Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Walking the Back Trails

Back Trails: Five months old!

Roughly five months have passed since I started Back Trails, and I see it important to look back on two points, which are the two reasons on why this thing exists today.

Sharing Our City

First was the reason why Back Trails was born. It all started with my desire to write a small monograph (if I may call it that) about our city, something that I hope to contribute to the city despite me being a science student. My fondness of history is what really gave me the impetus to retain this plan. I have succeeded more or less in that direction as we were able to produce a zine which we appropriately called ‘LagosZine’ where I was able to input some of my thoughts.

But I realized that our zine is not the proper place to do it. Not that LagosZine was inadequate. It’s just that I could feel that our zine has a character of its own, and I could not possibly stir the flow of the zine for my personal motives. We work as a team there.

Again, as I have said many times already, it was a friend (who I got to know online) which finally gave me the insight on how I could possibly share things about our city – through the internet, through a blog, which I have been very fond of anyway for many years already.

Thus, I have fulfilled it, nailing down first on the blog’s starting days about our (my sister and I) visit to the city proper and the cathedral during the Christmas season. It was really fun, for relaying it is not as hard as those that I do in Viole(n)t Mugs, where I attempt to be as serious as possible.

Back Trails is light, easy going, and certainly not time-consuming. All in all, I find the label travel-history blog quite inaccurate as I see that I get to incorporate more of the characters of the people that I get to meet. If that amounts to ‘culture’, then so be it.
Whether or not the entries I have posted so far have helped people, for me the most basic thing to be looked at is my contentment. Far from being a famous blog, but yes, I am pretty much happy and contented about what I am doing here in Back Trails.

For the Love of Houses

But then, some earlier trigger made me jump completely to history, not in the academic sense, but in the way I move now as a person.

* the house that launched a thousand Back Trails entries – the house in Candelaria, Quezon which inspired me to dig in more into our history; I don’t know the exact reasons but it just happened

* that’s me making my solo revisit to that house, after several years; I say that the feeling, the attraction did not fade in any way

We joined a Battle of the Bands in Candelaria, Quezon and as we have already played onstage earlier in the afternoon, some of my teammates and I decided to stroll around the city proper. No specific thing/s to look for (except women, of course); just pure stroll. And what did I find? Man, a treasure of houses! And it was then and there that I was drawn to the fascinating thought of our past, of our ancestors’ culture and history.

I was particularly attracted to a certain house just before reaching the town plaza, and to this day, I still find it attractive, hoping inside that I could own it, or somehow own a house similar to that (I choose to expound about that house in an upcoming Candelaria entry).

Walking the Back Trails
I am no hardcore historian. Just a plain Philippine history enthusiast at best. For all I know, I am just doing a novice travel blog, spiced with history tidbits here and there. But with the rapid invasion of global trends – in fashion, media, among other – it is particularly important for each Filipino to start on his own, to learn more about the country’s past, culture, and tradition and not be confined in the books and classes at school. We have so many alternatives and opportunities now, with all the gadgets that can be utilized to embark on historical adventures of our own; we all just need to stand and proceed with them.

Again, these may just be yet another ranting of a fired-up, but nevertheless misinformed youth. Yes, I know for a fact that I am yet to refine my idea of history and its proper place in our current situation (and on a personal note, of how I can fuse science and history in such a form that I can utilize them to be useful to the country with me as a proponent). I am also still at these groping stages, but I hope that with these simple travels through our Back Trails – to our past via the readily available places and shrines and people to talk to – I could make a mark, even if just a speck, a contributing mark, in establishing the importance of grasping our country’s past and sharing it to the people of the present time.


  1. I was once asked why are so important and what does it have to do with us today. Houses defines everything there is to know about Filipinismo. It suggest who we are, where we came from and what we do.It encapsulates perfectly the transition of our ancestors.Hence, we must try to develop a plan that would save them from the trend of destruction. And they're all beautiful, and they add so much interest in our written history. Its a tragedy that's so sad to see them diminishing, and rapidly.

  2. Just to expand on the statement "It suggest who we are, where we came from and what we do", Kuya.

    An idea has formed in me regarding houses and churches as I go to visit and take pictures of them. They sort of form a visual figure for us, much like in a painting, that tells us of the kind of life that the people had in the past. It may be the social scene at the time (i.e. perhaps the dominating or influential foreign cultures of the time influenced much about the design of the houses), be it whether during the Spanish time or after it.

    We could, in a way, make them as starting points from which to trace back, on our own simple ways, what it look liked, or what transpired, in the past.

    Indeed, with the present period looking like it's heading towards a culture blurred by many forms such as media and fashion, it is more than important to uphold the preservation of these houses.

    I have recently talked to someone who buys old houses (he calls them 'antique'). He has just acquired an old house from Binondo erected in 1893 and asked him in return if NHI has been doing anything towards preservation of old (or could I call them heritage?) houses. His answer was more than just a negative one, but it certainly shows that we, Filipinos, still have a long way to take to fully ingrain in our present life (and in our culture perhaps) the importance of our country's past and its tangible aspects, such as houses.

    (Sometimes my thoughts seem to be aimless, but I hope that I have passed my view at least quite distinctly.)