In my smallness as a Hilongosnon, allow me to share to all, my mental picture of a renewed Hilongos… it is a picture of a people which has risen beyond mere existence. It is a picture of a people that has proudly made manifest its humanity by not merely building a structure made of stone such as the new municipal building but also constructs in their minds. The new municipal building I must add is very impressive and I do not regret defending it to the hilt in last year’s souvenir program in an article entitled “ In Defense of Modernism”.
The new municipal building is a clear manifestation of the belfry mentality that we, Hilongosnons undeniably have in our blood. That mentality which shuns mediocrity and ordinariness. When our forebears decided to build a church belfry they made sure that it towers all others within the vicinity. That is what I call a belfry mentality which has been our defining attributes as a people in every undertaking that we collectively pursue. I am happy to see that the new municipal building despite its procedural flaws and alleged, is still constructed in the same manner outshining all others at present and for many years to come.
We learn from our history that the city of Athens of its Parthenon but more importantly because of its citizens such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the great triumvirate of philosophers who have changed and deepened the way the world thinks. I hope that Hilongos too with all its educational institutions, both public and private will find and nurture its share of thinking and proactive individuals who would eventually humanize and rectify the concepts and the process of peace and progress in this beloved town.
For this year, allow me to extol three great things about this town. First, I greatly laud the evolution of our souvenir program beginning two years ago. While other bigger municipalities do not even have one, ours has attained higher level. It has ceased to be a mere publication of lame fiesta greetings of advertisements and of messages of esteemed personalities that are empty, to say the least offensive modifier. The souvenir program of Hilongos , Leyte has become an instrument where ideas of various inclinations can be ventilated including radical ones or propaganda ones. My article in the last souvenir program was considered an offshoot of both extremes and has caused discussions and debate among readers in the locality, and even strongly-worded rebuttal, from Hilongosnons in Manila. A lot of my friends insist that I register a reply. No , thank you , it would be not be worth my while. I don’t really mind the notoriety I garnered because I have achieved my purpose in writing that peace which is to provoke people into thinking and consequently debating. It caused a big furor among teachers, I was told; it was even bigger in the internet for quite some time courtesy of the Bidlisiw yahoo group.
Speaking of Bidlisiw, I greatly laud the accomplishments of this group of young people born in mid 70’s of so , not only because I am admittedly a member of this group but more importantly because of the factual enumeration of service oriented projects the group has accomplished since its inception. Though the members are now scattered all over the world, the Bidlisiw is all set to carry out its 10th Free Clinic Project in December 2005. Yes, it will be their 10th Free Clinic all financed from the coffers which are contributed by its members. Read this : the Bidlisiw BPI account managed by Harold Labidez who is based in Singapore receives financial contributions from members all across the globe. This year similar to last year’s, the group was able to raise quite a hefty amount to defray the cost of free medicines and free medical procedures which include ECG screening and cyst removal and all others for the poor Hilongosnons. I was cautioned by the leaders of the Bidlisiw against blowing our own horns. I am not doing just that . I am actually patting ourselves at the back for services well done and lives well lived. For we all obviously need that one pat of encouragement that keeps us going. If we can’t get it from others, then we will just pat each other’s back.
Third, I laud the resiliency of Hilongosnons amidst adversity. A big fire razed a big part of our town’s center to the ground just recently. To be best of my recollection, it was the third big fire that hit the town’s center in a span of ten years. I wanted to wonder why and ask existential questions such as “Why , oh God, why?” as “Is Hilongos suffering from a curse?” But I guess there is no need nor is there time to ask these dim-witted questions. Hilongos just as before will rise and rebuild. Like a young man stricken with brain tumor, Hilongos will recover in no time, bounce back flourish.
The souvenir program of Hilongos, Leyte has become an instrument where ideas of various inclinations can be ventilated including radical ones or propaganda ones.