THERE seems to be more vehicles on the old narrow city streets. More and bigger vehicles, as if the change wasn’t bad enough. I feel the resentment percolating until I realize I’m contributing to the transformation of the city, the one place I regard as home even though I was born in the island across.
The craziest thing I learned the past year in Manila was to cross Edsa Boulevard “patintero” style, all eight lanes or so during the late evening rush hours from school to home. So crossing the narrow city lanes here bustling with motorcycles and tricycles seems like child’s play.
Many of the motorcycle drivers still wear no helmets, but the tricycle drivers are still the most polite and considerate of pedestrians crossing wherever they want (even if the older but wider-bodied vehicles still make the trademark buzzing that is bound to be the last thing one hears before sleeping and after waking).
The best way to get around the city is to walk; the worst is to bring a car, which has to be parked. Dumaguete taught me to love walking, which was how I discovered that the Old San Francisco Bookstore, which was a favorite lunchtime rendezvous along P. del Rosario St. in Cebu City, had relocated to a private residence’s garage in Dumaguete. It’s no longer there now.
In the ongoing building boom, the presence of old haunts and disappearances of others reminds me of the variability of the value of impermanence. There are definitely more sights to explore, food to sample, and settings to create memories with on Instagram and Facebook.
Like traffic, queues now exist in Dumaguete, a place that once shut down in the Sundays of old and during Good Fridays and Black Saturdays. When I met my friend, Dumaguete-born, she drove us to Valencia, on the outskirts of the city. We were looking for coffee served in a place run by a couple that retired, cooked the food they served in a place full of books they read and vinyl LPs and 45rpms they still played and listened to.
Y. and I were disappointed. The sign outside the café said it was closed for the holidays. We made a longish trip for nothing.
Still, for someone like me still looking to glimpse that laidback soul of the old Dumaguete, it was good to know some folks still knew how to take a break and walk away from it all. May we all be as discerning and wise.
(mayettetabada.blogspot.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org/ 09173226131)
• First published in SunStar Cebu’s December 30, 2018 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”