Thursday, 26 May 2022

World War II Memories: Luisito Zayco - Sta. Cruz of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental

On Chapter 17 of the history of Victorias City series, I shared the stories of the people of Victorias during World War II (read blog here), including those of heroes who fought the invaders. In another chapter, I also shared the tragic story of the Montinola family, whose young members became the first Victoriahanon casualties of the war when their passenger boat hit a sea mine in Manila Bay in December 1941 (read blog here). 

And just recently, I came across another World War II story, a story that has to be shared.

*   *   *


Just like most families in the Negros island during World War II, the family of the young Aselita Zayco - Sta. Cruz moved to the mountainside, away from the town settlements where the Japanese soldiers had their headquarters.

Her family, from the Kabankalan, moved from one hacienda to another for fear for their lives, and maybe because some of her uncles, her brothers-in-law and two of her brothers had joined the underground movement. She remembers moving from one hacienda to another with their belongings, until they finally settled at a hacienda near Central Biarin, where her eldest brother Luisito was as the 'administrador'.

One morning, right at the break of dawn, sometime in 1943 when Aselita was just 14, her family was awakened by a commotion of several men arriving in the hacienda. Expecting at these were Japanese soldiers, her family members told her eldest brother, Luisito, to hide in the corn fields. During those years, everyone planted corn to help provide food, and the settlements were surrounded by corn fields.

Luisito, who was studying at Silliman University in Dumaguete before the war broke out, quit school and joined the underground movement along with other able-bodied men in Kabankalan. His family, fearing that the Japanese soldiers were moving around the countryside to look for those who joined the resistance, told Luisito to hide. 

But claiming he did nothing wrong, Luisito chose to stay with his family. He was arrested.

During the war, Luisito's family did not know that there were people in Kabankalan who collaborated with the Japanese and told the Japanese that Luisito was a member of the resistance. That morning, his family thought that the Japanese soldiers were simply roaming the haciendas to look for guerillas. They did not know then that the Japanese were specifically looking for Luisito and other men whose names were supplied by the Japanese collaborators as members of the resistance. (After the war, those Filipino collaborators were exposed and, sadly, were even known to have been friends with Luisito's family.😭)  

The Japanese soldiers dragged Luisito, with arms tied with wires, to the surrounding areas to force him to point where the guerillas were hiding. Not about to turn against his fellow Filipinos, Luisito never gave anything to the Japanese. He was tortured and later tied to a tree near the center of the hacienda.

At first, the family hesitated to go near him for fear of the Japanese guards. But Aselita, wanting to help her brother, bravely went to him and made him drink the milk from the goats they raised at the hacienda. Her brother, with face swollen and full of bruises from torture, told her that the Japanese might eventually kill him because he never gave them the information they wanted. That day, the Japanese soldiers left for Kabankalan with Luisito

Luisito had a two-year old daughter and his wife, Delmar Alvarez - Sta. Cruz, who was pregnant with another child, was worried about his fate in the hands of the Japanese. So, Delmar travelled back to Kabankalan with Aselita and a help to look for him

Aselita remembers the hours and hours of walking the terrain under the hot sun, and asking for food from houses they passed along the way. At times, Delmar , who was five months pregnant then, had to lie down on the dirt road just to rest from their travel and to make sure their unborn child was safe. 

On reaching Kabankalan, they stayed at Aselita's grandmother's house to ask for help. A cousin, who was learning how to speak Nipponggo at that time, helped them. They went to the Japanese soldiers' headquarters to ask about Luisito's whereabouts. The Japanese refused to tell them anything. 

Three days after that, news got around that an unidentified body was found floating on the Ilog River near the Talubangî area. People on a boat spotted something on the other side of the river. As they came closer, they realized it was a dead body. At first, they thought it was a body of a certain 'Agustin' from a prominent Kabankalanon family who was also missing at that time. But since it was later discovered that 'Agustin' was still alive, they sent for Luisito's family. They came and had the most painful task of identifying the body; it was Luisito.

As it was still difficult to give him a proper burial those days, they temporarily buried Luisito at the land near the bank of river and marked his temporary grave. When the war was over, his family moved Luisito to the family's mausoleum in Kabankalan.

