September 1. Baguio City Day. Signaling the start of “ber” months.
Baguio has always been a second home to me. My photos from childhood painted how I’ve always loved to spend Christmas season here. I have photos in Burnham Park with a flower of either Bougainvillea or Rose tucked in my ear as I beam sheepishly in front of my mom’s camera.
I remember giggling helplessly as the bus approaches this City overlooking mountains which looked like giant Christmas trees. I would close my eyes as I savor the cold breeze wafting through the air, sending soothing scent from surrounding pine trees. My mom would just smile holding me tightly, keeping me from jumping off the bus to contain my overflowing excitement.
When I reached College, I did not have second thought when I was given an opportunity to transfer here. The thought of it overwhelmed me with an intensity that “yes” is the only answer I would ever say.
For four and a half years, I witnessed how this City grew more beautifully, like a bud uncoiling into a full-bloomed flower. I watched how it transforms from a busy daylight into an even busier but livelier night. At night, the City transforms into a world where all you see are bright lights, people coming in and out of malls or universities, either rushing to go home or just slowly walking trying to savor the calmness of the night.
At the other side of the road, there is another life on roll, too. Those places where dim light is more preferable than a bright light; where smoke comes from every corner, where loud music makes one thump on their feet and freely move their hips, like nothing else matters in the world but that very instant of merriment and freedom.
But this City isn’t all about busy days and merry nights. This City is booming with surprises and treats. There is an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. There are food shops offering an array of any type of food that your taste buds so desires. Shopping stalls are everywhere, too. If you’re a fan of branded but cheap stuff, “wagwagan” are in every corner. Not only do they bargain clothes and shoes but books, too. For a bookworm who loves to hoard books of his or her preference, just be patient to dive into a mountain of books and you’ll have them right in your hands.
If one opts to just sit down and quietly commune with her surroundings, there are perfect places to visit for such. One could go to Botanical Garden, Wright Park, Mines View, or at Sunshine Park. In Burnham park, too, a public taebo is regularly available. It’s a perfect venue to dance with people whom you don’t know yet dance with the same rhythm as you. If one dares to see more of the rich culture of Igorots engraved in this City, the Tam-awan Village is a perfect pick. But if you’re looking for a more pumped-up adventure say riding in a zipline or falling off from a giant tree, then Camp John Hay is just but a few minutes’ drive away from the heart of the City.
The list could go on forever and there are still a lot more left for me to discover. There are devastating changes, too, yes. But I’ll keep mine on remembering how Baguio City has made my childhood fulfill a real fantasy of wonderland. And now that I’m back here for my post-grad studies after leaving it for three years, I’ll always remember that child in me who would still want to take a photo with a flower tucked in my ear.