Sanchez Mira, Cagayan
Posted by BCS on January 5, 2009
Peaceful and calm are the two words that come to my mind whenever I’m asked to describe the place.
The air is fresh (very fresh) and equally so are most of the things sold at the market. So much so that refrigerators are not so much of a necessity there as they are in other places (like here in Metro Manila)… well, that is as far as my in-laws’ ways are concerned. My in-laws never stock up on meat and vegetables that would last them for more than a day unless there’s a special occasion. The market (and the business district for that matter) is just about five minutes away from the house (by tricycle) anyway and sari-sari stores (variety stores) are everywhere. The market, by the way, may not be pretty physically, but it is by far one of the cleanest I’ve seen (if not the cleanest), particularly the area where wet goods are sold.
There are no traffic lights, no malls, and no cinemas/theaters. Well, there used to be a cinema (in Claveria, I believe that is), but it’s no longer operational. The building (which looks very much like a typical three-storey apartment building) is still there though.
Only the highway and a handful of streets are paved with concrete or asphalt, the rest are dirt roads.
The beaches, which are just a few kilometers away from anywhere, may not have white sand or hotels or any modern amenities (they’re nearly void of any type of cosmetic development), but you’ve got the shores of the South China Sea as your playground. However, the water is not really well-suited for swimming since the waves are quite huge and the currents are really strong.
The town has only two major banks, namely Landbank and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) with one office/branch each, and it is only at those banks that you’ll find automated teller machines (ATMs). Other than that, there’s only one other bank (I think), a rural bank, situated about a block or two away from the town hall.
Tricycles are the primary mode of public transport in the town. Jeepneys, which are quite rare, are used like buses, transporting people (and perhaps goods as well) over long distances (i.e., from Sanchez Mira to other municipalities/towns such as Junction Luna, Aparri, Claveria, etc.) and as such they don’t weave through the streets of Sanchez Mira like they do here in Metro Manila and other considerable-sized towns/municipalities.
Privately owned vehicles are quite few but not altogether uncommon… they can be seen as frequent as kuligligs or maybe a tad bit less but, as I’ve said, they’re not that uncommon.
One thing I notice that Sanchez Mira has a lot of are schools/educational institutions (both public and private). For a small town such as this (21,475 people in 4,139 households, according to the 2000 census), it’s almost surprising. There’s the Cagayan State University (CSU), the Thoburn Memorial Academy, and the Sanchez Mira Central Elementary School, just to name a few. I’ve seen two or three others when I went around town with my brother-in-law, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get their names. And, I believe, there are a few more I did not see.
The town also has its own Rizal Park but, quite sadly, it seems to be all but neglected. I am hopeful though that it will be revived along with the planned development of the adjacent lot (which I heard was going to be made into some sort of an extension of the Town Hall. The Town Hall, by the way, is situated just a few meters away from the park, it is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a new Town Hall).
There are a lot of houses in Sanchez Mira that still have thatched roofs, wooden walls, and capiz windows even though, in recent years, the use of hollow blocks and concrete as well as corrugated galvanized iron sheets for roofs have become quite popular. However, the use of paint has not caught up yet as many concrete-built houses sport a bare gray cement plaster finish, and my mother-in-law’s place is no exception.
Speaking of my mother-in-law’s house, one thing I really enjoy seeing (and getting my hands on) there is the poso (deep well pump) in the bathroom. There are two faucets there with running water, but I’ve always opted to use the pump. The wonderful thing about the water coming from the pump is that, even when it’s cold (like when we went there last month, we had temperatures of about 18 to 20 degrees Celsius inside the house), the water remains relatively warm, warm enough to not make you shiver while taking a bath. And when it’s hot, the water is satisfyingly cool.
It’s truly a wonderful and lovely place, that Sanchez Mira, and I love it!
If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life, from the dirt and grime of the concrete jungle, and from the pretentious smile of corruptive progress, this unassuming paradise can and will give you peace.
Sanchez Mira, this post is my tribute to you and your wonderful people. Thank you, thank you all!
By the way, a brief history of Sanchez Mira can be found at the official website of the Municipality of Sanchez Mira, Cagayan.