Trying not to be foolish on April Fools’ Day

I was raised in the city. And despite having lived in the suburb for almost a decade, I’m still a city girl. I miss the pulse, the buzz, the lights, the theater, the parties, the night life. Yet, I don’t miss the traffic, the noise and the lack of greens. In short, for the most part, I’m torn. Maybe, even confused. And I’ve been trying to rationalize for a long time.

Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that when I was growing up in the city, the city wasn’t what it is today. It was less crowded. Our house was next to my grandparents’, it was a rather large property and we had fruit trees. Caimito, santol, duhat… we even had atsuete and coconuts. Talbos ng kamote (sweet potato leaves) grew wild and was always ready for the picking. There was a huge ylang-ylang tree and a dama de noche and, in my mind, I can still smell their flowers when the breeze blows.

We had pet birds, my brother had ducklings, pigeons and chicks, we could catch dragonflies on summer afternoons, there was even a time when my father bought a goat for my brother to take care of as a pet. Like I said, it was a rather large property and there was enough grazing area for the goat. But my brother said the goat refused to graze, that when he pulled the noose to lead the goat to where all the grass was, the goat resisted and strangled, so the goat got thinner and thinner and, eventually, he went into a pot of kaldereta.

The property is still there, my mother still lives in our old house, but the neighborhood has changed. I wouldn’t live there for all the ducklings and fruit trees in the world.

When we moved to the suburb, one of the attractions was the to be able — at least, in part — to live the way we lived when I was a child. There was space for a garden, a few fruit trees, herbs, a small vegetable patch… minus the pollution, the terrible crime rate and the deafening noise. But we’re so far away from many things that only city life can offer. The isolation can be maddening sometimes. Of course, that didn’t bother me when Sam and Alex were younger and living with us. I was too busy raising them to feel isolated. But now that they’re not here five days a week, well…

So, in part, that’s how my mind goes when I dream of moving back to the city. The thing is, after living in the suburb for a decade, a part of suburban life will always stay with me. Even if we do manage, by some miracle, to move back to the city, I don’t think I’ll ever feel complete without a garden with fruit trees, vegetable patches and lots of edible herbs. When I think hard about it, maybe it’s not about having lived in the suburb for a decade at all. Maybe, it’s really about missing the comforts of a childhood in an era that has long been gone.

Last weekend, we drove south of Manila and among our stops on the way home were Gourmet’s Cafe and Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, both in Silang, Cavite. They really got under my skin. It was like walking through a dream. My dream. Except that the Gourmet’s Cafe farm was on a much larger and grander scale. All of eight hectares. One-eighth of that area, in the city, where I can have all those vegetables, herbs and fruits trees, and I’d stop whining about the isolation of suburban life while, at the same time, hating the prospect of moving to an area of the city where I’d feel claustrophobic by the lack of space and greenery.

So, if I had that one hectare in the city, what would it have?

An herb garden, of course.

And vegetables patches.

And fruit trees.

There would be a composting area so that all the fruits, herbs and vegetables would be organically grown.

There would be beautiful walkways and spots to just relax amid the greenery.

Will there be animals?

Maybe not large ones. Certainly not the zoo animals that Sam prefers. Or the tiger that Alex wants.

Maybe, a few of what we found roaming around at Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm in Silang, Cavite… A few ducks and chickens so we could have fresh eggs everyday. And fresh duck and chicken meat too, occasionally.

And the most important part? This is the part about Ilog Maria that I love the most.

Solar panels and wind vanes to generate electricity. No more Meralco bills. Imagine that.

Nice dreams for April Fools’ Day? Who knows? Everything starts with a dream. Turn the dream into an idea and, from there, anything is possible.


  1. lemon says

    My sister introduced me and my family to Ilog Maria.From that day on, we’ve gone there for soaps and that throat spray, and just simply, to marvel and dream too, of owning even a tiny garden. I even love Ilog Maria’s open-air toilet, but that’s the probinsiyana in me speaking. I guess, in all respects, I will never stop being one.

      • Carol B. says

        Bigla ko tuloy naalala yung childhood days ko sa Makati – before the squatters invaded the nearby railroad and houses turned into rentals and all dirt turned into cement. I pity todays city kids dahil hindi na nila mai-experience ang manghuli ng tutubi at ladybugs. Sa picture na lang nila malalaman kung ano itsura ng puno ng aratiles. I can still remember yung excitement kapag huhukayin na yung tanim na kamote ng kapitbahay sa tabing-kalsada noong bago pa ito naging sementado. Hayyy, those were the days.

    • says

      For me it’s the opposite. I grew up in rural Silang so while I have no trouble going around the Metro and staying for a few days, I’d always go back home. I don’t mind the long travel to get to the nearest mall or urban center, give me a farm and I’d take it any time of the day.

  2. says

    I love your dream Connie – the herb garden, composting and solar panels… Very ideal living.

    I can relate about missing the comforts of childhood. I usually miss my hometown in the Philippines but everytime I go there is a rude awakening that it wasn’t the place I remember it – the things that appealed to me are no longer there. More crowded, the food from my favorite eatery tastes different, many faces I don’t recognize anymore. Yet, still after some time coming back I miss it again =)

  3. lemon says

    Their citronella insect repellant is soooo good, and so is their insect bite ointment.The cider vinegar worked wonders for a cousin who had gout, by the way.And though the husband grumbles each time we go there bec. of the very narrow road, I simply admire that gumption-why put up branches when they have products which are worth the trip to Silang.

    • lemon says

      Oh, and sorry for gushing, but their feminine wash soap is well, we all say it has this effect-good enough to kiss:)

      • says

        i went back to the philippines recently and tom wolfe was right, “you can’t go home again.” after i’ve been gone for years, time didn’t stand still. people and things, as i remember them, had move on, leaving me with nothing but memories.

    • says

      When a product is mass-produced, especially when franchised retail outlets enter the picture, quality goes down. So I think the ability to maintain the superior quality of Ilog Maria products has a lot to do with the owner’s refusal to open branches and allow franchising.

      • crissy says

        Hi Ms. Connie. I was born, raised, and lived all my life here in Cavite. Though we moved to another house within the area, i still miss the way I grew up from where I used to live–our compound have lots of fruit-bearing trees, a playground large enough for 18 kids in the compound, animals, the rice fields; now most of them are converted into subdivisions. The fact that our house was washed away by a big flood there 10 years ago, it was as if my childhood memories of that place were lost, but everytime we visit there, i remember them.

        • says

          Population and congestion are indeed serious issues. Everyone needs a house but the way houses are being built these days, it’s claustrophobic. And cost really isn’t the problem but the artificially-inflated prices of real estate.

  4. says

    Carol B., I don’t think dragonflies can survive the pollution of Metro Manila today. Baka mag-mutate.

    Geri, every time I visit the neighborhood of my childhood, I feel like running away — fast. So, so crowded… you know, I get the feeling that I can’t breathe at all.

    Jhay, sometimes, no — most times — I don’t know how the overcrowded metro is the equivalent of economic progress. It just seems so ironic.

  5. Nikita says

    Yes, I miss being able to catch dragonflies in the garden… come to think of it, I don’t remember when I last saw one. :-(

    Libreng mangarap… I would love to have your dream come true.