December 8, 2023

Our lunch on Nov. 6 was a happy surprise and inspirational.
We had a quick lunch at Farmer’s Restaurant in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet. It was loaded with inspiration. I was able to congratulate the young promising police officer for his commended services as a chief of police in the Visayas region.
“The police chief of a drug-free city with no recorded death under government’s fierce anti-drug campaign was recently named among The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of 2017. Supt. Byron Allatog, chief of the Bogo City Police, was honored for his outstanding leadership in clearing the city of illegal drugs without shedding blood.” (ABS-CBN, Jan. 12, 2018)
I may say, the happy surprise was accidental for practical thinkers but for an optimist it was more of a providence.
I met two great families at the Farmer’s Restaurant that made my travel inspirational. I never expected to be meeting them but God has his surprising and yet happy ways to make each one of us happy.
Lt/Col. Allatog and his family had their lunch at the restaurant where I happen to drop by when traversing Halsema Highway. Time and space were so friendly to meet old friends.
Sir Byron is a graduate of Philippine National Police Academy who earned national awards for his Igorot-Christian leadership when he was the COP of Bogo. During the height and series of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) among drug personalities, Sir Byron was constant in his drug-free advocacy and implementation to make his area of responsibility drug cleared without violence. Bogo was declared drug-free not from the EJK strategy, but from his non-bloody approach against drugs.
Sir Byron was the classmate of my younger brother, Vincent, at St. Vincent’s High School, Bontoc, Mountain Province where they learned the ways of Jesus and the ways of inayan. They are both in the armed service now carrying the identity of a Vincentian and the Igorot identity. Sir Vincent is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.
From these young armed officers who are now serving the country well, I can testify that good moral upbringing in the family, school, and church will make a big difference in the work and workplace. Moral and cultural values are foundations of life wherever one is assigned to serve. Igorot cops were recognized as the most disciplined cops of the country and I strongly believe that the values from culture and faith made them.
“Vice President Leni Robredo accepts the President’s designation for her to be co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
My humble suggestion then for the current issues confronting our Vice President is to seek advice from Sir Byron regarding her new responsibility which she lovingly accepted, to be a co-chair in the fight against illegal drugs. Madame Leni may as well get Sir Byron as a consultant or an adviser or one of her staffs. Sir Byron is a well-seasoned officer to help curb the national issue on illegal drugs.
Madame Leni must learn from the Christian-Igorot way. If she does, she will be successful in her new responsibility. I sense, the vice president is being tested by her colleagues. We must help her accomplish her mission successfully by our loving participation. The drug menace in the country is a big job that involves concerted effort. President Rodrigo Duterte is not even capable of curbing it until today to mean that it is a complex issue to mandate every citizen to collaborate.
In 2017, the Mountain Province Police Provincial Director, Col. Telio Ngis-o, had been courting me to write an advocacy song against illegal drugs. Through his inspiration and the peace loving people of the province, I wrote one to later become the provincial anti-illegal drug campaign song through a provincial resolution. I share the lyrics and the music. You can always request from 99.9 FM Baguio City for your listening pleasure with the request number 09392483062. You may also email me if you want to have the audio.

D r u g f r e e S o n g

We envision our country that’s free from drugs.
We move with optimism and all be involved
Families, communities, the church, and the government
Hand in hand, we all must work.
And in unity, we can achieve a drug free community.

We have a beautiful country to live.
We have one common home to stay.
So let’s work together and make it a better place.
Let’s save the children a peaceful place to live.

Let us “see, judge, and act” now to stop illegal drugs.
Let’s be brave to face the mission and conquer them all
Stop drug addiction, save your precious life,
Reform and you’ll be free.
With our God, the Almighty, all will be well again.

Friendship’s Happy Surprise
After 17 years, we met accidentally at Farmer’s Restaurant. Joni Zuniga is no longer a high school student but a professional, married happily, and with a beautiful baby. Nov. 7 set a beautiful and happy surprise for us.
Joni was then a lovely little high school student loaded with many questions that needed philosophical answers. That’s how our friendship introduced her to me many years ago. In our quick and yet happy surprise meeting, I sensed that she is a responsible wife and mother. I trust her young inquiries before are answered now by her experience and encounter with reality, her faith, and with more people she met in her working place and communities and her family.
Seventeen years ago was entirely different today with the many responsibilities entrusted to each. But we can always find time to sit and remember the old and nostalgic, especially the humor, long conversations, music, and spiritual reflections to inspire and keep us moving on in the journey called life.
Friendship founded on selfless love will never be lost amidst distance and years.
Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-165-3669.