Months after Luisito's death, Delmar chose to live with her parents who were living near the coastline at the town of Ilog. And maybe because of the unimaginable grief her husband's death brought her, Delmar prematurely delivered her baby. It was just seven months old, and later died. As if the tragedy was not enough, her two-year old daughter also fell ill and died. When the  daughter was still gravely sick, she was heard calling out "Papa! Papa!", as if Luisito was there to fetch his dying daughter. She was named Maria Luisa.

Before the war, the Kabankalan and Ilog towns had three sugar centrals: Central Biarin, Central San Isidro in Talubangî, and Central Palma. The land was peaceful and life was prosperous. But when the war broke out, lives like those of Aselita and her family changed forever. Luisito's younger brother, Santiago, nicknamed 'Tiaging', was also part of the resistance during the war.

Aselita is now 93 years old and lives in Bacolod City.

                                 * * * * *

Luisito's father was Luis Sta.Cruz, and his mother was Remedios Zayco, who was a daughter of Flora Rubin and Lorenzo Zayco of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Philippines. 

Luis Sta. Cruz was born in Estella, Navarre, Spain.

Luisito Zayco - Sta. Cruz

January 24, 1913 - May 25, 1944

Monday, 2 May 2022

Kay Leni Tayo: The Sumilao Farmers at Lakad ng Pamilyang Magsasaka

Upon learning about their planned 400-kilometer walk around the Philippines to help campaign for VP Leni Robredo and seeing that they would pass by Victorias City (Negros Occidental), I immediately contacted their Facebook page.

I asked whether they could stop by our Leni-Kiko Pagmamahal Center that's just situated along the national highway.

It was just wishful thinking when I messaged them. But fortunately, Mr. Minyong Agsaluna, the contact person who was traveling with the farmers, agreed to stop by Victorias.

And stop they did!

The group consisted of 17 Sumilao farmers (from Sumilao, Bukidnon) and the rest were officers and support.

The Leni-Kiko volunteers were happy to welcome them, even for just a short time, in Victorias City.

And even when we did not have funds for the campaign, we were able to give them some bottled water and snacks that they brought with them on their way to Bacolod City, where they would be met by a caravan and supporters as they walked to the Bishop's Palace.

The Sumilao Farmers must have covered most of their planned route by now of 400 kilometers on foot (2,000 kilometers caravan).

Maraming salamat sa Sumilao Farmers sa tulong sa pagkampanya para kay Leni, Kiko at Ka-TROPA. 😋







Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Kay Leni Tayo: #38 Alex Lacson


One of VP Leni Robredo's senatoriables is ATTY. ALEX LACSON, who's from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. 

I will also vote for him (and Leni's senatoriables as well) as we need someone whose platform and plans are aligned with Leni and Kiko's; someone who will work for us, Filipinos, and not for himself.

A lawyer, author, businessman, and a civic leader - we someone like ALEX LACSON in the senate.

On April 5, 2022, the Leni-Kiko volunteers and supporters welcomed Atty. ALEX LACSON to our Leni-Kiko Pagmamahal Center in Victorias City.

(Atty. Alex Lacson and the Leni-Kiko 
volunteers of Victorias City)

Let's vote for ATTY. ALEX LACSON - #38 in the SENATORS' slot on your ballot. 🙏

(I wished Atty. Alex Lacson good luck on his
senate bid.😎)


Friday, 22 April 2022

Kay Leni Tayo: Mga Gwapo For Leni #Gwapinks


When I stumbled upon the Facebook page of "Mga Gwapo for Leni", I thought it was a brilliant idea for a 'label' to use for the campaign for Leni and Kiko.

So, I had tarpaulins with sizes of 2 feet by 2 feet made, those that would exactly fit at the back of tricycles.

I have given away a few already to some tricycle drivers in the city, and they were happy and, at times, flattered with the 'label'. 

On one occasion, when I took a tricycle to catch up with the other Leni-Kiko volunteers, the driver asked what my tarps were. I told them they were Leni-Kiko tarps. He asked for one.

And during the ride, we talked about why Leni and Kiko are the best candidates for president and vice-president, respectively, at the May 2022 Philippine elections.

I told him, we should not entrust our future to anyone else. He agreed.

Be a "Gwapo for Leni and Kiko".

Let's be smart with our choices. Let's vote for Leni, Kiko, and their Ka-TROPA senatoriables.

