When fond recollections present them to view…..
Our family moved from Bacolod to Davao in 1956. We lived along Claveria Street just two blocks away from the United Church of Christ at the corner of Bonifacio and Legaspi. Father chose for us to attend this church, not only for its doctrinal similarity to his Presbyterian persuasion, but also for its proximity. Thus did our family become a permanent fixture in the UCCP for the past fifty years.
My childhood memories are permeated with scenes from UCCP. The old wooden Social Hall that once housed the first kindergarten school in Davao City, was also the scene of my sister’s wedding reception, along with many other church related social activities. We had Bible Studies, youth fellowship, prayer, council meetings and parties in that wide-windowed hall just a peeping distance away from the Parsonage.
Sunday and Daily Vacation Bible Schools were especially fun because we always had a snack of milk and cookies afterwards. I remember playing hide and seek in this building with my friends while the older folks attended the “Big Church” every Sunday. In those days of childhood, this building stood as a second home to me, and I often retreated in solitude on the swing that stood on the lawn beside it.
The Social Hall was connected to the main church building then, but over time, the wood had rotted away and eventually had to be torn down. So was the Parsonage. Both were replaced by a greater building of concrete that now houses the Kindergarten School, the Parsonage and the Auditorium.
Another scene of my childhood was the wooden steeple. UCCP in the 1950’s was already a landmark in Davao City, and whenever people referred to it, it was described as the big church at the corner with a tall steeple. I liked that white-washed steeple, especially because it was also a belfry. Whenever the bell rang to call the people to worship, my heart skipped a beat.
But that wooden steeple too did not last. It had to be replaced by a sturdier material that would resist the ravages of wood rot. And so it was that UCCP had become the church at the corner with an “Eiffel Tower”. The bell was replaced by chimes, but it seemed to me that nothing can take the place of the quaint resonance of the bells.
I also remember the lawn; the wide grassy space lined at the corners with April Showers. On summer nights, the CYF would hold its youth fellowships there. Games, skits, songs and food were staples in these fellowships, and although at six, I was not yet a “youth”, I became part of these gatherings because my older sisters allowed me to tag along. Oh, how I enjoyed singing:
CYEat glad time, this is our CYEat glad time!
As years went by, the April Showers grew tall and their shade allowed little sunlight to seep in to nourish the grass. Before long, the green lawn was replaced by earth that muddied after the rain. As the congregation grew in number, parking spaces became scarce along Legaspi and Bonifacio streets, and the once grassy lawn was opened to vehicles for parking. Soon the trees fell and the lawn was fully cemented. Like the old Social Hall and the steeple, the UCCP lawn of my childhood had faded into the dusts of yesterday.
By the end of 2006, the only one left standing was the old church building, with its tall arched windows, chandeliers and stained glass window of the Christ at Gethsemane. This classic building had stood in this corner of town for almost a century. But as time would have it, nothing lasts forever.
Today, this scene of my childhood is gone. Not a trace of it will reappear. But within the next few months, in its place will rise a modern building with a distinctly “Asian” façade. This will not be the UCCP I and my children will remember. But it will be the church many children will remember fifty years from now.
With the coming of the new century, the scenes of my childhood at UCCP have permanently slipped into history, and only by the power of memory could I retrieve them. Like most of my childhood, these scenes are no longer as vivid as they were a decade or two ago, for like wood, human memories do not last.
Still, I try to hold on to them for as long as I can. And even as I drift into the quietude of my evening, I still dream wide awake by remembering those scenes dear to my heart.