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Rip Van Winkle Must Have Been Shocked

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Going through my posts, one might get an impression that I’ve been ranting about everything all my life after BCCHS. Wrong.I am Rip Van Winkle awakened after decades of sleep and who discovered (or rediscovered?) that things are not what they are or, I think where they ought to be.

In September 2003, I visited Negros, first time since 82. What an indescribable feeling after more than 20 years being away! Yeah, there are notable changes from the port of Banago to the town of Binalbagan, but nothing much like I expected.

It felt nice to be in Binalbagan again. No much economic opportunity other than BISCOM and sugarcane farms, I guess, made many kasimanwa go everywhere. Many are in Metro Manila, or have gone abroad, for work.

A new social-economic and political order has developed during the decades, which is impressive. Old landed powerful families have become obscured. After the sugar collapse, Negros has never been the same again. It is now families that have member or members abroad who have become considerably affluent. Ahh, the Modern day heroes, the OFWs, who keep the economy alive by their dollar remittances. [Forced into self-sacrifice because of a system that cannot work is what most overseas Filipinos see themselves actually!]

A day after arriving Binalbagan I thought of withdrawing from my ATM at a local bank. There were five banks in town and two of them were defunct. Unkempt premises told they’d been closed a long time. And of the three, only two said they had ATM services but none of them was active. And the nearest place for the transaction was Kabankalan, a city about 22 kilometers south.

I decided to take a Ceres bus going south. My ticket for Kabankalan was already paid when I noticed that the bus destination was Bantayan, a place deep in the mountains of Kabankalan. I suddenly thought about Magballo which is before reaching Bantayan. We had a farm there which was abandoned for lost since the 80s.

People and places suddenly ran in my head. I was wondering how they and everything was. Places change but people don’t. They just mature or become the sum of them. I found myself taking out my wallet to see how much cash I still had with me!

I told the bus conductor that I changed my mind and was going to Bantayan instead. I was thinking that maybe it would be great to see the mountains again and then return to Kabankalan on the same bus later.

To be continued

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