FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Back To Baguio

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Back To Baguio

Traveling wasn’t as big as then as is it now. When we were young, there were no budget carriers, cheap hostels or general easy access to information. Today, it’s as simple as entering your destination on the google search bar and there’s a flood of itineraries at your disposal. If you’re not the planning type, there are a whole lot of service providers who, at a minimal cost, can do the planning for you. The places I’ve been to as an adult were just names I had to memorize to fill that blank map during HEKASI tests. The farthest my lola took me as a child was Samar where she hailed from. We’d ride a ship and spend a day on board or we’ll drive the road to roro highway running the eastern side of the country. When I was a kid, the only travel we get was either to Samar… or Baguio.

Baguio is a special place for my family — all my entire father side of the family. All of the brood would go up and spend about two nights at a time. We little cousins will squeeze our tiny butts in my grandmother’s red hi-ace van — in between the baskets of food and the pots and pans. The van looked like a clown car when we get off to a rented transient house. We kids would busy ourselves with playing, or annoying each other — this was pre-dawn of internet and ipads. Lola and my aunties would spend the entire day in the kitchen. They would cook breakfast, clear up, cook lunch, clear up. There was merienda, then they’d clear up, and then dinner, and clear up. I never really noticed it until Jr, who grew up with hotel vacations, brought it up. The women in our family never leave the kitchen on vacations. They are just in the kitchen — cooking, chatting, getting each other caught up with each other lives. Cooking is not a chore in our family. It’s an exhibition of love. And what great, abundant, heart-filling (and clogging) love it is.

We grew up. I discovered I had itchy feet and piso fares and internet became a thing, so I went far. Far — very far from Baguio. It used to be a summer staple, but in the last 10 years, I may have made the trip there 3 times, a couple of times more just because I was en route to somewhere else. Baguio became a keeper of childhood memories, a dusty box tucked in the back of your closet you only reach for when you’re too happy. Or too sad.

Maybe it’s all the noise. You go out and you’re bombarded with noise. You stay home, alone, fire up the net and the noise gets louder. When I was growing up, Papa would always tell me if he had a choice, he’d just raise birds in the backyard. ‘Magpapalaki na lang ako ng itik‘. I always wondered what that meant. I was young, and see all the possibilities in the world. Why would you opt to live simply, raise ducks and expect that to bring you joy?

Well, I guess lately I find myself getting tired of all the noise — seeking a more quiet, simple life. So to speak, ‘gusto ko na lang magpalaki ng itik‘. Baguio was of simpler times. Here I am, desperately crawling back to simpler times.

Good thing, simpler times is a now little over 3 hour drive away. It’s NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX and then onto Kennon road. You could reminisce about how all your little cousins lined up along the huge Botanical garden wall for a group picture, in the obligatory company of locals in customary garb. You would say things like, “Di naman ganito katraffic dati dito.” or “Andami ng bahay!” or “Punta tayo sa SM na walang aircon.” You now go to Burnham Park to bike and introduce your nieces and nephews to the joy of entertaining yourselves for hours without youtube videos. And then when they grow up, during holidays, no matter how far they will go, they will always be reminded of Baguio — of the good times, of simpler times. Lucky for them, going back is just like a rush hour trip from QC to Makati.

But your own memories will always be those long 8 hour plus drives, where you are cramped in a red hi ace, sleeping with your knee on your chest. Those times when you swore there was a ghost in the transient house you rented in Teachers’ Camp. Those times where Britney Spears will sing her entire album 86 times over, Papa manually flipping the cassette from side A to side B and then switching to Shania Twain on the ride back ‘para makapagpahinga si Britney. Namamaos na.’. Those times when your father had to cross NLEX(!), water bottle in hand, to get water because your Honda was overheating the entire time.

Those memories are your own. Your nieces and nephews can make their own.

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VIDEO | Birthday in Baguio

VIDEO | Birthday in Baguio

I always had trouble with my birthdays. I don’t like it when I get unwarranted, meritless attention for the simple fact that I was lucky enough to be born. I don’t like people greeting me on my birthday. I don’t know if I’m annoyed, or maybe I’m just too overjoyed I can’t handle it or maybe I’m just a little too overwhelmed but every 29th of November, there’s a 24 hour lump in my throat I can’t get rid of. I will and can cry at the slightest provocation.

And then I decided, I’ll just travel on my birthdays.

Traveling will keep me busy. I have kept my birth date off on most of my social media so people won’t get prompted on the anniversary of me gracing the earth. And since I’m too cheap for data roaming, I am shielded for the day from the rare strays —those weirdos who love me the most and don’t need notifications — who greet me on facebook/instagram. Traveling is a buffer. Traveling is that dear friend who hands me a beer, pats me on the back and say things like “this too shall pass.”

I have been out of the country during the last half a decade during my birthdays. In 2015, my auntie took me on my first trip to Las Vegas. I discovered I have an amazing small family in the states and that I am not a Las Vegas person. The year before that, we were in Tsukiji and eating the best tuna I had in my life. As a sashimi person, the experience was ‘nakakabuo ng pagkatao.’ The year before that, I spent my coldest birthday in Korea. The year before that, the same aunt who took me to Las Vegas took me to Jollibee — Anaheim — where I had a 2 piece chicken joy for my brithday lunch. The year before that, I was in Krabi, enjoying my time with elephants in Thailand.

