A changed Nabunturan

My hometown Nabunturan has really changed, and fast it has been changing especially since when Compostela Valley was created in 1998, carved out from the once big Davao del Norte.

The first good thing that ever happened to Nabunturan was when it became the capital town of the new province. I knew there was that attempt of making Montevista as the capital town as the former Cong. Roger Sarmiento and the patriarch, the “grand old man of Davao politics“ Lorenzo “Enchong” had their political base at their spacious property in Montevista, which became the venue of gatherings of ward leaders and followers when the Sarmientos were then known to be the undisputed Comval political kingpins.

But the move to make Montevista the capital town was eventually waylaid in the process as Nabunturan proved to be the most progressive and the most strategic throughout the new province with its win-win location- that of being the most centrally proximate to the coastal towns of Maco, Mabini and Pantukan, to the mainland towns and to the highland towns of Maragusan and Laak.

The Sarmiento base in Montevista was a such a regular fixture then in Comval politics representing a mammoth political machinery, institution and convergence point of ward and patronage-driven followers who had come to knew better of Marcos than Cory Aquino or Fidel Ramos. In 2001 the Sarmientos were completely defeated by now ex-Gov. Jose Caballero (In 1998 elections he defeated Dona Luz and in 2001 Enchong’s son-political heir Roger, and since then the Sarmientos have been out of Comval politics until now). Now Nabunturan has the new Gov. Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy ruling from his base, the Capitol at the town’s Barangay Cabidianan.

From a humdrum, sleepy town, Nabunturan is definitely now a fast sub-urbanizing town in Davao Region given its observed high migration of people intending to reside and do business in the area. Besides the early entry of national government agencies which was associated with the province’s creation, there has been good entry of new businesses and locators, noticeable among which are appliance stores, pawnshops, banks, Tagum coop (which competes with the long-serving NICO), microlenders, bakeries, and lately gasoline stations-retailers.

It has Phoenix adjacent to Comval Hotel and Restaurant (former location of Tulio’s Park that was once a free and leisurely open space-cum-park of the parochial Nabunturanons in the 70s and 80s). Well, an investment decision is surefire indication that the town is practically progressing- not out of municipal policy and governance but by its central, spatial location aided by its being the capital town of the province and in-migration of people from other places.

The town’s main street that I have been singing paeans every now and then in various essays is the present Lauro Arabejo St, then known as Hot River Avenue and then Dr. Jose Rizal Avenue, now renamed in honor of the first mayor of original Compostela (Nabunturan was then part of the bigger Compostela consisting the mainland towns). The street is a living witness of the devout religiosity of the pioneer and early-residing Catholic townfolks as when they paused in the 70s wherever they were as soon as the Church bell sounded off for the 6 pm Angelus prayer (can we have that pause tradition repeated now?). It’s understandable as the town was one of the centers in the missionary activities of the Maryknoll priests among them Fr. John Lennon who founded today’s multi-millionaire coop, the NICO out from Bayanihan against rat infestatons in the early 70s. The town is also the chosen base locale of the Assumption (fma) Canadian sisters whose school, ACN, has greatly influenced the town’s religiosity and education.

But L. Arabejo St. also witnessed the carefree growing up and expressions of a many sons and daughters of Nabunturan. It was then like Cebu’s Uptown stretch with its  peaceful, merry nocturnal bars and joints during the jukebox to karaoke eras. The street had changed face now as only the neon lights and lighted tarpaulin billboards of businesses come to rule its nighttime skyline.

Now under the videoke (karavision) era, Nabunturan nighttime pulsates with life (at your own risk though) in videoke bars populated by GROs at the market area, nay many of which leasing in public tiendas. But the lively gyration in the place had paused immediately following such dastard grenade-throwing at the Park and Go bakery by the terrorist ex-Army man. Is he already arrested? So he could be put in jail reclusion perpetua to answer for the 4 deaths and 12 injured he victimized and for the worst panic and terror he made to the peace-loving townfolks.Such ominously signaled an unwanted urban character in the once sleepy town.

So sooner- we would be having the Oct. 3 fiesta. Come join with us while we could yet celebrate. That is, while the extravagant bond flotation isn’t yet realized. Well, the ambitious project of the Mayor Macario Humol could certainly push higher the already skyrocketing prices of basic commodities sold from the projected new market which pegs exorbitant monthly rentals and advances. That is, too, if the building turns out not to be a wasteful White Elephant, or if it could not dislocate the poor market vendors at all. But, that is, finally- if the hated bond float isn’t stooped by a people’s initiative and referendum.

It is unfortunate now that somehow the boon in Nabunturan out of the completed provincehood spawns banes such as when prostitution had dawned to be no longer condemnable and shocking unlike before when a few bad town officials brought along beautiful city girls wearing skimpy attire for a nightout of town’s “discoteque” affair would easily earn in the next morning a censure and ridicule from among the then largely conservative townfolk.Susmaryusep! a chorus was once heard from among the CWLs.

Oh how the once serene Nabunturan has really changed now. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com, e-mail: ruralurbanews@yahoo.com)

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