Archive for the ‘Lucena Learning City’ category


March 6, 2013


45 years ago as young luzonians

May 25, 2011

high school 7

Being 60, am not retiring but refiring my life. Am posting a series of stories in pictures to show that seniors can grow and be happier with 45 years of learning on our plate. We do feel young. Art Linkletter wrote that aging is wasting away but saging ( SAGE not SAGING aka banana ) is the better way to go.

Lucena City, an organic learning and resilient city

October 13, 2010

Today, I call on my Lucenahens/hins, here and overseas, to look deeper why and how Lucena gave us a good foundation as glocal citizens. Next year 2011, Lucena will be celebrating her 50th anniversary as a city and many friends are preparing for this event. My sister Dr. Carmina Villariba-Tolentino has been running a  cultural mapping research and will contribute to the publication of a cultural heritage book of Lucena with Felino Tanada. Last week,  my brother Sonny Villariba talked with Leny Papa and Ramon Talaga. They requested  a sequel of my father’s Lucena History book if my father accepts the work. Since my father is the only living octogenarian historian of Quezon, we all agreed to do the spade work as our family contribution.

This blog is an invitation to contribute. I have already two professionals who have agreed to join our team  – Dr. Edsel Sajor of Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, who will work on resilience and change; and Alex Umali,  a documentalist consultant of the Spanish Embassy ,who will work on Spanish and American influences in the education and economic life of Lucena. Both have extensive backgrounds on research and they are eager to give to Lucena what they do for other countries. So am calling for more Lucena glocal historians to contribute, either in terms of documents from the various libraries, photos from their family albums and stories of women and men who made Lucena an organic education and resilient city in Southern Tagalog.

The keywords are organic and resilient ,providing the biodiversity that life thrives on. We need to challenge its  leaders with the concept of an organic and resilient city, not linear but based on an agricultural principles of providing the conditions for its citizenry to flourish and develop a diversity of talents. A  city can survive  if keeps with the pace of learning in the 21st century.

I call on family and friends with  this quote “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.” Abraham Lincoln

my father cesar and his legacy

June 21, 2009

Its my father’s birthday today  and am sending  Cesar a 91st hug in heaven. I remember  Tatay in his 61st wedding anniversary in 2008.  In his special  St. Sylvester suit, he celebrated with Nanay their love  together with  13 children and spouses, 44 grandchildren and  5 great grandchildren. We filled the church with so much love. Melo and Maebel celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with Tatay and Nanay.We all cried  and cheered as Tatay and Nanay repeated their 61st vows.

My prayers have been granted : for Tatay and Nanay   had live long enough to see their apos Olivia, Kat, Mikey, Ayen, Nadine, Diego, Krisha Marie, Kris Dominic,Kristel and Julienne  graduate from college.  Tatay was so happy when Olivia Villariba Reyes graduated summa cum laude in the USA for these honors that Olivia gave to the clan meant much more to my father. Tatay would have been a summa cum laude in UP Los Banos if he had not helped a classmate who  needed to pass his final examinations so  he can graduate. He asked  Tatay to take it for him.  Tatay took the exam but  was caught. The college  dean and some professors knew Cesar was running for summa cum laude. They expelled his classmate but punished Tatay   by denying him to graduate with honors.  Tatay fought well to defend the country but he was not allowed to defend his honor. When the UP LB  graduating class published their  1948 yearbook, his name was on the last page : Cesar A. Villariba, Bachelor of Science, Agriculture. There was no mention of excellence, not even a photo.  I asked why.” I didnt have the money to pay for a picture.” Tatay replied. these were the years of reconstruction and Tatay didnt have any money after he gave all his soldier’s backpay to the impoverished  people in his Lucena neighborhood.

During the UP Centennial anniversary last year , I  asked him if he were willing to appeal to UPLB to review his case. “Hindi na,” was his reply.  To make him happy, Sonny and I went to the editor,Monette Flores  of the UP Centennial volumes, got his picture and story as a soldier included in the book even if it were past all the deadlines . The editor couldnt refuse us when we told Tatay ‘s story. ” This is our way of honoring a patriot.” was our  reason and it won her .

As an agriculturist , developed the coconut industry to a level where many coconut farmers could earn and send their children to school. Tatay taught thousands of students, from high school to post graduate students, chalking up sixty one (61) years of  passionate education work.

