Rogue Magazine’s Bacolod Issue, April 2009

Thanks much, Charles Tan, for FED-EXING the issue to self, two years ago. It must have cost you — what, $70? A huge amount, especially for someone who’s not that far out of college.

Self has seen this particular issue of Rogue in the home of a few Bacolod relatives.  Here’s what Jose Marie Ugarte wrote in The Editor’s Letter, titled “Negros Made Them” :

Ah, it’s summer again, the season of non-stop sweating in this sweltering tropic rot that drives everybody insane and out of the city — to the mountains or the beaches or some cooler continent on the other side of the world. Last summer we spent an unnatural amount of time on the island of Boracay, effortlessly adapting to the lifestyle and uncovering some inconvenient truths about the place that will one day rise to the surface. This year, we continued our summer coverage of the Visayas by setting up the Rogue desk at room 428 of the Planta hotel in Bacolod City — an ice-plant-turned-three-or-four-star hotel in the heart of Bacolod.

The chance to infiltrate Negros Occidental began as nothing more than a curious whim, but snowballed into a personal obssession in no time. Although my mother grew up in Victorias, I had never lived there but had visited several times, and I was always enamored with the rural haciendero lifestyle — the horses, the sugarcane fields, the plantation houses — it was Scarlett O’Hara’s Georgia or J. R. Ewing’s Dallas in the tropics, but more importantly it was who we were as Filipinos: Farmers.

All our ancestors were farmers and our culture and civilization grew out of the soil, just like every stalk of sugarcane that gets harvested out of Negros every year.

And that is why self feels it is so important to understand her family’s place in this scheme of things. Because the land is still there, it will always be there, long long after self isn’t.

Stay tuned.

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