Imus. This is my hometown. I was born and raised here. And I still live here. Though it has been confronted by problems like any burgeoning town, it has lived through them probably due to the resiliency of its town folks. It is this aspect that I thought would work best in pictures.
As I got off a purple tricycle in the morning of August 24, I was surprised to see students and teachers of Del Pilar Academy led by their principal Priscilla Moriones (a close friend of mine, by the way) doing a clean-up of the General Licerio Topacio Park. It was part of a project led by the new local government, I learned.
So I went on to work and take pictures under the 34 degree-Celsius heat and realized how different things were. Life in my hometown during my college days (the late 80s), seem simpler and more quiet. I missed the well pruned pine trees where, under one of which, our circle of friends would spend long hours of chatting about issues involving Marcos.
I had a hard time taking shots of the old Municipal Hall for so many vehicles of many forms, including one Toyota Eclipse, kept on zooming in front the ancient structure which now is the public library. It has a terrace or balcony overlooking the Gen.Topacio Park. That terrace has been witness to many fleeting youthful bliss. The building also has a ball-room-like area where mini-programs, rehearsals, and exhibits were held. That was where I met Nida Blanca, Lino Brocka, and saw a young and playful Gretchen Barreto playing along the wide wooden staircase. They were, I recalled, having a break during a shooting of a film. The hall was also a silent witness to the short-lived revival of traditional or conventional art in Imus. Simon Saulog, the 1940s Filipino master of the Madonna, taught us hobbyists, the fine rudiments of pencil sketching, pastel and oil painting on that very place as the gray-haired and dashing Mayor Jamir would occasionally visit us. It was so sacred to many of us, then.
I literally shook my brain and told myself: It’s 2007 ! So off I went to take a shot of the next building. It is the new municipal building with glass that shone like solar panels!
I moved to the Cathedral only to find out that I need a new set of batteries for my Olympus digicam. Darn! So off I go to the nearest mall for the batteries (Yes, ladies and gents. The Mall. We have five nearby big shopping malls.)
On my way back, I couldn't help but stop by McDonald's newest second store but not to have a bite of a quarter pounder but to take pics of its colorful facade. How could one forget Sharon’s “love ko ‘to” line, a localized tagline of McDonalds’worldwide “I’m lovin it” image campaign. Talk about marketing and packaging! The store design always comes in handy. Foreigners, I have observed, rave about the fashionable McDonalds stores here in this part of the world though it has been perceived as a symbol of modernization and globalization by many. And Imus has not been spared.
Back to the town plaza, there were two teachers redoing the markers of the historic plaza which has not been done by anyone else for decades. I was so moved that I instantly took a shot. I crossed the street and headed for the Imus Cathedral. Thank God, the parking lot, right in front of the Cathedral was empty! So I shoot from a distance and knelt to give it a panoramic effect and I later found out that a street kid in red was right before my camera. Not bad, I told myself as I view the composition of the image on my handy camera. It was strange but the kid seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
Next stop was the children's playground where I used to play as a kid after a Sunday mass. This is also where I have dropped countless numbers of local ice cream on cone. It has now been reduced to several square feet. The school kids didn't even mind my taking pictures of them for there seemed to be so much joy all over the place.
There are still so much to take pictures of- the historic sites of battles of the revolution against the Spanish Conquistadores whose legacy is still evident in our way of life, the hispanic and turn-of-the-century houses of the prominent families, the old arsenal of the Hacienda de Imus under the Recollect friars, the few remaining rice fields, and the river we have been trying to save. They certainly wouldn't fit in one 16 x 20 collage for a deviantart.com photo contest sponsored by TThealer and Lady Alice of Oz. It was billed “Show Me Your Hometown Photo Contest” where among 24 entries, I placed third. A photographer-artist from Rousse, Bulgaria was first and another one from Buenos Aires, Argentina, second.
Of course, the elation was overwhelming and the adulation I received from the global community of artists is incomparable but the most valuable is realizing how fortunate I am to have been born and raised in Imus. On that Saturday, August 24, I have witnessed people value and cherish the legacy of the past. And despite the problems, ready to embrace what the future holds. Yes, this is Imus and it’s my hometown. ###