Silak - a quarterly publication for Bantoanons

Silak September 2004 Issue


Rodil F. Fadri


Heart-break kids no more. The Greenhorns beat the Playboys 73-71 in the BBT 2004 finals at the St. John Academy Gym on Sunday (Sept.12, 2004). It’s the Greenhorns' first championship in 14 years. Down by seven with less than four minutes to go, the Greenhorns’ solid team defense enabled them to overtake the Playboys with 51 seconds left. The Playboys had a chance to win or send the game to overtime in the last 14 seconds but their three point try missed and their follow-up shot was blocked. In the game for third place, Candelaria repeated over Gudalupe to bag the 2nd runner up trophy.




Ish Fabicon

There in the island where the waves rock the beaches of sand and stone, my father was born. There, in his childhood, he skin dived to learn the wisdom of the stonefish and the sea horse.





I first met Mang Minyong sometime in 1999. It was after hearing the 7 o’clock mass at San Beda church when I spotted him right there, standing on his frail small frame at the front of the church’s gate clad with yellow Ninoy T-shirt and faded maong shorts.

Church goers began to flock on his panindas. Leading newspapers, tabloids, magazines, pre-packed suman, steaming peanuts, candies, cigarettes and sampaguitas are displayed on his makeshift plastic carpet laying on the sidewalks. People started to pick newspapers of their choice; some would ask for garlands of sampaguitas, others request for scoops of peanuts, and still others asked for a pack or few sticks of cigarettes. His place, almost barren just a moment ago is now swarmed with people. His head turns left and right trying to entertain every face asking his attention. His lips and his hands worked double time on their own. Reaching payments from one side while answering somebody on the other side. I keep a distance from the crowd for the moment. This sudden rush of people coming almost simultaneously towards this man is enough for him to handle, I thought.  Some appeared impatient, as he could not swiftly attend to their urgent demands. But Mang Minyong, as often as he can just throw back his big smile, and ask sorry.

I moved when the crowd started their unhurried steps away. “Inquirer nga po”, I opened up as I stretch a ten-peso bill to him.

“Salamat ha.”, he softly replied as he drops the change on my palm while handing me the folded newspaper.

“Do you often sell here? I mean, here in front of San Beda?”

“Um, no, this is actually my first time here. But previously, I’ve been selling the same panindas in front of Quiapo church but..”

“So what made you transfer here?”, I uttered back as I cut him short, eager to hear his reasons.

“Ah…”, he continued scratching a bit  his graying hair as if dissatisfied to himself. “It’s because I could not sell much there. As you may know, sellers there have made their stalls almost side by side and I could barely compete with them. I only make small profits despite the long hours I stand there. Not like here, even though church goers are not that many compared in Quiapo church, I could see no other stalls beside, do you?”

I realized myself nodding at him most of the time as he continued to tell his selling experiences on the streets. He started when he was 21 a couple of decades ago. The year he considered the prime of his youth where his dreams are bold and his muscles are strong. He recalled his ambition to be an engineer someday. But given the limited budget his father earns to support the family of four children with his two other elder sisters going to college, he realized his early role in life. His parents convinced him to wait for his turn, and being the only son in the family, he assumed the supporting role to his father who was about to retire in public office in about a year during that time. He walked down the streets of Baclaran, Recto, Binondo and Divisoria, selling assorted items that are cheap and easy to sell. He made friends with older sellers and from them learned by practice the basic business of selling on the streets. As years go by, he slowly made profits which most of the time were instantly converted to his sisters’ schools fees.  

“I’m quite happy the way my selling was going during that time. I can make things happen and more importantly I can help. My parents and the family relied on me then. As the demands on the streets consumed more of my time and focus, my goal was somewhat sidelined out of my mind. Somehow, it was placed on the least priority list. But I don’t mind. On the year my two elder sisters earned their respective degrees, my selling business was at its peak. I was proud of it. And I’m happy for them. Then I thought of my goal, but I felt quite bad leaving the streets. Somehow, I still need to support my younger sibling to finish her college too and the family as well. Sayang eh.”

“But how come you were not able to get your dream?” I mean, your two elder sisters maybe reaping their own profits then weren’t they?”

“Yes, but things had changed. From then on, after I was invited to pose for a picture remembrance during their graduation, both of them have left for good in the States. Settled there, and started their own families. Since then, only once have they returned. And after my youngest sister earned her degree, I realized I was 31 then going on 32. My selling business still made decent profits, but I feel I’m old for a degree.”

