Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Green Fields of Dupax

Perhaps because they signify hope and prosperity, perhaps because they evoke pleasant memories of childhood...  among the things I never tire of seeing each time I go home to Dupax are the ricefields. Be they in muddy state, dressed in green during planting season, or looking like an Amorsolo painting when the grains turn to gold, the ricefields never cease to awaken a sense of pride in the Dupax native in me.

If there is one thing that I wish Dupax to retain for many, many more years to come, it is its ricefields.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want my town to look sleepy and stagnant forever... nor do I wish my townmates to feel backward and -- to use a favorite Tagalog phrase during my student activist years -- "naiiwanan sa kangkungan ng kasaysayan" (left in the kangkong ponds of history).

The fact, however, that wherever you go there are ricefields to your right, ricefields to your left, ricefields in front, and ricefields on your back, is what makes Dupax home and paradise to native sons like me.

Indeed, be it Norte or Sur, Dupax is Dupax because of its ricefields. Take them ricefields away and I assure you the thousands of Isinays and other Dupax-born or Dupax-raised Filipinos would no longer feel their hometown is the same.

Put another way, Dupax would not be Dupax if you take away such staple-food-producing areas and replace them with subdivisions, golf courses, memorial parks, industrial sites, and even mass-housing projects that you now see proliferating in many parts of the Philippines.

Of course, I may be biased. But having traveled to many municipalities in the Philippine archipelago and having seen how they compare or contrast with my birthplace, I think I have earned the right to speak and write glowingly of my hometown. Yes, I can say with fervor that Dupax is beautiful, even if first-time visitors would most probably get the first impression that there's not much to see but ricefields and balding hills.

Not Just Skin-Deep

It may be an overused description, but I'm proud to write "not just skin-deep" here to qualify the aesthetic quality that the ricefields exude and radiate like sunshine to Dupax.

Indeed, there's more to the ricefields of Dupax than sunburnt farmers, slow-moving carabaos, gurgling irrigation canals, rice plants swaying in the breeze, and later paddy fields redolent with newly cut and threshed hay.

There's more to the sights, sounds, scents, and even tastes of the ricefields of Dupax than those you could probably encounter in the ricelands along the highway in Nueva Ecija or Pangasinan. I can even venture to say that they have many special things to offer compared to the well-publicized terraced rice paddies of Banaue and other parts of Ifugao.

To be more specific, let me lay down three of my cards:

1. Fields with history. Called payaw in Isinay (talon in Ilocano), most of the ricefields of Dupax have been there long, long before the town became North and South. I got the following from the manuscript History and Cultural Life of Dupax:

2. Fertilized with blood. Dupax then and up to now, had been equated to headhunting land. Excerpts from the book The Ilongots (1591-1994) by Fr. Pedro V. Salgado, O.P.:

3. Nurtured by hills and rivers. If you look close enough, an integral part of the ricefield ecosystems of Dupax are the hills their sides and the rivers from the blue mountains where they get their nurturance.

Memory Makers

In whatever state they may be, the ricefields evoke happy memories of childhood to many sons and daughters of Dupax. A composite of such memories would include any combination or all of the following:
  • the wondrous sensation of soft mud on the soles of your feet as you make your way to a point in the paddy where you thought you saw a couple of tadaj (frogs) in tight romantic embrace or when you go searching for such mud-loving edible shells as ambeveyo^, basikul or genga.
  • the excitement the child in you would get at discovering that if you concentrated enough you could not only keep your balance but also walk fast or even run on the ricefield's dike no matter how slippery it would be at certain spots and even dare to challenge your playmates to a dike-walking race.
  • the happy feeling of accomplishment when you tried your hand at pulling the pulla (rice seedlings) during that stage Ilocanos call sikka (uprooting rice seedlings preparatory to riceplanting), followed by dibbling the seedlings and testing for yourself if the lines of the song "Magtanim Ay Di Biro" really hold water.
  • the unforgettable experience of visiting the ricefield a week or so later to check if there are problems with the tamnang (dike) or if the irrigation works, and a few more times thereafter to remove recalcitrant weeds or to gather again edible snails if not edible algae called bahase.
  • the great sense of accomplishment you get when the rice plants begin to mandawa (pregnant with grain) and, along with the refreshing breeze on your face, you hear the song of the tukling or the kebkeb as they make their way among the now thick emerald riceplants in search of tadpoles or stranded tuldu^ (juvenile mudfish).
  • the hours-long picnic of woodfuel-cooked aromatic rice (and outsmarting your siblings with the ittip) when you keep vigil or stay overnight enjoying camping life in the abung-abung to reinforce the tinahutahu (scarecrow) and the bambanti used to drive away tulin (rice sparrows) when the riceplants begin to ripen.
If memories like this do not make you wish you were young again, I don't know what cave you have been crouching in all these years.

