I took the longer, more semi-urban route to the office today, and I noticed something I hadn't seen in years: the bahay na bato on the fringes of town. I went to grade school with the daughter of the house. I can picture her still: a haughty mestiza who had way too much of everything, from yayas to Sanrio to excess poundage.
Alas, the house is now dilapidated beyond repair: a crumbling heap of memories of days long gone. There is nothing about the structure that hints of grand parties, or of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The vast acreage beyond has been sold and resold, divided and subdivided. The daughter of the house has since left for cooler climes. And from the looks of it, she will not return.
I have always had affinity for old houses. My grandpa's house was right beside the municipio, where he served as judge. On the days when we visited, my cousins and I would race through the house and up and down the town hall's twin flights of stairs. Often, we would steal away to the cathedral, which was but a quick dash away.
But for the cathedral, the structures of my childhood are but shadows of their former glories. The old municipal building has long served its purpose: it is now much too small for a growing city. Lolo's house has already traded ownerships so many times I've already lost count. What was once a respectable lawyer's house-cum-office is now a bar of the seedy kind. (How it got from prime property to red-light establishment is the stuff of telenovelas--you know, the kind peopled by stepmothers, stepsons and half siblings.)
Every time I see an old building giving in to the ravages of time--or to modernization--I always feel a certain loss. Change is always good, a friend likes to say. But there is something about old houses that makes me wish change didn't have to creep in into places of memories.