Hello again, Baguio

Baguio continues to surprise me. Even though I lived there for four years, every time I come back, there’s always something about it that makes it interesting all over again. I see new things in the places that I’ve been to and feel I know so well.

I discover charming nooks and crannies in a road that I pass by many times.

I taste something new and enjoy the freshness that somehow only Baguio and its nearby provinces can give.

I learn new things.

I reconnect with family.

Baguio was, is and always will be a home for me.

It’s been a week. I miss you already.

A quick trip to Baguio

Baguio over the weekend. It wasn’t a tourist visit. Then again, when has going to Baguio been a tourist visit for us? Den wanted to go to PMA for “research,” while I just wanted to find some binatog.

We ended up doing that, and more.

We left Manila at 3:30 AM. All trips were filled and that was the earliest one we could get. So a good two hours was spent at 7-Eleven, gorging on whatever we could to keep us awake. Once on the bus, I immediately tried to sleep. Too bad the conductor decided to show Rush Hour 1 & 2 for the whole trip. I don’t think anyone appreciated it. Not that I don’t love Jackie Chan, but I’d rather be sleeping.

Ching’s brother and sister (both who were studying in UP Baguio) met us at the station and took us to their boarding house, where we left our things. After having lunch at Cathy’s (hello lechon rice!) we went to University of Baguio to watch my sister dance for their school festival. She lost her phone though, and whoever took it will suffer my wrath *fume* They performed great though, and I realized that I may not be as fit as I used to be. Climbing five floors in Manila is easy. Climbing five floors in Baguio makes me dizzy.


View from the 4th floor of UB

We then went to PMA. The last I was there was sometime during my 3rd year, when my groupmates for a journ class covered the PMA graduation (probably 2001). Prior to that it was at my friend’s debut and several open houses. Open houses are fun. You get to see how the cadets live and maybe swipe a thing or two off their personal belongings.

The thing with PMA is that going out is rather tricky. There are jeepneys, but it’s pretty sporadic, and getting out by 5 PM is a must or else there’ll be a very long walk in the dark for you. Luckily, a cab passed by and with a little prodding, the six of us got in.


Two cadets walking around


Probably our only photo together


Silent Drill Company

From DeKaRi Baguio

Click to full view (panoramic shot)

We arrived in town, where my sister & I went to her dorm so she could wash off the paint they used for their costumes. I fell asleep for a few minutes and woke up with a lovely headache. Still, it felt good to be burrowed underneath a warm comforter. The weather in Baguio is always lovely.

We went back to town for dinner at Steaks and Toppings, then walked towards Burnham for the market encounter. I finally found a binatog vendor, and excitedly bought some binatog for me and my sister.

Binatog in Baguio is different from the binatog in Manila. For one, it’s not sold by men in bikes, banging some metal bell. Often, it’s pretty much in a cart like fishball, often stationary, waiting for the customers to come by. For another, it’s main flavoring comes not from salt, but from sugar and evaporated milk. The first time I ever tried one in Baguio I was so surprised, but I loved it. It’s still P10 per cup, but the cup is smaller now.

Market encounter is much like a tiangge. There are a lot of stalls selling all sorts of things, from the usual Baguio paraphernalia and memorabilia (t-shirts, keychains, bonnets and scarves) to toys (there were several stalls with decent anime figurines) and of course, food.

Having a low budget, I didn’t buy anything, except for a pack of pink marshmallows and a P10 flashlight.


Yummy marshmallows


Get your glooves on!


Lighting up at the Melvin Jones Grandstand

We headed off to our respective dorms: Ching was going with her siblings, while Den went with me and my sister. Upon arriving, I changed into sleepwear and went to sleep.

We were supposed to meet up at 9 AM but when we woke up, it was already 9! It took us an hour to get ready (try to take a bath without hot water), by which Ching was already done with her shopping.

Baguio market always fascinates me. Even though sometimes I hate the crowd, there’s always something interesting to see there. Today, there were a lot of people, locals selling their goods, tourists flocking to buy them. Being neither a resident or a tourist, I stood mostly there and let Den and Osky look around. I did buy some strawberries, splitting the loot with my sister. She bought a rope bracelet.

One of my pet peeves is rudeness, and boy, did we get a good dose of that at the market. See, while my sister and I were talking to the saleslady where we got the bracelet, this girl butted in to ask the saleslady something. Um, hello? Can’t you see that we were talking? And it wasn’t just that. Den said that while she was looking at some keychains, the same girl grabbed the one she was looking at. Den’s not the type to argue so she gave the girl a look, and the girl turned away to talk to the saleslady again. Den later said the girl had bad breath haha.

