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


This has been running in my mind for quite sometime now.

Trying to keep my feet firmly on the ground, my mind is running amok with thoughts of  keeping my current employment and passion more  competitive, living alone in the city, with occasional welcome intrusions from a brother whose pursuits has turned to networking and his  DeMolay standing, a very beautiful niece whom I fondly see a bright future despite her stopping school for the moment, and maintaining our small farm in Bicol, where my family has been living for 10 years now, give or take a few.

Thinking deep, I do not really want to end up whining about upper class problems, just living within my means is enough. Given the experiences of being up there with the in crowd, I know I will always be an outsider, Heavy Metal in a world of Pop, in a society where being IN is so much the requisite for every Social Climber bent on having his 15 minutes of  infamy, and a lot of social media overreaction.

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Not Looking Back

I had nothing to do but listen to the rain making noise outside, while the barge plying the river to and fro makes its final trip for the day. Just got back from Bicol and my fever came back with me, so I winged it and stayed in my rented room, where I came to occupy after my previous landlord decided I had to leave. The room is good enough for me. The only worry is in order to get to my room, you have to to negotiate a particularly steep plight of wooden stairs set on welded steel frame built by my new landlord himself. No, the stairs is the least of my problem. The stove is at the top landing, next to a good pahingahan hanging on a cute little veranda where the gas tank is also located. Sometimes I wonder if the landing should suddenly give out, the tank would surely make a loud boom. Heck, I survive a Don Mariano bus trip every night, a treacherous 100-km speed ride everytime, I should be able to deal with this.

So, with my coffee almost gone, and cigarette butts need to be discarded to make room for new ones, I sit in front of my borrowed computer ( running on XP Ultimate, with a 1.5Gb RAM and a whole lot of history. Yup, this particular pc  came from the wake of TS Undoy) I try to keep from screaming inanities at the dark. Somehow, I’m still full of fire despite the fact that I am 42.

Just like Johnny Storm, I rage. I rage for the loss of a good friend. I snap, crackle and pop at the lost work I have been doing on my laptop, now probably gone to some seedy pawnshop by whoever killed Mamu for some easy buck. Gone with that portable pc are the writings and scenarios for my graphic novel. These losses aggravated the fact that even with a good employment, I still have to find freelance work to make it even in this day of  instant noodles and cult of personalities. I burn at the way my government is a pushover at dealing with my country’s lack of progress. My heart steams from the seemingly unrelenting pop-trash culture being peddled in almost anything.  My psychotherapy of novels and books and music and good movies are all that keeps me from throwing it all away and heading back to the mountains.

Several storms have been making the rounds around here. But the real storms are within. Good thing I still have real friends, old and new ones. I may be distant and preoccupied now but I will be a better friend for them, those that when I cried out screamed back ” Shut up!”, those who when I asked for some help with money problems, offered and delivered, or at least replied to my text messages and emails saying “Sorry, Bro, wala din e.” For someone whose life is a lightbulb readying itself for imminent demise, these guys, the Indios came through for me. And  that someone very special who, in the midst of it all, always seem to make things right, whom I love dearly, I thank you. I thank all of my friends.

Times like these, I feel like what those nasty jokes my uncles and aunts taunt me with, just might be true, that I was adopted or “Napulot ka la-ang sa tae ng kalabaw!”

Recently I picked a nasty time to make my thoughts known to my brothers. All because I was really pissed off at the way our youngest botched another money problem, something that involves my oldest brother kept in a private homecare for the mentally ill, my second brother who pays the bills, and the youngest, whom I have to pick up the slack by fixing up all the glitches with two consecutive homecare bill problems and transfers. They don’t know what I had to go through to make that transfer. Nah. I told them my previous unemployment was the eventual result of these problems. Second Oldest didn’t believe. Told them I dropped out of college because Ina cannot support me and my little bro at the same time, him with a pregnant girlfriend then, but no they only believe I was a quitter.

So there, even with the rains still banging the tin roofs and winds making some wild attempts at the record, I rage. My work with Tv5 Creative Services – News seem to be a sobering  therapy for me. Another privilege at working with a talented Boss and crew (not condescending here, just stating facts) makes me feel wanted and needed.

So I won’t be looking back. I’m burning bridges in the dark because it’s the only way I’m going to see where I’m going. And I’m moving on. Got my girls to think of, a graphic novel to rewrite and some more adventures in this stage.

Bring it on. I’m getting the hang of  climbing icebergs.