#IpanaloNa10To #AngatBuhayLahat #GobyernongTapatAngatBuhayLahat, #LabanLeni2022, #LabanLeniKiko2022 #7KikoPangilinanbisepresidente
#Gwapinks #MgaGwapoForLeni

Friday, 15 April 2022

Kay Leni Tayo: Lolo Julio and His Kariton ng Pangarap

On November 30, 2021, as we were cleaning and decorating our Leni-Kiko Pagmamahal Center in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, Lolo Julio, with his kariton full of wood, stopped and asked us for Leni and Kiko's tarpaulin.

We asked him why. He told us he liked Leni.

Leni-Kiko volunteers Jerry and Nonalyn then gladly helped him decorate his kariton with the Leni-Kiko tarp and some pink ribbons.

After they decorated his kariton, Lolo Julio went on his way. He was no longer alone as Leni and Kiko joined him along his journey.

Lolo Julio was originally from Negros Oriental. In the 1950s, he ran away from home to escape the physical abuses of his father. One day, he hitched rides on delivery trucks until he arrived at Victorias, then a municipality. Upon getting off, the young Julio immediately looked for work. He went to the stores situated along the highway and asked around. He ended up as a houseboy for a family whose house was just along the highway.

(Lolo Julio with his kariton at Victorias City's
 Leni-Kiko Pagmamahal Center)

After we posted the photo of Lolo Julio and his kariton in social media, a few kind souls offered to help. And during the inauguration and blessing of our Leni-Kiko Pagmamahal Center at Don Felix Montinola building on December 1, 2021, we invited him, and he brought along his kariton. He didn't know then that there was already a plan to give him a new one.


On April 6, 2022, when we arrived at his neighborhood, we asked Lolo Julio to show us his old kariton. With old wheels and its sides just made of bamboo slits nailed together, this old kariton has been his daily companion for years as he roamed the streets of the city to pick up discarded wood and other things he found useful.

He was surprised and happy when we showed up at his home with a new steel kariton painted pink and loaded with some canned goods, rice, and bread.

On March 11, 2022, at the grand rally at the Paglaum Sports Stadium, I heard VP Leni's speech about "kampanya ng pangarap". So, to borrow her words, we named Lolo Julio's new pink kariton as his "Kariton ng Pangarap".

Even his neighbors were happy for him. His new pink "Kariton ng Pangarap", which is sturdier with wheels that roll smoothly, will now be his daily companion. Thank you to the kind donors who made this happen. 

Lolo Julio and his family are part of those in the 'laylayan' that Leni is talking about in her speeches. This is why we are campaigning for Leni, Kiko and their senatoriables, so that, under their leadership, people like Lolo Julio will be the ones to benefit from the genuine public service and good governance we believe  they will bring.

#AngatbuhayLahat #GobyernongTapatAngatBuhayLahat

#LabanLeni2022 #LabanLeniKiko2022 #IpanaloNa10To

#7KikoPangilinanVicePresident #KikoAngManokKo

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Kay Leni Tayo: The Longest Welcome and Pasasalamat For Leni And Kiko in Negros Occidental

We got up early that Friday morning, November 5, 2021, as we had to be at Bay 6, our designated area at the Circumferential Road in Silay City (in Negros Occidental).

That morning, VP Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan were arriving at the Bacolod-Silay Airport to attend meetings and inspect some projects in Bacolod City and in Negros Occidental. And since it was IATF Level 3, gathering a lot of people indoors was not yet allowed. 

So, we gathered outdoors! 😃

The organizers divided into bays the ten-kilometer stretch of the circumferential road from the airport up to Bacolod City and assigned the Leni-Kiko supporters based on their city and municipality.

We arrived at our designated area before 8AM, just as the mountains of Silay and Mandalagan were waking up. As we were looking for a spot, we saw these colorful motor vehicles along the way, filling the southbound lane that led to Bacolod City.

As we waited for their arrival, I got out of our vehicle, looked east and was mesmerized by the morning apparition of the fog lifting its veil from the faces of the mountains that seemed to portend that, in the coming days, more Filipinos would lift the blinders from their eyes and be awakened to see the corruption, incompetence, and injustice of the sitting government.

