Dumalag: Back to My Hometown
Dumalag, Capiz.( Western Visayas ) A small town located in Panay Island just an hour via bus commute from Roxas city, Capiz. It is surrounded by vast mountainous lands of Tapaz, rice fields of Dao, and cuartero. Dumalag is also an alleyway to Iloilo and Roxas city. Everybody can visit via Roro from Luzon, or an hour plane ride via roxas city. Dumalag is a couple hours away from Iloilo city. Philippine railway used to be running everyday to haul sugarcane, goods, cattle and humans, but sadly it is non existent today. My Hometown now is very quiet place. Crime rate is almost none existent.
Today people mostly live and work on rice fields, owns a small business, stores and some so-so jobs just to get by, many relies on family graces from abroad. However, back in the 1970s, to 1980s people especially families owns sugar land or cane fields. In those days Men in the family works in Santo Niño Sugar Mill, or ” arozera”, where sugarcanes were processed and turn obviously into sugar. Our hometown is surrounded by sugar cane fields, in addition to rice fields. And as far as I remember, there are a lot of many reluctant rich family that belongs to this town, if you walk around the neighborhood especially in town, Spanish era home designs still exist. I remember growing up as a kid, our town has one movie theater, were Filipino movies are shown on certain days, and even then some places in town houses own little movie houses, and play some Betamax tape movies whether it’s American or local Filipino. That is the main form of entertainment for us if you can afford to pay for it. We have No mega malls, not even a small shopping center. I do remember that we also have a cock fighting place or arena, Cockfighting is another form of entertainment, sure they can use ” tradition ” as an excuse. Rich, and poor came to pay and see cockfighting, everybody was happy money was pouring down.
We had a busy Post Office, where we received snail mails, and packages from relatives. Yes kids. We used to write letters and put them in the envelopes, lick the stamps and put it the post office mail box..and if you want to be technically fancy, we had what they call a ” telegram” service. An equivalent to text messages, except you pay the service per word, never mind… We will get to that later. These all happened back when Internet service was not around yet.
And then, back in the mid-1980s, for some reason a typhoon ( Undang, circa November 5, 1984) ravaged the entire island of region 6 and everything pretty much went downhill..people stop coming to town and everything seems to be so slow, no major activities. Everything halted just because of one event. To me, obviously it was the change of administration:-).
To this day, Dumalag town still have its beauty just like I left it about two decades ago. Just like any other towns in Capiz, this town has its public markets I believe it’s open during pretty much every day, and especially during Sundays. Our town pretty much sticks to its old, traditions, like people still go to church on Sundays, and still practices typical traditional Filipino holidays. Regardless of what they say the boom on Internet and computer age, I still believe this town have its own original traditions ( the ati Atihan, and the barrio fiestas).
I left this town in 1989, Although I was born up north, I consider myself as
” Dumalagnon”. As soon as I graduated from college in 2005, ( took me a decade to do it ), I made a promise to my Grandparent’s resting place that I will try to come and visit them every year. compare to other places in the Philippines, my hometown doesn’t really have anything special to show off, except to me, everything is still special. Just like being here in United States where you have Central Park in New York, or the Great Smokey Mountain up in the Appalachian in Tennessee, my home town have Suhot Springs, or Suhot cave, where a many people from other county or “barrios” go to to escape the heat of the summer. my hometown is, on my last visit looks the same except for obvious unfortunate damages still remains from destructive hurricane Haiyan back in November last year of 2013. according to the locals, they were happy and lucky to be alive and only a couple sadly lost their lives.What really makes heart leap is that people around there is so resilient and in my observation, they maybe poor, but they seemed contented and behind all devastation around them, they just get up and do whatever they needed to survive. something for me to be thankful with, knowing how hard life threw at me where I am at now, I just have to think about them and smile, ” they survived, and so maybe I can too”.
With all the same homes in shambles, of coarse I saw a lot of changes, some homes lined up along the main street in town were huge, and obscenely extravagant.I felt like the streets are getting to narrow, and more and more people scattered in and out. I was there for 3 days. My main event was to chill with some family members I took with me. I took many photos of the Plaza, and some were from my ancestral home in Sto. Angel, and of coarse, Suhot Springs. were everybody go during summer time.
Yes, most of the ambitious young Dumalagnons left the town, so they can find a better place, a better life to live. Only a handful, probably not too many come back and stay for good. However A former resident like me, would love to come back and enjoy the site, taste home grown foods, the smell of the air over and over again and I’d love to do that..
During my visit, my family and I loved to stay in Suhot resort, I choose that place because of its close proximity to the water, and we can chill in their rented huts and air conditioned rooms.