My Father’s Hometown
Seventy-three kilometers south of Cebu City is the town of Dumanjug, where my father was born. My grandparents raised him and his seven siblings there where they also went to school until they had to move to Cebu City for their college education.
I remember my grade school years. Dumanjug was a sleepy town where my siblings and I spent the summer months. Our grandparents’ house was along the main road, in front of which was the town’s cockpit. This meant our neighborhood had a festive atmosphere on Sundays, but very quiet the rest of the week.
In fact, it was so quiet that my siblings and I, joined by our cousins who, like us, also spent their summer months there, would play on the main road itself. Danger was unheard of because a bus or a jeepney would pass along the road only around every 30 minutes or so. At nighttime, it gets even lonelier, as we played on the moonlit road without interruption from any vehicle passing by.
Everything was so simple then, yet we had so much fun, running around the town plaza, or walking along the beach right next to it, or targeting with our slingshots the seed pods hanging from kapok trees, or simply telling stories about anything and everything that children love to talk about. It was pure, simple, unadulterated fun.
I also remember that our aunt, the only one unmarried among my father’s siblings, would always be vigilant, seeing to it that we stopped whatever we were doing, to pray, every time the bells at nearby St. Francis of Assisi Church pealed at Angelus. She would also bring us to church often and made sure that we behaved, as we sat ourselves properly in the pews.
We stopped spending our vacations in Dumanjug when we were already in high school. For one reason or another, our hierarchy of preferred destinations changed. In fact, I was already in college when I visited Dumanjug again, and that was upon the invitation of the Town Mayor who asked me to crown the Fiesta Queen. After that, many decades passed before I made another visit, bringing with me my sons, taking them around, to show them where and how I spent my early childhood years.
Fast forward to the present, Dumanjug is no longer a sleepy town. In fact, it is now bustling with activity, enjoying unprecedented growth economically and socially, thanks to the bold and decisive initiatives of young Mayor Efren Guntrano Gica. His youthful optimism and earnest desire to make a difference in the lives of his constituents have accelerated the development of this once sleepy town, which will soon be declared a First Class Municipality.
Aside from the overall aesthetic improvements of the town proper, and concrete roads in almost all barangays, the Mayor will soon inaugurate the newly constructed hospital, making available better and faster health service to the residents. Sports enthusiasts are happy that the humongous MegaDome, with Taraflex flooring and state-of-the-art sound and scoring equipment, ideal for athletic events, will also be officially opened in a month or so.
Since the town doesn’t really have natural attractions to show off to visitors, the local government has finalized plans to transform the town center into a destination for leisure and recreation. A beautifully designed food court with an open-air viewing deck on top, will house the present-day mix of refreshment parlors and food stalls, so that the plaza where these small establishments are currently found will maintain its charming appeal.
But what I am excited about is the planned boardwalk along the bay, which will provide residents and visitors a breathtaking view of the sea, much like the popular boardwalk in Atlantic City, which draws thousands of tourists every day. This up-and-coming attraction will have its own complement of food and beverage outlets, and will have a colorful doodle that says “I Love Dumanjug,” a perfect spot for photo opportunities.
Of course, a very important development is the town’s security and public safety. Dumanjug now has its own Local Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office, with three ambulances, modern rescue equipment, and a Control Room with video monitors showing important premises covered by strategically installed CCTV cameras.
I’m sure that my late father and his siblings, who have all passed on, are now grinning from ear to ear, looking down from Up There, seeing how a once sleepy, dreary and old-looking municipality has been transformed into a young, vibrant and colorful community, thanks to its youthful “head honcho.” If only the town could sing, I’m sure it would blurt out the popular Frank Sinatra ditty, “You make me feel so young…”, and I could almost hear my father, with his smiling eyes, sing along.
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