TALAKAG - the etymology of which came from the Bisayan dialect LAKAG meaning "to go after” or
“follow in pursuit” and the prefix TA denoting “fondness in doing such”.
In other words, Talakag means “fondness in giving pursuit”.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Growing Papaya Commercially in Talakag

Papaya is a fruit that has always been taken for granted just because it is abundant and easy to grow. They are commonly consumed as fruits for dessert or as vegetables (while still green) for various recipes in tinolas, achara, etc. I believe even its leaves and seeds have medicinal properties. While usually grown from our humble backyard gardens, nowadays they are commercially grown in Talakag, Bukidnon as profitable enterprise too. So far, I have only visited two papaya plantations here in Talakag (one is in San Antonio just a stone’s throw away from the Kabalangasan river, while the other is in San Roque just across Bethany Christian School) but they are fast becoming a popular venture. Not only is commercial papaya fruit a key ingredient for canned fruit cocktails and preserves; concentrates for juice and smoothies; but in the last decade has become a vital raw material for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Just Passing Through

Truckloads of army were seen in Talakag this week. No cause for alarm though – they’re just passing through and on their way to patrol and secure the Bukidnon boundaries in the aftermath of the recent attacks in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato by the MILF.

Bukidnon Online News also reported last week that:

“The Provincial Board of Bukidnon has recently passed a resolution protesting the inclusion of one of Bukidnon's barangays (Barangay Pamotolan in Kalilangan) in the proposed territory of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order against the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).”

The Bukidnon towns of Talakag, Kalilangan and Pangantucan borders Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and North Cotabato respectively. So it is indeed understandable why it's important to have a visible army presence around these areas.

Photo by Bobby Timonera

Friday, 8 August 2008

Explore Northern Mindanao

I'd like to share this video (courtesy of Department of Tourism - Region 10) which promotes some of the tourist destinations in Northern Mindanao, including the province of Bukidnon. Enjoy watching and do let me know what you think.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Hydroelectric Power Plant in Talakag

In two years time, Talakag could be responsible for lower electricity prices in the region. Oh really?

This is because “the Northern Mindanao Electric Cooperatives (Normeca) is looking at the construction of a 132 megawatt Bulanog-Batang Hydroelectric Power Plant in Talakag, Bukidnon to sustain stable power supply in the region”. SunStar CDO News

Well let's look at the pros and cons:

A hydroelectric power station is clean and does not release greenhouse gases like coal or gas burning power stations. It’s also reliable and it’s easy to generate electricity. The construction project will provide employment opportunities for Talakag residents. Once the dam is built, it produces electricity cheaply.

“Once this project is realised, it would result to low electricity prices because it is stipulated in the law that we don't have to pay VAT for renewable energy”. SunStar CDO News

However, building a big dam is very expensive and can cause lots of disruption to the environment. Some local families may be displaced. The project could also have huge maintenance costs during operation.

On the one hand, there are concerns for potential flooding while on the other, “the Oro Rafters Association feared that the project’s dam operation might result in the reduction of the volume of water flowing into the Cagayan de Oro River that might adversely affect the operation of their popularly and world-class adventure activities as river rafting, kayaking, tubing, among others”. CDOkay News

Does the end justify the means? This will depend not only on the management of the project itself but also the subsequent operations of the hydroelectric power plant after its completion and its maintenance long after the construction team have gone. So watch this space!

Monday, 14 July 2008

The Distinctive Character of the Traditional Bukidnon Women’s Dress

I was at the recent Philippine Festival held in Stockton-on-Tees (England), where all Filipinos were encouraged to wear traditional Filipiniana outfits. This normally means that men wear barong tagalogs and the women wear mestiza (or terno) dresses to help promote the Philippine tradition and culture. As I am from Talakag, Bukidnon, I decided to wear a traditional Bukidnon dress to help promote the province of Bukidnon in Mindanao.

I was overwhelmed by the attention I got when I arrived at the venue. Lots of people wanted to take my photograph. They were interested in my Bukidnon attire. One particular British woman said to me, “I recognised the (mestiza) dress that the others are wearing because I saw Imelda Marcos in it but not this one”. I explained that it’s a traditional dress from the province of Bukidnon in Mindanao and fortunately, I was close to the Philippine Embassy’s Tourism booth and I pointed out the island of Mindanao from the map on display. But what really surprised me and I didn’t expect it at all was that even a number of fellow Filipinos who were at the festival didn’t know where Bukidnon is (some thought it’s in Baguio, while others thought it’s in Palawan) nor were they aware of the existence of the traditional Bukidnon dress. This is what prompted me to write about it here.

The traditional Bukidnon women are remarkable for their most colourful dress. They use dyes acquired from plants and trees and typical combination of colours used by the tribes in Bukidnon are red, black and white. They are renowned for their elaborate use of embroidery, appliqué and beadwork. They wear pleated and voluminous skirts of brightly embroidered material. Their skirts are held together by decorative belts with extra embroidered or beaded material hanging on each side of the hips. Their jackets are made of bright material stitched together like patchwork with geometric designs from different bright coloured materials.

With their hair combed back, held by headbands with tassels of red or yellow yarn and the ends tied in a bun, they wear fan-shaped headdresses made of bamboo sticks or rattan covered with material and decorated with beads, shells and feathers. Their jewellery includes beaded earrings, bright multi-coloured bracelets, rings and anklets with tiny bells attached to them, making musical sounds as they walk. They also wear layers of necklaces made of beads, seeds, shells and old coins.

The amount of time and work that goes with the creation of their outfit is priceless. Every material, colour, bead, shell, coin, feather is detailed to represent some aspect of their inner selves. The beauty of the Bukidnon women is always complemented by the style of the traditional dress they wear, specifically designed to show their great pride, dignity and the great characteristics of their tribe and their people.

