WHERE IS HOME? (a Haibun)

Gertrude Bowden

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.

Old Road
I took this picture because the road reminded me of the roads in Bayanan when I was growing up: rocky, dusty, and in many places, when it rained, muddy so much so that vehicles fishtailed and if they were unlucky, got stuck and had to be pushed out by whoever could.

Written for DVerse’s Haibun prompt– Transitions and Open Link Night.

River 1
I guess these Autumn photos are not entirely appropriate but in a sense, autumn is part of my home now, too.  Besides, autumn is pretty and goes with the mood. 🙂



26 thoughts on “WHERE IS HOME? (a Haibun)

  1. It’s difficult not to lament the loss of the idyllic childhood we once enjoyed, knowing our children and future generations will not know certain joys. Even the old trucks getting stuck in the muddy road having to wait for another to come along and help them out holds the appeal of community-forming and retrospective laughs. One wouldn’t recognize the old washboard, hilly dirt road where my friends and I used to tie snowboards to the back of our old trucks and “wakeboard” in blizzards. That road has long since been replaced by suburban cookie-cutters as far as the eye can see.

    1. Yees! It is the loss of a way of life that I think heightens the sense of loss due to changes in a place. We miss the people and the way things were and the relationships that a place nurtures.

  2. It is heartbreaking to witness such changes and lose the childhood homes we once knew. I have nothing to go back to now that both my parents have gone and my sisters live elsewhere. When I did go back I was dismayed by what has happened to the places I used to think were magical – they are now run down and ruined by people who have no love for them.

  3. Beautiful post, Imelda.
    This is playing out right before my eyes. It is catching up, even in “remote” places.
    I have also been lamenting this mental picture of childhood fading away, and wondering about the concept of home…

    1. Yes, this change is happening everywhere. I thought our place was far enough from Manila and the main roads to be so affected by the developments. but no. As the established highways get more clogged, new roads had to be built to meet transport needs of people and commerce. This ‘nightmare’ began when Calabarzon was established and when Batangas Port was elevated from being a mere provincial port to a complement to the Port of Manila.

      If you have been to Batangas, especially around the city, you would notice how narrow its roads are. There was hardly any room for widening the current road networks so the alternative was to build new ones, like the one that will cut through our barrio.

  4. transition can mean change, it could be good or bad as you well put it, but it is definitely very sad not to go back to our childhood places. your photos are very beautiful and makes me yearn to see places like that for real

    1. HI, Gina. Yeah, it can be unsettling to be home and not.
      Thanks for the comment on the photos, too. I hope with you that one day, you find yourself enjoying the beauty of autumn trees.

  5. It is sad isn’t it – that the past that remember is gone forever and we can’t go back anymore. The places and people have changed and moved on, and just maybe, we have moved on as well. Love your nostalic haibun Imelda.

  6. This is so lovely Imelda. It is so strange when our hometown changes. It still feels like home and yet at the same time, it doesn’t.

  7. Ah … I think this has answered my previous question on your native language, Imelda. I believe I have travelled past your home town once enroute to Tagaytay, where I attended the wedding of two besties that I helped introduce. These days, they have relocated to Australia with two children. Reflecting on that somewhat made my heart resonate with your exquisite haiku. Nice, flowing alliteration — just like waves.

    1. Oh, wow, you’ve been in the heart of the Tagalog region. 🙂 Tagaytay is a nice place. People go there to get relief from Manila’s heat. 6 years ago, my family and I visited the place. It is still beautiful but more built-up and crowded. Oh well. Progress.

      Oh, about the haiku. It was weird that I noticed the alliteration only after you pointed it out. ah… the advantage of having a different eye read my (or anybody’s) work. 🙂

  8. All places are in transitions. And while we may moan the changes, it’s not always to the worst. But for anyone not being part of the transitions it feels like losing something, doesn’t it.

    1. I think you hit it right in the head. People back home are quite excited with the development and could not quite understand me.
      Thanks for dropping by. Your posts, especially about artistuc inspirations or the lack of it, have always been encouraging and helpful.

  9. How many times have leaders pursued new and improved when the sacrifice is the end of places with great sentimental and historic value to the residents. Sure, the highway will bring your city some modern benefit, but at what cost. I’ve seen this here time and again and it’s like taking an eraser and rubbing out part of reality and being left with only memories.

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