My Home the Hinterlands

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

angono rizal

If I were to paint a mural of my home, these are the strokes my brush would make: soft curves of silver for the lake and shore, green swirls and clumps for foliage, a trace of muted grays for the silhouette of distant cities, and daubs of purple-orange for dawn. The colors in the known spectrum might not be enough however, and the patterns I could make insufficient, for Angono is inimitable; her character, already an artwork.

Calling her "the hinterlands" wasn't my idea. It was Christian's. Between conversations about stock photos and mental health, the topic of hometowns somehow came about. He was from Malabon – just like him to conjure images of rice fields and nipa huts upon mention of my town. Typical. My initial reaction, of course, was to contradict him. "Hinterlands" sounded derisive. Well, at least to me. But maybe because it was Christian who said it. Heh. He wasn't wrong though. Not really. We do have plenty of nipa huts. The town is a fledgling as far as Manila is concerned. But we are more fisher folks than farmers, and most would be delighted with our hinterland ways, for varied and unhurried are the days here, with just enough room for play and rest. 

I grew up much too involved and invested in this town. A good part of my school days were spent representing her in quiz bees and other assorted contests – I was, what you might call, a bibo kid. My stint as a gabbang player assured my front seat in local events and cultural gatherings. At a very young age, I knew what it meant to hail from somewhere and of the pride that comes along with it. 
higantes festival
I've been told I take the basaan  a little too seriously

Recently, hometowns became the topic of a conversation with another fellow writer. For some reason, Gretchen and I had found ourselves talking about our childhood. After expressing my envy at her teenage years spent going to Hard Rock and fan-girling over Greyhoundz and Queso, I made an offhand remark of how the most exciting thing growing up was the local fair – peryahan

"The hinterlands is a good thing," she’d assured me. "You didn't miss anything."

I did believe her. There are days I wish I’d grown up somewhere else, of a better childhood and home… but don’t we all? Most days, though, I go around town – sometimes on foot, sometimes on my pink bicycle – and I’m sure I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Angono is a town that sits right on the axis of modernity and tradition – she’s the Goldilocks of towns, if you will. I love that the trees are still plenty and that our skyline is still mostly residential houses. There is a mall now, complete with movie theaters and a Starbucks. Traffic jams are becoming problematic and common, but bike culture is alive and well. Yes, there are no mountains to scale, no waterfalls or rivers to swim in, but our thoroughfares are artworks, and our streets are art galleries. Art is undeniably everywhere – always have been, always will be.
angono street art gallery
One of the many murals that adorn Angono's Street Art Gallery
Gretchen’s right. I didn’t miss anything.

Hometowns are like anchors to everything we hold dear,” she tells me. 
sunset at angono lakeside park
Sunset at the Angono Lakeside Park
All my life, I've lived in Angono, and I would choose to spend more of my days with her. Angono is my muse, see. She permeates through my every pore. My stories are scribbled on her arms and she treats it like the treasured artworks of a toddler. In her embrace, ideas and dreams take shape, nourished like her art and her culture. My voice is her inflections. Her lullabies are my words. And no matter how far I go, her sway always reaches me, invariably leading me back to her.

I never could deny her.

Hinterlands or not, Angono will always be my home.

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