Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vallehermoso, A Beautiful Valley

My Negros Oriental Tour: Municipality of Vallerhermoso
That’s what it means... ‘valle hermoso’ is Spanish for ‘a beautiful valley’! Uhuh, I still remember my Spanish 20!!!

Alright, done with Canlaon City, I took a bus going Dumaguete and told the conductor I would get off at the town center of Vallehermoso. And as we approached low land, there it was, the reason why this town has been called a ‘Valle Hermoso’. It really is a beautiful expanse of sugar cane fields and other crops. It is (still) a farming community sandwiched by three cities and the sea. I learned my trip from Canlaon was just about 30kms to this town while my next trip later would be another 30 kms to another city (Guihulngan) and just to the north of Vallehermoso is my chosen base for this leg of the tour - San Carlos City.

You’d probably expect (as I did) that the town of Vallehermoso (yup, the official name has the two words linked as one) is a bustling suburb it being at the confluence of 3 cities, right? Nah, and far from it. This is a sleepy rural town of farmers and fishermen. And it was fun roaming around their streets with virtually no people around (most were probably out in the fields or at sea). As anywhere, I liked ogling at the old houses that dot this town. Am not sure why, maybe that makes me nostalgic reminding me of my grandparents’ old houses back in their own provinces. Ah call it being sadist, but the older and crumbling the houses are, the more they get my attention. Then again, those that are well-maintained never fail to captivate me! Houses in this town are still a bit apart from each other like in Mabinay. Virtually all still have a respectable space to call yard or front, side and back of the house lawns

Of course I looked for and approached their municipal hall because as we know, in most cases, that is center of town. And center of town I saw hehe. On a side-street near the municipal hall’s perimeter fence, canopied by the big trees, were laid out heaps of used clothing on sale. Yeah, ukay-ukay! And funny the only three patrons I saw there were the town’s street cleaners, their brooms even leaning on the makeshift tables to rest, plus that woman with two children! So okay, if its proof enough that this is a suburb, then so be it hehe! I loved looking at this scene even if ‘camera-unfriendly’ due to the shadows. Five tinderas, three customers and one onlooker (me) hehe! Oh well, maybe folks in Vallehermoso do not want going out to the streets on Thursdays. By the way for the true Spanish speakers, this town’s name is pronounced with a more pronounced “h” than you would normally do it with the silent “h” an a guttural “e” (ermoso).

Their municipal hall was built in 1961, so says the markings atop its fa├žade. It’s a cute but imposing building. Probably because it’s the only thing that looks so solidly concrete in the whole town. Well, many barangay halls in Metro Manila or Cebu would definitely be bigger than this town hall. But small as a town this is, I think the stoic structure serves its real purpose quite fairly well. I like the cream, maroon and white color-combination. Makes the building stand out from the greeneries of tall trees and other plants. I did not peep inside but I could see white curtains draped behind those jalousie windows as we would see in many homes. Hmm, their offices must be “homely” hehe! Y’know, where people sit around, watch TV, do nothing… ahhh hehehe! Peace folks, peace!

Oh across and facing the municipal hall is the statue of one proud man with and stately stance. He is Diego De La Vina, an illustrado from Binondo Manila who held a Bachelor’s Degree from Basque, Asturias – yep, in Spain. Why is his ‘rebulto’ there instead of Chinatown?! Well, the NHI marker says he was the one that said “valle hermoso”, made his hacienda there, fought for the revolution and caused this place to become a separate town from Guihulngan. Now now, if Canlaon had Isidoro Maglaya Bautista, Sr. from La Union, Vallehermoso had Don Diego De La Rosa De La Vina from Binondo. Nice of them people from Luzon having pioneered development in the islands. Well, why wonder? They even go to as far as Guam and Hawaii for that, right? You just have to open your history books!

Now, where is the church of Vallehermoso? It’s flat on the ground. Literally and gosh! There was the gate, the fence, the trees, even the convent or parish office. But wherefore have their church gone? I could not believe I was looking at just a heap of stones and some debris. I went back to the ukay-ukay ladies and asked. So I learned that in August 2009, fire hit the St. Francis High School and it also engulfed their church into what it is now, ashes. Bad, very bad indeed. At least there is already a tarp hung at the gate bannering the future look of the planned/proposed new church. I asked where for the meantime do townspeople go to celebrate masses. The woman pointed her lips at the town’s multi-purpose hall, also across the municipal hall and behind De La Vina, beside the basketball court.

Curious, I went in… there they were, the pews that the townsfolk were probably able to salvage. There are a lot actually as they are arranged in four columns. All facing the multi-purpose hall’s stage that for now serves as the altar. My wicked brain started coining some naughty ideas that I started grinning to just me, myself and I. I said “why don’t they just wall this thing up, put an altar or retablo whatever, make a bell tower, and voila this is their new church! That would be first in the country if ever – a church with wooden scaffolding on the side that serves as bleachers for people to perch on! Ahhehehe, wouldn’t that just be wonderful? Well well, am sure a priest friend reading this must also be smiling – at how stupid my ideas are hahaha! I do hope they’ll be able to put that church up again in due time – am actually more than sure it should be up in less than a year. Sus, in this country, raze a whole town or city to ashes, and the first thing that people will try to re-erect is their church even before their homes! That’s just how Pinoys are, I think!

Okay, I made my way to the highway to catch a ride to Guihulngan.

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


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