Thursday, January 3, 2013

Baguio dispatch

This enumeration went around the world and back until I rediscovered it in an old email that needed to be deleted. I like to make a thorough sweep of email files early in the year.

It's worth running again (it was published in a Baguio book some years ago) as I pack for the trip back to Manila after more than two weeks in the city of many people’s affections. Yes, for some of us, Baguio remains an idyll, despite its stretched land and water capacity, the smog, the piles of concrete, etc. Many things about Baguio are invisible to the common tourist's eyes, the kind of eyes quick to judge places or people by their surface materiality.

So once more, with feeling:

1.          You bought your school supplies from CID Educational Supplies, not National Bookstore.

2.          You bought your fabrics from Tiong San Bazaar (before there was the Old, the New and Harrison aside from Valiram's, Bheromull's, Bombay and Fil-Indian).

3.          You bought your imported ingredients from D & S Fine Foods.

4.          You went to Tea House for all its delicacies like the pancit,the cakes, etc.

5.          You went to see movies at Pines or Session Theater either in the orchestra, lodge or the balcony section, without airconditioning.

6.          You went to Gold Mine Disco at Hyatt Terraces for night outs. Sometime later, Spirits became the "in" place.

7.          You thought that the best Chinese restaurants in town were Rosebowl and Star Café. Mt. Peak, where Abanao Mall is now, was also good.

8.          The only grocery store you remember is Sunshine Grocery, the small one.

9.          You had your photos developed at Pines or Mountain Studio.

10.      You remember where the politicians met for coffee—Dainty!

11.      You know where to buy the best sans rival, at Sizzling Plate.

12.      You bought chiffon birthday cakes at Tesoro's

13.      You know what cooking oil looked like if it’s not in bottles.

14.      You remember there was a real tree in the rotunda fronting what is now SM Baguio and the post office which was cut down to give way to the fountain of tiyanaks and eventually to the concrete pine tree, with a lotta thanks to that tradpol surnamed Vergara.

15.      You remember that there was a Session Café

16.      You ate toasted siopao from Handaan when it was the craze.

17.      You enjoyed eating pizza at the old Shakey's located at the basement of Skyworld, now the haven of ukay ukay.

18.      You had your milk supplied in bottles from the Baguio dairy farm.

19.      You had eaten good food at the slaughterhouse like papaitan.

20.      You speak straight and clear English without an annoying colegiala accent.

21.      You listened to DWHB when it was not yet corny, when it was the only cool FM station playing the latest hits.

22.      You ate lunch at Benedict's.

23.      You spent your free time hanging out at FRB.

24.      You ate the best fried chicken at Mother's.

25.      You roller skated at John Hay.

26.      You remember that Sharon Cuneta's half-brother had a restaurant in Maharlika.

27.      You bought imported goods either at John Hay commissary (for those who had the privilege), the PX goods stores in the market or at GP arcade for the rubber shoes.

28.      You studied music at Musar or at the Girls' High music department.

29.      You remember that there was no Berlin Wall between Center and Lab.

30.      You were once hospitalized at Notre Dame, the hospital run by St. Paul de Chartres sisters.

31.      Your mom studied at St. Theresa's boarding school.

32.      You had friends studying in Marishan or UP High School.

33.      You felt sad at Pines Hotel burning down (it was always featured in the movies of the '70s and '80s).

34.      You rode the jeep at the paradahan where the Baguio Center Mall is now located.

35.      If you are Chinese, you were enrolled in Chinese lessons at Patriotic.

36.      You could hear the voice of Baby de Guzman, a local announcer, coming from your lolo's AM radio in the early hours of the morning.

37.      You used oil lamps back home.

38.      You are/were not awestruck at the sight of an artista or celebrity.

39.      You did not wear the Baguio City bonnet.

40.      Your idea of a good weekend was a picnic at Burnham or at Camp John Hay or swimming at Asin or Klondike hot springs.

41.      You ate imported ice cream on cones with square ends in John Hay or the best American food in Halfway House or 19th tee.

42.      You somehow attended a classy party in the Main Club when it was still just one wing which eventually became two wings and which were demolished to give way to The Manor.

43.      You played at the bowling lanes lining Mabini Street: Olympia and Aurora. Mile Hi was in John Hay.

44.      You regarded Hilltop hotel as a monstrosity looming over the market, a predecessor of SM Baguio!

45.      You traveled to La Trinidad without encountering traffic.

46.      You managed to sample fried ice cream at Greenwich back when it was not yet owned by Jollibee.

47.      You at one time or another wore "civilian" clothes in school instead of the usual blue and white uniforms because the laundry didn't dry up in time during the rainy season.

48.      You visited the Orchidarium which was located where the skating rink is now which used to be the original site of the original skating rink.

49.      If you studied in Girls High, you remember the Kundirana (animo La Salle!) visiting every year.

50.      You paraded on the street because it was Baguio Day, not because of Panagbenga.

51.      You somehow graduated from playing with spiders to pigeons to aquarium fish to fighting cocks.

52.      You could actually leave home and be at the plaza in five minutes which is totally impossible now).

53.      You had a sayotehan in the backyard.

54.      You knew the Lion Head on Kennon had a different color. What is it now anyway? From black to red to yellow to ???

