The home that is Baguio
Through the fog
It is reminiscent of glorious sunrises and cherished sunsets.
The sun always takes me to memories of my childhood, especially that of my father and me, as we watch the sun setting while we hover in Burnham Park in view of the pond where lovers, friends, and seniors recollect and where the cleanly cut grass offer a momentary abode to people. As I balance carefully on his shoulders, we would wait for the light to ebb, watching the faltering gold sunlight being replaced with light posts and shop bulbs and marquees.
On our way home, we carve through the fog, sheltered by our jackets but pleased by its presence anyway. I remember how funny the feeling of slicing through the soft, dreamlike mist seemed to me as a child. I tell myself that this is how heaven must feel, that this white cool element is where God belongs. I never got past that imagination even now that I am in my twenties. I would still walk through the fog sometimes and snatches of that memory would interrupt my daydreams and thoughts of to-dos.
But that memory is all I have. My father became busier with work and I started embarking on my own career. The declining shade of the sun, the fog, the treasured Burnham Park, and the stories are what is left of that childhood sojourn. (READ: Indigenous rights or heritage: Battle over Baguio's oldest hotel)
Somehow, words fail what we see and feel.
I see people’s faces glow whenever I tell them I am from Baguio City. Tracing my roots from the neighboring province Benguet, I would express pride of my Cordilleran heritage, the warrior’s blood that sprint through my veins and the million things one can expect from my home.
The first thing they know about this place is its weather and I would assure them that indeed, we are living in a cold area which is in that, a warm home.
We survive the seasons and the sun, and take joy and pride in what we produce with these. I remember how the striking and splendid blooms of sunflowers spread in our yards, in the mountains, or in parks. This usually happens in November and my maternal grandmother would tell me that the birds are now singing with the bloom of the sunflowers because, at long last, the storms are over and a new season is in spring.
The soft specks of dew on our yard, the smell of earth, and the chants of birds in the morning is a chorus that greets our waking. It is in these mornings that I discern contentment, of being satisfied in the fact that we all wake up to a world of schedule and labor, but we have a beautiful home to experience after.
Every night in my jeepney ride towards home, I sit in awe at the grandeur of the mountains around me. The interchanging hues of green and gold, signifying trees and plants and lighted homes, would make me proud. For with the call of industrialization or rise of concrete jungles all over the world, my people still make sure they keep the color that defines us: brown and green.
For Baguio also serves as the pathway to a hundred roads and thousand miles hence. It is the entrance to the Cordilleras where one can incur the famous Strawberry Farm of La Trinidad, Mount Pulag, the Banaue Rice Terraces, and the caves of Sagada.
I see seniors usually in the parks and in the golf courses, bonding, vivacious, refreshed in the game. I can see some of them in coffee shops in mornings after exercise routines given for free in the parks or in school open gymnasiums. I meet some who scour over books in bookay-ukays thrown about the city and some who read today’s papers in bakeshops in the mall’s veranda.
Sometimes, I am filled with envy at how these retirees are facing life: with a new perspective and in command of their time. Their eyes speak of inspiration, and I feel proud that this place which I call my home is also the dwelling which they chose.
Someday, I would be sitting where they are now.
Today, I am keeping everything I can about Baguio. Changes are still to come, and I am bracing myself for what the future has in store for me. I may find a career in any place in the world, and I may participate in the grandeur that others’ homes may also provide—their own cities, their own cultures.
I’ll be travelling outside my own place, tell others about its splendor, the things that we work for and witness there, and the stories I heard or saw with every sun rising. I may chase sweet success but I will always look back to my hometown, that place where everything is about me and my people, and where we do things not simply for ourselves, but for those who have and will come to join in our bounty.
Soon, when the sun will set down upon my time, I will be coming back home to Baguio, its memories placidly placed upon me, its beauty relentless amidst the million other things I will experience. Should I decide to rear a family of my own, I wish to go to Burnham Park one day, a child resting steadily in my shoulders as we watch the sunset.
Home comes full circle, and I wish to close mine in this cool Baguio. Others, native or foreigner, have decided the same before me, and they have experienced the zest and vivacious remainders of life. The fog would welcome anyone who wishes to partake in the opulence of its land, and we will all be waiting for whoever wishes to join us and reside with us in this home.
We are waiting for you. – Rappler.com
Ivan, 23, is currently the editorial adviser of Pulse, the official student publication of the University of Baguio and an Online Marketing Specialist at an outsourced marketing company in Baguio City. He was anthologized once in the US for his creative nonfiction works. His essays have also been published in theBaguio Midland Courier, Philippine Star’s My Favorite Book, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s YoungBlood.