One sunny Sunday in April, at the invitation of my aunt (mom’s younger sister), we went to the town where my mom was born and spent 22 years of her life, until she got impregnated by my dad and soon came to live the rest of her living life here in our current town.
During our childhood, me and my two younger siblings would always look forward to every weekend when we would visit mom’s parents. It was a rough ride. Dusty and craggy road, yet, the three of us were all excited riding at the back of our dad’s old Jeep.
The most exciting part was when we have to crossed the river, a very wide river, sans bridge. The river was too wide there would not be enough fund for the government to cover the cost for such ginormous project. The river was actually shallow. People can always crossed it on foot. But, people had to use wood “bancas” when the Pantangan Dam would release water to feed up rice fields in neighboring towns. Hence, the river is tributary to many water irrigation systems scattered on parts of Nueva Ecija.
I would always remember, there were couple of times we had to retreat back, for the water’s too deep, his Jeep would be washed away by the river’s turbulent current. But, when the water’s seemed calm, dad allowed his mighty vehicle to cross the river. Then, me and my two brothers can enjoy the fresh water. So clean, so fresh. I missed those days.
As years go by, the wide river became NOT WIDE anymore. People had began reclaiming parts of the river and converted it to rice fields, then, vegetable farm, then residential areas. It was soon to be the start of the river’s failing beauty. Picnic goers have decreased. Gone were the local women washing soiled clothes at the river banks. Gone were the rocks and the cute little pebbles I collected as a kid.
The change were actually missed by the locals, but, it was too late for them to bring back the glory of the past. The river became just an ordinary river. Okay.
Then, nature played its wrath. A great flood that was Peping. A mighty flood that caused few houses along the reclaimed river areas along with trees, and other debris that came rushing down banging the foot of the bridge. The short-spanned bridge collapsed. It was a day of terror for the locals who have witnessed an invisible enemy.
People have been placing the blame on the dam’s neglect to warn the locals of an impending disaster. What about those people who have in the last 20 years have been continuously reclaiming lands. Lands that should have been part of the river.
People should have known…
Since my mom passed away in 2002, we seldom get to visit her hometown. Until there was a good reason to revisit the place again. The urgency of a business proposition proved to be a very “productive” adventure for me and my cousin to accept our aunt’s invitation. Oh, that day coincides with the town’s annual Fiesta.
Hence, the river was somehow “low”. Just thirty minutes drive from our place, it became an exciting drive. As we travel on cemented roads (Yey!), I recounted childhood memories to my kids of the many times my dad dangerously crossed the river, of how we bathe in the clear water and how panoramic was the view around the rural area.
Then, we saw that “a new bridge” was being constructed. Hope there wouldn’t be a disaster so great as to make this bridge collapsed. We prayed.
A concrete dike was also constructed along the river banks to control the waters from flooding the town. The area were people stood in the photo below was actually non-existent years ago. But, when the waters came, flood was as high as the dike.
Because the construction of the bridge was ongoing, the local government provided a make-shift bridge made from thick slabs of concrete. And piled them side by side. The less adventurous psyche in me was too afraid fearing the car might have fall off the “bridge”. There have been reported cases of vehicles (mostly motorcycles ) whose tires have fallen into the crevices. I’d rather walk my feet off. And, boy. I did enjoyed the short walk! Crossing the bridge while reminiscing the days we used to bathe in this river. Those greens in the front and the lone house used to be filled up with water back in the days…
back in the days…twas all memories…
Only, the waters were a little rough. We got back to the place a week after to follow-up on the progress of our “productivity talk”with mom’s kins.
My shadow seen on the photo below. I had seconds thoughts crossing the bridge on foot. But, I dared my phobias, even though, the rampaging waters seemed to test the strength of the thick concrete.It was noxious. BUT, IT WAS FUN