Later, we saw the girl with a group of her friends who were all loud. I get that you’re on a trip with friends and enjoying each other’s company, but for the love of all that’s good and holy, please be mindful of your surroundings and respect the people who live there!

We had about three hours to go til our trip. My sister was feeling tired so after taking us to the station, she went back to her dorm. Not knowing what to do ’til we had to leave, we went to Ching’s boarding house. After a few minutes of doing nothing (except that I ate strawberries and bread), we decided to head to town to buy some cream puff from Dane’s. We even had time to look at ukay ukay! Yeah, I love Baguio.


Bus is empty, everyone went to eat

The trip down was uneventful. Bus showed “Night at the Museum,” which made me really dizzy. I slept through “Universal Soldier” and woke up in time for “Avatar.” What sucks is that we arrived at our stop just before the movie ended. Yeesh. Even though I know how it ended, it still grates.

Stepping off the bus, I want to go back. ASAP.

P.S. The ironic thing was, the three of us were finally together in Baguio many years after our graduation, but we never set foot in school. Haha. My personal accomplishment: I didn’t go to SM! 😀

Where to send help

Northern and Central Luzon is slowly recovering the Pepeng’s wrath, thanks to the generosity and bayanihan of the people.

I wanted to gather a list of places you can go to help, or donate, but there’s just too much information. Thankfully, friends from Sayote Republic have done just that, so I’m linking to it.

For help to Typhoon Pepeng victims in Northern and Central Luzon.

Health is wealth

My parents and I took my sister to a neurologist today. She was complaining of chronic headache as well as a slight bump in her head. So far, the tests the doctor gave her showed that her motor and response skills were normal, but was advised to have a CT scan. We’ll get the results tomorrow.

On our way to the scan facility (it wasn’t at the clinic), we ran into some bloopers that had us all in good spirits the rest of the day. Hope my storytelling does it justice.

Security Guard: Magandang hapon po sir! San po kayo?
Papa: Sa I-Scan lang sir.
SG: Ano po pakay nyo dun sir?
Papa: (after a second, trying not to laugh) Magpapa-scan.
SG: Ah sige po. Me baril kayo?
Papa: Wala po.
SG: Sige sir, tuloy po kayo!

After driving around for a few minutes, we decided to ask for directions.

Papa: Excuse me, san dito yung I-Scan? Yung facility ng pag scan tulad ng CT, MRI?
Man in a scrub suit: (looks around the area) Ay, dati naka park lang sila dito. Wala na ngayon.
Papa: O sige, salamat po.

He then closes the window and we call start laughing uncontrollably. Finally we decided to ask the security near the ER for directions.

Mama: Miss, san po dito yung facility ng pag-scan? Yung I-Scan?
Lady Guard: (I’ll type how she said it) E-scan po or Eye-scan?
Mama: I-Scan.
LG: Ay di ko po alam.

It turns out that the place we were looking for is outside the compound. We didn’t mind the bit of a drive-around as it was good for a few laughs. In the end, it was a tricycle driver who told us how to get there.

Relief Operations
For those who are in Baguio, the University of the Philippines Baguio will be holding relief operations this Wednesday, October 14. Details can be viewed at the UPB website.

Also…

The University is coordinating relief efforts through the Human Resources Development Office (HRDO). Donations of relief goods may be centralized at the HRDO care of Director Maria Ana Diaz.

Cash Donations may be deposited to the UPCB Education Foundation Inc., with the following account details:

* Account Number: 0510-004420-030
* Bank: Development Bank of the Philippines
* Branch: Baguio

All donations whether cash or in kind will be properly acknowledged. Donations will be systematically documented and accounted for.

For inquiries: Please contact Prof. Maan Diaz at (074) 445-0785, or Remy Ramos, Chancellor’s Office, at (074) 442-3888.

Thanks.

“Northern Luzon is Philippines too”

When Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila, it was all over the news. People rushed to help those who were affected and the response was truly amazing. Granted it wasn’t perfect, but it certainly showed that the spirit of bayanihan was alive in the Filipinos. Even Filipinos abroad did their part, hosting fundraising events to help Ondoy victims.

The sun is shining as I sit here typing these words. On my way to work I passed by places that were greatly affected by the storm and they’re recovering nicely.

I shared the car with people who had just come from the areas that are currently being hit hard by Typhoon Pepeng. The typhoon that had Manila residents scared because it was supposed to arrive days after Ondoy left and and they haven’t been able to recover from it, but thankfully, it avoided the metro. However, that didn’t mean that Pepeng was creating problems for people elsewhere.

