Our old hometown looked the same and different at the same time when my friends and I visited in early June. (In my post Town Fiesta I said that we planned to attend our fiesta last May 25 but because of some hitches decided to forgo our plans. We pushed though with our plans in early June).
On the same day that we arrived, my friends and I walked around town. We looked for the places we remember . Some of them have remained as we remembered them, some have stayed the same with slight changes and some were really new. We saw familiar faces, chatted with old friends as we walked the streets and spotted old landmarks. The streets that we walked from home to school and back were the same but appeared narrow now. Our church where we attended masses was still there though with changes. We recognized old houses and recalled the old houses which have been replaced by new, bigger ones. In the evening we went to a place in the town plaza which we call Stage , our town square with a stage where graduations and other public events are held. It’s the same and public events are still held there. But that night there was a small group of ladies doing the Zumba which we joined upon the invitation of one of them who is a friend. In fact, we know most of the ladies participating in the Zumba. We experienced again going to a coconut farm just to eat fresh young coconuts or what is called nagmumurà in our town, murà, is how we call buko. And we savored local food which we enjoyed in our youth like binanging saba, sinukmani, binayo, ginataang nangka with bibi (called tulya in Metro Manila).
There are more places to go to.
There’s a short boardwalk near the sea where a landmark C for Calauag was built. You can watch the sunset there or just pass the time. We met another friend there who is also a cousin of one of us. It’s also used as a port where the Balsa or floating cottage , another development, pick up passengers. The Balsa can accommodate up to 100 people who would be brought to a deeper part of the sea or to a destination barrio of their choice. Unfortunately, we were not able to try this. We promised ourselves we’ll try in our next visit.
There’s Mary’s Woods just outside of town, a hill developed as a shrine for the Virgin Mary. It’s still being completed but masses are already held there. We attended the mass on the first Saturday of June, Mary’s day, and once again met old friends. Some of them were also returnees to our towns, some were Balikbayans or returnees from foreign lands.
There are new events places where reunions, weddings and other celebrations can be held.
There are business changes too. Just outside the town proper is Jolibee. Near, almost beside it is Puregold Supermarket. In the town proper there are now banks based in Metro Manila whereas before there was only the Rural Bank or banks from the nearby towns. Now the old banks are gone. There are more High Schools in the barrios.
Indeed progress can be felt in our town.
I’m ambivalent about the changes in our town. I have mixed emotions about it’s progress. They did not happen all at once, it was just we visited our hometown infrequently. Somehow I miss the quaint hometown I grew up in where I hold precious memories. At the same time I’m happy that our town wasn’t left behind in progress. At least, our town still looks like a town. People still know most of the other residents of the town. And they usually identify them with their relatives or progeny. The business establishments are just mini versions of their city counterparts. My nephew based in Metro Manila when he first visited our town was fascinated by the small gas station. And I remembered the time when there was only one gas station with only one pump within the compound of the copra dealer in town, when there was very little need for gasoline because people just walked to their destinations most of the time.
Well, things change. As the cliché goes ,the only constant in life is change. I just hope that our hometown won’t change too much , too soon.