Slings and Arrows (random thoughts)


by Oliver Geronilla


I don’t live in cloud-cuckoo land; so, I won’t pretend that black is white. For the nonce, let me do a double take at the scintillating points raised in some of the articles here.

Quite interestingly, many of those who make no bones about the way things are being done in Bulan are armchair observers; and I am not an exception. The comments that I put forward in here are based on secondhand information, not based on what I’ve actually seen, heard, or experienced.

Well, that’s the very essence of writing columns or commentaries. We read and gather as much information as we can; then we make our own slant—not just to float an idea, but to make positions clear.

Being away from Bulan for almost a decade and a half makes me feel hesitant to write about local issues, especially local politics. But the irresistible pull to be a “neighbor” of level-headed Bulan Observer netizens and to contribute articles on a local platform is so strong that I I’ve decided to shelve my ifs and buts. Thus, I started submitting articles (that dealt with national issues) which I co-authored with Dr. W. Scott Thompson who is the official biographer of FVR. Now that the official website of Bulan is fully functional, I believe that it’s easier for me to access pieces of information that I need in order to stay abreast of the latest developments in my hometown. This will also give me the chance to widen my palette in writing columns that focus on what’s within the readers’ grasp—something that you and I know like the back of our hands.

On language…

I might have started off on the wrong foot by anchoring my comments on language use and usage and the highly cerebral discipline of weaving thoughts in the Queen’s English. But this is the language that I know well and the language that has molded my perception and appreciation of the world. More importantly, this is the language that enables me to express my thoughts and ideas with that yokel twist of a being a Bulaneno.

Truth be told, I am fascinated with the distinctive writing styles of most of the authors or contributors of Bulan Observer (BO). Except for the minor lapses in grammar, I feel that the articles here are treasure-troves of ideas waiting to be put together for a future publication—a compendium of the works of Bulan’s contemporary think-tank. (Shall we look for sponsors then?)

Not to put too fine a point on it, I sometimes recoil at the sight of code-mixing and code switching being liberally used by many BO writers. Of course, in some cases it’s inevitable because we know for a fact that there are certain concepts or words that do not have equivalent English translations. On that note, I have nothing to complain about. I only take issue with such a proclivity when it’s done despite the availability of exact lexical and semantic translations.

BO’s major strength is publishing articles unedited. This encourages “personal journalism” to flourish. But this strength is also its major weakness. Every now and then, you’d be jolted when you come across with mistakes in Subject-Verb-Agreement (S-V-A), tense and aspect. Copy-editing, I believe, is needed for every article published here so as not to give a false impression to the young minds that such errors are permissible.

On being away from home….

In societies where education is the only hope to stay afloat, it’s not surprising to see family members pooling their resources just to send their children to good schools. The logic is quite simple: good school means having a good chance of getting a good job; having a good job means having a better life.

Unfortunately, I think Bulan is far from being the place where our dreams can actually come true. It was pointed out by one of the authors here that there are certain professions that have no room to be practiced in our hometown. I couldn’t agree more. Most , if not all, of those who earned academic degrees (other than education, and business management) from the top universities are employed in cities where there is career growth, and where their needs can be addressed. Seldom can you see Bulanenos who earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees from reputable universities working in Bulan.

By and large, most yuppies yearn to live and work in highly urbanized areas where opportunities abound, and everything seems to be perfect. They receive handsome paychecks, enjoy life in the fast lane, and breathe the sweet smell of success. But are they happy? Beats me.

Sadly, I also belong to that crop, and it pains me to admit that despite being on the crest of a wave , I feel that I am still in search of the will o’ the wisp.

For sure, there’s not just a handful of professional Bulanenos–young or not–who think the way I do. I personally know a lot of them; and we all have one thing in common: we work hard to have a better life.

Hence, after receiving our respective passports to success –our diplomas of course–, we begin joining the bandwagon: the burgeoning groups of people who have given diaspora a new face.

Those who aren’t contented with their jobs in cities like Manila usually look for greener pastures abroad. They’re called OFWs, hailed as living heroes and the lifeline of the Philippine economy. Never mind the hardships, the loneliness and homesickness that they have to endure; forget about the weakening family relations. Focus on the remittances that make life here more bearable. That’s something that we usually hear. Hence, it’s nothing new.

My high school classmate, Dr. Ma. Kristina Asuncion, practices dentistry in the Middle East. She’s not from a poor family; in fact, she does not have to go overseas just to earn money. Her sister, who is also a dentist, has a clinic in Bulan. How many dental clinics or dentists do we have in Bulan? Very few. But why is she working abroad? Not enough patients? Perhaps.

My eldest brother, Clint Geronilla, who finished BS Forestry at UP-Los Banos, opted to work in Pampanga while waiting for his working visa. He, too, will be leaving the country pretty soon. His reason? “There can’t be more than three foresters in Bulan!” Well, he might have said it in jest. But somehow, there’s a grain of truth in what he said. I believe Miss Kelly Tan, my former dorm mate at UP and a “sis” in UP Sorsoguenos– a varsitarian organization – is more than capable to set the world on fire.

Miss Tan’s decision to serve the people of Bulan through the local government unit is laudable. How I wish others would do the same – serve the people despite the sacrifices that have to be made.

All these things put me in a pensive mood. How many Kelly Tans do we have in Bulan? Just a handful.

To have better opportunities, we usually go to other places. As such, we find many of our compatriots scattered in many places– working, finding their own niche, pursuing higher education,creating waves. Every now and then, you’d hear progenies of our beloved town who’ve toiled hard to become engineers, educators, medical practitioners, athletes, etc., making it in the headlines for their excellence in their respective fields. These are the very people whom we need to make Bulan BIG.

Can we lure them back to our hometown? That’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question.

Personally, I find it difficult reintegrating myself in the town where I grew up. I have many reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is all about my profession. As a language teacher, a freelance columnist, and a ghost writer, I see very limited opportunities for me in Bulan.

Or, perhaps I am just too ambitious.

Frankly, I think of Bulan as a haven where I can spend my retirement years. For now, I still want to see how far I can go, experience joie de vivre, and perhaps “make a difference.”

When that time comes, I hope Bulan’s still the Bulan of my youth where trust and respect rule everyone’s heart; where children frolic under the sun; where people commune with nature; where nobody is left behind; where “progress and not corruption” is the buzz word.

Home is where the heart is.