Making Up for Lost Time

I'm putting my neck on the chopping board here. But believe me the ricefields of Dupax are not only a photographer's delight but also rich prospects for the emerging business of ecotourism. Their prospects are bright for being tapped to fill the increasing need of urban people for clean air and organic food, of OFWs for getting back to their roots or close to nature, of senior citizens for catching up on their deposits of happy memories, of those nearing their expiry dates for retiring in peace and beauty.

This means that the ricefields are a sleeping giant for entrepreneurs of healthful, environmentally benign, culturally appropriate, and local employment-generating ventures related to the travel industry.  

Put another way, Dupax is a frog princess awaiting to be kissed by a knight (small entrepreneurs) on the lookout for some damsel (ricefields) in distress (being ignored for other beautiful functions and benefits other than producing rice).


An Insect that Prays and Preys


And how do you call this insect in Isinay, in Ilocano, in Tagalog?

Don't look now, but among the common insects that are not so familiar is the mantis. Blame the creature's seemingly fearless and always-ready-to-strike mode.

When I was young, I never played with the spiny-legged insect. Well, aside from fearing its sharp spines, there was this story I heard somewhere that the female of the species harbored bulate (worm).

Whenever we encountered one among the kardis and patani, or when we climbed guavas, we tended to avoid it or to squash it with a long stick.

I was already in college when I learned that the mantis have a strange lovemaking behavior.

A Stick that Walks

One of the pleasures of being on an extended vacation is the freedom to spend all the time you want to play with and ruminate on unusual creatures such as the walking stick

My wife and I found a walking stick one day this August. Actually it was half dead having fallen on the pavement from its perch high up on a pine tree.

We brought it home in the hope that it will survive its injuries and live long to populate our house plants again with a lot of its non-destructive insect tribe. Before I let it go (or rather before it eventually passed away), I had the pleasure of my senior life playing with it, setting it on a leaf here or a twig there, and taking photos.

A 9-Inch Pencil-Thick Beauty
First, I laid it down straight beside a foot rule to determine its length. From head to tail, it measured 9 inches.

Then to indicate how fat or slender it was, I held it on my palm along with a ballpen.

Then in succession, I put it on a number of my wife's plants not only to record how it looked but also to document some of the plants currently growing on our veranda.

I have not yet seen a walking stick in Dupax. In fact, even in Los Baños I have not encountered a live one in the greenery of Mount Makiling.

Happy to be 60

I just turned 60 last August 9 and have already secured my Senior Citizen's ID card and purchase booklets to, among other things, use as legal proof in case someone does not believe my claim

If you ask me how does it feel to be 60, well, I would probably start with the admission that I initially had mixed feelings about reaching senior citizenship.

You see, there's the implication that being 60 means saying goodbye to middle age. If you get what I mean, yes, like canned goods, I'm about to reach my expiry date.

There, too, is the genuine fear that I may no longer be smart and durable enough to do the things I loved to do when I was, say, half my age now. Like climbing coconuts, tamarinds, guavas, mangoes, or even low sarisays. Like hiking for hours on mountain trails and river banks with a 10-kilogram backpack that seems to become heavier the longer you go. Like strumming the guitar and singing and drinking all night with only the moon or the starry skies for roof and blanket. Like gorging on lechon, kilawin, crispy tenga, pinapaitan, bulalo, chicharon bulaklak, alimango, and adobo along with ice-cold San Miguel beer, GSM or Coke, with nary a thought on their links to arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart attack.

But, on the other side, I feel grateful that I reached 60. Last time I visited the Dupax cemetery, I noted a lot of names -- among them my classmates way back in the elementary grades -- among the pantheons. Add to these my childhood playmates in I-iyo (e.g. Milit Lacandazo, Tony Agcaoile, Rilo Layugan) or in Domang (e.g. Ente^ Salirungan, Mandy Gutierrez, Oret Calacala). There are also my contemporaries in the forestry profession (e.g. Sammy Nisperos, Panoy Tolentino, Doming Ramirez) whose stars have brought them ahead to the great forests up there even before becoming 60.

