Perdices Street - the center of commerce - home to SuperLee Plaza, Cang's Department Store, Nijosa, Mart One, Unitop, and Tops and Bottoms! Practically all the "major" stores in Dumaguete. Together, they provide us Dumagueteños with our basic day-to-day needs.
I fell in love with Dumaguete from the first moment I stepped into her shores. There and then, I promised myself that I would make her my home. True enough, here I am!
I love living under this small town atmosphere. Dumaguete offers just enough of our needs, especially good schools for our children to thrive in. We have restaurants, sufficiently equipped hospitals, cable TV, internet access, lots of mountains and beaches, and of course, stores that have a little of almost everything … and that was what gave me the rankles recently … that “little of everything” part.
I was never very particular with the things that I buy for my family, so I never minded having limited choices available to me, compared for instance, to what Cebu, Bacolod or Manila have to offer. But entire Dumaguete running out of girls’ undershirts under size 30??? I almost cried out of frustration as I hopped from one store or another. I even tried the ones off the beaten track to no avail.
But how did I get into this predicament in the first place? My fault, actually, but excusable due to ignorance, I hope. Let me backtrack a bit.
We transferred my daughter to Catherina Cittadini (St. Louis) School because her father and I wanted Catholic education for her. I got my introduction to Real World 101 when school opened last June 4. I was overwhelmed seeing for the first time that heaving mass of children hurrying around in all directions.
(Of course, I see that sight every time I’d pass by Silliman Elem or any other elementary school for that matter, but the difference lies between just looking as against actually seeing something because you are already living it, having become a part of that world.)
My culture shock could possibly be explained by the fact that Abby spent four years in a school with only fifty or so students. I got my first ever case of separation jitters (not Abby, but ME!), when I found myself hesitant about leaving my baby all alone among strangers in that big world. Unlike Southdale where the teachers knew each child and would greet them each day with smiles and huge hugs (Oh! how I miss that!!! Whenever I'd think of big hugs, I'd see Teacher Shwa with her arms around frighten little children!), this new world we have ventured in lacked the warmth and familiarity that we have become accustomed to.
But I’m digressing here. Let’s forget my separation blues and get back to my small town blues. It started when I caught sight of those enormous box bags that more than half of the student population lug behind them. They simply were too heavy and too bulky to eyes that were used to seeing only Teddy, a towel, and a water tumbler inside Abby’s tiny schoolbag. (In Southdale, books and notebooks did not have to be brought home.)
I immediately told my husband that Cittadini children looked like they were going abroad with all those "luggages" they were heaving around!! I dismissed it as a fad or trend that the children were seriously into. Little did I know that those huge bags were a necessity, with all the books and notebooks that have to be brought to and from school each day.
I got tired of seeing Abby off to school with two bags (not to mention hurrying back to the house when one bag got left behind) so off I went to the SuperLee, and Mart One, and guess what? Nada. No more box bags for girls! There was one left at Cang’s though, but at P2,000.00 (US$36.00, more or less), it was obscenely expensive!
I could not afford it right there and then. When I finally went back, it was gone. I hunched my shoulders and wearily trotted off to Nijosa, not really expecting much, but … Alleluia! … they still had 3 box bags left! I should have taken time to reflect: how come they’re still there when others sold like hot pancakes in the other stores? Yeah! You guessed it right! Those Illustrazio bags were even more obscenely priced than that one in Cang’s!
That was when I first realized that blissful Dumaguete is not that heavenly after all when one needs something it cannot provide. How I wished I were in Cebu or Manila. That wish stayed on when life found me hunting for the next item in the list … that cursed undershirt that I did not know was part of the new school’s required get up. I started with oh-so-high standards; aiming for cotton soft sandos I wanted Abby to have. Finding none of them, my standards went down a notch and I decided to settle for Guitar brands instead … and lower and lower they went … until I was down to praying, "Lord, please help me find size 28 sandos … maski unsa na lang Lord basta gamay!"
Then there’s the case of the girls’ panty shorts. Would you believe we could buy panty shorts for little girls only at SuperLee? And that only Barbizon carries that product line? Of course, they’ve run out of stock … again!
Next in my list were Burlington girl socks similar to the one Tita Nini Cabrera bought for her daughter Cody. They were soft and dainty and the garter does not leave marks around the ankles like the alligator brand socks that I got for Abby. I started hunting for those and found them sold only at SuperLee! This time, I got lucky. I snatched up the last 6 pairs.
When Tita Nini went back to SuperLee to buy more of the same socks … oh well … I wanted to say to her, "Sorry! But what did you expect? You are in Dumaguete! No shoppers’ heaven here."