Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blind and bee-stung

BLIND fools make sluggish students.

In the early 1980s, when my husband and I were just friends and working with different communities in Cebu province and Central Visayas, the unpredictability of fieldwork dictated that we dated only when our paths would cross.

Sometimes this meant a motorcycle drive for him if he found himself free, after a meeting with a cooperative based in the southwest, and I happened to be just “nearby,” meaning on the southeast tip of Cebu.

Since I worked in Alcoy, Boljoon and Oslob, we often motored to Dalaguete, where no one except a friend knew us.

In sleepy towns, an unmarried woman and man seen talking for longer than five minutes is bound to set tongues and minds spinning stories that go through unbelievable contortions. Wanting to chat without having to put a whole basketball court between us, we chose to hang out with our Dalaguete friend.

His mother sold food and drinks at a place known as the “kiosko.” A few days ago, I was scanning a book when one photo held my attention.

After the smoke-wreathed memory of countless tulingan and nukos sinugba cleared away, I recognized the “kiosko.” The Poblacion watchtower is one of three in Dalaguete. It was constructed in 1768, part of the first line of defense the warrior-priest Fr. Julian Bermejo initiated to fortify the coastline from Sibonga to Santander against the attacks of Moro invaders.

I squirmed at another memory of my younger self walking around the second-floor pavilion of this Dalaguete landmark because I was looking for a protruding nail to flip open my bottle of Coke before it got too warm to drink.

Except for being assailed occasionally by twinges from remembered follies, I found the “Cebu Heritage Frontier” a good read and a timely wake-up.

It is slim and handy, perfect as a companion for your explorations of the Poblacion of Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Oslob. These are the four southeastern municipalities adopted by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi).

The Cebu Heritage Frontier (CHF) is Rafi’s contribution to assist communities recognize, restore and preserve the legacy of the past. By merely flipping through the pages of the CHF guide, the south-bound in Cebu will look forward to more than chicharon and ampao.

Or better yet, learn to recognize landmarks that don’t have a certain black-and-yellow insect hovering with its tireless grin. (Two youths were once overheard wondering if there was a Jollibee outlet found in between Minglanilla and Carcar, which have embraced prosperity and kitsch by the way they’ve insinuated these fat-reeking joints in their historic plaza and rotunda.)

The CHF reference devotes a chapter to each of the heritage towns, including a colored fold-out map of the Poblacion landmarks, beautiful sepia photographs of selected houses, churches and other sites, as well as trivia clarifying what it is to be a Cebuano.

Due to some irksome lapses in the text and the spareness of details, the CHF guide is no match to hours of reading at the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos, where the books and references, not to mention the spirit of the place, leaves one light-headed and proud to be a Bisdak.

But since not everyone has the excuse of work or passion, getting a copy of the CHF reference at the Casa Gorordo Museum should be an excellent incentive to get out of the city and reclaim what is ours before it’s swallowed up by modernity, termites or—may the saints preserve us—bees. 09173226131

* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Apr. 29, 2007 issue

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