Sitio Talidong, Impig, Sipocot, Camarines Sur: An Open Letter

This is our Home
This was taken after we settled in on our new home in Sitio Talidong, Impig, Sipocot, Camarines Sur.

    Putting my foot forward, I am genuinely pissed. I mean I am a very angry resident, a registered voter and absolutely flabbergasted to say the least.
I have learned not to vent online, for a couple of valid reasons: One) It’s always a burden to back up what you say, and Two) There’s always a possibility of getting misconstrued, however factual the statements are. But here, now I am making an exception. Because I have lived in Sipocot for 10 years now, my wife and I built our home, not just a house up there in Sitio Talidong, Impig. Our daughters are growing up hardened by country living, beautiful and well adjusted, getting the best of both worlds – good education and the homegrown pride of frugal living. We are happy in our little corner of Sierra Madre, amongst the trees and birds, in a community of hardworking people.

    But one Monday evening, November 5, 2018, between 11:00pm and 12:00mn, my wife and daughters were still awake, when outside our house, someone was attempting to force his way inside, trying to open the door. My wife is 44, with a bone affliction that atrophied most of her limbs, limiting her movement, my eldest daughter, 17 was working on her homework and my youngest, 13, is fast asleep. In Talidong, at 9:00pm is very much like midnight, quiet and serene. So an intrusion at the hours mentioned, most horrific, is to hear someone forcing any opening to get inside. We are not rich, no expensive gadgets nor anything worthy of fencing, that even my wife with her presence of mind concluded it must be our daughters the perpetrator (or perpetrators, will discuss this later) are trying to get to. Good thing she managed to call our nearest neighbor, Yaying, who works for the municipal government, and as any good neighbor, readily went to their rescue. Apparently, the perpetrators did come with one or two cohorts, because the man on the door was alarmed and they all skittered away before our neighbor got to our house. And placated my family, called up barangay tanods and inspected the immediate vicinity several times before leaving the tanods to watch over my family.

    No harm no foul, right? Nobody got hurt, everything is fine and dandy.

    Far from the truth.

The rock bridge that we used to take to Coloy-Coloy.

“This is our land, our home and you told us to leave?”

    As a father who works far from home, I have been confident to leave my wife and daughters behind, because like I said, there is where we have built our home, and my family are true-blue Calayo blood that those reasons alone made me believe that they are safe.
Now for people who have not experienced being a victim, or at least a witness, you will never know the horror and terror on the blunt end of crime.

    Several years ago, as I was working for Tv5, I got off from work in Novaliches to come home to our shared apartment in Mandaluyong just to identify my friend who was alone then, dead, tied up like a pig for slaughter, her room bloody with more than 30 stab wounds. This scene played in my mind as I got the news from my wife when she told me of what happened to them while I was away. I felt helpless and afraid, useless and spent. If nobody had come to their aid, I could have been coming home to a crime scene, with the results too terrifying to consider.

    What could be worse? Our neighbor could have suffered the brunt of the perpetrators frustration to get inside our house and turned on him, had he got there in timer to catch them in the act, leaving him impaired or worse, another dead victim. This is not too farfetched, as you can read from newspapers or hear on the radio, some people have been murdered for lesser things.

    What burns me, what really raised my ire is the way our Barangay Chairman seemed to treat the incident as just another case of disrupting the peace. I won’t resort to name calling, but that, at least is a straighforward home invasion. To treat the incident as such is to take things for granted. There were rocks that do not belong to our homestead, this was noticed by my wife and daughters, apparently brought along by the perpetrators, now I say it in plural form, because the lamp posts that should have been lighted that night were turned off, and to pull off something like that would need at least two more cohorts to act as lookouts. They were carrying “itak” because weeds were growing profusely around the house and there were areas that the grass were cut down. A common tool in this context, is a weapon for deadly intentions. And another thing, that boils me up is this: The only advice our good Barangay Chairman gave to my ailing wife is: to get far away from our house and stay away so that he can make queries about the incident. In my broken Bicolano the words were something like this – “ Tita, mag hali na lang kayo at baka balikan pa kamo dyan.”

