July 28, 2008

Changing, Changing, Changed

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.

4 comments:

Rudy said...

Ay, you should see some of the old and crumbling houses in Binondo, some of which dates back to the late 1800s. The once grand houses of the wealthy Spanish merchants have all but become an eyesore among the tall buildings that surround them. Too bad no one thought of preserving them. I posted a few pictures in one of my December 07 entries.

babing said...

parehas tabi kita, i have always liked old things--old houses, old stuff like sewing machines, irons, telephones, etc. perhaps i am an old soul.;D

every time i think of the old Sorsogon, i cry deep inside. how i miss our old hometown. whenever i read articles about it in "Sarabihon", i can't help not to shed a few tears. too bad most of our public officials here didn't care to preserve some landmarks worth saving.=(

anyway, belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY! i wish for you all the best--good health, love, joy & peace, always.=)

looking forward to read more of your thoughts/stories. you're one of the best writers our beloved hometown has produced.=)

Anna said...

hi rudy. saw your binondo photos. sayang nga, nobody thought of preserving them. my college dorm along asturias was a handsome turn-of-the century house. i loved it for its sense of history. i don't know if the owner managed to preserve it, though...

Anna said...

hi bing! what i miss most are the moviehouses and the small-town feel to sorsogon. nian bagan dili mo na kilala an mga tawo, ano? thanks for the nice words...