After some seven years of being intermittently away from Dumaguete, I’m back and will be calling it home base for the next two something years. My transitional life is far from over, and thinking this spoils what would have been the expected sentimental timbre of my coming home. Perhaps keeping myself on my toes like this is for the best. I cannot be complaisant about the goals I need to accomplish here, both personal and professional. Mostly because, to put it bluntly, life is short, and youth even more so. I am here and I am also not here.
Also, looking at this from a refraction, I suppose I don’t feel particularly sentimental because I haven’t really come home. I can’t. Childhood was home. The memory of those years in my mind’s eye have been made cloudy by the cataract of forgetfulness. There is no going back.
Even in a tangible sense, home no longer is. Dumaguete is different — less gentle, more busy and cramped. Call centers and other BPOs have been offshored here. We have fast food, though the service is slow. This used to irk me when I was home on sem breaks, still caught up in the rhythm of the big city. Now it’s grown on me, and has become increasingly charming. It’s the old sleepy town character clashing with the windfall economic boom’s push toward urban hustle and bustle. Crimes are on the rise, especially riding-in-tandem shootings. These are assassinations, really, and residents speculate whether this is the deed of well-meaning vigilantes or an ongoing turf war between drug gangs.
There are more resorts, spas, and other tourist-y destinations. That is to say also that there are more tourists, many of them
Caucasian white tall, foreign, and distinctly fairer than the rest of us Bisaya townies. One other quirk (though considering, perhaps it’s to be expected) that globalization has brought upon our city is the influx of foreign migrants choosing to settle in Dumaguete and outlying municipalities. Their numbers are growing, including their ownership of local businesses, and their intermarriage with the local folk. I wonder what this spells down the road for this city that used to be mine. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now will these migrants seek naturalization? Also, how does this make our local experience of globalization divergent from Metro Manila (and other similar urban centers)? I imagine something similar must be going on in hamlets all over the world, except perhaps it is the oriental moneyed Jap and Chinese who are peopling the abandoned and rundown villages of Spain and other bankrupt European countries. And perhaps more importantly, how does this impact the already unequal resource and wealth distribution among the rich and poor?
But I digress, and I’m sure I will be faulted for looking at the darker side of things. Certainly, the internet connectivity is better, the water connection, too, and boy I shouldn’t fail to point out that the thought of the vibrant cafe and restaurant scene here brings excitement to my palate. I wonder what else is there because I thirst for learning here. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the plants in the garden I’ve now just started it’s that plants even when taken off the soil or cut off from the main can grow roots again. We’ll see.