Yes, to me life begins at 60. It is a life when, as my Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) ID indicates, I have benefits and privileges under Republic Act No. 9994. Right up front, I now have the "honor" of using the Senior Citizens' counter or line when I go to the grocery and drugstore. I can now claim priority seat on the front row of buses.

Well, to be sure, my ID lists the following discounts:
  • 20% discount in purchase of unbranded generic medicines
  • 20% discount in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, recreation centers, etc.
  • 20% discount in theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, etc.
  • 20% discount in fare and domestic air, sea travel and public land transportation
  • 20% discount on funeral parlors and similar establishments
  • 20% discount on medical and dental services, diagnostic & laboratory fees in private facilities
  • 20% discount on professional fees for medical and dental services in private hospitals facilities
  • 20% discount in pay ward of government health facilities and free medical and dental, diagnostic & laboratory services and professional fees in service ward 
  • 5% discount on basic necessities and prime commodities from retail stores and supermarkets, but not more than P1,300/week.

To be 60 also means having a special cake (which I guess would not be repeated until you reach the next decade -- that is, 70). In my case, my fellow born-in-August daughter Leia gifted me with a cake that befitted my being a forester. Here's the evidence:

To be 60 also means having a lot of well-wishers. In the Senior Foresters Google Group, I got the following greetings:

In Facebook, account holders are alerted when a friend or friends are having their birthdays. I wish I could show the photos of the following greeters:

I also got calls thru my cellphone:

Finally, as part of the texting generation, I got the following:

(To be continued)

More Gabaldon Memories

See what a single photo can do? Joe Latar's shot didn't only resurrect memories that would have otherwise been forgotten forever, it also sent me to dig some more on the subject -- and to keep in touch with friends and relatives.

This blog forms Part Three of an unintended series of posts on the Gabaldon building of Dupax el Sur, Nueva Vizcaya. (The first,  posted in March 2011, was titled  "Goodbye, Gabaldon, Goodbye." The second, immediately preceding this piece, carried the title "Gabaldon Memories.")

Here's what I found from the yellowing and brittle 11-page manuscript titled HISTORY AND CULTURAL LIFE OF DUPAX that my dear mother, Mrs. Magdalena Pudiquet Castro, found among the files of my late father, Vicente Mambear Castro:
  • 1898 -- November 19. The American Forces (Cavalry) entered the town without any resistance.
  • 1901 -- Don Mariano Cutaran was made the first president of Dupax by the Americans. The first school where English was taught was also organized and established.
  • 1915 -- President Genaro Evaristo began the construction of the Gabaldon building of the Dupax Elementary School. It was completed during the administration of Don Torcuato Albano. The building was destroyed during the war and was rebuilt with war damage funds from America.
  • 1927 -- Dupax was linked with the other towns of Nueva Vizcaya by better roads. This was largely due to the efforts of the then incumbent Governor Alfonso Castañeda who is from Dupax.
  • 1942 -- June 25. The people of Dupax first saw the Japanese Imperial Forces.
  • 1946 -- June 6. The American Liberation Forces arrived in Dupax. There were no more Japanese soldiers reached as the Japs escaped to the mountains during the raids conducted the months before.
So you see, the Gabaldon building was part and parcel of the history of Dupax. This goes without saying that the ladies and gentlemen and children of the Evaristo and Albano clans should feel proud that their family names were etched in immortality with the construction of that building. I'm also sure the children and grandchildren of the dozens if not hundreds of Isinay, Ilocano, Tagalog and American workers (including carpinteros, labradors, peons, and capatazes) who labored to put up the building also felt proud that at long last Dupax had its own public school.

But then again -- ayyu, ayyu (what a pity) -- as shown in the photos below (which I shot last March 12, 2011) that monument is no more!
Front view of the missing Gabaldon building.

Back view of where the Gabaldon used to be. The rain tree may now be 70 years old.