Cesar  A. Villariba, my father,was an educator, having taught,not just us , but  many students in the provinces of Quezon, Albay and Manila ,the value of learning. I  estimate the average  number of graduates who had Tatay as teacher  in MS.Enverga University from 1950s to  2008. The  estimate number  : sixty one thousand students, not counting the two hundred barangay high schools students who had enrolled and finished their education due to Tatay’s Education Act CIMG2462  .ibarizal


love and weddings,part one

July 7, 2008

love, music and tears flow daily. we are a family-driven nation, energized by  family rites and romanced by the music of weddings. today, i woke up feeling ready to tell all my friends and families – KEEP LOVING. this is the best way to live healthy,t o learn well and  to enjoy one’s legacy-building.

we just had my parents wedding and we kept crying as my mother and father walked  to the altar surrounded by all the grandchildren, children and friends. i saw corcor crying, i saw my sisters blinking their eyes and i closed my eyes as the tears fell. i could feel my heart thumping and my knees shaking. ahhh, to be married and be wedded on the 60th year, what could i ask for? we are all alive, 13 children, 42 grandchildren with their 2 partners, 5 great grandchildren,three beloved family members, 200 friends and all the  carmelite nuns, a bishop and 4 priests celebrating mass with us. we all prepared for this for a year, a very rare event even for Lucena City. but nothing can match the event unfolding and sweeping us to a dreamlovers’s mt.everest , reaching the wedding zenith at 60th year.

 the carmelite  church was bathed by heidi, my sister, in  white aromatic flowers-  tube roses, milflores, roses,gerberas, lilies, and orchids . the flowers with their aroma of love made us feel heady and heartfull. i told ed the wedding  rites and the music, provided by MSEUF chorale made feel soo in love. as Our Father was being sang in three octaves, my hands kept pressing Ed’s hand. i felt being wedded all over again. all the grandchildren were in their prettiest white dresses and  happy smiles. i am so proud that we were all there for our parents. i am so happy that Ed and I, plus all my 12 siblings with their families werre present. a real wedding present for my parents.

as we went through the whole  church rites, i found the 60 butterflies flying to greet my parents the sweetest gift. my sister said maybe they are our grandparents, tatay’s siblings who went ahead and all the families who are in heaven, greeting us all with their wings clapping.

how did the community respond to such a taste of  lifelong love? my ninangs and aunts cried. later they said they felt happy for Nanay and Tatay but sad for they will never experienced such joy because their partners are in the afterlife. they all gave cash gifts for the villariba scholarship fund ,so that my parents can continue sending people to school. we read each card and found so much respect and gratitude for having been part of the event, becoming witnesses to a love that delights old and young lovers.

writing three books in one

June 1, 2008

this may has been very busy with ed and i. we are trying to write three books, prepare for the 60th wedding anniversary of my parents and paint each day to make it to ed’s august show. but it is the writing that really drives me to a pace i have never gone into. i sleep in the book, wake up in the book and use all my thinking power in the book. if there is a book driven woman, that’s me today.

last friday, ed and i went to peta’s 40th anniversary. they launched their storybook and it has a thousand pages! wow, that’s a feat producing stories that span 40 years. i went out to find out how they did it. first, it took ten years and there was a long procession of editors,writers,artists and managers. after a long delay , it took three women : beng cabangon, laura samsom and brenda fajardo to get the book written and launched.

i told ed” we dont have ten years to get the villaribas’ story of 60 years” and ed smiled at me. tonight we are still at the computer selecting, editing, finetuning the book that turned out to be three books. i emailed my siblings and told them to start promoting the books so we can get sponsors for the press run. why are we doing three books all at the same time? well, for one, my parents will never have another golden wedding. they are already in their bonus years and 60 years of marriage is the grandest event of their life. also, it is timely to get our clan honoring our parents, what their legacy is. the first book is all about love and life . the second book is the educational ideas, reflections and practices of my father and mother . they have been teachers since 1947. my father taught for 60 years while my mother taught for 39 years. the third book is our essays on lucena as a learning city, a proposal to widen the space and scope of learning. there are more than 200 photos and my headache revolves around who gets more mileage because their pictures are already available. i have sent out appeals since last year to give me the latest family fotos. as usual, at the last minute, people are sending me their photos via email.

ed has a lot on his tray : he needs to go home frequently to naujan to care for inay. he also has to earn more money since it is tuition time and ayen needs funds in college. not to mention a budget for a laptap ,a camera and a new calculator. ed also has to finish 30 paintings for his show in gsis museum on august 1st-22nd.

on my part, i also have to work for isis and craft a roadmap for its new executive since she will be coming from another country, another culture. besides i need the money to support another child , not mine, but our yaya whose daughter angela is very bright.

