It has never occurred to me to walk around my hometown – Pili, Camarines Sur, and take photos. I am only thinking about it now after looking at the few photos I took last time I was there, which was about a month ago.

Town proper, Pili, Camarines Sur

PNB on the left where the bus stop is and South Star Drug as well as Lucky Nine Convenience Store on the right, right next to where the pedicab terminal is

The streets of Old San Roque

During Sundays, the streets of Old San Roque are transformed into one big wet market, with streets made impassable to any kind of vehicle that can seat a person as entire streets are crammed with cartfuls of all kinds of produce – kakanin, vegetables, dried fish, fresh fish, clothes, toys, plastic wares, plants and even animals like rabbits, chicks, ducklings. The baranggay of Old San Roque has been one big market as long as I can remember. It has the Wet and Dry Markets of the town, though except for Sundays, its streets are empty and passable any other given day of the week. I remember tagging along with my mother or my father during market day, as they picked as well as tried to teach me how to pick vegetables and fruits. I fondly remember how I insisted on going so I could pick out little ducklings that I brought home as pets. I remember how I woke up during Sunday mornings eager to eat kutsinta, kalamay and puto that my mom liked bringing home to us.

I’d like to come back and take photos of the frenzy that is the Sunday market in the streets of Old San Roque when I have the time.

National Road, Pili, Camarines Sur

A snapshot of an empty pedicab as well as a relatively empty highway on an early morning weekday

The dormant volcano that is Mt. Isarog

I am afforded a good view of Mt. Isarog every time I take the long route home – a route that involves taking a pedicab that costs P5. At a height of 1,976 meters [6,483 ft], the mountain imposes its unimpressive form on our little town. What I always dreamt about was taking a photo of the mountain after a good, heavy rain – simply because it makes visible a trail of waterfalls on its face. A trail of waterfalls, the biggest of which is as tall as my thumb that always makes me think, “If I could see this waterfalls from where I am, at the foot of the mountain, I imagine it would be gigantic up close.” I have always asked my father about the waterfalls and whether someone has ever been close to it and he always said, “No, because when people try to get to it, they get scared by the thunderous sound it makes even if it’s still nowhere in sight.”

The streets of Pili on a weekday morning

The street on the right leads to the baranggays of Santiago, San Vicente, La Purisima and Curry

The church of the Parish of St. Raphael the Archangel

A few years ago when I did not have a Flickr account yet, my husband gave me a link to the photo stream of one of his university frat brothers who was a photographer. The guy had been to my hometown and had taken photos. I distinctly remember being impressed by how pretty he had captured the little church where I was baptized and confirmed, had Chiro meetings as well as children’s mass at four in the afternoon during Sundays all through my grade school years and had CFC-sponsored Sunday morning masses with my family during my high school years.

I would love to take a photo of the church in the early morning or late afternoon light on any regular day and a photo of the interior of the church during Christmas season. My parish never had elaborate Christmas decorations but I would take photos only so I can look at them and remember all the past Christmases I spent looking up at the parols hanging on the ceiling during mass.

The town that is Pili, Camarines Sur

The building that used to house the Inajem Enterprises as well as my father's cousin's furniture showroom

The Evangelical Christian School in San Juan

My sister Jasmin who is two years older than I am was the third batch to ever graduate from elementary in this little private school. I was on the fifth. That is how I got to witness the transformation of this school through the years. I have not really gone back to walk the halls and enter the classrooms ever since I graduated in 1995. I would love to come back one day and take photos and compare them to the many grade school photos my mom still keeps in a faded and worn out photo album in our house in Santiago. The old principal and pastor, as well as half of his family, had moved from their house in the campus to the lot next to ours. We are now neighbors(!). In fact, last Christmas vacation, my mom had insisted that I, along with my husband and daughter, pay the family a visit – as we share the same narrow driveway and we pass by their front door every time we have to go out of our gateless yard.

Highway - Camarines Sur Capitol Complex a.k.a. CWC

The highway where one takes either a pedicab, a tricycle or a motorcyle going inside the Provincial Capitol Complex or what is now more popularly known as the Cam Sur Water Sports Complex or CWC

The Co Say Oil Mill in La Purisima

I had a close friend who lived in La Purisima. I and a few of my friends who had their own bicycles, often went to visit her in their house in the middle of rice fields during our grade school years. We would ride our bikes past the bridge, past the stretch of road made all muddy and broken by the constant passing of heavy trucks that came to and fro the copra mill, past the vast green rice fields, past the mill and past more rice fields until we reached her house. In my friend Joanne’s house, they had binggalas (guinea fowl) and all kinds of vegetables planted all around their house. Down the street they had a bigger farm where she showed us the grapes growing around bamboo sticks. I distinctly remember saying out loud that I thought grapes only grew in the mountains or cooler places.

I always loved looking at that vast expanse of green field with the oil mill standing out in the scenery. I grew to love the smell of the copra carried by the breeze that blew my hair as I rode my bicycle at the age of nine.

I haven’t been back to see my friend Joanne and I do not know whether the fields still teem green with rice. I did catch a glimpse of what I thought was the oil mill on the way to Sabang, San Jose when the van I was in took the Pili Diversion road that took off from San Agustin, cutting through San Vicente, Santiago and La Purisima to emerge in Anayan. The diversion road was built right after the bridge.. the bridge that where there used to be a little stream that was a tributary of the Bicol River, where I used to go to watch my neighbors wash their laundry and to swim with my playmates is now dead and dry. (As a side note, the stream is dead because of the oil mill. Read about it here; though this should have been done a long time ago. I remember writing about how the mill killed the stream when I was thirteen and in my first year of high school in what was then called Colegio de Sta. Isabel).

So many things have changed.

That is why I want to and I should take photos before everything changes all the more. Right now all I have are the pictures in my mind of what used to be. I’d like to have photos of what is there now so when the time when this now is the past, I will have photos of what was there half-way – half-way between what I remember from my childhood and what will be there in the future.

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