From Brisbane, Australia, came this August 27 email which should represent the oldest personal recollection (unless an older one would come in soon) of how life was when Gabaldon was still the one and only elementary school in central Dupax:

How are you my Isinay friend? Hope you and your family are all fine. I saw in your Face book pictures and what really amazed me was the picture of the old Gabaldon building. I still remember those days during my childhood the things I went thru like in my studies, my childhood friends and my teachers. 

Speaking of teachers, I think I can still remember them mostly of which I presume have all passed away or some still with us. The teachers were the following:

Miss Boy, Miss Ambatali, Miss Cacacho, Miss Lopez, Mrs. Tating Fernandez, Mr. Imperial, Mr. Felix, Mrs. Magaway, Mr. Herminio Castro, Mr. Apolonio Latar, Mrs. Coloma, Mr. Coloma, and lastly Miss dela Cuesta my favorite teacher. She was a very pretty woman and the funny part was I was in love with her and when she left I even cried. I remember the day she left she was in this Rural Transit bus that passed by our house and she waved at me and I felt tears flowing from my eyes. 

Those were the days I will never forget.  Unga^ tay sirye bayaw ot dioy mot si gi^na lalo mo bavayi ri asaj on uwar lalo mo maserot. Hahaha.

If you recall the last time I mentioned I prefer to correspond thru email rather than Facebook because there are more things to say. Hope to hear from you. I hope I didn't bore you with this email. Regards and GOD BLESS. Alfonso C. Magalad

As a sequel to the earlier selection I made of messages posted in the "Isinay Friends" of Facebook, these further exchanges may interest you:

Oh...God! I have not seen the building since I graduated from elementary... It is kinda' sad at the same time it brings a lot of memories. My Grade 6 class room (Miss Lolita Campus - adviser) was at the right hand side of the building just beside the boys' workshop building and later on was inhabited by the Philippine Army battalion? Can anyone remember that? God! I witnessed truckloads of dead bodies killed by the Army (presumably NPAs' daw). Those bodies were dumped on the ground waiting to be identified. This scene horrified me as a young kid and up to these days I can still vividly see it my mind. It eventually caused me not to eat for at least a week... HELL YEAH... I WAS VOMITING AT THAT TIME... This is one memory that I will never forget and never have forgotten... On the other hand... there were good memories, too but I will be running out of space if I had to start recalling all of it.Editha de Guzman

O Edith that is so true. The Army used to be stationed at the lone old building called the workshop and you are right, they did bring the dead bodies of the NPA in that building. Gee... what an experience! Benilda Castro Almorade

Why can't I remember that incident? I remember behind that great building were mango trees? Going downhill to the river where as Benilda mentioned we drag/carry our desks to clean.Teresita Castro Bunal

That lone building used to be the 'ayuyang' of mr cenon asuncion as he was then in charge of carpentry, gardening and what not. it was the very same building where lots of dead NPA were brought but not sure where the bodies were brought from the building. could it be that they were buried in that building? if so, andojlan deet banih sirin banda... ua tessie, i think you were in high school then.Benilda Castro Almorade

Yes, third year na si Ate Tessie noon at fourth year sina Nancy kasi may mga classmates siya na nagkaboyfirend ng mga sundalo. First year ako noon at friends ko mga NPA lalo na si Kumander Narsing which turned out later to be a DPA (Major yata ranggo niya sa AFP). Yung mga pinatay ng mga military e, in fairness pinapabendisyunan sa church habang nasa ibabaw ng 10 wheeler which we call "Logging truck" tapos dinadala sa sementeryo pero sa labas inililibing.Judith Castro Dial

Although it's gone, the Gabaldon bldg., which we consider now as a thing of the past, has stood the adversities of times and has left an imprint in our minds that we could forever cherish. As I am writing these lines, I can't help but tend to be emotional for this gone monumental structure that played a vital role together with our teachers in moulding us into what we are now, useful citizens of this nation.Nemesio C. Felix

Uwa Charles, my last year in Gabaldon was when in 3rd grade so i knew and have seen the works that the students have to undergo in their Industrial Arts subject. Luckily, i got transferred to Los Banos in my 4th grade. During that time i concluded that it was a laborious task that they have to do and i didn't want to experience the same and since my family moved to Laguna, then i guess, i was able to escape the impending hard labor. And let me just add that i still rmbr Apu Gorio Felix, Uwa Neming’s father, who was the principal during our time. Lots of memories that i will never forget as long as i live.Arnold F. Bombongan

