“I came into the world a Jew, and although I did not live my life entirely as a Jew, I think it is fitting that I should leave as a Jew. I don’t want to turn my back on a great and noble heritage.” —Felix Frankfurter, law professor and U.S. Supreme Court justice
Our heritage. And who shall turn his back on Carcar’s own great and noble heritage? But which are these? Let’s make this a fun thing to do: make a list of all the things all over town that make up our heritage.
But one thing sure, these things cannot care for themselves. The preservation and conservation of these treasures need us. So everyone must be stirred into accepting a personal stake in it, that the heritage of Carcar is also his or her heritage. To paraphrase a proverb: a fool and his heritage are soon parted. As stakeholders, we cannot be fools.
For purpose of our list-making here, I have carved up Carcar heritage to 9 main divisions: Cuisine, Culture, Flora and Fauna, Health, History and People, Landscape and Natural Spots, Man-Made Structures, Religion and, finally, Technology. I suppose anybody else doing his or her own study, or who have done a previous study, could come up with a better division and/or subdivisions.
Cuisine includes the dishes that Carcar culinarily stands out in, fiesta fare, the ones fiesta goers arrive in Carcar drooling just thinking of the food he expects in the town. Catered food from out of town has no place in a town famous all over for its kitchens. And Cuisine also includes the delicacies you see being hawked in the market area: ampao, bocarillo, banana chips, chicharron.
Culture embraces the various art fields—painting, sculpture, literature (including all forms of writing), drama, music, and the photographic records of the town itself (or surreal history). Along the same line as photographic records, doesn’t everyone wish original manuscripts of music compositions of Lakandazon and other Carcar composers and arrangers could be digitized and available for everyone to see, containing perhaps the composer’s handwritten annotations? What a treasure.
Sports, games–especially native games– are on.
Shall we include here our spray paint graffiti vandals whose sole artistic theme screams of a riveting fascination with their own names or else revolve around coital and phallic renditions and newly acquired English words like pakyo?
Flora and Fauna. Orchids are a relatively later diversion but now a very valued part of the heritage of many families. Fr. Rudy Villanueva introduced the Japanese art of bonsai, and people across town still make a living out of it and some sell their miniature trees at stalls right at the cemetery itself. A whole community took the art to heart and their sitio in Bolinawan has actually gotten the name Bonsai.
Our heritage once extended to trees, plants and herbs planted there by the Creator himself, or by the first men He’d sent over to populate this part of his creation. Some species may have been lost forever but for the sake of heritage stock-taking let’s include their names—what we still have and what we’ve lost. A recent (about a hundred years) but awesome addition are the acacias lining both sides of the highway in Perrelos. This was probably done by American highways engineers (probably Army) who built the highway around 1910. Passers-by may notice the the kabkab fern cupping the acacia branches.
The Takoy pomelo, the Napo mango; mangroves, fishing grounds, rare animals and our agricultural history.
Health. As this touches on a historical account of health methods, featuring traditional medicine and the use of various plants (some of which may no longer be found in town). Medical care, child-delivery and child-bearing services, epidemics and general health history of the town.
History and People. There have been scholarly studies of our prehistoric past. The USC Museum in fact displays artifacts their researchers dug up in Carcar. Since Carcar has by now been running its own museum, set up by the self-same USC, don’t you think the USC Museum should perhaps share with Carcar the town’s own treasures? If ever USC agrees to, I suggest the Carcar Museum set up a USC Museum Section to showcase some of these artifacts. Quite a number of these had in fact been dug from my family’s property in Napo and I had then declined the offer to have some bits for our own collection because I thought then, and still do now, that all of these artifacts should rightfully belong to a museum, not in a private house. [4-Jan-2011]
Any and all attempts at historical writing and exposition are our heritage, and certainly including family histories.
Landscape and natural spots Heritage work means preserving a hill rather than quarrying it into oblivion. Beaches, springs, falls, lakes, mesas, valleys, caverns and caves — the remit is immense.
Man-made structures. The heritage landmarks—watchtowers, dispensary, rotunda and its surroundings, the heritage houses (rarity of its type, historical significance of either the house or its owner), as well as every house in town that is representative of an architectural era, schools, bridges, plazas and parks. Sculptures go to Culture.
Religion. I also include here all man-made structures related to religion–Church, convent, church and Catholic cemetery grounds. Church records, chapel organizations (Cogon for instance, established 1859, predates the present church building itself), religious traditions (holy week passion plays and procession, Souls day customs, Christmas caroling that once included dancing (pastores), etc.,), and the general religious history of the town.
Surely, the so-called “primitive” belief systems — traditions, spiritual healing, arcane knowledge — should be inventoried. Religion includes all man’s attempts at making sense of the supernatural, the unknown and the travails of just living in this valley of tears.
Technology. Our industrial heritage from the earliest form of farming tools to corn and sugar milling (intusan) techniques, furniture-making, etc.
Our heritage work. Don’t look on the whole endeavor as too many things to do. Look on it rather as a wealth of opportunities to choose which things you can do and in what areas you can help. We can only do so much, but that much we should do.
Actually, townspeople can organize, with the help of Carcaranons already living elsewhere, to commit to one heritage project of their own choosing. I tell them, even the lowliest and smallest group, whose chosen project would be, say, to clean the rotunda on a regular basis would be doing a most palpable heritage work, something that will surely be appreciated enormously by the whole town. I can also picture an undertaking of the greening of a street.
But to embark on something, people need a sense of belonging—stakeholders is the term frequently used today. A street-wide organization immediately comes to mind.
One group cannot undertake everything. It just cannot attract a sense of belonging across various strata of society. And one person need not undertake everything. I myself don’t want to be a member of every heritage undertaking. I will be wasting my and others’ time at things I can’t be helpful at.
Support from our paisanos abroad would be very encouraging and valuable. Their ideas may even be more objective than ours, unaffected as they are by social and political undercurrents in the town which have always been the biggest stumbling blocks of such ventures. Heritage work is where everyone’s efforts will be rewarded by a deep sense of pride and satisfaction. We can’t turn our back on Carcar.