becoming book driven is the best thing that has happen to me right now. i understand many things that my parents did for us. as i write the stories that my parents verbally transmitted, i see patterns in my own household. i see why i am the way i am as a mother, a wife and a daughter. i am sure my sisters too are beginning to appreciate all the work that i am throwing at them. every day, i call on them to do a hundred things – get interviews, check out details, ask where is nanay’s best friend, etc. making three books have led me to discover the little roads and creeks in our storyline. connecting them led me to a bigger community. finding a bigger community led me to remembering those who made it possible for us to be who we are. the books honor my parents as much as they honor a community where we belong and are loved.

i suggest to friends to do the same for their parents and families. write books. write as if this is the best thing that you can do while your parents are still alive and smiling.

lucena commencement rites:a babaylan’s moment

April 1, 2008

my loved ones and friends, let us have a babaylan’s moment for these are the times that test our spirit’s robustness. these are the seasons of hope and peril. am blogging and scanning what the season will bring to our families here and overseas. the trigger for this insight is my babaylan’s moment of discernment.

let me commence on how i arrived at a babaylan’s moment. last march 28,2008, i participated in 61st commencement rites of Manuel S.Enverga University Foundation. 248 students from high school and elementary would commence their journey to lifelong learning. i was invited to give the graduation speech. it was my first commencement rite invitation from Enverga U.. naturally, i asked bigger questions : what will these students’s future be in Lucena ? how will they dream and how will these dreams be realized?

a day earlier, i lost my voice due to working nonstop from energizing an OFW forum in la union on monday to helping ed in an accident in wednesday in guisguis, sariaya and monitoring a family’s crisis the whole month of march. everyone in the family came to my aid – my mother Nene offered to read my speech. my daughter Ayen suggested she could take my place. my aunt Fedy cooked a whole pot of salabat so i could recover my voice. my sister Jojie said she could help with audio-visuals. Ed told me to rest the whole day but i told everyone, i would honor the students and give them a good speech. i told them that it is the first time my alma mater has invited me to be the commencement speaker. the lst time i gave a speech in MSEUF HS was as valedictorian 42 years ago. having lost my voice, i prepared a powerpoint presentation. i made notes on lifelong learning and what lifetime growth laws the students should embrace. i observed a whole day of silence and used gestures to communicate. i went to bed early.

around 1 am on the day of commencement, i woke up. i looked at my alarm clock and it wasn’t ringing. someone was talking to me and i decided to listen. then words came like sms in my was a babaylan’s moment. after an hour of listening, i tested my voice. a nasal sound came and i could form words without my voice splintering. i realized the babaylan’s voice was forming even if my own vocal chords were still quiet… so i went back to sleep.

on graduation morning, i put on my filipiniana dress and did my meditation. i was excited and everyone came to accompany me – my parents Cesar & Nene, Ayen, Jojie and her daughters plus our brightest grandchild, two year old Andrea in a red dress. my daughter Ayen told me not to give a long speech. i smiled because she tells her father the same when she tags along when ed give his talks.

i opened my talk by greeting the people as datu, panday,kawal and babaylan. instead of addressing eminent people as deans or principals, i used babaylan and datus, including my father who sat in the line of honor. i spoke in tagalog and introduced my greetings as that of the babaylan. i brought the whole community to the time of the babaylans and datus. gave them images with which they could imagine what it was like to be governed by babaylan and datus, to be served by panday and to protected by kawal. i lightened up the narrative with a rephrased aphorism ” those who dont looked back to their roots had stiff necks” and cannot see the future.

i asked everyone – students, parents and teachers who they knew as babaylans and pandays. some raised their hands that they know Hermano Pule as a hero but not as a babaylan. most said yes when i mentioned fernando poe’s iconic role as panday. having established that our people came from a long line of datu, panday, kawal and babaylan, i segueway into declaring the times and age as one of complexity. that women and men, parents and children have to develop the courage to be deeply human – to have a mahusay na pagkatao and learn well the art of pakikipagkapwa-tao. i asked how many of the graduates dream of becoming doctors ? very few hands. teachers? very few hands. make money and become rich ? all raised their hands.

make your purpose bigger than your money…i described the world as very challenging and demanding. – the babaylan’s agimat or mutya of kalooban, malawak na pakikipagkapwa-tao, and matibay na pananampalataya sa Diyos. these three would insure that the students and their parents will realize a meaningful life in a complex world. being pinoy and marunong makiramdam at makipagkapwa-tao would take care of lifelong learning. having a deep faith in God would help them develop the babaylan’s gift of vision.

as closing, i taught everyone to feel their energy and charge their bio- batteries by using the hand and finger energy spheres .i taught them the rain clap and as the sounds of two finger clapping began to rise, i did my yin yang nafas so that the energy would embrace everyone. everyone had the energy to go through the five hour rites in the midst of a very hot summer’s day.

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