Valiant women find respite in DSB

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Monday, August 6, 2012

WHEN I was a child, I had never heard of the place called Don Salvador Benedicto aka DSB. Today, it is known locally as the “Little Baguio” of Negros Occidental because of its cool climate. It lies at an average of 2,495 feet above sea level.

Just like the Baguio of yesteryears, pine trees line the thoroughfares and flowers, fruits and vegetables are bountiful.

DSB is a new territory. It was founded on February 9, 1983 upon the approval of Batas Pambansa Bilang 336 by President Ferdinand Marcos, and the legislation was authored by Batasang Pambansa members Alfonso Garcia and Jose Valera, Jr. It acquired its name in honor of the late Vice Governor Salvador Benedicto who had a part in settling the Revolutionary Government of Negros Island at the area (Barangay Igmaya-an) during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines last World War II.


The territorial formation of Don Salvador Benedicto is comprised of 2 barangays from the Municipality of Murcia (Pandanon and Igmaya-an); 3 barangays from the City of San Carlos (Kumaliskis, Bunga and Pinowayan-Prosperidad); and 2 barangays from the Municipality of Calatrava (Bagong Silang-Marcelo and Bago-Lalong).

It was primarily established to consolidate these areas which seemed neglected, considering the inaccessibility to corresponding population-centers because of its distance, terrain and road conditions.

It was a haven of lawless elements, more specifically the NPAs. DSB has a municipal jurisdiction of 17,056 hectares composite of 67% forestal lands and 33% alienable and disposable lands.

The Municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto is known as the Summer Capital of Negros Occidental through a resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan authored by Board Member Nehemias de La Cruz, former Mayor of Don Salvador Benedicto and whose son, Marxlen de la Cruz, is now the current Mayor of DSB.

The charm of DSB is its location. It is only 47km from Bacolod City with well-maintained zigzag road of Negros Translink Ecotourism Highway. Most people, like me, going to San Carlos City or Cebu prefer this route because of the scenic view which makes traveling enjoyable.

From a non-existing territory, Don Salvador Benedicto is no longer the stronghold of lawless elements but it has metamorphosed into an amazing retreat for respite. There are now subdivisions with homes mushrooming by the day. As God is always kind and merciful, we were invited to the home of our friend, Merle Severino, whose home is almost fully finished.

I mention valiant women because Merle is one such in the genre. Merle was widowed 6 years ago.

Devoted to the man of her life, Ange, his passing on was devastating, but being close to the Lord showers one with multiple graces and Merle was able to carry on with life valiantly. Her home in Don Salvador Benedicto is a picture of Merle. It is her quiet place where she savors the goodness of the Lord and His blessings. Merle’s home is fully surrounded by open terraces where she has the commanding views of both Mt. Marapara and Mt. Canloan. What can be a better reminder of God’s majesty then these mountains which were molded specially by God’s hands.

It is likewise well appointed with enough space where she can lavish in the comfort of togetherness with the most important people in her life—her children and her friends.

After a sumptuous lunch of lechon, paella, pasta and many more, plus a fiesta of dessert items prepared by Merle and her friends, of course the women had to have their photo souvenirs. From level one to the third, we just had to have the best view in pictures. Merle, ever the gracious host, sent us home with the many leftovers.

My cousin Mae and I still had time on our hands and decided to explore further into the subdivision.

Pointing one home after the other as owned by this and that, we came to the home of Chi Flores. We asked if she was home and without even waiting to be invited, we ushered ourselves in. Chi, true to form, was her usual joyful self who was delighted to see us.

Chi’s home is Balinese in design. Simplistic yet functional—so very Chi. Her home in DSB is her sanctuary and she spends countless hours doing her garden, attending to her turkey and other animals, her needlework, her prayer time. She says that before she knows it, it is almost seven in the evening and time to either rest or go home.

Chi is another valiant lady. A cancer survivor of many years, Chi stripped herself of the stresses of deadline deliveries and quality control perfection for a more sedate life of peace and tranquility. Chi was our pioneer exporter in the Association of Negros Producers. When members were just studying the mechanics of exporting, Chi was already supplying high end commercial establishments in the States with her laminations.

Chi has written a short manuscript about her home in DSB. How everything was pieced together from the source of balayong posts and the flowers and plants that now grow in her garden to the “foyer” situated outside her home to all the nitty-gritty stories of birds building nests indoors until she had to improvise her structure. This little book tells the joyful story of her beautiful sanctuary home in Don Salvador Benedicto.

Two valiant women, Merle Severino and Chi Flores, who have suffered trials of loss and illness but never succumbed to loneliness or hopelessness and live each day in gratefulness making a difference in their small milieu of family and extending to friends and the community.

With Bacolod City now a fast paced, traffic laden, cement jungle, perhaps Don Salvador Benedicto was really created to be a respite for that home away from home where quiet, peace and contemplation is not a luxury.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 06, 2012.


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