That's true Arnold, and who will ever forget the most challenging activity of all especially if the teacher is not around: going under the Gabaldon building and look for little holes made by a certain insect which we call "sunud-sunod"? Once... you collected more or less 5 of that insect, that's already considered a big accomplishment. In layman's term, "mababaw ang kaligayahan natin" but it paid off. You see? it became a part of our good memory of the old Gabaldon Building.Judith Castro Dial

Hi manang Judith! Long time no see! I've been busy for a while but tonight i feel like talking to everybody, hahaha! O yes, you just reminded me of that, it's one of our favorite hobby during recess time, and sometimes we get carried away and forget it's almost time to go back to the room and guess! Be prepared for the punishment awaiting for you.Arnold F. Bombongan

By way of temporarily capping the discussion, here's what I posted in Facebook:

Many thanks, inarun iiva on iinsan, for contributing to the memories of the Gabaldon building and vicinity. The recollections that the Industrial Arts building (yes, that's how it was called then) was once a "kuta" of the military (I guess it was the Task Force Lawin) and was a dumping place for the NPA fighters they killed are not only shocking but also new to me.

For all you know, that Industrial Arts building was also memorable to me. I first entered it when I was in Grade 5 and the intermediate grade pupils had a meeting where I was elected PRO with Daisy Galutera (or was it her brother and Grade 6 classmate Edgar?) as President. Neyyit tay sino^to sirye... in fact, I even didn't know what PRO meant and what the duties were, beyaw ot saon si imbotos da.

I remember Sir Cenon Asuncion (who was, peovos, nicknamed Pallek then) was in charge of the Industrial Arts building during my time and, probably because he was courting Ma'am Cording (Concordia Garcia, RIP) who was then teaching in Palob...otan and staying in my Pudiquet grandparents' house in I-iyo, he often assigned me as monitor (taga-release then taga-panat) of the carpentry and gardening tools used by Grade 5 and 6 pupils.

This means that, as a teacher's pet, I was often free from doing what my classmates then were required to do -- alimbawa na: 1) mamangbang si tuutu^ an pangittuan si posten si eyar siri as-asup Abannatan; 2) manlajari, mantaliling, mangkatam, on mamasaj si pa-repair urumar teachers an desks; 3) mangapyat project an dustpan boon ila ya sajar an tajtaj (silag in Ilocano; buri in Tagalog) fiber an omoy min eyan siri ittuan da Lajay Imong an Calacala; 4) mantamnang si maman-okke^ on pantanoman si le-e an payaw an danum nar ya mi^bus si panen si nuwang on tayo^toar siri solar da Ama Edo^ an Laccay; on 5) manubuj si cosmos flowers, Vietnam rose, gumamela, on de-e tay an nabovov-on an masetas siri ampi-theater garden an dioy si sajungon di Industrial Arts buildingar.

The building looks very different now from the one on whose right side I once had a sitaw (pole beans) plot that I went to weed and water even on Saturdays. I recall that even if I was not an attractive boy then (toy mango^ngot, nave^leng, on nais-isaw tay eyampay si Sarles an Castro sire), I was quite popular with the girls because of my gayya^ which they bought for 10 centavos per gomgom for use in their Home Economics cooking lessons under Mrs. Luisa Soriano!
-- Charlz Castro

Gabaldon Memories

At long last, we have a photograph of the Gabaldon building of the Dupax Central Elementary School a few years before it was pulverized by people who have a different sense of history!

The "whole-body" shot arrived by unexpected email from my cousin and classmate from grade school to high school, Jose C. Latar, along with these words: "Attached is the picture I took the last time I went to Dupax,  in August of 2001. I need to visit Dupax again. Please post in your blog."

I'm not sure if Joe intended it, but there is a happy coincidence here. Joe emailed the photo August 25, 2011. Note that the camera he used imprinted the date 8 22 '01 on the photo. Here:

Taken by Jose Castro Latar on August 22, 2001, this photo may be the last to show how the Gabaldon building looked. Built in 1915 when Genaro Evaristo was town President, this was where most Dupax residents learned to read and write.

