Author: James Z. Carpio
Don’t get me wrong, I love the island life; the sands, swimming in the aquamarine waters and the scorching sun and yes maybe even add a coconut drink. But it is not the same when I was sort of addicted to it while growing up until my teen age years. Now it is more like been there, done that and even bought the t-shirt kind of situation.
I remember an old and wise lady telling me that the provincial life is good for a day or two, maximum is a week then it becomes routine from then on. She was right, I went to Beautiful Bohol for at least three times and like clockwork it happened just as she said by the end of the vacation I just wanted to leave.
Bohol had everything a four season local tourist would love. I was staying at a cozy bungalow with the beach just twenty steps away. At night I could hear the rhythm of the waves. The swimming spot was just five minutes away by tricycle or tuk-tuk. You can lounge and enjoy the sounds all day. It was the beach life. And I know other people would trade it from me in an instant.
But the wise old lady was right, you will last only for a week then you would want to leave and go back to the urban jungle. That urban jungle was Mega Manila. I was enamored with that huge city. I specially liked going to Greenbelt when I was still living and working there. I was earning more than enough and I had a few bucks to spare and spend so I would go and explore Makati, city of skyscrapers, and at that time the country’s biggest mall just opened so I went there too to escape the heat.
Although, it was not a perfect life there were some things that Manila had that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Take for example the traffic — It was tough. It was a good thing though that the Metro Rail Transit already started its operations so I just took the train going to work or whenever I would go meandering. Another downside of Manila is the air pollution. I had minor lung problems before so the smog wasn’t really a good idea for someone like me.
I went home to Naga in the ‘90s. It wasn’t successful though. The wise old lady was right. Give it a week then you’ll be back. I became a city dweller and my older brother would just shrug his shoulders and exclaimed, “Well, you are not just a country bumpkin. What can we do?”
Then something happened to my hometown. It underwent a transformation for the good. Progress was written all over its cityscapes. Simply put, it became a tourist attraction. Somebody or something put it on the map. Tourists from here and abroad have been visiting our city.
In 2009, I went back to Naga City to call it my home again for the long term. I don’t know about the wise old lady but what happened was it seemed like somebody cut a piece of Mega Manila and transported it here in Bicol. Come to think of it, if you put Naga City next to Metro Manila then it would fit just fine– like a jigsaw puzzle.
The transition to settling, working and living here in Naga has been smooth as silk. And I even noticed stark differences that made this city even more appealing. First and foremost the smog of Manila? Well, here it is still fog. And I enjoy that morning mist every time I go for my morning exercises.
Rush hour traffic here is only up to a maximum of 15 minutes except for the Fiesta of course that is a different event altogether. The rest of the traffic situation is a lot of light speed then some moderate speed and a few heavy speed.
For that reason, I had to adjust a bit when it came to meeting up with people or keeping with meetings or appointments. Manila’s pace had been so ingrained in me that I always arrive really early when I relocated here. The travel time here is relaxed and slow while in Manila it was rushed and fast. For example if I go to a Mall in Quezon City close to where I live I would leave the house thirty minutes before its opening and by the time I get there it’s already open. Here, I leave the house and arrive still early and wait for twenty minutes for the local Mall’s start of business hours.
Now Naga has a lot in common with with Manila which I like very much. Both cities are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Establishments like; drugstores, convenience stores, burger joints, and fast food restaurants are open for patrons at any given time and day.
One little problem that I encountered when I moved back here to Naga was my contact with my friends. At my age it’s difficult to find good friends. A modern and innovative solution I found was through the use of social media. I keep in touch with them through technology. And if by any chance I happen to visit Manila I meet up with them right there and then.
I am very fortunate to have found something to keep me busy here professionally. I started working at Bicol Mail in 2013. And this passion for writing just kept stronger. I now keep two blog sites in operation actively. The first one is a literature blog and the second is a photo blog. Photography is my other passion. And my schedule has become fuller because of those two blog sites.
I always like bookstores and I am glad that Naga has some and there was even this one occasion that I saw a Book Festival at Plaza Quince Martires. I bought one book and it was amazing.
The food choices are also varied and more healthful. There are breads that have no sugar and are made of wheat. I have been living a healthier and more active lifestyle here that has made me all the more happier. It truly is a ‘Maogmang Lugar’ (Happy Place.)
Here I enjoy going on road trips from Naga to Nabua or to Legazpi. These are more like touristic adventures more than anything else. It’s a long drive with panoramic and scenic views of the country landscape. I enjoy the pristine little brooks with boulders; the green to golden rice fields, the hills at Pecuaria and the majestic Mount Mayon.
But what really made my stay a pleasant and enjoyable one is the kaleidoscopic city lights Naga City radiate from dusk until dawn. So far so good, and it’s good to be back.