and at Manang Seling Villon’s. The latter and her sidekick, Nang Petra, cooked for wedding receptions which were then held at the bride’s residence and at no other place.

Others became the barbers or tailors who made money because there were no RTWs then. Some became carpenters, plumbers, butchers, store owners like the Leanillos, Udarbes and Minas, and vendors at the old public market where there were rows of carinderias selling an assortment of local delicacies like sampayna (chocolate meat, ba), ginagmay, humba, adobong batikolon, mandunggo, trepilla, lina-uya nga baka, and tuba nga bag-o, bahal or siete viernes. There was a dearth of masons because most of the houses in town then were made of wood.

Now, their sons and daughters, all HEARTS of Malaybalay, are all over the place, living in a community that their elders built, and metamorphosed from a small town where everyone knew everybody else, to what it is today.

Day after day, Malaybalay increases its carbon footprint just like any other City. So, everyone must start worrying now.

(BukidnonNews.Net obtained permission from the author to republish this piece, which he wrote in April 5, 2011 for his FB. The author describes himself as “taga Malaybalay since birth”.

Author’s note: This piece can be edited by anyone. Names and members of indigenous families and clans except a few included are not covered.)

In photo: The author, in younger years. Grabbed from his FB account

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