Far From Home

Text and photos by Basilio Sepe

In the town of Capas in Tarlac, is a small village called Sitio Kalangitan. Located on top of a hill, Kalangitan offers what would arguably be a peek into paradise.

It is peaceful and quiet. The heat of the Tarlac sun blisters during the daytime and shifts into a comforting chill in the evening. Sitio Kalangitan is what you might consider a piece of heaven amid the rush of modern living kilometers away.

Instead of concrete, trees and rice fields dominate the village. Water is sourced mostly from wells and a nearby river, which brings in clean water straight from the mountain.

Sitio Kalangitan became a resettlement area after the historic Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Displaced by a natural disaster, indigenous groups came to live there and most of them decided to stay for good and are still residents of the small village.

However, another disaster is looming and their heaven could be taken away from them any time soon.

In 2017, the Duterte administration launched its “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) project, touted as the most ambitious infrastructure program in the history of the country.

The New Clark City program in Capas, Tarlac is part of the BBB program. The 9,500-hectare development project includes the construction of sports facilities in time for the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in November 2019.

And Sitio Kalangitan is right in the middle of this development.

The development threatens farmers as well and their rice fields may soon turn into roads or buildings.

Some residents don’t know where else to go because most areas surrounding Sitio Kalangitan are also part of the project.

More or less 300 families might be forced to leave their homes because of the planned New Clark City, envisioned to be the first “smart, green and resilient metropolis in the country.” Residents feel they have no choice but to accept the money offered them – even if it’s a price that isn’t worth trading a piece of heaven for. 

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