    Lame. Utterly Lame.

    This is our land, our home and you told us to leave?

    We lived through storm after storm up there. When Typhoon Glenda hit Sipocot hard with her strong winds, we held on to each other, even when my kamalig got the hardest hit and was torn down. But we went through it. Because it is our home and we can rebuild.

    This is our land, our home and you told us to leave?

    We did. Why? Because such a half-assed plan of action is so tv dramaesque, that we had to make our own actions to keep my wife and daughters safe. Even if it meant depleting our meager finances, asking help from family and friends, just to sustain an uprooting and settle, even if temporary, elsewhere.

    We are good to our Talidong community. My wife when she was still able move around, was a volunteer secretary for our electricity bill collection. When an arrogant DSWD officer wanted a land donation to build a day care center, we donated, because we felt it the right thing to do, so that children up there can have their own place to learn. I even did the letterings on the wall so that we could save up on expenses, since I’m good with art.This same DSWD officer denied my sick mother in law her request for a wheel chair. And the Barangay Chairman then, respectable as he was, did not do anything to support our claim to a badly needed wheelchair. Now this current Barangay Chairman, nearing his term is very much oblivious of what had just transpired. A failed home invasion is a precedent of crimes that are rising. If this could happen to my family, it could happen to our next neighbor. There are daughters, nieces, kids growing up in our little Sitio, and I dread the day that these crimes will be perpetrated by these no-good bums, just because our elected officials are just interested in taking their photo-ops and their names on tarpaulins on projects.

    Yes, I am fuming. If the situation was reversed and the incident happened to our Barangay Chairman, and was told to leave their home while police went about the investigation, would he have left his home? I don’t think so.
The incident was recorded on blotter. Reported to our local police. If our Chairman was interested, a whole lot of information could be gleaned from the community, as these bums are in a small circle of lazy males who get their rocks off drinking, sitting all day, and some even do drugs (this has become common knowledge). I, without asking people, learned about these facts. And oh by the way, several months prior to November 5, my nephew reported a malingering male lurking in our close proximity that he asked the tanods to do quick rounds to make sure everything is okay. And a peeping tom early in the morning, who lives a ways off, to exert the effort of waking up early just to get a glimpse of my daughters taking a bath deserves attention, doesn’t it? Because it’s the same guy who we suspect did the deed on the night of November 5. I mean if this were down there in the town proper, a hue and cry would have driven the guilty person to pack up and leave, right?

    It’s election season early next year. We will all vote. I don’t really care if the incumbent Barangay Chairman finishes his term or gets a post as another wannabe statesman. All I know is I will select my government in the most meticulous way. I’m staking the safety and security of my family while I work away from home. I need someone I can depend on. We all should be mindful about these things, not just photo ops and parties, fiestas and weddings. Up there in Sitio Talidong, we’ll be starting some things that will benefit the community and no public official will be dragging his name to get pogi points off our hard earned actions. You know who our incumbents are. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, as to why, it’s to keep the memory of our Mother who insisted that we work with the community, and give back something to it. Harboring petty criminals and addicts do not belong in our quiet sitio.

I am Eman Paelmo. I am a registered voter for Sipocot, Camarines Sur. Our home is at Sitio Talidong, Barangay Impig. We love our place. No lazy ass bums nor bystanders should be able to drive out peaceful, law abiding citizens from our community. This will never happen again. If we ever get back to our home, I will be taking actions against trespassers, should they try again. I used to believe everybody should be welcome in our humble abode. I’m setting limits.

German “Eman” Robale Paelmo, 2018

Elsewhere, Nowhere

I have been, to put it lightly, in limbo.

Much of what happened and happening still is a series of failures and disappointments. My familiarity with losing and failure is very much like a friendship, and sometimes  friendship gets some cracks now and again.

