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2/4/2012 9:33:16 AM

My baguio sojourn


An account of my latest travel to the Philippines is not complete without my City of Baguio journey. I have fond memories of Baguio. I spent interesting years in this city of Pines where I finished my AB (pre-Law) at the then Baguio Colleges, now the University of the Cordilleras. It is a place where my hormonic imbalance also began its journey, a place where I thought I found Love, though juvenile it may be. And I also wanted to reminisce, bring romance to my old self, even only in dreams. I wanted to see Baguio again, feel its wintry caress, smell its piney perfume, and embrace the ambiance of my old haunts, hoping that the testosterone level of my old self would rise like my uncontrollable blood pressure.

I decided to pass thru Lingayen to meet some fraternity brothers of my college days in Diliman, Quezon City. They are a motley crowd these fraternity brothers. (that will be another story).

Our trip from Lingayen towards Baguio was uneventful. As we started our climb in the town of Rosario, La Union, I can feel the excitement building up. By the roadside in the town of Pugo, La Union, we dropped by a restaurant and had lunch of dinengdeng like my mother used to make. Our entrance to the City of Baguio was a disappointment. We have been forewarned of the traffic, but the warnings were an understatement. It seems that Baguio is no longer what it was in my youth.

BUT THE BEST IS YET TO COME . After weaving in and out of traffic and after so many stops asking for directions, we finally found our destination: The Baguio Country Club. Isolated from the traffic madness, distanced from the din of an overpopulated metropolis, the Baguio Country Club is akin to Princess Isolde, married to the City of Baguio but loved immensely by the Tristans of the province of Benguet. During my stay, Congressman Ronnie Cosalan found time to welcome me. We could have spent some more time but for the urgency of official matters relative to a pending impeachment of a certain judicial functionary, he has to leave for Manila.

Baguio in the early 60s was a beautiful and clean city. Every Saturday, we (ROTC Cadets) used to parade up and down Session Road and Magsaysay Avenue towards Burnham Park and the adjoining Track and Field. There were afternoons after our classes that for a nickel (5 centavos) we rent a bike and ride around the Park for hours. In the early mornings and late afternoons, the city is blanketed by a refreshing fog, so thick you could not see the person in front of you. That city of Ferdinand Dacanay is no more. Walking down from the Cathedral towards the market is an effort, jostling and elbowing against the crowds. I feel literally suffocated by smog coming from endless lines of cars and jeepneys practically parked in the streets. The feeling of nostalgia is lost.

The only redeeming aspect of my visit is my return to the Baguio Country Club. Dinner at the veranda overlooking the golf course complete with a bottle of Zinfandel is a treat, more so for the company. The Baguio Country Club is a retreat. A place where I could rest but only to reminisce; dream of distant past, the leisurely walk in Burnharm Park hands held with a friend, a Sunday bus ride to Balatoc Mines, a jeepney ride to Mines View Park, a movie along Session Road for my first kiss. It seems like yesterday. But yesterday is gone. Indeed, the Baguio of my youth is no more. The new Baguio of Vilma and Patrick is nothing but a crowded metropolis. It looks old, unwashed and uncared for. Trash and garbage are everywhere. The acrid smoke of belching jeepneys and cars is what you breathe. It has no romance. Perhaps,it lost its innocence long ago as I did my virginity years before. Yes, Baguio is lost forever.




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