I woke up from a chaotic dream. My eyes half open, I saw the orange sky from the glass curtain-less window. I closed my eyes and opened them again. Checking if I was still in a dream.
Half awake, I checked the time from my mobile phone. 5:30 am. I closed my eyes, wanting to sleep once again. But I didn’t want to miss this sunrise. For when have I last seen the sunrise here in my hometown? I could not even remember.
Half past five in the morning is very early for a sleepy head like me. But there I was. Standing beside the window. Taking in the cold breeze. Looking at this seemingly peaceful neighborhood. Roofs, cables, trees and all else were still a silhouette, turning into their original colors, little by little, every passing second, as the sky turned from orange to white.
Then there was a very familiar sound. The soft horn sound from the guy in his bike, doing his rounds, selling pandesal.
And with that I felt nostalgic. I was reminiscing at half past five in the morning. Even before sipping my first coffee for the day. I was there, thinking about my childhood in what used to be a quaint neighborhood.
I used to run up and down hills of gravel and sand placed by quarry trucks on those wide expanse of land which is now a crowd of houses and a noisy public market. We used to ride our bikes up on these mad-made hills imagining we were in a bike riding exhibition, bragging who can take the bike the highest and ride it down the fastest. Back in those days, I never knew what these gravel and sand were for, let alone quarrying. All I knew was, that’s our playground.
I used to feel safe even if I walk at night back then even though the town was quite dark, less street lights and more trees. I was scared of ghosts and aswangs before and I usually run whenever I had to do errands in the early evenings and my mom told me countless times, that I should be scared of the living instead of the dead.
At this point of time, I can say that my mom is 100% correct.
Those days, teenagers hang around the sari sari store during early evenings to jamm and play their favorite OPM hits. Their songs and laughter, the sound of their guitar and improvised drum set made of plastic containers and pots and pans created beautiful sound. Nothing fancy, but some sort of sound that makes you feel secure and in a lovely neighborhood.
Nowadays, drunk men hang around sari sari stores. Their conversations, scary. Users asking pushers for their supply. People pass by and steal even just an old piece of used battery.
This was once a quiet place, now a mega town. There are more outsiders than locals. A lot of informal settlers from Manila, took residence, thanks to ex-President Estrada’s housing project.
Capitalists have turned mountains into subdivisions. And as per the latest talks that I heard, they are buying most of the lands from the locals to create a huge shopping mall.
More humans. Less trees. More concrete. Less nature.
I’m wondering what more will I see by the time I come back next time. What more can they build in this small town? Which mountain can they turn into a subdivision? Which side of the mountain will turn brown after deforestation and then gray after quarrying?
They said change is the only thing constant in this world. And that change brings about progress. But with all the changes in this neighborhood, I wonder where this progress will take us.
So much thoughts this cool November morning, even before my sleep-deprived brain got its first dose of caffeine.