55.      You ate the raisin bread from Baguio Country Club.

56.      You remember the Philippine Military Academy graduating class always giving a dress parade.

57.      You recalled that the Baguio Botanical Garden was formerly known as Imelda Park, and you knew of the urban legend that it was an old zoo and that a giant snake escaped from its cage.

58.      You tried ghost hunting (or as they now call it spirit questing) at Diplomat Hotel.

59.      You crossed the streets, not the overpasses.

60.      You knew that Hangar was where you could buy the cheapest veggies and fruits.

61.      You bought medicine from the Parungao pharmacy, the only competitor of Mercury then.

62.      You ate merienda and bought hopia from Master Hopia! And you could buy the yellow cinnamon roll in the form of a round cake anywhere.

63.      You ate cheap long johns stuffed with cheese

64.      You had shoes bought and fixed along General Luna road, if you didn't buy from Greggs in Session road. (But even Greggs is gone.)

65.      You marveled at the fact that you could see your breath out in the cold, which meant it was still that cold then!

66.      You wore those colorful plastic boots in red, blue or black to school when the rains got so heavy

67.      You could recall that there were indeed mines in Mines View Park and not the roofs of houses.

68.      You rode on cabs that were four-door sedans and not FXs.

69.      You knew what Chaparral signified.

70.      You wore socks to bed to keep warm.

71.      You had a four-digit telephone number courtesy of PILTEL. (At my lola’s in Lower Brookside, it was 3385.)

72.      You were able to venture into the Crystal Caves when it was still pristine.

73.      You knew Boys' High as being only for boys and Girls' High and Holy Family Academy as two separate high schools for females with different uniforms.

74.      You can enter the SLU campus without having to show any ID; it was that open.

75.      You read Baguio Midland Courier or Gold Ore due to your lola's proddings

76.      You saw elderly men wearing their best suits and hats while walking along Session Road.

77.      You had leather shoes shined by a shoeshine boy.

78.      You witnessed a dog show at the soccer field in Burnham Park.

79.      You knew of the Golden Buddha story.

80.      You once enjoyed camping as a Boy or Girl Scout at the site near the John Hay fire station where a convention center is now located.

81.      You had a school-sponsored recollection in one of the many convents and seminaries in the city.

82.      You saw the Marcos mansions while they were still not ruins.

83.      You passed by Kennon while there were still the Twin Peaks (due to numerous landslides the other peak has disappeared) and Bridal Veil Falls.

84.      You once planted a pine tree sapling for the re-greening movement effort.

85.      You had a dried up garland of everlasting around the Infant Jesus statue at home.

86.      You ate the best bananas from Sablan (not anymore!)

87.      You somehow ate at any of these Cating-owned restaurants: Solibao, Ganza, Cañao and Tom Sawyer's.

88.      You were able to travel to Manila using the old non-airconditioned buses; there was even a train from Manila to Damortis.

89.      You had FEN courtesy of those special antennas and therefore enjoyed to the max all the hit Western TV shows. That's why you were so angry when the bases were pulled out!

90.      You ate at Café by the Ruins and O-Mai-Khan

91.      You rode on the Philippine Rabbit back when its terminal was on Magsaysay Avenue.

92.      You traveled to Manila using Dangwa or to Ilocos using BAL or Times.

93.      You drank Benguet coffee.

94.      Your family may have owned a Volkswagen beetle. Baguio has one of the highest densities of this car since the Tabandas of La Trinidad had a dealership.

95.      You always were afraid of that pine tree in the middle of the road on the way to the Loakan airport; it has since been cut down.

96.      You attempted to explore Mt. Santo Tomas and remembered to remove your watch. They said it was going to be damaged if you didn't.

97.      You used your fireplace during Christmas.

98.      You knew Europa as the one and only condominium.

99.      You bought your vinyl albums and eventually cassette tapes and the posters at Plakabar.

100.  You distinctly remember that there was a small public library near the Athletic Bowl and the tennis courts in Burnham.

101.  You enjoyed the bump car rides at the basement of Maharlika back when it was not yet a food court.

102.  You never went malling and instead enjoyed the numerous parks and outdoor amusements of Baguio.

And to me the best thing about Baguio, apart from my loved ones who have chosen a life here, is this: Whenever I get hot-headed (which is often given how menopause works, if one is not conscious about it), I like to literally cool off in these parts.

On the trip up, I like to run in my mind that song from the movie Midnight Cowboy: "Everybody's talking at me /Can't hear a word they're saying /Only the echoes of my mind…People stopping staring /I can't see their faces /Only the shadows of their eyes/I'm going where the sun keeps shining /Through the pouring rain/Going where the weather suits my clothes /Backing off of the North East wind /Sailing on summer breeze /And skipping over the ocean like a stone."

That written, peace and good will to friends, "frenemies", even foes. Falalalala la la la la!

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