By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 5-Jun-2019  ·  
667 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
Islanders swimming in Sto. Domingo River. This pristine attraction is in grave danger and newly elected officials should help to preserve it. (Photo from the FB account Sto. Domingo River)

One weekend the other week, I asked a tricycle driver to bring me to the beach with my grandson and then later pass by the river of my youth.

The islander in me likes being surrounded by water. I was born where the river meets the sea and for many years, we lived in a house by the sea. We used to have a piece of land in the island where on weekends we would trek to a nearby stream to catch shrimps and later cook them with coconut milk and the inevitable malunggay leaves.

Before the inroads of the water system in my hometown, we used to fetch water in a nearby spring, taking a slow boat to a place called Lini.

It couldn’t be helped that I grew up swimming in what used to be a clean river in Baras town.

Many moons ago, my young townmates would jump into the Baras river in the nude without as much malice getting into the picture.

Some years back in Isabela, a lady American cellist I brought to perform in Ilagan town (now a city) saw a naked young man jumping into the river while passing through a bridge. “We used to do that in the island,” I told the cellist and she grinned. The National Artist for Literature traveling with us smiled and I could almost figure out he had the same childhood during his bucolic days in San Miguel, Bulacan.

To this day, I like reliving the past in my hometown and that is jumping into the river that probably started in Macutal Falls and later ending in a waterway by the cemetery. Our school was right beside a river and during rainy days, we would climb a tree and shake it so we could go down below the strong current holding on to the branches and twigs.

No wonder, I always take time to dip into a river wherever I find them.

In a Tarlac town, my photographer friend and I swam into the river and he was surprised I could actually negotiate the strong current.

Somewhere in the outskirt of Zamboanga City after an outreach concert, I found the Tree House and swam into the nearby river like I used to in my hometown –in my birthday suite.

Where there is no river, I look for a pool where I can negotiate a few laps. A friend from Dipolog City wondered why I couldn’t end my visit without jumping into the water – pool, river or by the sea.

In my last island visit, I took a dip in what was left of the Sto. Domingo River. That’s where we had our last picnic in high school before we traveled to the big city. My daughters and I tasted its clean water in 1991 shortly after we learned of Lino Brocka death. That’s the last of the river treat my daughters would enjoy.

Sadly, I could see that Sto Domingo river is an endangered landmark with all the rampant quarrying happening right and left. It is a dying river from what I could see. The newly elected local officials should give it enough attention before we lose it to highway contractors. I commend the keeper of that FB account called Sto. Domingo for sounding off everyone the river is at great risk.

In my old age now, I like reliving the island and its pristine attractions.

Surely, the Sto. Domingo River is one natural attraction I wanted preserved. It is part of my youth, indeed, part of everyone’s past if you just read those FB posts about islanders connected to that river.

Both citizens and public officials should join hands to make it last a little longer.

As Thomas Wolfe once wrote in his classic, “Of Time And The River,”

“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.”

One of my favorite films is “A River Runs Through It” directed by Robert Redford and adapted from the short story of Norman Maclean.

I like the wisdom that went into the making of the film and a passage from the Maclean short story keeps ringing into my ears after I left the theater --

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.”

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