Sayang….”, I meekly said, keenly looking at him as if trying to find any mark of emotion on his face. But he busied his eyes on his panindas. Mang Minyong never said a word and I felt ashamed to myself to have said that. “Sige ho.”, the only word I managed to say.  

“Salamat iho.”, he replied, looking at me while raising his hand for a goodbye.

I love Sunday morning masses at San Beda. The church is often silent and cool and on most occasions, there are just few churchgoers. Every celebration starts with the burning of incense whose smoke goes up to the dome-shaped ceilings that were painstakingly painted with several scenes from the Bible. In a matter of few minutes, its smell would fill up the air and can even reach the seldom-occupied pulpits at the back. Young seminarians and elder priests all in white uniforms are gathered around the altar. And they resemble the choir for the celebration. Their songs complement the atmosphere of silence inside, and in some way enthralls my nerve.




Banton 2003 Update
   Sports Feature
       BBT Season 5
      Greenhorns Champs
Book Review
   Is the Battle of Sibuyan Sea
       Really the Greatest Battle in


Several Sunday mornings turned into months and my love of going to mass was deepened by the thought of meeting this man I only know since that first meeting. Every after the mass, I would often meet him outside the church gate. He would then continue with his life stories, doing most of the talking while I do most of the listening.

“So you have done your part, I suppose. But why do you still sell on the streets? Doesn’t your sisters give you little help these days?”, I asked him one Sunday.

“I haven’t seen them for a long time now. They haven’t come back since then and I hardly know how they are doing and where are they now. I still feel good for them though. About support, I didn’t expect much from them. Maybe they too, need more than what I need now.”

“But they remember you at least don’t they?”, I followed up expecting to hear more of them.

“Maybe they remember me. Maybe they don’t. I don’t know, I just wish all of them are doing good all these years.”

One Sunday, while having the usual conversations, he jokingly asked me if I could watch over his panindas for a few minutes. The usual crowd after the mass has left and I could see just a few ROTC guys opposite the streets of Mendiola at CEU gates. “Why? Where are you going?”

“If you don’t mind, I just want to get inside the church. If it’s just okay with you.”

I was surprised; he knew it the way I have drawn my face. But he remained silent, smiling and just waiting for my words.

“Okay, take your time.” I assured him.

“Thank you, I won’t be long.”

And he began walking inside, brushing off a bit his hair with his hands as if trying to tidy himself up before an important appointment while I was left with his panindas outside. For almost 20 minutes, I was standing there beside his newspapers, candies, cigarettes and steaming peanuts. Could I ask the same favor to somebody of whom I haven’t known well the way he’d asked me? Maybe he’s just putting me to test. But will he risk his panindas for the sake of that? Of course I bet I will never run with his panindas. Or perhaps he really needs this time.

I love Sunday morning masses at San Beda.

On my mind, things are still unclear when Mang Minyong slowly appeared on the church’s door. “Salamat uli ha.”, he opened up as he approached me. “Anybody who bought my newspapers?”

“Ah… yes. Three Inquirer and one Bulletin. Here is the money.”, I replied as I handed him.

The next Sundays that followed, I was the one asking him to leave his panindas to me to spare him some time inside the church. He was thankful about it and I was glad he trusted me. One time, I asked him if he does the same in Quiapo church when he was still selling there.

“Yes. I did ask several times to few people. But they all declined; of reasons I did not know. I’m happy you accepted my request.”

“No, it’s fine with me. Anytime.”

Several Sundays had past after that.  Then one Sunday, Mang Minyong was not around. Maybe he’s with other things, I just thought. But the next Sunday that followed and so on, he did not show up just the same. Nobody ever sells then at the church’s front gate.

Then I thought of Quiapo church. After one Sunday mass in San Beda, I took a jeepney ride to Quiapo and searched for him among the lines of sellers there. I combed the stalls side by side thinking perhaps he just changed places or had visited some good old friends there. But I could not see him. I’ve lost the man, I thought.

The next Sunday, after almost everyone had left the pulpit at San Beda, I lingered on to my seat. The church master switched off the lights and fans. I remember Mang Minyong, a Sunday morning companion known to me only by his newspapers and steaming peanuts and his brief time inside the church.  


Copyright (c) 2004, Silak it Bantoanon Inc.