The lures of Candijay
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I happened to be born in Candijay, Bohol, because my father, Napoleon, a native of Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte, was assigned there. Guindulman, the home of my mother, Veronica, is only seven kilometers from my birth town. Our family left Candijay after I graduated from elementary more than half a century ago. Yesterday, I went back to my birthplace to meet my classmates, among them Fely Tiempo, Carmen Jimenez, Judith Naive, and Shirley Escobia. Fely, by the way, is the lady of Atty. Ramos, the top honcho of East-West Bank.

Candijay is still rustic even as it struggles to meet the demands of modernity. I knew its barangay called Lungsoda-an to be the main marketplace. On Saturdays, merchants from many parts of Bohol would converge for the “tabo.” The best buys were made in the Lungsoda-an tabo from satisfied entrepreneurs and I thought that it immensely helped embellish the municipality’s finances. But on weekdays, rural life would reign as no trace of the dynamic economic activity could be detectable.

Today, there is a lure in that barangay. It no longer sleeps as the Saturday market closes. In Lungsoda-an, the East Cruise floating restaurant is an irresistible attraction. It is nestled in a river where, about 60 years ago, a Mr. Gunday, my father’s friend, was killed by a man-eating crocodile. That people get dazzled at night by fireflies within the environs of East Cruise now indicates the safety of the place. Despite the Boholano modesty in me, I can proudly say the cuisine in that restaurant is tastier than the food I had in a five-star hotel in Israel quite recently. And true to my Boholano frugal upbringing (tihik), the bills my lady Carmen paid were unbelievably affordable.

Every time someone visits the graphics of Choose Philippines website, he sees the county’s top tourist attractions like beach resorts. When he clicks Bohol, he is invited to see the Chocolate Hills. In my homecoming, my classmates brought me to witness the breathtaking view of such places as Pangpang, Panas, then Can-umantad Falls and a spring in Canawa. Truthfully, in my boyhood wanderings, I just took the beauty of these places for granted and never imagined these sites were so attractive as to become significant tourist destinations.

I was enraged to read somewhere that the Chinese, in their arrogance, want to claim they built the rice terraces in Mountain Province. These chink-eyed neighbors, in distorting history, trample upon our ancestors’ legacy. I am afraid that when they see the rice terraces in my hometown, carved in splendid glory, they might include it in their nine-dash line.

There is an observable downside to my home visit. I miss the municipal hall in its original site in the middle of a rectangular block. The building housing the local government has been moved to a corner of that block, a move that I must say is ill-advised even from an aesthetic point of view. In so relocating it, its physically geographic prominence is somehow diminished. Perhaps the future leaders of Candijay will consider the idea of rebuilding the town hall back to its original site and when that takes place, I will visit it again.

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