The whole week, my friend Yvie in Baguio has been keeping me updated about the weather in Baguio. Rain hasn’t stopped, and signal number 2 has been given all over the Baguio-Benguet area. I had been talking to my sister too on a daily basis, asking her how she is and how the storm was. Saturday palang daw, people in Baguio were in panic buying mode. That was Saturday, October 3.

Last night, Yvie said that power was out and plans to keep it out until the storm passes was underway. Some barangays are flooeded, and roads to Baguio are closed due to possible landslides. Imagine that, if Baguio residents need to leave, they can’t.

Even the lowlands are experiencing some problems. Many Botolan residents have been living in evacuation centers since August, when Typhoon Kiko hit the province. They have no place to go back to as the river claimed their homes.

My mom said that it was raining hard during their entire trip from Zamables yesterday. Earlier my mom received a message from her brother that Aringay, La Union is also flooded. We have relatives there, and we are trying to get in touch with them to know how they are. My friend Den said that it’s flooded in their family home in Tarlac.

I am not the only one who is frustrated with the lack of news and updates about Typhoon Pepeng, as well as the lack of help that’s being given to these locations. I am not saying that the victims of Ondoy aren’t important and getting them back on their feet isn’t a priority. But they are recovering, thanks to the generosity of Filipinos. It’s now time to help those who are still suffering.

Here are others who are as frustrated as I am:

N.Luzon is getting less attention bec. it’s not as ‘sexy’ as the images of flooded Manila streets. Prove me wrong. (via mcg at Twitter)

Northern Luzon deserves the same, nay, better help and response that Metro Manila got for Ondoy. (Francis Ballesteros, Twitter)

n.luzon is phils too!! why aren’t we getting the same help ondoy victims did?? come on pipol!!! we are holding on to dear life in here!! (Jacquie Doria, Twitter)

Jacquie’s family is in Mangaldan, and she hasn’t heard from them yet.

As of this writing, I’m slowly seeing movement towards helping our kababayans up in Nothern Luzon. Please pass any information you could. We need your help. Thanks.

Baguio weekend

Last weekend, Den and I went to Baguio. She told me that she had been hankering for a visit to our college town and asked if I wanted to come along (then again, whether or not I could go wouldn’t stop her hehe).

I had several reasons why I couldn’t go: work, lack of budget, plus I promised to go to my best friend’s thanksgiving dinner that weekend (she just passed the bar, yahoo!). But then, it was Baguio… and I wanted to see my sister who my parents said wasn’t feeling well when they visited her the previous week.

It took some juggling, but I managed to get a Friday leave and cough up some funds. I planned to go back on Saturday around lunch, leaving Den in Baguio. The last minute, my brother Miks and Den’s sister Mic joined us, so not only was it a friend bonding trip, but a sibling bonding one.

We decided to take the earliest trip from Manila to Baguio, but instead of the midnight trip, we got the 2 AM one. Not bad, but somehow, there was another mix-up in the tickets (which happened the last time Den & I went to Baguio too. I wonder if there’s a jinx of sorts?). The trip was rather long too, closer to seven hours instead of six like it was originally.

We arrived in Baguio amidst the sounds of Air Supply videoke and the Pork Chop Duo. Upon arrival, we went to meet my sister Otki, drop off our stuff and go to UP.

Ah, UP. No words could describe you. You’ve changed but I still love you. We had breakfast at the Upper Canteen and went around the campus, with me as the tour guide. We had the requisite pictures with Oble and waited for Otki.





Just because there’s a UP in Diliman or Manila doesn’t make this UP less of… UP. ^_~

We spent the rest of the morning at SM while waiting for 2 PM so we could check in. Den & Mic slept the afternoon away, while my siblings and I went back to SM to shop and meet my friend Yvie. Afterwards, Otki went with her friends, while I lounged at the hotel using their free wi-fi.

Dinner was at our staple restaurant, Steaks and Toppings, and afterwards, a nice walk along Session Road.

The next day, Miks went home early, while Den & I met up with our classmates Kat and Jang for breakfast at Pizza Volante along Session (this branch is what the locals like better than the one at SM hehe). It was a wonderful hour of chatting and good food.

Afterwards, Den went to meet her friend in SM (again, hehe) and I went to meet Otki. My friends from our office’s IT were in Baguio to work on something, so I thought I’d visit them. I wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to see this place up close.





I caught the 1:10 PM bus to Manila, while Otki went back to school. My trip was more than eight hours, and I barely made it to my best friend’s party — but I did! The only thing I wasn’t able to do that weekend was watch the Davids in concert, but I didn’t mind… much :p

Busy weekend, but such fun. I am thankful.

