Remembering Loon-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
RIGHT after World War II, when I was entering high school in the city and old enough to ask my late father some questions about his teen years, I learned that his ancestors came from a town called Loon in the island of Bohol. The said province is off the eastern side of Cebu island, just across from the municipality of Argao.
My late father was a public school teacher then. He told me that his parents came from Loon.
He only finished grade seven when he was asked to teach in the elementary school of Balamban, a town where his fishermen parents had moved from another town called Barili, where he was born. Barili is a municipality on the west coast of Cebu, the same as Balamban, but accessible from Argao.
Balamban is perhaps 40 or 50 kilometers from Barili, where my his parents had moved.
After the world war, when I was in my early teens, my father decided to visit his hometown. He had a first cousin who was also a public school teacher. Tiya Dadang stayed single all her life, and lived in the ancestral house right below the Loon parish church. This is so because the church was on the hill that overlooked the coastline below where the ancestral house was.
The church faced the wide plaza with residential houses and low-lying public buildings around it and along the provincial road that cut across it on the far side. I cannot recall now what were the public buildings there except for the municipal hall and the public market north side.
The provincial road coming from the plaza’s south side led Maribojoc, then the city of Tagbilaran. To the north, was the public market, and on to Calape and Tubigon municipalities.
I recall that my cousins who were also about my age then, had told me that the houses in the vicinity of the plaza were the homes of the Loon"s prominent people, some of whom were our kin. And I remember that they knew my father well, as if his ancestors were not born of the sea and lived off the sea as men who go and fish in different islands. In fact, that was how my father’s family came to Balamban, and live there.
When my father decided to visit his his ancestral town, he did not tell me how it looked. It was as if he had forgotten it through the war years, in spite of the fact that my Tiya Dadang was the one who frequently visited us.
My aunt, who had told me about Loon every time she had opportunity to do so, became a sort of bridge for me to the past I have yet to see. When I was about 17 and saw Loon for the first time, I was fascinated by it, specially the climb up and down the slope.
The narrow path on the church’s north side was like a jungle trail that wound down to the sea. At the foot of the hill, one turned left to follow a wider path between two rows of wooden, nipa, and bamboo houses, starting with my father and Tiya Dadang’s ancestral house with some other kin.
It is why the intensity 7.2 earthquake that struck a week ago today hit me with quiet sadness, hearing about what happened to the church, and my father’s ancestral home, and later seeing its photo. It was also like having one’s past “severed” from your own life story.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2013.