I just came down from Baguio last night ((thursday). I left at 2:00 in the afternoon, right after APO did its performance for the Manila Bulletin-sponsored lunch during the weeklong Ad Congress. I dreaded the thought of getting stuck in monumental traffic jams within Baguio and on the way back to Manila and so opted to leave soon after my work was done. It was a good show considering that aside from the three songs we sang, we basically just conducted a raffle–not one of my favorite activities.
Baguio weather was pleasant–not too cold and not warm. But the hordes of delegates and their smoke emiting vehicles were just too much. Parang naging Divisoria! As a Baguio resident ( I consider myself one since I own a house there), I find it obscene how the lowlanders can just come up, drive the prices of goods in the market sky high, spread the smell of diesel everywhere and just trash this city of pines. Alas, this magical place seems destined to rot as commercialism dangles money to monopolize Baguio’s charms which were once offered freely. Its once quaintly narrow streets have become tight roads lined with parked cars on both sides, its trees and posts filled with advertising. Many honeymooners, boy and girl scouts, and ordinary lovers of nature know what I am complaining about–they who go there for the air, the greenery, the sights, the charm of a small city and not the circus that is the Ad Congress.
One may ask what right I have to be pontificating about what other people do in Baguio? Mind you, it is certainly not just my ownership of a house there! I spent many, many summers there, not to mention countless visits as a young man in pursuit of fun and frolic with barkada and special female friends. In fact, I honeymooned there and I still do occasionally when Lydia and I can escape and leave everything behind. I’ve also had many retreats, campings, concerts and long walks all over John Hay, Burnham Park, and its many trails, tried many of its small and big restaurants, met many of its artists, etc.. In short, Baguio is part of the biography of my heart and spirit, and so holds sacred meaning to me, and to countless others
And so, instead of partying away with the crass set, I opted to retreat to Manila. But I look forward to going back when all is once again quaint, quiet and fresh , a condition in Baguio that admittedly, even without the ad congress is sadly becoming a rarity.