As the years passed and with the onslaught of challenges, questions and choices that came with their passing, what have we become? Gone are the familiar landmarks that once reminded the old time Cabuyeno that he was home, that he was back to his roots. The old temple where he used to worship, sacred ground to generations of his ancestors, has now been stripped of all its silver, despoiled of its ancient retablos, deprived of its old "comulgatorio", its "pulpito" and even of its vigan tiled floors ... and as if to seal its sorry fate, it has now been blasphemously redone and repainted beyond recognition, a mere fossil and a tragic parody of its former self, reduced to becoming no more than a modern testament to burlesque art. Our ancestral homes are struggling to stay on their feet and survive, with the continued costs of their upkeep strangling the purses of its prominent owners and residents. Our well designed streets and avenues are now plagued by incessant and uncontrolled traffic on foot and wheels - and one can no longer take a leisurely stroll around town without being assaulted by infernal jeepney fumes, reckless tricycles and filthy garbage dumps. Our industries, of which we were once proud, are no longer as robust as they used to be - old familiar names as RAM, Nestle, Robina, Philsteel, Asia Brewery, among others have sadly slowed down. It is in fact tragic that Cabuyao's most recent claim to fame is to be the the home of that controversial, if not anomalous, Smartmatic election counting machine. We have been destroyed by unplanned zonal disasters disguised as modern mass housing and realty developments on a low and medium scale, not to mention this more recent Cabuyao phenomenon, the relocation site called "Southville" (which might as well have been more aptly called Amityville with all the ecological and economic horrors that it continues to inflict upon us all).
Ours was a rich and colorful history. All the old tales tell us that Cabuyao once was a prosperous central territory whose boundaries extended as far as Calamba and Bay on one end and Sta. Rosa and San Pedro on the other. Ecclesiastically , politically and economically, our town was the power center; agriculturally and commercially, we were ahead of all our neighbors. Our ancient church used to be a treasure house of art in silver, wood and stone. Our oldest ancestral homes were some of the finest examples of 19th century architecture. Our farm lands were vast, with our progress in agriculture bringing abundance and comfort to our families and friends. Our finest citizens fought bravely, labored earnestly, shared generously, entertained graciously, created magnificently. Once a small, compact community of families with strong interwoven ties and relationships, we were once a town of kindred spirits enlivened by shared experience and animated by a common soul.
Our next door neighbors, towns which once were mere historical adjuncts of our own, are now progressive cities whose economies are booming, bringing new wealth to its citizens - though lamentably suffering from the same socio-cultural degeneration and environmental blight as we are. But the pragmatic wisecrack would perhaps say "At least they're richer!"
We visit towns like Pila where heritage conservation has succeeded most remarkably and we are in awe. We drive past the well planned stretch of Sta. Rosa's new model communities in Bel-Air, West Grove and Nuvali and we are more than just a tad envious.
We have somehow gone from prominent to obscure...from good to bad...from fine and opulent to shabby genteel. Even worse, those who are responsible for the deplorable status quo from both local Church and State are in comfortable psycho denial, with their drum beaters and handlers heralding the slanted propaganda (and influencing the naive and unwary to believe the myth) that all is well and that we are merely experiencing the birth pains of new progress. And as if all these were not enough, they now even have the temerity to drive this brand of "progress" further for both church and community!
I say ENOUGH! - take me back to the town I once knew that you have now held hostage!
I say ENOUGH! - enough to all these modern mediocrities, to all the irresponsible progress that has progressed most irresponsibly!
And, as if mimicking the final gasp of a man in his deathbed who sees his town equally at the throes of death, I ask: "Where have we gone wrong?"
O, mores! O, tempora!
by Cabuyao - Stories, Anecdotes and Remniscences on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 8:31am