True, I have been writing and illustrating my own graphic novels, I call them komiks novels, as homage to those little bits of literature that kept my imagination since I was a child. But the point is, personally, I am at my lowest where no one, not even my closest friends can get me to stand up.

And it seems during these times of abandonment and being discarded as used up and dried out, is where the whole creativity gets a shot of adrenalin. Something kept me down though, an ending that I saw coming but had no idea how it will unfold. Sure enough it was painful, with all the talking and communication we had, the goodbye got lost in technological snafu, and I fervently wished we could have ended it face to face and talking as friends, not some cloak and dagger, dungeons and dragons misdirection. Call it desperation-inspiration, label it defense mechanism, all I know is I can suffer as long as I can endure, I don’t really harbor grudges to weigh me down. I just feel empty sometimes when I look back about the coulda, woulda, shoulda stuff, you know how it is.



Now I’m doing this, on my own, living as frugal and bohemian in ways no one will understand. I have gone without food for days, a bit of alcohol with friends and that only proves I am made of sturdier stuff. I am living with less and yes, it resulted in me doing more, a paradox, but a welcome one.

Gave up the whole job hunting spree and just write and draw. This is how it’s going to be. No more spending hard-earned money just to get to an interview just to get the feeling of being an outsider. Well, I have always been an outsider. And I’ll use it to my own advantage.

Unconventional. Uncouth and unfashionable. I’d rather swim against the flow than getting lost in the waves.

The Prodigal Son Returns

The day started with me walking up Buendia Avenue on a nippy Saturday morning, on my way to a rendezvous point where Arniel, an old friend whom I haven’t seen for about a decade, give or take a few, is going to give me a ride down memory lane.

The blasted dude didn’t age one bit! Still the tidy, neat guy he was when we were getting shitfaced drunk back in the day (well I was always shitfaced drunk back then, he was seldom inebriated, methinks). He arrived and we gassed up, he did some work stuff for a couple of minutes and we were off.

We went to see the boys back home, home being Paete, Laguna, where we grew up.

The Bulldogs Club, as we’re famous, or infamous for, depends on who you’re talking to, was a bunch of guys growing up in Paete, painting souvenir bulldog pen heads, and everything started from there. We had a basketball team that became one of the team to beat at our local basketball tournaments (yes we have a pennant!) which came slow and hard, as we were wet behind the ears and was only in it for the heck of it. Our early team names, as Ka Emer reminded me, was Loafers, then became Youngsters, back then already giving the opposing team a hard time, and the official Bulldogs Team that won a championship, if I recall correctly. Basketball games at smalltowns are really an event worth cleaning and brushing your flipflops clean and be seen among the fans shouting bloody murder when a referee failed to call a foul.

Good times!

It’s not just being a basketball team, I can hardly dribble, but the rest of the guys were good at it. We also dabbled in music. Everyone in our crew can sing, but it was me who did most of the vocal duties when we decided to learn our chops seriously. Ambo on guitar, Tavern on drums, Me on bass and vocals, and most anyone who would jam with us, with the few song list we can play decently. Most of the time we were playing, we were also drinking, as most boys in our age then are wont to do. There was also that part of long forgotten memories, when, before we started palying in a band, we would pool up our money buy some pasta, set-up a place with a few strobes and colorful lights, taking turns at the tape player and turntable and viola! The party is on! To make sure all the invited girls can eat what measly food and drinks we had to offer, we made sure everyone has taken their share before eating ourselves, maybe even waiting for some leftovers.

Bulldogs Club Collage

Photos: Nelia De Luna, Arniel cajumban, Mahalia dalay, Rey Cajipe

Music has always been a part of the Bulldogs Club. And yesterday, I sang my heart out, because I haven’t anything to contribute financially, I just added some entertainment with my singing, even though it’s really hard to say the words when I’ve got less teeth now as I did back then. Still, yesterday was when I feel I could fuck up a song and the guys wouldn’t mind. But I think I did pretty well, considering I had to follow a more visceral singer in the person of Ramil. Continue reading