The other day, my nephew posted pictures of decorative structures that he and his friends have set up in my old hometown. While the change was aesthetically pleasing, something clicked inside me: Bayanan, my hometown, is gone.
Bayanan has changed a lot in the years I have been away. The sleepy barrio is gone, replaced by a more urban place. The little parish church where I was baptized had been renovated and enlarged to accommodate more people. New houses have sprouted in every nook and cranny of my old neighborhood. People I know have grown much older and, in many cases, have passed on. New faces now walk and play in the old familiar grounds. A highway will cut through the fields close to my old home to serve commuters from Manila to our province.
It is progress, as others put it. To those who have always lived in Bayanan, the changes, inevitable that they are, came slowly. For this person who only sees an occasional picture of Bayanan, the change is nothing less than radical. And for me who until the other day has harbored an image of an idyllic hometown from way back when comes the sad realization that I could never go home to the place I once knew. I shed tears for what’s gone and will never be again.
The flowing river
following different paths
forward, to the sea.