Ali G. Macabalang
When the Ministry of Public Information (under Francisco “Kit” Tatad) and the National Media Production Center (under Greg Cendana, a favorite of FL Imelda Marcos) were fully merged into Office of Media Affairs (OMA), I headed the agency’s provincial office in Marawi City-Lanao del Sur. My counterpart in Iligan City-Lanao del Norte was the late Rizal “Toto” Tupaz.
Because OMA was a cash-strapped agency (not to mention my cold rapport with NMPC-12 Director Manolo “Noli” Cruz-turned OMA regional OIC), I solicited helps from friends to build the field outfit. Main donors of furniture were Provincial Board Member Danny Dimaporo and Fraouk “Khalid” Macarambon.
My mini-office building was annexed to the edifice of DXSO station and its door was about two meters away from the door of Mindanao State University’s DAST (ROTC) office under then Col. Acod Mangudato.
Occasionally, I saw some ROTC officers (Rearguard members) tapping loudly their door of the DAST office (as a protocol) before entering. Among those people were cadet officer Ronaldo “Burloloy” dela Rosa (to be known later as PNP Chief and now Senator Bato).
During my stewardship of the provincial office, I took time to study MPA and finished it 1985. I was motivated by desire to aspire for regional director. My lone staff – Rex Dumarpa, who I pirated from the Dansalan College’s communications office, were assigned with a vintage, six-cylindered Nissan Patrol vehicle.
Because the vehicle ate up a gallon of gasoline for every 10 kilometers, I established links with the MSU, PCI/INP and 103rd Infantry Brigade administrations to donate us gas. The gas donations from the police and military evolved from my representations of colonels in our MPA classes.
In the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA Revolt that catapulted Cory Aquino to the Presidency, I returned to Cotabato City and aspired for regional director. When the selection board chose OIC Cruz to remain as OIC, I resigned. I had a heavy heart because I realized that career and academic qualifications were not valued in the agency.
My resignation made me jobless for almost a year at a time when my family was rearing two infant kids. I fed my family with the proceeds of winnings in bowling games, earning for me at least P80 per game.
The darkest moment of my joblessness happened when bowling places in Cotabato City went on a holiday. I went home penniless. My wife and I were in tears because we had no rice to cook and milk for our two kids.
I performed ablution and prayed salatul tasbihi. I implored Allah (s.w.t.) to lead me to a way where I can find some money for our immediate needs.
After the prayer, I told my wife I would go out and seek assistance. Subhanallah! Just as I stepped out of our door step, I saw a car sounding its horn. When I approached the car, I saw then Customs Collector Dimapuno “Pangnal” Datu Ramos inside, and he told me he was looking for me as a recipient of his zakat.
I received the amount (I think it was P300), thanked Datu Ramos profusely and hurriedly returned to my wife. My wife and I were in tears again, this time in sobs of joy for such a prompt Divine answer to my prayer. (AGM)