CENTER - PERIPHERY

By Romeo N. Dyoco, Jr.

MANILA was the center of the world for our family living in the provincial town of San Fernando, Pampanga. 

After the war, my father established his new family's residence in the then small town mainly dependent on the sugar central processing the cane from the farms as well as the rice fields. 

My father had to manage the small sugar farm left by my grandfather. His siblings decided to live in Manila. 

Commerce, institutions, social classes and culture were derived from the agricultural economy. 

Being the years of the 50s and 60s, it was a time of social unrest and ferment. 

Manila, being only 66 kilometers away, was a safer and accessible urban haven with all of its modern amenities.

Our provinciano family made sure that we had monthly trips to Manila. Our parents wanted to expose us to the different facilities and benefits that Manila had. 

They did not want us to remain as backward provinciano children but to be as savvy as the city kids. 

And this benefited me particularly as the eldest son sent to Manila at an early age to pursue my high school at the Ateneo. 

Despite some initial difficulties, I managed to make the adjustments.

Manila was mainly downtown Manila- Escolta, Avenida Rizal, Chinatown and Roxas Boulevard. Cubao, in Quezon City, was centered on the Araneta Coliseum and the commercial center around it= COD, Aguinaldo's, Ma Mon Luk, Little Quiapo, the New Frontier and Nation cinemas. 

Makati was just beginning with Rizal Theater, D' Plaza, Sulo and the Automat. 

Most of these establishments are now gone and replaced by many others. All of these, however, already provided the major elements of the urban center.

During our regular trips along MacArthur Highway, it frequently came as a surprise, a pleasant one when we were going to Manila, how we were already within the city's boundaries. 

The residences and buildings were bigger and in clusters. There were more people and vehicles. 

I remember right before the Bonifacio monument at Caloocan at a gasoline station and coffee shop there was this hamburger that we stopped for and a parrot who kept quacking" hello! hello!" We were in Manila. 

We brought with us ensaymada Malolos, chicharon Bulacan and puto Polo which we bought along the way as pasalubong for our Manila relatives.

On the way back to San Fernando, it was also a surprise how immediately we were back in the provincial world. The houses and buildings became fewer. 

There were no longer any crowds. The sides of the highway were now green with rice stalks and the air was fresh with the blowing winds and flying birds.

We were bringing with us shopping goods, canned goods, imported liquor, clothes, books and even gossip from the city. We were returning to the world of the periphery.

This geography concept of center-periphery as applied in many areas is now becoming more blurred and less of a basis for policy formulation and strategy. 

I am fortunate that the nature of my recent work keeps me in both worlds. 

There is now very little difference between the two worlds. 

Sometimes, I forget in which world I am operating. And it does not matter. 

The developments in technology of communications and transportation have created a world of interconnectivity in the time frame of the now. 

Still, let us remind our leaders and policy formulators and implementors that, in the center or periphery, with or without technology   or now or later, politics and stupidity are political and stupid in the dysfunctional meanings of the words.

 

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