It’s been a common belief that things are better – alright, sweeter – the second time around. This can be related to a wide array of things: love, life, career, and what-not. I visited Baguio the third time around just last week, the first when I was around seven, and the second, because of a school competition.
My third visit to Baguio has so far been the sweetest. I’ve never seen the city that way before: so alive, so romantic, and so dramatic. Who says Baguio has been populated by pollution and dirt? It still is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Be proud, Philippines!
Inside the car when we drove along Kennon Road, one of the city’s entry points, there were murmurs that “Yeah, Baguio is not great anymore,” “It’s so hot in Baguio,” and many other things. I took them in believing at first that yes, maybe the city has been so commercialized that it has lost its inner beauty.
I could remember my mom reminiscing her younger days in Baguio. You could smell the aroma of the pine trees just as you climb up to the city, she told us. I know the smell of pine trees and I never encountered on my third visit. Yet, there were greater things which came.
Traveling is not for the sake of being the center of attention who you get to talk to your buddies one dinner on a table of drinks, boasting that you have been to such and such places. I also do not believe that traveling is all about seeing the most famous tourist attractions – in Baguio, it may be Mines View, but I don’t know (the place has now become mainstream) – and take a picture with it and say, hey, I’ve been to it! Maybe one cannot keep himself from doing it with Eiffel Tower, but that’s Paris.
I believe traveling is all about discovering new things, realizing that there is a whole new world different from what you see in your hometown. It is also about finding yourself.
In this post, you would not see descriptions of places in Baguio, ‘coz hello, who hasn’t got an idea about the place? My post will be about meeting with an acquaintance, i.e. Baguio City, the third time around.
She has changed a lot since the last time we met.
1. The Weather
Yes, I have to admit we visited Baguio to get away from Manila’s scorching summer heat. But there’s more to that. When we were on our way, taking the North Luzon Expressway which was hellish then because of the heavy traffic, I told myself that I wanna see the summer capital in a different way. Being cold in there given but I want a slight dripping of rain, wet and damp. I knew at first it would be impossible, weather forecasts said.
But the skies began to extend answers to my wishes when, in Pangasinan, skies were a bit darker, signs of a looming storm. There were no whispers of thunders but you can feel the gloom in the surroundings, as everybody feels when there is a coming rain.
Thank God I did not need to do the rain dance.
That was our second day in Baguio, after we took our lunch to the 50s Diner around the plaza, near the Burnham fences. Before we checked it, the sky was clear. It was a gift to me when, after lunch, as we went out of the restaurant, I saw the perfect weather I was hoping for. Slight dripping of rains. A cold breeze with no strong wind blows. Wet and damp.
I remember scenes from the Twilight series when we drove around Baguio, with the raindrops dripping on our windshield.
2. Horseback Riding
You have never been to Baguio City when you never experienced riding on a real horse, whether just for photo-ops or letting it walk.
I took my second horseback ride after more than a decade. My childhood riding experience was just for the sake of, experience. Riding the horse, taking a picture with it, and taking a short slow stride with the guide.
Last week, I managed to ride the horse on my own. Holding the ropes, patting the horse, and kicking it to run, without a guide. I am hoping inside that people would start riding horses in the near future, as a return to history. But it’s close to impossible.
This inspired me to take horseback riding lessons this summer.
3. Seeing the City from a Balcony
Many people climb to SM Baguio’s third level and view the city from a viewing deck. But only few see the city in a different way. It was life I am a Jack or a Rose in the Titanic viewing the vastness of the sea in front of me.
The scenery just amazed me. And told myself, who cannot be pride of a Baguio City so grown and developed.
4. Jogging around Teachers Camp
I also revisited and retraced my high school tracks in Teachers Camp, just a few meters away from our transient house. The camp is one of the few sites in Baguio that has not been touched by commercialism. I remember my high school days, walking midst the cold breeze from the competition venue to our barracks, to our rooms I mean.
I don’t care about ghosts, about white ladies in make-up, or any supernatural beings. Teachers Camp has not changed much. But I did something new in it: jogging around the camp one morning ala Manny Pacquiao. I don’t usually jog even in my home village, but Baguio City has inspired me to try it once.
5. The Tribe
We cannot discount the fact that Baguio is originally owned by the tribes, mostly the Igorot minority. So whoever claims a land like SM must bear in mind that there is more to it than signing a land title.
I am a bit saddened when I saw Igorot costumes and headdresses offered to the public for picture taking. Then there was this life-sized “headless” Igorot statues for photo-op where people can put their heads over the body and — smize (credit to Tyra Banks).
Why do you have to do this? It’s just disrespectful.
There was one museum (and it’s for free) some of our Igorot brothers have been promoting at the entrance of Mines View Park.
“Pasok po kayo sa Igorot museum, libre lang, walang bayad! (sic),” one shouted.
There was music playing so I followed it and went up to the second floor of the food shop. Inside were authentic tribal items ranging from furniture, souvenirs, necklaces, etc. One man, I’m sure he is one of the modern Igorot members, asked us to donate an amount if we wanted to take pictures. We did.
All I wanted was to take shots but something has drawn me to take home an Igorot precious item – a necklace they call a “lucky charm.” It’s worth a hundred pesos. And it’s a necklace of a wooden carving of a bird (an eagle, perhaps). I bought it and wore it around my neck.
I am not a believer of talismans or lucky charms. Only people an be lucky charms, kidding. But I wanted to take a tribal piece in my trip, to take a part of the Igorot back home.
What made me buy it?
I was trying to hold another necklace, a cheaper one, the non-verbals that make the salesman think you wanna buy it. But the Igorot salesman told me: “That is a common necklace. I advise you to take this (the eagle lucky charm) because it is authentic and cannot be found anywhere.”
I believed him, he looked sincere anyway, and bought the piece.
6. A Perfect Couple
Sharing my thoughts I typed on my phone when I saw them: “I just saw a perfect couple in Baguio. I am so thankful there are still couples as such left in the world. They are so cute.”
My definitions of a perfect couple?
– One, they physically match. If one is good-looking, the other must be to. If one is tall, the other must be too.
– Two, they may show their affection publicly but with control. It’s a public display of affection not a public feast for their affection.
– Third, they may not talk to each other but you can totally see the love vibe.
– Fourth, they both must have a good sense of fashion. I’m sorry, this definition probably explains why in my opinion, only few perfect couples are left. I’m sorry.
Baguio City has never failed me. Before climbing to the city, my sibs and I were starting to get engaged in Vampire Diaries. You know, the Philippines has to start making their own. The shooting location: Baguio City.