[Mariz (aka Marisa Alvarez Williams) and I were colleagues at the WORLD BANK-FINANCED TONDO FORESHORE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT in the 70s. We got accidentally connected to each other after my daughter ALEE put up the FUNDRAISER (through GENEROSITY.COM) for the 2017 WORLD HIPHOP INTERNATIONAL CONTEST (“WHHI”) in support of the Philippine Hiphop Dance Teams (i.e. LEGIT STATUS and ALLIANCE). Mariz who is based in Zamboanga City, has been here in the Philippines for 11 months now after she attended the funeral of his brother Greg last year. Mariz is scheduled to depart at 3 PM today for Lancaster, Ohio, U.S.A to reunite with her husband Bob. Bon voyage Mariz!!!!]
In December 1974 I got employed at TONDO FORESHORE1,
It was a pioneering project for the MARCOS REGIME2 to SCORE3…
It consisted of URBAN RENEWAL and UPGRADING OF SITE,
The WORLD BANK vowed to finance it with all its MIGHT!
I met then my colleagues who were all smart LADIES,
It was MARIZ4, GLO5 and CHONA;6 and ABE7 was our CHIEF—
MARIZ was from the SOUTH, a vibrant Zamboanga LASS…
And GLO was somewhat meek but with a mind as sharp as CUTLASS8!
I’ll concentrate on MARIZ for tomorrow we will MEET,
She’ll be flying BACK to the U.S., I hope it’s not FOR KEEP;
We’ll meet somewhere near the AIRPORT,
Would be nice if she could make it to the FORT9!
I remember during those TONDO Days,
We would ride in one car to reach the QUAYS10;
We worked near the PIER called the NORTH HARBOR,
It was breezy and the horizon was filled with BAPOR11!
One time when there was some kind of RE-ORG!
And the General12 was proposing changes in a place so full of ROGUE13;
The General offered ABE14 the position,
Another ABE15 butted in, saying it’s too much for his EDUCATION!
There were times when GANG WARS
We make sure that our colleagues were SAFE and our work not DISRUPT;
But despite this eerie SURROUNDINGS,
We brought to TONDO such GOOD TIDINGS16!
And those CHRISTMAS parties we’ve HAD,
Brought the house DOWN as though falling from a CRAG17;
Us MALES — would dress up like HOOKERS,
While our FEMALE counterparts remain as real LOOKERS!
And the thing that has etched in my MIND,
Is that MARIZ was so solicitous and so classic as WINE;
She’ll be praying when I’m driving the CAR18,
Saying that I’m a reckless driver as though wanting a SCAR19!
[Legend: 1 – It was the TONDO FORESHORE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT (“TFURP”), one of the predecessors-agencies of the NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, which was placed then under the Office of the President and the mandate was to erase the slum condition of the Tondo Foreshoreland which consists of a 137 hectare strip of land facing the sea.
2 – It was a project which was launched during Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’ MARTIAL LAW regime.
3 – As Pres. Marcos was facing a challenge to extirpate the roots of growing dissent and rebellion and to accelerate the development of the country, Pres. Marcos wanted to showcase the TONDO FORESHORE DEVELOPMENT Project as one way to alleviate the degradation of the poorest of the poor as depicted in the TONDO slums. It was indeed a PIONEERING project for way back then, URBAN RENEWAL was a novel idea of urban development.
4 – MARIZ is Marisa Alvares Williams, my Zamboangueña co-employee at the TFURP, who at that time was so alluringly svelte and statuesque.
5 – GLO is Gloria Pascua Aguinaldo, my Ilocana co-employee at the TFURP and who is now based in Belgium; and who at that time was so attractively demure, coy and affectionate.
6 – CHONA is Rosario Logan Villanueva, who was then a chubby but pretty co-employee at the TFURP, who is still employed with the government as Department Head of the National Housing Authority’s Estate Management Department.
7 – ABE is our immediate supervisor, Mr. Abelardo Ressurrecion.
8 – CUTLASS is a very sharp knife or saber.
9 – The FORT is the favorite week-end and classy destination in Metro-Manila and located in Taguig.
10 – QUAYS mean the seaport.
11 – BAPOR is Tagalog term for ships especially those SHIPs anchored at the Manila North Harbor area.
12 – GENERAL refers to General Gaudencio V. Tobias, my uncle, who was named by Pres. F.E. Marcos as the Director-General of the TFURP.
13 – ROGUE would refer to the various rascals, villains, knaves, criminals and tough guys to where TONDO is famous/notorious for.
14 – ABE refers to Mr. Abelardo Ressureccion, the expert economist, who was then heading the ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY GROUP of the TFURP.
15 – ABE is the namesake of Mr. Abelardo Ressureccion and one of the JANITORs employed at the TFURP. It was in an informal meeting attended by all officers and staff of the TFURP where General G.V. Tobias first sounded off the need to reorganize the TFURP.
16 – Indeed, we brought to TONDO such a good news as eventually the upgraded sites thereat especially the residential area (which is located in the heart of Manila) was eventually sold to the censused occupants at Php 95.00 per square meter.
17 – CRAG means CLIFF.
18 – Back then, we were into CAR POOLING. Alternately, it would be MARIZ or my TOYOTA Corolla Car that we would use to bring us to NORTH HARBOR. When I drive my CAR, Mariz feels so insecure as she feels I was a reckless driver.
19 – It would seem to Mariz’s mind that I want to get into some kind of a mishap that would bring us all SCARS as a consequence of a collision or any other mishap.]
I am a litigation lawyer in the Philippines and a graduate of the UP College of Law. I am married to a culinary chef, my wife Criselda, endearingly called as Dang, who is now preparing her masteral thesis at UP; and have four (4) children: three (3) daughters (i.e. Shayna, a UP Masscom grad; Cheska, a UP Visual Arts grad; and, Alee who is a Grade 12 student at Miriam High) who are all passionate advocates of the hiphop culture particularly the dance genre (i.e. regular participants in the annual World Hiphop International Dance Competitions in the US) and one (1) son (i.e. Anthony who is an Ateneo graduate in European Studies) who lustily plays the guitar and the electronic drums.
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