This isn’t the place I was born. Nor the place I would have chosen to be raised had I been given the choice. This here, is the very place where I have spent almost twenty-eight years of my bittersweet existence. For almost three decades of being alive, this spot became the cradle of my existence. Taken to here while still two moths young, raised til I grew up today, this is the only place in the planet where I can muster the gut to walk close- eyed… and still keep the confidence to go on walking.
This is my place. My home. Barely a mile from the National Highway, situated on the foot of Canghambay, City of Naga in Cebu, rests my humble home and nearby community. Plain rural living. With some parts blessed with panoramic view while on the other, the not-so-good scenes of families living in utter poverty. From time to time, you get a handful dose of views enough to keep you human, reasons for you to keep grounded. Not everyone has the opportunity to be as close to the seemingly abandoned souls of the society as what I, we here came to witness in this place, day by day. Enforced or unenforced child labor is rampant. Kids voluntarily do things that only adults should be allowed to do but because it’s the only way to help their parents put some food on the table, these little workhorses endured the fatigue and the temptation of letting go some chores and tasks so they could let themselves just be–kids. A number fortunately are taking education seriously while a majority took the other way out. Either they’ve stopped because parents are incapable of sending them to school or they have opted to leave school to look for easier and quicker ways to help the family. Either way, it’s never a comfortable sight to be looking at.
Children’s population is skyrocketing in this area. And you need not see the actual statistics to realize how it has spiked up these past few years. Anywhere you go, you will see children, little kids on the streets being watched by their older siblings, who are young children themselves.
I’ve seen fathers and family bread winners who pulled off everything they got to sustain their family; such respectable act to behold. Yet, I’ve also bore witness to disgusting leeches relying, feeding on the hardwork of another member. Pathetic! The problem with poverty is only temporary as there are ways on how it can be addressed but laziness as a behavioral problem is a different thing. Plain housewives are widespread as the children are, especially very young ones. I am at awe at the kind of adjustment these young women had to go through for choosing married life at this point in their lives.
With the place itself, I feel blessed having lived in a house where my privacy is well taken care of. People can come near us only when allowed because aside from the German Shepherd roaming around the perimeter, it’s fenced, not gated though, but to those who have known us since a long time ago, knew and respected that what surrounds our home belongs to us as a privately-owned property. Somehow, I wished we were secluded just so I could keep myself from seeing things I no longer want to see. However, there are things I do wanted to keep for my own fancy, like watching the view from the back of our house onto the crystalline blue waters beyond the towering twin chimneys of Salcon Power Corp. Urgh! If there could be a way to uproot those two view-blocking structures of the power plant, I would kindly volunteer myself.
These monstrous Megawatt power plant has been here for as long as I could remember. As to my Nanay’s recount, the area which now supports the other gigantic newest coal-fired powered plant of KEPCO was used to be part of the sea. It was in the 70’s when massive reclamation was done to give way to the new project. Regardless of the roaring noise and air pollution it created from time to time, I still love this place. With all its sickening excrescence, it is still a wonderful place.
These among others are usually what greets me every morning. These certainly aren’t the kinds that will make your day but who am I to grumble? After all the years I have lived here, even with the fact that I would not opt to live in this place if I did had the choice, somehow upon seeing what life was for many of those who I came to co-mingle day by day, I’ve learnt that this here, is my very place. Every waking moment is an opportunity to get closer to my very own humanity in a more personal way. And I wouldn’t need to live or go somewhere else to realize that.