As soon as I downloaded the picture, I posted it in the Isinay Group of my Facebook account with the following intro:

At last, a photo of how the old Gabaldon building where many Dupax citizens learned Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic! Unless somebody has another shot taken before this historic school was demolished, this photo taken almost 10 years ago by... Jose Castro Latar, a long-time resident in front of the Dupax Elementary School campus, should be the last and latest. Sayang... mayat tay otyan i-preserve tiyen ikwilan toy materiales fuertes di sementonar.

And almost immediately, I got this barrage of feedback:

Manong, this was the old building oh i miss this one reallyTessie de Guzman

Brings lots of childhood memories.Baybee Castro Almorade

Although i didn't graduate in my elem. here, the 1st 3 yrs brings back good memories to cherish. This is where our foundation was first laid out. Just to mention a few of my classmates, they are the Castro cousins Abeth and Emma, Engr Aida Asuncion, Judith Grutas, Roel Galutera, Malony Magaway, Marlon Bautista and sorry if i did not mention the others but they know who they are.Arnold Bombongan

I just can't forget all the good memories here, where every special program I'm always chosen as the star dancer in any dance program, and cleaning the classroom, or ground, enjoying the cooking or arts craft at the Home Economics with Mrs. Magaway, oh I love making the guava jelly or making papaya candies, crocheting or sewing. I missed those days and always treasure them in my memories.Joanna Evaristo Tomaneng

Based on the above photo I find the building still structurally fit. It only needs refurbishing like replacement of windows and maybe floors and doors and repainting as well. You're correct Insan Charles, sayang podda!Nemesio Felix

When I was little this building seemed so huge I can still recall our batang for cleaners, stripping the benches with lija (leaves are so coarse -- enough to strip dirts on the benches hahahahah! Gone are the days -- or put some wawini sa upuan ng kaaway mo and see how it tickles their behind. – Tessie de Guzman

We used to clean the blackboard with dahon ng patani and for the floor, we used banana leaves or tinunaw na kandila added with red jobus so that the floor looks clean and shiny... We also had to bring the desks at the abannatan and use sand to clean them... My teachers were Mrs Victoria Coloma, Ms Lolit Campos, Mrs Deusdedit Marquez, Mrs Aurora Abijay Reyes, Mrs Estela Fernandez, Ms Maxima Dauan (Mrs Galutera), Mr Elpidio Cia, Mr Cenon Asuncion, Mr Gregorio Felix the Principal, Mr Apolonio Latar, Mrs Luisa Soriano, Home Economics, Mrs Leonor Guiab, Mr Arreo... I could go on and on and on... We also used to bring bolos or walis tingting to clean the surroundings... We used to bake nutri bun and cooked bitso bitso and sell them around Dupax... There were no computers then and everything was done manuallyBaybee Castro Almorade

Ins, para pa tayong metro aid nung araw hahahahahaha pero its a nice training though disiplina, interaction, teamwork and many moreTess de Guzman

Oh...God! I have not seen the building since I graduated from elementary... it is kinda' sad at the same time it brings a lot of memories. My Grade 6 class room (Miss Lolita Campus -- adviser) was at the right hand side of the building just beside the boys' workshop building and later on was inhabited by the Philippine Army battalion? Can anyone remember that? God! I witnessed truckloads of dead bodies killed by the Army (presumably NPAs' daw). Those bodies were dumped on the ground waiting to be identified. This scene horrified me as a young kid and up to these days I can still vividly see it in my mind. It eventually caused me not to eat for at least a week... HELL YEAH... I WAS VOMITING AT THAT TIME...this is one memory that I will never forget and never have forgotten... On the other hand...there were good memories, too, but I will be running out of space if I had to start recalling all of it.Edith de Guzman 

I'm sure there would be some more reactions -- nay, bitter-sweet memories -- but I'd rather reserve them for the next posting. 

P.S. #1
For those of you who are visiting this blogsite for the first time, it would help as backgrounder if you read the older post titled "Goodbye, Gabaldon, Goodbye!" (please click March) then move on to the next post "More Gabaldon Memories".

P.S. #2
By the way, our generous photographer who sent this lucky and historic shot all the way from the USA is Joe Latar ( who turned 60 only last July. Those of you who went to grade school in the Gabaldon building in the 1950s to the 1960s will remember that the Latar family had a house right in front of the school gate. Most of the Latars are now in the US. Joe himself now lives in Los Angeles, California, and works with the Information Technology Service of the Chief Executive Office of the Los Angeles County.