From township to city­wood

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! -

Turn­ing the clock of life in full cir­cle, there are mem­o­ries that golden age can­not blot out. For seven decades now the shadow of those as­sorted fin­ger­lings play­fully drift­ing against the gen­tle cur­rent in a drainage canal shaded by full-grown Mansanita trees stand­ing along the peb­blelaced street where our house then stood still lingers— but only as part of mem­ory. For to­gether with the other wooden houses found on both sides of the street, they were all gone.

The fact is all the home­own­ers, in­clud­ing my fam­ily, re­sid­ing within the neigh­bor­hood were in­for­mal set­tlers who va­cated the oc­cu­pied prop­erty upon de­mand of the landowner. Even that two­s­torey struc­ture hous­ing that chi­nese-owned siok tong fac­tory was not spared-although I learned it got re­lo­cated some­where in barangay Sta. Lu­cia, and still op­er­at­ing? My fam­ily re-es­tab­lished res­i­dence in San Si­mon, my mother’s home­town.

I was four years old when we bid good­bye to our in­ti­mate neigh­bors in that part of San Fer­nando, barangay Lour­des, Arel­lano Street. Yet, that friend­ship with a child­hood play­mate nick­named PIL­ING re­mains etched in my con­scious­ness af­firm­ing the im­mutabil­ity of hu­man bonds when forged with in­no­cence of youth. I wish that events will con­spire as to per­mit that PIL­ING and I will cross path in re­union be­fore sun­set.

Any­how, from its township days to Ci­ty­hood, San Fer­nando has un­der­gone tremen­dous trans­for­ma­tion. Its farm­lands have meta­mor­phosed into hous­ing com­mu­ni­ties— sub­di­vi­sions and con­do­mini­ums, and shop­ping and leisure malls, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions not to men­tion boom­ing com­merce and in­dus­try. Most of all the City’s world-renowned lantern fes­ti­val con­tin­ues to at­tract do­mes­tic and for­eign vis­i­tors that gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment and rev­enue, and at the same time show­cases the in­nate ex­per­tise in the art of mag­i­cal lantern-mak­ing.

In­evitably, though, this moder­nity and progress has its toll. The old ed­i­fices of leisure have folded their cur­tains. I mean such pop­u­lar moviehouses, such as, Frida and Estrella the­atres to men­tion two. In­deed, PASUDECO, San Fer­nando’s great con­tri­bu­tion to the sugar in­dus­try in gen­eral and to Pam­panga’s sugar farm­ers in par­tic­u­lar, have suc­cumbed as an un­will­ing ca­su­alty of re­cent de­vel­op­ment. For within the com­pound of its muted sugar mills will soon rise a high-end res­i­den­tial and leisure en­clave.

The need to sus­tain the mo­men­tum of progress be­comes more com­pelling as the City as­pires to stream along, if not ex­cel, with the big­ger trans­for­ma­tion tran­spir­ing around the out­ly­ing ge­og­ra­phy. First and fore­most, the City must sus­tain its cur­rent pri­or­ity in pro­vid­ing much-needed so­cial ser­vices to its grow­ing con­stituency. This is a po­lit­i­cal covenant. For an­other, si­mul­ta­ne­ously with sus­tain­ing the cur­rent eco­nomic growth, the re­de­vel­op­ment of the City’s Old District is long wait­ing in the wings if only to res­ur­rect the old glory of San Fer­nando as a premier trad­ing and com­mer­cial hub in this part of Pam­panga. In­deed, the de­sired re­nais­sance will be a fit­ting re­ward to the pi­o­neer­ing ef­forts of Fer­nandino traders/ mer­chants that started the ball rolling to ci­ty­hood. Inar­guably, in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive so­ci­ety, such un­der­tak­ing pre­sup­poses tested and pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship, the re­al­iza­tion of which lies in the hands of the gov­erned.

In the mean­time, not­with­stand­ing the great leap for­ward since Ci­ty­hood, San Fer­nando needs a pat­tern. Res­i­dents and their vis­i­tors need to un­der­stand their City, its logic and co­he­sion. They need to know where to find ac­tiv­i­ties, and how to reach their des­ti­na­tions in shop­ping ar­eas, down­town, at in­sti­tu­tions and at places of en­ter­tain­ment and re­cre­ation. The City pat­tern helps find their way, with­out in­con­ve­nience or lost time, let­ting them see the routes to be taken. Travel con­ges­tion is re­duces if the best routes are eas­ily found, and safety is en­hanced. In fine, the City needs a di­rec­tion to fa­cil­i­tate cir­cu­la­tion from within and out. In this re­gard, two el­e­ments are es­sen­tial: prom­i­nent land­scap­ing and street light­ning.

Go­ing back to the place where I spent my ten­der years, the place is now very dif­fer­ent with no traces of the old stuffs. To­day, the houses are con­crete and their garages are adorned with SUVs. The street is con­crete-paved although the drainage sys­tem is cur­rently un­der­go­ing im­prove­ment. I first wit­nessed this change in land­scape and life­style in 2004 when I taught in Col­lege of Law of Har­var­dian Col­leges. I also learned that the lot where the school now stands in re­tire­ment used to be the land on which our house stood 70 years ago. What a co­in­cid en ce!



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