As the circumferential road used to be sugarcane fields, all you'd see around that morning was haciendas and all you'd feel was the coolness of the new morning. The clouds, too, gathered at the east as if to shield us from the heat of the rising morning sun.

(I brought along a pink snack just in case)

Being the only highway connecting the airport with Bacolod, the circumferential road would only hear the roars of trucks and other vehicles during an ordinary day. But on this special morning, it was filled with the echoes of the "Kay Leni Tayo" jingle, drums, and the excitement of her supporters.

We didn't really mind waiting for Leni and Kiko that day as the atmosphere was cheerful and fun. It was like a festival right in the middle of the haciendas.

And as we were constantly updated online, we would know the minute they landed and the time when they would leave the airport to start the motorcade.

Word then got around that the motorcade left the airport. We all stood facing the north, craning our necks as we stepped a meter out into the highway to get a better view of any incoming traffic heading our way.

Then someone from a white van, perhaps a part of the advance party, was calling out that Leni was just behind in a black van. In form, his words were like the information relayed over the public address system of an airport when a flight arrives, but to us her supporters, were in essence a harbinger of hope that we had been waiting for all these years.

And from meters away, we could see blinking lights and a parade of black and white vans that was slowly moving towards us. 

"She's here! Leni is here!", we cheered!

Meter by meter, the motorcade came closer towards our spot. Although moments like these felt surreal, we realized this was it! Leni and our group were in the same time and space breathing the same fresh Negrense air.

And right at the door of a moving black van, Leni in a pink mask, fuchsia blouse and black pants was half-standing with her left hand on a car handle while her right was stretched out to shake a Negrense hand. As she passed us she said, "Salamat!".

After her motorcade, Kiko's was following close by. He sat by an open door of a white van expressing "Thank you! Thank you!" to everyone standing on the road. 

After Leni and Kiko's motorcade passed, we all felt more awake even without coffee, an awakening that not even caffeine could induce. It's the awakening of the spirit that would push us to rise and fight for what we deserved as Filipinos.

Leni's voice saying "Salamat!" still echoes in my ears until now. I heard it not from a video or television; I heard it from her an arm away as that word floated through the fresh morning air, now full of hope.

No, Leni. Kami ang dapat magpasalamat sa 'yo. Sa iyong sakripisyo para sa aming lahat. Sa iyong ginagawa at kaya pang gawin para sa ating bayan. Hayaan mo, kasama mo kaming lahat sa laban na ito, at hindi lang sa sampung kilometro. Kasi kung sama-sama tayo, mas malayo pa ang ating mararating.

Salamat, Leni. 🙏

                                  * * * * *

#LabanLeniKiko2022 #AngatBuhayLahat #GobyernongTapatAngatBuhayLahat #SiLeniAngSagot #IpanaloNa10To
#HelloPagkainGoodByeGutom #KikoAngManokKo #7KikoPangilinanVicePresident #LeniKiko2022 

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Si Kiko Ang Manok Natin: Hello Pagkain, Goodbye Gutom!

The Negros Island, just like most islands in the Philippines, is a very agricultural area. It is planted mostly with sugarcane. That's why it is dependent on the sugar industry.


And as this 2022 election campaign goes grassroots, our group of Leni-Kiko volunteers in Victorias City is sharing Senator Kiko Pangilinan's plans for the sugar industry, farmers, and fisher folks here in the Negros Island. 

Senator Kiko's plans:

1.  Order the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to stop the importation of sugar during the milling season.

2. Order the Department of agriculture to cap on the price of fertilizers and release immediately P500 million fuel subsidy for farmers and fisher folks.

3. Strengthen the local agricultural sector to avoid importation of farm products.

4. Bring attention to the plight of the farmers because they are the ones who bring food to our table.

5. Walang nang public bidding sa pagbili ng gobyerno (national at local) sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Wala nang 'middleman'.

6. Agrikultura, trabaho at pagkain - ang plataporma ni Senator Kiko.



Sabi nga ni Kiko, "Hello Pagkain, Goodbye Gutom".

Kaya, wala nang iba kundi si VP Leni Robredo at Senator Kiko Pangilinan na tayo! 😎

(Kiko will also work to create more 
farm-to-market roads.)

Please click to watch Senator Kiko's video message:



          (Kiko and the sugarcane fields of Negros)