The years of traveling on my birthday has been good to me.

I don’t know if I got too busy or I was just not in the mood, but weeks before the dreaded day, I had nothing planned. No tickets bought, no itineraries drafted or just no desire to move. I want to rest, stay still, and be with family.

But I want to be somewhere cold. Baguio it is.

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First Night Out at Baguio Craft Brewery

First Night Out at Baguio Craft Brewery

You always remember your first… ‘gimik’.

The circumstances are blurry now. I’m not really one for particulars. But I remember the major parts. it was my cousin, Kuya On-on, who took us out on my very first night out. It was him, his sister — Ate Madel, my sister – Ate Minnie, and another cousin about my same age, Erick. We loaded in the car and went to what I deem then as a very upper society place, the up and coming, The Fort.

I know. How time flies.

It was my first time in the fort as well. There was no BGC yet, no Bonifacio High Street. It was just the Fort. It was this whole block made up of one continuous building on a weird barren space. I didn’t even know I was in Taguig then. We went to one of the most happening places during the time — Fat Willy’s.

I know. This post is very nostalgic.

It’s all bits and pieces now. All I remember was there were a lot of people in shiny small tops, and there was a very long line to the restroom. There wasn’t a lot of dancing, more like a lot of standing in some dimly lit room. Also, I remember this night because it was the first time I smoked. Kuya On, a fellow asthmatic, offered me a light and told me, “It’s going to cure your asthma.”

It didn’t. And the smoking phase didn’t last.

We didn’t stay long. We were bored and quickly realized we don’t really belong. We loaded up the car, drove back to Caloocan. We ended up in Best Friends monumento, had pares and a few games of billiards.

This was more up our alley.

While we were in Baguio, it was our turn to baptise Ouie, the eldest of my nieces. She’s tall and lanky and at 14, she’s on that phase where she can sleep all day. I told her we were bringing her to Baguio Craft Brewery. She won’t be drinking but we’re taking her anyway.

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We got a few ales and got her a lemonade. She dove into the pulutan because she slept all day and have not eaten yet. Jr ordered everything we wanted on the menu thinking the servings would be little, like Manila sized.

Basically, we had a table full of pulutan. Jr was wrong.

We didn’t stay long. It was a little too breezy and cold that night and Baguio Craft Brewery was partially in an open-air space on top of a building overlooking suburban Baguio. We just downed the rest of the beers we ordered and asked what was left over on the table be doggy bagged. My days of partying til the morning are over. Yes, even on the eve of my birthday. I am in bed at 9 these days. Salubongs are not really my thing.

I was awake 5:30 am the morning after. Mama made me some coffee and told me Ouie enjoyed her first night out. She hang with his favorite titos and titas and she had lemonade and she had fun.

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Baguio Craft Brewery
Km 5 Marcos Highway
Baguio,Philippines
 
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LIFE LATELY | 34 in Baguio

LIFE LATELY | 34 in Baguio

According to facebook memories, the keeper of our post-modern history, I have spent my last five birthdays outside of the country.

2011 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2012 – California, USA
2013 – Seoul, South Korea
2014 – Kyoto, Japan
2015 – Nevada, USA

So naturally, to mark year 34, I chose to spend it in the cold, faraway land of… Baguio.

Bagong bago Baguio.

There were three main reasons why I went the Baguio route. One, because I just wanted to be with family. Except for my birthdays in the US where we were surrounded by a little group of family members living on that side of the pacific, most of my birthdays are spent with only JR. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve been with those I love most, I figured it would be a nice treat for everybody to escape Manila heat and enjoy the cold weather in Baguio. Baguio hosted a lot of good childhood memories. We would spend summers in Baguio back when it was an 8 hour drive. Now, because of SCTEX and TPLEX, the cool pine scented weather is 3.5 hours away.

Which brings up to reason no 2: I always want to spend my birthdays somewhere cold.

If there’s anything I made peace with myself with, it is that I am not a beach person. I love the ocean but I hate the heat. I hate clothes that cling to my body. I like to be comfortable. I like light coats and jumpers and loose clothing and weather I can wear them to. I love cold weather and layering clothes so I can be warm and toasty. I want snuggle and eating and coffee weather. And since I had no time to figure out a trip out of the country this year, and it’s been a while since I’ve been to Baguio, I figured the city of pines is the next best thing.

Which brings us to reason no. 3: where did time go?

Since I do the bulk of my travelling around my birthday, I usually plan it late September. I was looking to spending my birthday in Japan but looking back, I guess I was a bit frazzled on September and then some internal upheaval came in October. Since I needed my passport at the beginning of November for Korea, I was able to process the visa only when I got back. Even after getting it, I realized, maybe it’s too much of a hassle to prep for Japan this late. And considering reasons one and two, I guess I was really meant to spend my birthday in Baguio.

I turned 34 in Baguio. Mama and Auntie Baby prepared what I asked for: fried chicken, spaghetti and hotdogs on stick between two marshmallows stuck in a head of cabbage. My sisters got me a chocolate cake and one pink elephant balloon. I was surrounded by my loving husband, and family all of whom are in good health. Before us is a (kiddie party) feast.

I got the basics covered. I am blessed.baguio-blog


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