September in Baguio

Going_up_5 I decided to drive up Marcos Highway, and a good thing too. At a certain point, visibility was almost zero. Exactly like this. And this. Going_up_6 The Kennon Road option was foreclosed, with a simple notice at the junction, but since my main criterion for choosing which road to take was available sunlight, Kennon in rainy weather wasn’t even an option. We did see a sight to chill our bones: Jollibee had erected a hillside sign a la Hollywood; here Going_up_bee_1is a shot taken a second too late, but I think you get an accurate idea of the horror that struck us dumb, momentarily.

Arrival, however, or the sense of it, was a blend of the familiar and the cozy; I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been in Baguio, but this empty guard post, glimpsed in the rain, made me feel right at home. Arrival 

I brought the family with me, even though we really could spend only a few hours together, because I wanted to fill the idyllic picture of sloping hill and pine tree and picnic table — the same image that drew all of us back to Baguio — with the sound of familiar laughter. Picnic_2 

Nothing in my inventory of made-in-Baguio memories compares with that of my late grandmother, who between 1920 and 1922 summered in the Benedictine convent in Baguio together with the German nuns of St. Scholastica  (the trip home to the province, by steamship, would have taken too long). She remembered waking up every morning to the scent, and then the sight-from-convent-window, of hundreds of roses. It was just like heaven, Mama Chata used to say. (I do have a few memories that come close, including my first-ever trip to the city, in 1976, by helicopter, when the last clouds parted and the summer capital suddenly winked in the sun, or walking to Christmas Octave Mass at the Pink Sisters in the early morning, exactly 20 years later, to hear a famous choir sing.) But I am happy to know that my own children are now beginning to think of Baguio as almost a second home.   

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