|Dalihan, Barangay Palobotan, Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya around 6am of Dec. 28, 2010|
Indeed, now and then, one could hear somebody complain how far behind our town is compared to its neighbors.
We still don't have factories, bakeries, restaurants, drugstores, banks, souvenir shops, tourist inns, gasoline stations, bus terminals, and videoke bars to lure visitors and investors -- and to keep young Isinays and Ilocanos from seeking the so-called greener pastures in Manila, Hongkong, Japan, the Middle East, Europe, or America.
But who cares about factories, bakeries, restaurants...?
Who says that noisy, filthy, congested towns are better than the blue and sleepy hills, the clean and serene rivers, the sparkling ricefields that are verdant green one day and heavy with golden grains the next day?
Okay, go take a bath in your progress.
Go on and chew your banks and souvenir shops and gas stations and tourist inns.
Go feed your kids with your videoke bars and bus terminals.
Just leave my hometown alone.
Let me live where there are always sunny days and frequent rainbows and myriad stars at night.
Let me wake up mornings on a bed of hay and where smoke billows from a cogon-roofed hut. Let me continue to smell the aroma of boiling corn, roasted peanuts, or mudfish broiling on the dirt stove.
Let me listen to the laughter of children on their way to school a couple or so kilometers away. Let me hear the song of the pond by the road as a carabao swats the swarm of flies by its muddied tail.
Let me watch how the sun goes up, how it awakens the warbler and brings color to the fields as they get speckled moments later with men and women joyfully planting or harvesting rice.
Let me bathe on streams with cows munching dew-bathed grass on their banks. Let me try my luck at catching red dragonflies or stealing a leaf from the touch-me-not plant without causing it to close shop.
At noon, let me be with sparrows as they chase stubborn May beetles and katydids. Let me lay down on a cogon hut by the field and fall asleep with the song of cicadas and a solitary hawk circling high in the sky.
At twilight, let me regain my breath so I could say goodbye to the silhouette of wild ducks flying towards the sunset. After which let me hear the crackle of firewood cooking camote or beans on a black kettle.
Then allow me my ration of a steaming plate of rice and bagoong-dipped button tomatoes and steamed river fern. Allow me too my dose of black coffee half sweetened by homemade molasses.
Then before I say "Thank you, Lord, for another day" allow me to feast my eyes on the twinkling stars or a tree full of fireflies.-- CHARLZ CASTRO