Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | February 14, 2009

Baguio, randomly

(I’m freeing this post from my drafts, where it had been consigned to for quite some time now)


I remember you from when we were kids. Being from where I came from, you seemed so strange; you with the breath so cool, but with no trace of mint. Only the strong scent of  pine trees and clouds.

Strangely, now that we’re both grown-ups, you’ve become even more vague in your unfamiliarity.  Being with you again makes me wonder: Does the cold come from the clouds that embrace you or from your shoulders?

I remember you from when we were kids. Why couldn’t you have stayed that way?

* * *

Things to remember when planning a trip to Baguio City:

1. There’s always a better place to stay in. When you think you’ve found a transient house that you feel will serve its purpose, look again. Something better will always crop up.
2. When considering a place to stay in, look for the following: A kitchen with enough utensils, a working refrigerator, a toilet and bathroom with a working heater, pots and pans, decent beds with decent sheets, pillows and blankets and cable TV.
3. Bring light shirts, a couple of shorts, a couple of jeans and a sweater or jacket or two. Baguio City is not an excuse to try out the entire winter collection in your closet. There are days (even during the supposed cold season) when even a tank top will suffice.
4. Sharpen your senses. Baguio City is about taste, feel and scent.



* * *

The latest fad in Baguio–before, it used to be horseback riding, tossing coins at Mines View Park and boating at Burnham–is the now (in)famous ukay-ukay.

Tip: Stay away from buying whites. There is not enough lighting in these second-hand shops to discern if the white you’re buying is really white. Or if the spot you thought was a shadow of some sort is really some irreversible stain.

The strange thing about vendors in these shops is that when you ask them about the price of clothing items will give you two prices. Every. Single. Time. The UP Cum Laude and I spent a lot of time during our visit to Baguio in ukay-ukay shops and when we inquired about a piece of clothing that caught our eye, the same thing happens over and over again.

We: How much?
Them: P250, P200 last price.

What the friggin’ hell is the first price for?

Me: You know what the funny thing is?
UP Cum Laude: What?
Me: They actually stand there with that hopeful look in their faces waiting for us to make a choice! I mean, has anyone actually picked to pay the first price?
UP Cum Laude: (Dryly) Oh my god! A sign of wit! Now you know why I love you so much and why I’d do everything for you, including stripping at your command and hopping into bed with you. Because you can be so smart sometimes.
Me: Of course not. You love me and would do all that because I rock your world. I mean, Angelina Jolie did not fawn all over Brad Pitt because he could come up with the square root of 652,864 in a second.
UP Cum Laude: There you go again! Now I feel like making love to you right this very moment. You really know how to mesmerize me with your wit!
Me: I also know what sarcasm sounds like.


* * *

The public market in Baguio is a great place to lose yourself in. Everything Baguio can be found there. Hand-carved phallic-inspired woodcraft, strawberries that have morphed into every possible concoction, brooms of all colors and sizes, fresh fruits and vegetables and products shaped from locally mined silver.

Like in ukay-ukay shops, haggling is permissible to a certain extent. Commerce takes place in a blur in the market. Goods and cash change hands with a regularity that seems to defy the current financial meltdown. The whole marketplace seems to whirl about in a kaleidoscope of colors and a harmony of sounds. If Baguio were a world in itself, its marketplace is a world within a world.



* * *

At night, I often wonder, with the way you sell a piece of yourself to every transient like a port whore, how long will it be before you have no more to give?

How long before your bloom wilts into the dustbin of neglect and indifference?


How long before the children are no longer awed at being in your presence?


And how long before the spaces for silence dissolve into the chaos of every day irreversibly?


* * *

When thinking of when to visit Baguio, start with your purpose. If you simply want to recharge, late January or early February, just before local festivals turn things holiday crazy, would be ideal. Hole up in a rented home–as far away from the city as possible–and snuggle up with someone special until you’re done chasing the stress away.


If you’re into immersing yourself into the local culture, pack a few cameras and hit the road during the holidays or the local festivals. Find some place to stay within the city, where you’re a reinvigorating walk away from everywhere. Even your favorite mall!


I’m really not sure if Baguio should still be the country’s summer capital as without the cold, you miss a big part of your stay there. Nothing beats waking up in the middle of the night to an utter silence broken only by the rhythmic breathing of the person beside you.

* * *

Okay. So maybe some things remain unchanged.

Standing here, at the edge of your world, the clouds, the hills, they still collect at my feet.




  1. “Baguio City is not an excuse to try out the entire winter collection in your closet.”

    It’s become so easy to spot the tourists who came here to show off, mainly because they ARE WEARING THEIR WINTER COLLECTION. A Baguio person will have the sense to wear what’s appropriate. Needless to say, Jang and I have this aversion to tourists who come here to be yabang and all.

    (Wala akong point.)

    Anyway, nice post Kiko (-: And lovely photos! You took a photo inside Pink Sisters? Hala kaaaaa. hehe

  2. I used the UP Cum Laude’s point-and-shoot para discreet. hahahah! I tried so heard to stop myself pero I badly wanted a picture of the chapel =)

    We really went to Baguio with the idea of trying on the supposedly 8 degrees temp. We learned too late na di pala consistent yung climate that time. It was kinda warm when we got there (Dec. 29 to 31).

    Sad part was as we were leaving, the fog rolled in late in the afternoon and it started getting chilly. But by then, we were motoring back to Nueva Ecija, where her family lives.

  3. […] we look at them unkindly, we make fun of those wearing their winter collection (term borrowed from Kiko), we give wrong directions when they ask (HAHA joke lang) etc.–maybe we are setting ourselves […]

  4. kim,

    nice shots!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: