The pace of progress

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    ‘If the key to progress is taking away bottlenecks and choke points so that the lifeblood of trade and commerce (including our warm bodies) could flow even more freely, then watching the traffic crawl through the heart of my father’s hometown tells me that we haven’t done much for parts outside the major urban centers of the country.’

    DO you have a hometown to go “home” to? I ask because I’ve often heard it’s said by some friends who are born and bred “city slickers” that they envy those who do have a hometown to return to during breaks, a place where they can refresh, recharge, and yes, even pig out.

    I am now enjoying the benefits of a “hometown” although truth be told I am more of a “migrant” getting to know the place than of a “returning resident” getting reacquainted.

    With the completion of the restoration and renovation of my father’s “ancestral” house, one built in 1950 from the remnants of an older and bigger one, I am now spending more time in Alaminos, Laguna in the last 30 days than I have in my last 30 years. No joke. But I am enjoying myself.

    The experience though has made me more aware of certain things in this small town (which I think remains a third class – second best – municipality of Laguna) aptly summed up in the saying that so much has changed but so much has stayed the same. If not for the fact that travelers to Quezon and onwards to the Bicol Region need to pass through the town proper, one could have gone to sleep in your house in town in the 1970s and woken up today and not realized that 50 years had passed you by.

    Frankly, why no road has ever been built in the last 50 years that bypasses the town proper on the way towards San Pablo City next door escapes me. The stop and go traffic that cuts through the poblacion of the town is, it seems, the sole justification for its continued existence. (Come to think of it, even Hidden Valley is accessed through Alaminos.)
    But that singular fact – that travelers and transport coming from and/or going to Bicol and beyond must pass through the heart of an otherwise sleepy town – strikes me as symbolic of the unhurried pace of progress in many parts of this country that are not served by the sleek expressways and skyways that are now part and parcel of urban life. Worse, Alaminos’ poblacion serves as a bottleneck or choke point for the development of many other parts of the country whose commerce has to pass through the two lanes that make up the national highway within its jurisdiction. It’s been this way for as long as I remember – and I’ve been visiting Alaminos for more than 50 years now.

    If the key to progress is taking away bottlenecks and choke points so that the lifeblood of trade and commerce (including our warm bodies) could flow even more freely, then watching the traffic crawl through the heart of my father’s hometown tells me that we haven’t done much for parts outside the major urban centers of the country. And because our economy is only as strong and as vibrant as its weakest link, then choke points and bottlenecks that continue to exist into the 21st century can only mean that our full potential will remain out of reach, still.

    No wonder the pace of progress seems faster elsewhere in the region.