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.