Friday, November 1, 2013

Living room

*my column in the Nov. 3, 2013  issue of Cordillera Today 

The birds are singing, and the sun’s rays are trying to make their way through the clouds. A slight drizzle falls and the crows on the wire fly to a nearby tree to stay dry. It is almost six in the morning on the 2nd of November, 2013, and the city is waking up and I just know that it’s going to be a beautiful day in Baguio. Let me tell you about our home.

We moved to this house in June, the start of the monsoon season. Under this roof we’ve stayed warm and dry through the countless storms that came our way this year, including the latest one which left the country last night.

I wish this column came with pictures, as I want to share with you, dear reader, one of the reasons we chose this house over the other ones we were considering – there was one somewhere in Kennon Road, an apartment on the third floor that offered a magnificent view of Mt. Sto. Tomas and another one, rustic, wooden and lived in which was just a short walk from the center of town. But both of those didn’t have this one thing that this house had – earth space.

The recent rainfall showed me and my son, who has been helping me prepare the soil in one corner of the yard for a vegetable garden, which canal needed further digging and shovelling to make it easy for the water to flow out to the drainage and prevent the beds from being flooded. A variety of seeds have been sowed, and the beds are waiting for them to be ready for transplanting.

And this house has three guava trees, one pear tree, a blue pine tree surrounded by a hedge of bamboo. There’s enough space for a nursery, and we thought we could try to propagate pine seedlings for planting in every available space here and elsewhere.

Earth space – living space. On the driveway there are still traces of chalk drawings – lines for “patintero” and “sikking,” there’s a drawing of the sun, a child’s plea for sunshine. Here we get to spend some time away from LCD monitors and out in the yard. We’ve spun tops, played with marbles, climbed this one guava tree that grew much taller than the others, played fetch with Zeus, our dog, ran around, biked around. We are, indeed, living in this house.

This is our sanctuary, every part of this home is a living room. And in a city that’s fast going down the road of urbanization, a path where money is seen as the source of true happiness, where the scent of pine is indiscriminately bartered for the stench of diesel fumes, a forest replaced with a parking lot, botanical and rose gardens and wide open fields are cemented over, parks are fenced in and gated, where monuments to crass commercialism and a myopic view of beauty are erected with arrogance and conceited belief that they can do better than the magnificent natural beauty that the Creator blessed this city with, it’s nice to have a small corner, a living room you can retreat to.

There are less and less living rooms and more and more lifeless spaces in Baguio, how can the powerful, the influential, the leaders who made this happen expect people to be able to live a life in a lifeless city?

Hold on, I won’t allow what they have done to Baguio ruin this beautiful morning. I see that the slight drizzle made the leaves of the trees and the flowers in the garden glisten, the branches sway to the gentle, cold November breeze, and I see the first batch of vegetable seeds have started to sprout.

Ahh, and there's the answer - if we want more living rooms in Baguio, all we have to do is plant the seeds and make sure they grow.

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