My Home in Antipolo, in connection with grievances on my city.

Antipolo, that is where I own a tiny piece of this earth, a parcel of land three hundred and thirty-eight square meters small but nevertheless I am so happy to own, because it is God’s gift to me, one my children will inherit.

I have a modest bungalow sitting on that lot. It’s blue and white, just like the dress robes of Our Lady.

Once upon a recent past, I used to dwell on this comfortable place with my daughters. It was our home. We had goats and chickens, dogs, birds, butterflies, buzzing bees, dragonflies and fireflies, not to mention the ants, the termites and the snakes!

And of course, I had a cute nursery for tots. It was filled with books and toys, music, games, and laughter. My pupils were all boys, except for frail but bubbly in spirit, Vida. My two girls were my aides, who else could there be, and they had as much fun drawing and tinkering and singing rhymes. My home was a play place and a study place rolled into one. And I did sense a legion of angels hovered over my home those days, because ratio is: fourteen angels per child.

That was, it seemed, so long ago.

Fast forward to the present moment.

I had my house treated for termite infestation, the yards weeded of cogon, the roof repainted, the toilet and taps replaced with new ones, etcetera, etcetera…

Left my home untended for seven years, for a couple of reasons, good and valid, but now I am repairing parts so I can turn my house into a dormitory, or a dwelling place for ladies only.

Went up the Antipolo Hills to apply for a business licence Thursday, 9 May, and I never felt so sorry about my city and its people.

From Masinag, the threshold to the famous Antipolo, traffic was already horrendous, pedestrians unruly, beggars tapped on car windows. The traffic stretched up the slopes, where once trees magnify, shanty shops now occupy. Schools and malls, cemeteries and viewing lodges, kiosks and cafes stretch the Sumulong highway, and way, way up, there stands a posh public market still under construction, and right in front, the traditional fruit stands stand, and several suman at kasuy stands.

At the junction where trucks and cars are vulnerable to head on collision, poor boys in shabby shirts and sandos ask where a motorist is destined: simabahan or where else. At first glance, that is kindness on these boys’ part, for they were being helpful, but on second thoughts, why is there no traffic light in the first place.

And as I went on enumerating my grievances on Ms. Amelia at the local government hall, HR department, I narrated how rude many of the personnel are, from Baranggay Mambugan to the Engineering office and even up to the office of the Environment. Not only were some of these people unkind. they were also indolent, not willing to help, and one old man even insisted that it was their lunch break! Uggh.

The garbage, the forest trees cut down, the congestion in the main thoroughfares, the canals, the unkempt tricycles, the filthy baranggay hall, the shanties, the vendors  and their runners, the lazy employees… the red tape… Ugggh, the posters of the Ynareses are sickening, as  well as Say, and Kapitan Tuyay, these are the names that had long been reigning, and what have they really done to Antipolo? Can I come visit Hinulugang Taktak and Dok Jun show me the waterfalls? I prefer these natural sites than multipurpose complexes. You should have preserved the Taktak!

I wasn’t afraid I called the filth along Gertrudes Street Gatlabayan Garbage, for he was mayor when I daily passed by that mountain of garbage. As of the present, the garbage is status quo.  The Baranggay Mambugan Hall looks like a shanty in Old Manila, the parking place an accident waiting to happen, and Tuyay had thirteen years of neglecting this baranggay, his secretary rude and offensive.

Tayo na sa Antipolo?