The traditional Bukidnon dress is now only worn on special occasions like weddings, during the fiestas and Christmas seasons or in shows put on for visitors. My Bukidnon dress (complete with accessories) was specially made by Mrs Flora dela Torre who is a retired elementary school teacher and resident of Barangay 2, Talakag, Bukidnon. I heard she was asked to make one for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she visited Talakag last year. So the next time you're in Talakag why not have one made for yourself and help promote Talakag, Bukidnon. And if you want to catch the biggest parade of colourful traditional Bukidnon costumes from different tribes, come to Bukidnon’s Kaamulan Festival (the social gathering), held in Malaybalay during the month of March each year.

Adapted from my article in the Mindanao Blog

Friday, 27 June 2008

Talakag Has Gone Bananas

Bananas have been grown in Talakag, Bukidnon for a very long time either for consumption by farmers or for sale in the local markets. They constitute a major staple food for Filipinos. Depending on the variety, they can be eaten fresh, boiled, fried, barbecued, chipped or baked.

Nowadays, the Cavendish variety of bananas are grown big time in Talakag by Del Monte and Dole (and their partners) for export as they are among the most widely consumed foods in the world. When you pass the barrio roads of San Isidro, San Antonio and Sto Nino now, you can see so many bananas planted as far as your eyes can see.

According to scientific research, a banana is known to give an instant boost of energy. It is also known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier. No wonder that the “simple living, bisag saging, basta loving” is a famous quote that many families often use when confronted by the hardships of poverty. It is indeed remarkable how far some families are prepared to live on bananas alone as long as they have love.

However, the need to go for such extreme sacrifices is now history since the arrival of Del Monte and Dole have provided employment for many residents of Talakag. Some locals have even found other enterprising ways of augmenting their income by utilising reject bananas. Along the roadside between Talakag and Cagayan de Oro City, a common sight now would be the groups of men, women and children slicing bananas into chips and drying them under the sun, which are then sold on to be made into fertilizers and animal feeds. Hey, isn’t that great?

On the other hand, there are others who have mixed feelings about such big scale banana farming in Talakag. They are concerned about what future relative effects the strong chemicals in fertilisers and pesticides being used might bring to the workers and the families who live beside the plantations, to the nearby streams, rivers and wildlife, and to small-scale farmers around.

So what does the future hold for Talakag? As landowners have leased their land to Del Monte and Dole for as long as 15-25 years - we'll just have to wait and see...

Friday, 23 May 2008

Mama Glo Celebrates Her 80th Birthday

My mother, Mrs Gloria Flores vda. de Santiago (a retired Talakag Central Elementary School teacher), recently celebrated her 80th birthday in Talakag, Bukidnon. The big party was attended by members of her family, relatives and close friends; some of whom have even travelled all the way from England, Austria, USA, Bulacan, Antique, Bohol, Don Carlos, Malaybalay and Cagayan de Oro City.

“Happy 80th Birthday Mama Glo and may you have many more to come!”

Friday, 16 May 2008

Talakag, Bukidnon - My Home

Wherever I may roam
the distant land to see
I long to go back soon
to sweet Bukidnon home.

Her lovely mountains high
her forest old and grand
bring memories to me
the home I long to see.

There my heart, yearns to be
in far away, Bukidnon land
under its blue and starry skies
where love and joy never die.

When you think of Bukidnon, what springs to mind? We all have our own ideas. The word bukid means mountain. So it follows that the word bukidnon means full of mountains, mountainous, or highlands? Bukidnon is a province in the heart of Mindanao and is often called the highland paradise. The province of Bukidnon, of course, is more than just mountains. It is famous for the Kaamulan festival, the cattle and farming industry, being home to Del Monte’s pineapple plantation, and the second home of sugar centrals.

You couldn’t blame me for wanting to move back home to Talakag, Bukidnon. Just read the lyrics of the song above. It says it all. It’s a beautiful song, although I can’t remember who wrote or composed it.

We used to sing the song in our primary class every morning before starting our lessons. It was almost like the provincial anthem (next to Lupang Hinirang which is the national anthem). When I come to think about it now, we were perhaps indoctrinated into a sense of belonging and taking pride of our origin by our educators at that time. I wonder if the school children in Bukidnon still sing the same song these days. Do other provinces in Mindanao have their own song? I do not know - but it should be interesting to find out.

At that time, the song didn’t mean so much to me. Perhaps it’s true that you have to leave home in order to realise what you’re missing. Living and working abroad is challenging and life-enhancing but it’s not easy when you often long for your sweet Bukidnon home. This time I’ve put a lot of thought into each line of the song and recently started humming the tune again. I guess I’m just excited because my husband and I are moving back home to Talakag, Bukidnon soon. There is absolutely nowhere else we would rather be.

Extract from my article in the Mindanao Blog
Photograph by Bob Martin

Thursday, 1 May 2008

About Talbuks Cafe

Welcome to Talbuks Cafe - a virtual hang-out where fellow “taga-Talakag”, friends and visitors of Talakag can stop by anytime, from wherever you may be and catch up with some online news/information about Talakag, Bukidnon. I hope to keep this site updated on a regular basis so that you can check out what’s happening in this beautiful town and its people.

The place has changed so much since I left in the 1980s. Now I am looking forward to rediscovering it once again and writing about what it’s like to be living here nowadays. After 25 years of living abroad, I have returned for good and will be sharing my thoughts and experiences about “Life in Talakag Today” through a collection of news, events, photos and stories from a balikbayan's viewpoint.

So that’s most likely what you’ll find in here. Thank you for dropping by and till next time...