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Disappointment over my unofficial hometown

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Fulfilling what I wrote yesterday, I went around San Pedro, La Laguna, tagging along mi única hija Krystal. It was also a baptism of fire of sorts for our new camera (although we already used it on Christmas Day). I’ll blog about it when I feel OK already (I’m so exhausted with all that walking under the afternoon sun!); hopefully tomorrow. I still haven’t mastered how to use the camera correctly, nor have I accustomed myself with its special features. That’s why I won’t be surprised if the pictures don’t come out OK.

I’ve been around San Pedro numerous times already. We’ve been living here for the past five years. We moved here last 10 November 2004, on the very day of the 2004 Philippine National Elections (that’s when FPJ won in the voting but got lost in the counting). Yeyette was then heavy with child (three days later, she gave birth to Momay, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima). A female cousin of mine who was married to a San Pedrense helped us in finding a place to stay. Those were struggling times for us. Indeed, getting married at a very inopportune time will not do a person any good, especially in this age of economic crises.

When we first moved here, I was really excited. I’ve been an urban kid for years. That’s why rural life always revs up the sentient patterns of my behavior toward society. Summer vacations in Unisan, Quezon during my childhood made it even more nostalgic.

In short, I’m sick of urban life.

But as soon as I stepped inside the world of San Pedro, La Laguna back in 2004, I was immediately disappointed. I was expecting some farmlands, tranquility, more of nature, more rustic imagery, more bahay na bató. But upon entrance (from Muntinlupà City), what greeted me was a vandalized bridge and welcome arch, a garbage-filled estero, Sogo Hotel, smoke fumes from numerous tricycles, boorish traffic, and a motley assemblage of unaesthetic establishments reminiscent of Quiapò, Manila. It was an exuberance of poor municipal planning.

San Pedro, La Laguna is reputedly the “Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines”. But I saw no Sampaguita. Beerhouses, however, were not wanting. And should I even mention the garbage?! And that poor thing called a river…!

But it’s the Christmas season. I shouldn’t be writing about horrible things. I’m just disappointed. It appears that the “curse” of cityhood has encroached rural territories.

San Pedro’s deterioration is not the local government’s fault alone. The people are to be blamed as well. The first thing that you notice in a place is its cleanliness (or filthiness, whichever comes first). With San Pedro, you’ll immediately run into filth. It’s funny how its people continuously complain of the government’s inaction against garbage when they themselves litter everywhere as if there’s no tomorrow.

And lastly, where are the cultural sites? The province of La Laguna is supposed to be a tourist destination. The last time I checked, San Pedro is still in La Laguna.

This afternoon, Krystal and I took pictures of San Pedro’s major sites. But it’s still disappointing. There’s really nothing much to see in San Pedro. No offense to our family friend, San Pedro Mayor Calixto Catáquiz, but I used to kid around that San Pedro is the “ugliest place in La Laguna province”. I know it sounds rude. But it appears to be true. And I say that not really to insult but out of helpless disappointment.

Mayor Calex has a lot of work to do if his reelection bid becomes successful in the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections. His vision 2020 for San Pedro is astounding, almost too good to be true. In his still unpublished biography, A Date With Destiny
(One More Challenge!): The Life Story of San Pedro, Laguna Mayor Calixto R. Catáquiz
(which Arnaldo and I are still working on), San Pedro writer Sonny Ordoña has this to share:

“Mayor Catáquiz is a visionary,” says Sonny Ordoña, the town’s resident historian and the municipal hall’s consultant for cultural affairs. “Once he asked me for a unique nickname for the town. Since we have a couple of shrines here, particularly the miraculous Santo Sepulcro Shrine in Landayan, I suggested to him, ‘well, why not dub it as a Shrine City?’ His eyes beamed with the idea. The next thing you know, he’s telling everyone that he’s planning to create a 30-storey high bronze statue of Jesus Christ! He wants it installed up in the mountains of San Pedro!”

Also mentioned in this still unpublished biography:

Another pet project of his is quite ambitious: to redevelop idle parts of San Pedro into an economic zone — a trading convergence zone for products coming in from Southern and Northern Luzón!

“Through this economic zone, traders and farmers from Southern Tagalog, and even the whole of Southern Philippines, will be able to sell and showcase their native produce and other items in San Pedro. At the same time, Filipino businessmen from the North will be able to do the same. Thus, this setup will definitely make San Pedro a crucial business zone, making its nickname as the Gateway to Calabarzon truly worthy!”

I’m not sure if Mayor Calex is still interested in having his biography published. We haven’t seen nor talked to each other for about a month or so. The book’s 99.99% done. Gemma Cruz Araneta has even reviewed it already. And Arnaldo is now busy with other historical projects. Furthermore, we’ll be moving out of this town next year. For good. If Mayor Calex isn’t interested anymore, we’ll just charge it to experience.

Anyway, with the way things are going around in San Pedro –my “unofficial” hometown– it looks as if Mayor Calex still has a long way to go with regard to his noble Vision 2020 plans.

Pero cahit anó pa man, napamahál na rin sa aming familia ang pueblo na itó. Five years is five years. We’ve had many good memories in this town named after Saint Peter the Apostle.

Por la intercesión del San Pedro Apóstol, que el Señor Dios le bendiga a este pueblo.


Happy birthday, Mayor Catáquiz!


10 responses »

  1. Where are you moving then mi amigo? Happy New Year to you and the entire family!


  2. We’re moving to Calambâ this coming summer!

    Thanks, Sir Levi! Happy New Year to you and to your family! =)


  3. Juan Carlo Bernardo

    speaking of cultural sites, the Alberto’s is now asking permission to the Biñan Municipal government(or soon to be, city government) to demolished it’s house which is the oldest one in Biñan. poor house, poor town(or city), poor province. la lang, just tought you might be interested. yo soy provinciano!


    • Thanks, JC. I already know about this from the current owner himself, Señor Gerardo Alberto Alonso (a distant relative of Rizal). My comrade Arnaldo Arnáiz and I visited the house and spoke with him late last year. He said that circumstances are forcing him to do it. If he had his way, he’ll never have the house demolished. It’s just that he doesn’t receive any financial support from the local and national government. =(


      • Juan Carlo Bernardo

        wala na bang bawian? i believe that whole municipal government is opposing to his plans. baka may mpagkakasunduan pa?



  5. I think you’re 100 percent right in quoting “San Pedro is the ugliest town in Laguna” It has also the ugliest Municipal town residence. If you happen to visit the neighboring town/city of Muntinlupa, Binan, Sta Rosa and Carmona,Cavite that surround San Pedro. you’ll have a feeling that the leaders of this town for the last 40 years have never known the word “architectural aesthetic”. Adding insult to injury, the re elected Mayor of San Pedro is planning to build another municipal residence in a hideaway place of the town worth billion of pesos. What the use? It seems those people from 17th century of San Pedro Tunasan has far more better idea of building a Town Plaza and a Munisipyo. The vacant lot fronting Pacita commercial complex should have been consider for a place to build a new Municipal office. if you’re to grand showcase an achievement of a town.


  6. hi bro sonny kumusta na…


  7. Huh i wonder really scared the happening here in San Pedro Laguna its so sad the Capt. Hatulan happen just been killed ……on July 30, 2012 Ama ng barangay…….


  8. Pingback: The San Pedro debacle: Baby Catáquiz vs Norvic Solidum | FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES

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