Opinion: A Time in Oton
columns. Due to many pressing matters, I kept on hold some subject matters I
would like to write about Oton, Iloilo.
The family reunion in Oton last March 10 had been the subject of my past
This week at GMA TV station, the quality of seawater in Panay was the subject
matter of a program. Oton seawater was mentioned as not safe as it has e.coli. I
wonder why aside from Iloilo, Roxas and even Boracay, Oton was specially
Perhaps, if the seawater of Oton is affected, it’s perhaps due to the fact
that it’s near Iloilo City, where most of the garbage end up at sea. But then,
it is not only in Iloilo that garbage ends up in the sea. Even in Bacolod, where
garbage is the dominant problem even in the ’70s up to the ’90s when I was still
living there, I believe Bacolod’s seawater can never even be better than that of
Oton. That is a presumption.
If Oton is not pristine now as it was in the late ’50s when I was a student
at the University of San Agustin, then it is due to “progress”.
Yet, Oton’s “little town mentality” hasn’t changed much. That is despite the
fact that Gaisano Mall is now in the making. And soon perhaps, SM may follow as
it was the talk among relatives that a big lot at Trapeche owned by my late
uncle Salvador Corsiga is under negotiation. The place is in front of a place
owned by the Mediodia family where now 2 beautiful mansions stand.
The place of the Mediodias ink in my mind for it’s the place where former
Governor Jose Zulueta promised the Ilongos to be the center of the government of
the province of Iloilo. And despite that it never happened, Zulueta kept on
winning the elections from time to time until his physical system can’t sustain
his political maneuvering anymore.
Zulueta isn’t talking about now in Oton. New politicians take over despite that they are not on the same caliber with Jose Zulueta. Zulueta, like famous politician Roding Ganzon, fascinated many Filipinos during his time. Majority believed him despite that some citizens were manipulated politically.
They seem not to care if promises were delivered at all. Zulueta entertained
the crowds with big dreams and some were impossible to happen. It is like
setting a bridge to the sky. Yet, voters believed.
I wonder why many were enthralled by his antics. He made promises of bridging
Iloilo to Guimaras and kept on promising in making Oton the capital of Iloilo.
And the crowd always roared with enthusiasm on his political meetings—and they
kept on believing him—despite of his “tall tales” promises. That is, despite
that Oton lagged behind when progress is talked about.
We stayed at the home of DAR officer Josefina Tarol at the boundary of
Barangay Botong and Cabanbanan.
To cope with limited time, we swing to the town of Tigbauan to meet old
friends like Paeng and Dulce Muyco. We passed by Barangay Baguingin, which is
the first barangay of Tigbauan from Iloilo.
I can always remember Baguingin, for that’s where my former sweetheart lived
when I was in college and was president of the College of Liberal Arts, where
she was taking up nursing. She was the former town fiesta queen of Tigbauan and
his father was one of Tigbauan’s town councilors.
It was a good romantic episode like a Shakespeare’s play when fate made its
twist and brought some pangs of heartaches around. On my side, I am thankful God
made us without choices as to matter of love, for then comes along a much better
woman, who is now my wife.
Otherwise, things could have been different and you might not be reading me
around. I could have ended up somewhere and nobody knows what that somewhere
could ever be. All of us have twists, but if you are with God, it is always for
the better. I am sure of it.
The Oton of my yesteryears isn’t the same anymore. Where before the
ricefields are full of healthy mudfish where you can easily catch it everywhere,
it isn’t the same anymore. Though it has some semblance when my cousin Tomas
Tobongbanua and his family brought along to the party big mudfishes and
tilapias, he said he got these from his catch basin.
Yet, the rice that had been very tasty like makan, sometimes they call
kamoros or rabon you can’t find anymore. Farmer switch to easy bearing varieties
introduced at International Rice Research Institute. It kills the original. Yet,
it hasn’t solved the problem about under-production of rice in the Philippines.
The young generation of Filipinos where my grandchildren belong, hasn’t any
idea at all that there are many things they missed and what is worst, it can’t
be found anymore. Everybody seems to be in a hurry. I cannot understand why we
are fidgety about anything, when in fact, we missed many good things about life
I knew in the past.
My grandchildren and others are brainwashed to burger and other things that
aren’t as healthy and tasty as the foods I ate in the past. They even miss slow
life of looking at the sunrise and setting of the beautiful sun like that
experience I had at Oton and Tigbauan.*