Tabuk’s Citihood: My Delayed Reflection
This subject may be moot now to many Tabukenians (or is it Tabukers? Tabukes? Tabukists? Tabukites? Tabukines? Tabukinos? Tabukians? Ah, whatever…). I suspect, though, that writing about the matter two months after the plebiscite may still interest some others who, like me, are either simply slow-witted to react quickly or so caught up with their daily survival concerns to give much thought to issues like this. Or who take too much time contemplating they can’t still figure out how to take this development.
It’s not that I am against Tabuk’s progress, it’s perhaps that progress in Tabuk has to me seemed so slow ever since I can remember. And so I met the news of RA 9404 and its subsequent ratification with an “At last…” minus the exclamation point, akin to the relieved expression of a Greenland bus rider back in the ‘80s who had just endured the torture of a 12-hour Baguio to Tabuk trip. You know, that guy crawling out of the bus with a dazed look and a disheveled, dusty hair, and with the last stench of his puke dripping from the side of his mouth.
At the same time, I was struck with the dilemma of whether I should view Tabuk’s new socio-political configuration with delight or dread: exultation over Tabuk’s distinction of being “the first matagoan city in the country” and “the second city in the Cordilleras,” or skepticism to Tabuk’s readiness for greater urbanization and to the political ambitions that could have fueled this citihood drive; gladness for the expected rise of fastfoods and malls, or despair for the certain loss of our ricefields and the barrio breeze; excitement at the creation of new jobs and industries, or apprehension over the rise of organized crimes and other social problems.
But I know that dwelling on the what-could-have-been or on the what-might-be won’t be much of a contribution to the issues we face. Silence is not much of a choice either – it wouldn’t be golden; it would be yellow. So here I am dusting off my pen (or keyboard, actually) to once again offer my two cent(imo)s with interested readers.
More exciting to me than our official proclamation of greater urbanization was the official presentation of new faces on our local political stage – most especially the rise of our first woman governor for whom I wish all heaven’s wisdom.
One big significance of this is obviously feminist in nature, given the highly patriarchal structure and conditions of our province’s indigenous communities. Another no less dramatic point is the very idea of a well-oiled and fearfully armored electoral campaign truck being stuck in the mud churned up by the changing political seasons.
Of course, changes like these should be translated into more practical purposes, and I still doubt quite a bit that these new faces can successfully concoct a potion for the total healing of a province that is still rising from its sickbed.
But they must be given the benefit of the doubt, and we must keep our fingers crossed while we watch the incense rise from our prayer bowls. Only time will measure their faithfulness to the golden nuggets of ideals they scattered along the recently plodded election campaign trail.
Religion has always played an essential role in the birth, development and decline of cities and nations. It has been a boon to societies whenever revelation is regarded as a friend of reason and a preserver of noble moral qualities; it has been a bane to the world whenever faith is equated with superstition and a tool of division and corruption.
It may do us well, then, to take another look into our own exercises of faith – or the lack of our exercise thereof. For the closer we live to the ideals of our respective faiths, the closer we are to making religion as our political institutions’ partner for development.
The sooner we rid ourselves of religious leaders who are more attracted to the smell of the wine rather than to the smell of their sheep, the better. The sooner we rid ourselves of rank sectarians who damn everyone else who do not belong to their little flock, the better. The sooner we rid ourselves of Bible-thumpers who place so much premium on reason as to make every jot and tittle in the Scriptures a matter of contention, the better. The sooner we rid ourselves of religionists who place so much premium on emotion and speculation as to make every symbol and ritual irrational, the better. The sooner we disabuse ourselves of the illusion of our omniscience and infallibility, the better. The sooner we get our pulpits to the fields and markets, the better.
Praises must be heaped on pioneering folks whose entrepreneurial passion and vision greatly shaped our socio-economic foundation and superstructure despite the intermittent peace and order problems Tabuk has been plagued with across the years. If we name all of them, we might fill out all the 26 letters of our alphabet. Here’s my initial kudos list partly drawn from my early childhood memories: Almora, Agtina, Bayle, Bravo, Calpito, Comafay, Dangwa, Domingo, Dong-as, Dulawen, Estrañero, Evangelista, Falgui, Gatbonton, Lizardo, Lua, Mamanteo, Maslan, Miranda, Omao, Orodio, Omengan, Oras, Pandico, Pangda, Patol, Purugganan, Quirino, Ryan, Soriano, Vargas, Viloria, Wangdali…
Each name bears an intriguing story of sacrifice and storing, spending and saving, setback and success, surrender and steadfastness, self-preservation and service, skepticism and surety.