Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

B A G U I O   C I T Y


Even if Baguio City's a 6-hour bus ride away from where I am now in Metro Manila, we share a connection that allows me to simply view her whenever I visit her. A simple walk in its residential area would always be enough sight-seeing for me. Most moments are about reminiscing fond childhood experiences anyway.

I need not enjoy her in new adventurous ways. I've done that as a kid after my late grandmother took me to the city's famous tourist spots countless of juvenile summers ago. Nothing compares with sharing horror stories by the fireplace with cousins. The complicated terrain as playground alone was a unique memory. Playing street games was a real treat, especially a game of cops and robbers. It was terribly challenging.

An old lady heading for Sunday church
A vagabond in the city

Circumcised In The City

I also had Baguio City as a milestone location when I had my manhood circumcised with cousins at a rest house there one summer. It meant spending more than a month with humdrum activities. Do I remember lots of idle days!

Earthquake Experience

I remember the city to be clean, less crowded, and rustic during those years. Our trips to Baguio City only stopped after we experienced the pre-1990 earthquake. Most Filipinos only remember the deadly 1990 earthquake, but years before that, there was another one that struck the Cordilleras that seemed to be the harbinger of the early '90s devastation. I will always associate the locally produced movie, Panday, with that earthquake because it was what we were watching that night on TV by the fireplace when the ground shook.

An old residential structure in bad condition

Congestion Rising

Years later, I made more revisits to the city as a young professional with friends. It was a decade after the major earthquake and I started noticing more residents showing up along Kennon Road. There were more commercial establishments and vehicular traffic in the city center was starting to get slow.

Wide Awake In The Wee Hours

My Sagada visit two years ago enabled me to make a quick stopover in Baguio City one early morning. To my surprise, Session Road was like Araneta or Ortigas Center already. There were more than 3 convenience stores in that short strip of the city alone. Most young people -- probably call center agents -- were out in the wee hours inside bars and restaurants. Standing in dark corners were questionable looking faces. I assumed they were prostitutes. I still felt the area to be safe during that time but it was not the city that I used to know as a kid anymore. I'm seeing everything with grownup eyes.

The tourist-thronged Session Road

The Contrasts In The Living Conditions

As of this writing, my most recent visit of the city was just this March (2013). I decided to bring my family with me for a change as they wanted to visit the Lady of Lourdes Grotto. With free time in my hands, I decided to finally check out the residential and commercial areas of the city on foot. I still spotted old houses that I remember to be landmarks for me and my cousins when playing a game of hide and seek. I noticed that most of them are now decrepit. The garden of flower terraces was no longer there as were spots where pine trees used to be. They seem to represent a past of the place that I remember to be beautiful.

Then I braved to face the crowded residential area. The congestion of houses is an issue I have with the city but I know that it's something that I can't control. Entering one congested residential area, I initially thought to see only crowded spaces. My disappointment became worse after seeing that most houses were in a squalid state. It was bad enough that it looked like that. It was worse to see that there were people living there.

A mountain of houses

As I walked further that Sunday morning towards the belly of the congestion in the city, I noticed some working class residents coming out of their respective houses. Most of them were in uniforms for restaurant, hotel, and store work. There were also a few teenagers whom I overheard to be heading for the new giant mall of SM.

I started to realize that the reality of Baguio City having two faces is something that no tourist like me can control. The city of pines is starting to look like Metro Manila on stilts and one person can feel helpless in the middle of everything. It remains to be seen how the local government is going to strike a balance in the city's way to progress.

Check out my other Benguet-related posts:

My Hiking Reverie of Mount Ulap
+ Staying At Peredo's Lodging House
Affordable and Modern Baguio City Apartel
The Bahong Rose Farm of La Trinidad
Dining Over Spanish Dishes at Te Quiero
The Two Faces of Baguio City
Visiting The Bell House and Amphitheater
Mine's View Park Then and Now
Snacking At Choco-Late De Batirol
+ Baguio City Stopover Before Sagada


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