The piece of suburbia that I love to call Uraya mountains used to be sleepy-ville, so quiet and laid back you’d swear you were out in the province. While its high elevation might not yet qualify it as such, it’s still “mountain” enough for hobbitses like myself. And I guess all things start out sleepy, before the proverbial coffee. In the early days of 2001, the roads that led to it were still unpaved, muddy during or after the rains, and poorly-lit. Sometimes, we had to get off the tricycle to push it, as we traversed the uphill leading to its entrance. Even my mom could not, at that time, fathom why we chose to live so far away.
Life, although simpler, ran one ragged on the day-to-day. Most of the residents who worked in the city prepared for a long commute, two or three public rides in all, to get to the city workplace and two rides back. To make it worse, almost all of these transports had to travel through a longer route, so much that one had to be mindful of the total travel time and the amount of traffic along the way on any particular day. Those with private transport, to a lesser degree, undergo the same conditions as well, as their trips to the city via a shortcut through Skyline only take about an hour.
Home here was just, as basic as just a place to live, because everything you needed, you had to get from afar. Of course, one could opt to buy in Mintal or Skyline, both being one ride away, or at Matina Crossing and downtown. The only two groceries now in the subdivision had not yet been around prior to 2010, but a few sari-sari stores dotted each corner, so that one’s minor needs could still be had. A few peddlers on old bikes made the rounds daily, and sold fish, merienda, vegetables and even brooms and pans. In spite of these limitations, the regularity of these little services still showed that living in sleepy-ville was not really as bad.
Then like your SimCity game, our place slowly began to develop. Eventually, the roads leading up to it were, a kilometer at a time, paved, with more street lights and for a while even, closed-circuit cameras were even installed by the city near the gate. At that, I once thought, things were finally looking up. And if you did, smile at least.
From a two-phased subdivision, it had grown rapidly to five. That is more than a few thousand people per phase, but the population could be higher. Then suddenly, we had three bakeshops, so that one could now have more choices on the kinds of bread to bring home. Small eateries too, cropped up like wild flowers, with every other block offering barbecue, steamed fish and the usual resto fare of burgers and spag. (I know of at least one classy restaurant in Phase Two, but only a few go there.)
Some enterprising house-owners living along the main road had turned their facades into wet markets at night, saving residents valuable trips to the Mintal public market, which is closed anyway come evening. The coming in of laundromats, beauty parlors and car wash places add to its development, along with several home deliveries for home-cooked meals, gasul and mineral water.
All these in a span of a few years, slow by city standards, but nevertheless favourable. Not only had our sleepy place come alive, we have slowly turned self-sufficient in a way. Pretty soon, with Mintal also undergoing rapid development, this community might as well become our very own cocoon-of-a-mountain. This year, a regular bus service had been added, so that trips to the city now take less than an hour, and it has indeed proven to be a very good thing for our mountain’s resident-employees and workers.
Our little wakey town might as well be a microcosm of something bigger like this country, or the world even. All that is needed is a tweak here and there and it achieves something bigger than what it started with. Truth is, everything was in the hands of those who live there. When it started out, the mere formation through “votation,” (invented word for voting, as in election) of an overseeing set of officers could not be had without much controversy, and monthly dues even had to be tabled again and again before finally being agreed upon. It was even a bit embarrassing for a while when it came out that the monthly dues were meant for the salaries of garbage collectors and security, and many objected to that. That much is the same outside the gates. If social media were a drone that could see above and beyond, what it could see are nothing but encampments, all with their own goals, needs, and agenda. With a fierce determination that is completely intent on putting anyone down so they could rule.