Happy tourist, will travel

I love to travel. I love to go to new places, see new sights and bring home stories and pictures of my adventures back to my friends and family.

Growing up, my parents would often take me and Nunik to various places around Luzon. It was mostly due to my grandfather’s job as a district superintendent that let us go places. Baguio, Lucena, Mindoro, Lucban were among a few of those. Others, like Tagaytay, where destinations of most family outings. Places like Bicol and La Union were considered extensions of home as we had family there.

But always, the best place to be was Candelaria. When I was a kid, I often thought that my Candelaria was the original one, even though many people knew the Quezon town more than the Zambales town. I was the very few among my elementary and high school classmates who spent two months of summer vacation somewhere other than Manila. I’d come home, sunburned and peeling, thanks to endless days of beach fun. My classmates would tell me of their trips to Singapore and Hong Kong, but nothing for me beats the beach.

And what a beach it is. Long before people heard of Boracay, hanging out on the beach was the norm for me, my siblings and my cousins. We’d be hitting the surf as early as 6 AM (which is the best time for me, as the water would be very calm and clear, and the sun not too hot), rising only when we get called for lunch and be back again until the sun starts to set.

Sunburns, jellyfish stings, swallowed salt water, gritty sand… we all took in stride. It was part of summer, and it was part of a tradition, a heritage passed on to us by our grandparents and parents. One that we would pass on to our future families when the time comes. One that we could share with our friends, many of whom fell in love with the beauty our town and its beaches has.

Before the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the only thing Zambales brings to mind is the Subic Naval Base and Olongapo City. Not exactly your typical tourist getaway. Often, those who go to Zambales were either invited by residents or heard about it through word of mouth.

I love how I have the beach all to myself on most days. Well, me and the rest of the clan, that is. I love how the entire stretch of it is empty of people except for residents and fishermen. Sometimes, especially when we’re there during the early morning, we’d help the fishermen pull the nets from the sea and watch as the fish flop around the nets. Among the usual catch we’d something see other creatures and be amused at them.

There’s just so much to do and to see there. Perhaps then, it is selfish of me to keep this all to myself. But I am afraid that having more people come in will spoil it for me, for the residents. I am afraid that commercialism will take away the peace and tranquility that I enjoyed in the years past.

I suppose I’m being pessimistic, but life has shown that often, when a spot becomes popular, the environment takes a back seat. Which is ironic as it’s the very thing that made the place popular in the first place. I don’t want a crowded resort where you have to deal with the noise of other people who play their music up to loud or be up until the wee hours of the morning. Yeah yeah, it’s supposed to be vacation but there are people living there you know.

Geez, I’m beginning to sound like my great uncle.

That’s how I feel about Baguio. I love visiting it as a kid and really appreciated it when I lived there for four years to study. I was greatly saddened when SM was built on the “park” a lot of my schoolmates and I frequent. Yes, it’s progress, but is saddens me that nature has to pay the price.

Seriously, I hope that when the tourism starts to boom for Zambales (and I’m seeing that happen in the next two to five years), it won’t leave the residents out. It’ll be bad if we let the big players hold the reins in the tourism area, making money for them and not for the locals.

Perhaps there should be some guidelines for those who want to put up a business to cater to the influx of tourists. Resorts shouldn’t mushroom here and there, and should be done with great consideration to the environment. Also, a good sanitation plan should be done, as well as some sort of clean-up brigade separate from that of the private ones employed by the resorts. Maybe even a financial plan so that prices of amenities would remain affordable yet competitive.

I remember how in Sagada tourists are required to register at the town hall and pay P10 per person. I believe this is for the maintenance of the area, in addition to whatever budget the local municipality has for tourism. I think it’s a good idea. Registering will act as a sort of guestbook for the visitors and there would be a fund for the people who help keep the tourism in order for the town.

It works two ways, methinks. The town is responsible for helping to keep tourist spots beautiful and as close to what Nature made it to be, and tourists should respect that. I feel sad when I see a natural or cultural heritage left to die because of neglect or disinterest, not just from tourists but also because of the residents who are supposed to be the guardians of those places. I hate seeing graffiti, or trash carelessly thrown by people.

The two foreigners I met in Sagada had a lot of good things to say about the Philippines. One of them said we have so many beautiful places we should see, but most of all, take care of. Regardless of whether we live there or just visiting, we should all do our part in helping maintain it.

Lastly, remember this adage that many travelers take to heart wherever they go: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

On that environment protection adage, here’s two interesting stuff you might want to read:

Take nothing but pictures
John Kay – Nothing But

Happy traveling!

Crossposted: Multiply
Pictures by me
Reposted from my old blog