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Before he left this earthly world, my late brother Dante, two years older than me, was prophetic and gently admonished me in his usual commanding voice, “Vits, you should no longer be elsewhere except in Bicol.”

He said the first time was in 2013 after Typhoon Yolanda, the next in 2017 after Typhoon Nina, and then at the start of the Pandemic in 2020. As an afterthought, those were the years when we collaborated in many instances to help disaster survivors in Tacloban, Camarines Sur, and Albay. I had known him as a volunteer at heart. That was our one other common bond.

He held the mythical notion that I should have a better claim to be called a “true” Bicolana among the seven siblings of Jaime and Eliza because I was the only one born in Bicol. For carrying that “honor,” he said, I should go back to Bicol and enjoy the family “legacy.” But, of course, I did not subscribe to this old-fashioned notion. From kindergarten to college and post-college and early senior years, I have been a Bicolana outsider. I understand but cannot speak fluent Bicol.

As years passed, I realized that he was right. Social conditions and age were compelling conditions for change. I soon learned a Bicolano word that best described the process of my development from a non-committed Bicolano outsider to a committed Bicolana, proud and eager learner of the culture and history of one’s native land.


It is an old Bicol term that means grow and develop. Padagos pagtalubo means continue to grow. Two months ago, I first met the word at a meeting with the Office of Research and Extension Services (ORES) at Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Legazpi City campus. A part of the agenda was developing holistic learning modules for meaningful education and training for the youth, especially in disaster-stricken or disaster-prone communities.

Acting Extension Services Officer James Dino brought up the word, and ORES Director Dr. Lanie Pavilando caught up with the conversation with the other staff, Camille and Dimple. With Dr. Nila Onate, VP for Academic Affairs, and myself for planning and development, PAGTALUBO developed into the envisioned holistic learning for the all-rounded development of young people -students and out-of-school youth for sustainable and resilient communities. It contained learning modules on Values formation, Social Enterprise Development, and DRRM. The initial seminar at Lidong, Sto.Domingo, Albay, in October, successfully gathered a mixed group of youth farmers/students and women in evacuation from the Mayon volcano eruption. It now serves as MPCF Legazpi’s contribution to the Social Enterprise Development CHEd-funded Mariners-TBM-CBSUA project and is part of institutionalizing its community extension services.

Pagtalubo is a process of growing from small to big, from not knowing to knowing, from not being aware to being aware. Just like “pagtalubo kan satong Kristyanong pagtubod” means looking at the growth of our Christian faith” and “ang katuyuhan nin educacion dapat iyo an completong pagtalubo kan pagkatawo nin lambang saro” means the purpose of education is to achieve a complete development of the humanity of each one. When one speaks of the economy, it may be “naging makaskas o maluya ang pagtalubo” to mean the economy may have grown fast or slow. “Dakula ang benepisyo sa pagtalubo kan ekonomiya pero dakulang perwisyo kung mayong pagtalubo” means there are big benefits if economy grows well and the reverse, if not.

One of our volunteers at TBM said, “nahiling ko an pagtalubo kan mga Aki sa Canaman na nagpartisipar sa Kurit Aki” to mean that she saw the development of the children in Canaman who participated in the Kurit Aki program. On December 20, the yearly Alay kay Boboy at Mariners schools will hold Kurit Aki for hundreds of aki (children) as psycho-social intervention, and breeding ground for the future young leaders of Bugkos Kabataan.

“Magayunon na estado kan pagtalubo kan literaturang Bikol kun kada okasyon sa banwaan, igwang pagkanta, pagtula, rawitdawit o tirigsikan,” means the state of Bicol literature is well if there are singing, poetry, Bicol cultural expressions like rawitdawit or tigsik on every occasion in the communities. In community development, TBM introduced sharing activities called Pagheras, a pagtalubo from relief provision to one of sharing of resources, knowledge and skills. “Ang pagtalubo ning Citronella plants from simple distribution to a thousand people in communities infested with dengue-carrying mosquitoes saw the growth of community organizations and social enterprises. With the CHEd-SED project, padagos pagtalubo sa TBM and its community organizations.

I now serve the Mariners schools as part of its working force. I have set up my own food, health, and merchandise business but continue to support advocacy for good governance. I thoroughly enjoy an extra duty as a volunteer Trustee and worker of the Tabang Bikol Movement, which has grown into a broad-based regional humanitarian group recognized for its outstanding acts of volunteerism. In addition, writing a regular column for Bicol Mail is for continuing growth.

Staying in our native Bicol for good has become the best option for active retirement and provides a refreshing respite for me, my husband, and my family. My brother was right. Up there, he must surely be gleaming with a mischievous smile. I am here to stay. Grow where you are planted. Padagos pagtalubo.


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