The Baguio That I Remember

“You’re joining the 2017 Strategic Planning! Congrats!”

This was an IM from an officemate/friend some three weeks ago. I forced myself to sound gay. I was not very excited about it. Not that going back to my second home is a bad idea but leaving behind two small children was a wrong timing. My husband assured me that everything would be fine and I should just focus on the work to do before the actual planning session. I was evidently stressed one week before the Baguio session. I wanted to tell my boss that, “Sorry talaga Sir…I cannot make it” but it looked like a bad idea and I would forever be tagged as unprofessional.

I packed my things two hours before I headed to the head office where the van (service) was stationed. It was so un-Iris because the usual me would have packed her things at least a day before the departure.

While we were on our way to Baguio, I remembered the following:

  1. I was a 16-year old naive student of Saint Louis University and the struggle to commute back to Bataan was lessened when a boardmate named Sonny, who was from Abucay, was “forced” to accompany me. I could feel then that he would have wanted to stay a little longer to be with his then girlfriend but his kababayan duty forced him to travel home with me at an unplanned time. Thank you, Sonny for bearing with the young me!
  2. I have motion sickness and I am prone to nausea when travelling. My father would always go with me to either Olongapo or Pampanga just to pick me a better bus seat. I remembered that while we were passing by the Dau exit last week. I could see the young me pretending to be tough but trembling deep inside. I survived 12 hours of travel from Bataan to Pampanga (sometimes Olongapo) to Baguio.
  3. We passed by TPLEX. I checked my watch. It took us only 1 hour to reach Tarlac from Quezon City! I was amazed at the modernization of our higways and the comfort they bring to travelers. Great job!
  4. The stop-over in Sison, Pangasinan had no major change. It’s still the same old stop-over that allowed me to reminisce more about my teenage years. But hey, I was amused to see statues right before the bridge leading to La Union. I should have taken some photos but our van was moving at 120 km/h. LOL.
  5. When we entered the Kennon Road vicinity, stronger emotions lorded over me. I felt like a 17-yr old girl in the company of a neighbor who was a vegetable dealer. There was one occasion when my parents asked them if they still have  a space for me at their service. Thank you, Almario family!  A lot of beautiful memories with two of my exes happened in Kennon Road. When you are young and in love, the mountains look magical. The waterfalls look enchanting and the rivers, never-ending. Fast-forward to present time, I was in the company of intelligent and driven professionals. I was holding back my emotions and what I could have revealed. How would they understand? Our emotions are our own and what is euphoric for me might just be a simple experience for them.
  6. The big boss’ houses (it’s in a compound) are spacious, cozy and clean. I would have wanted the same accommodation if I were still a student. During my first year, I stayed in a dormitory with a room that is 1/3 less than the room where we stayed for the Baguio planning session. Staying in the big boss’ house was a contrast to the simple abode that I had as a student. Then one thing that has improved today is the way I deal with roomies. I used to have a short patience on a noisy or lazy housemate but now I become tolerant of a roommate’s routine.
  7. I expected a cold November the way my thumb was frozen at the middle of a Political Science class how many Novembers ago. The instructor then was Atty. Rolly Dela Cruz, a father figure to me not just because we had the same last name but because he was the one who reprimanded a group of (male) batchmates who tried to trespass to his class just to talk to me. (Pagbigyan nyo na, konti lang dati ang female sa engineering! Hahaha!)
  8. We passed by Burnham Park, Maharlika, Magsaysay Road and a portion of Session Road. More emotions poured over me. Burnham Park was a witness to my first, second and third love and how each visit metamorphosed me into an improved person. With my first love, it was magical and surreal. With my second love, it was love-hate and very passionate. With my third love (husband), it is as calm as a lake and as balanced as a fulcrum. My husband is my equinox, my yin to my yang and my yang to my yin. I imagine the day when all three of them would be together, talking about me and each one of them would have a different description of what I was as a lover. It would all depend on the time and period I was with them but I hope that beyond all the changes the years brought upon me, they would recognize that I am a person who is very selfless when it comes to love and loving.
  9. Surprisingly, the traffic in Baguio is just the same as the one in Quezon City! I notice, too, that there are more houses than trees on a mountain. Good thing, the big boss’ compound is still filled with pine trees and plants that brings back the beauty and charm of the old Baguio.

My Mt. Pinatubo Experience (2)

It was only in 1999 when Genesis (bus company) extended its route from Balanga-La Union to Balanga-Baguio City. Prior to that, we had to endure the tiring cutting trips from Balanga to San Fernando, Pampanga to Dau, Pampanga to Baguio City. There was an alternative route though. Balanga to Olongapo City to Alaminos, Pangasinan to Baguio City. Pick your choice! (I pick the second one as I’m in love with the greenfields in Zambales and the seas in Pangasinan!)

The alternative route was less tiring but travel time was longer by 1.5 hrs. There was a time when a big flood hit San Fernando, Pampanga so the Olongapo-Gapan road was impassable. The bus (Victory Liner) would have to re-route to Floridablanca where there was a shallow river.

When I was younger and not as street-smart as I am today, I would meet “friendly” strangers along the way. Blame that on the 12-hr travel time; seatmates tend to develop affection for each other. Lol! The first one was named Gerry, a father of two and separated from his wife. We exchanged stories, I told him that I was a freshman at SLU, NBSB (No Boyfriend Since Birth) and blah blah blah. When we stopped over in Sison, Pangasinan for a 15-min. snack, he treated me with sandwich and soda. Afraid that the soda might be laced with sleeping pills, I didn’t drink it. At the zigzag road, my motion sickness began to attack so I was pale and quiet. Gerry noticed it and gave me a hug. Too bad, two of my classmates were aboard the bus and they kept on asking me a day after if he was my boyfriend. Gerry called me up when I got home (PV Boarding Houses) and he sensed that I was not pleased with him playing lovey-dovey to me. He stopped communicating days later.

The second stranger was a self-confessed ex-shabu user. If he was boasting or trying to cut a deal with me, I don’t know! We exchanged life stories and telephone numbers. I told him that I had a handsome boyfriend when he fetched me home. (No, I’m not being cheap, the man was too insistent!Lol!) He called me up when he got home and just like with Gerry, I told him that I was not comfortable talking with a man who was not my boyfriend. He never called after that.

Then there was a Korean sister who gave me the sweetest pomelo from Davao. An old lady who took care of me when my motion sickness attacked. An old man who tried to deceive me while one of his companions was slashing my backpack. All of them were part of my Pinatubo experience.

Yeah, there must be a topic about “bus incidents” but my point is, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to bond with these people had we had a normal travel time.