I have been to a lot of places here in the Philippines. Almost, actually since honestly, I have not been to any of the best place in the Visayas Region. There was once a chance but because I felt ill and needed to be confined in the hospital, I missed the chance. Nonetheless, from all the places I have been, the city of Baguio, I say, have left a significant dent in my very being. It has been four (4) years had past since I have been at Baguio and I could still vividly remember some of the places I have been during my stay. Not just the place that I remember, but the thrill of being there-the ambiance of the place-can give me a clear vision of what was going on then. Making me a witness trapped in the past and can really pin point who’s who and what not’s at that instance. Sounds exaggerated but that is how I could contain through words how I express my wonderful experiences at Baguio City.
The Summer Capital of the Philippines
These busy metropolitan in the northern part of the Philippines is known for its unique weather that is colder than the average temperature of the country’s tropical weather. Though according to historical accounts, Baguio already been inhabited by few locals during Spanish regime but it was during the time of the Americans this place had been developed. It was the Americans’ Residence to avoid Manila’s summer heat. The place was originally designed to cater 25,000 people only, but according to latest head count, its population is about to reach almost 500,000. Baguio has made its mark in the history as the site where Vice Admiral Okochi and General Tomoyuki Yamashita, formally surrendered to American forces during the Second World War. Since then, Camp John Hay has been a noted place at this city.
When I was ten (10) years old, our family and relatives at Manila were so worried because earthquake plagued and destroy tore down most of Baguio in the middle of 1990. Luckily, none from our relatives were badly affected by the tragedy; nonetheless, we were very sorry for destruction and the significant loss of lives. Good thing that Baguio City recovered with the efforts of our national government and assistance from several donors around the world.
I remember during the time of the earthquake, Burnham Park has been the site of refuge for the victims. The last time I strolled through the park with my aunt, as she shared their ordeal during and after the tremor, I could help myself to be sorry and at the same time smile as I imagine how residents tried to make ends meet to survive until they recover. Good thing to realize is that it was just a thing in the past. We ‘rowed’ through the famous man-made lake and have some time taking pictures. I really love Baguio City! This is where I enjoyed walking a lot because even though I walk a mile, I would never be sweaty. Thanks to the weather.
Philippine Military Academy
One of the ‘places to be’ at Baguio City is the Philippine Military Academy. It would be impossible to miss this place because a brother of one of my classmates was once a cadet and now an alumnus of this great institution. I really enjoyed the place because of the displays (of war paraphernalia of all kinds) all around. The heritage of the place gives me the creeps. Famous political and influential celebrities have been, in a way or another, were trained and indoctrinated by the ideals of this well-known Military school.
Mount Peace Baguio
There are two (2) noted songs that come out of my psyche whenever I hear the word Baguio: one is ‘365 Days’ by Lutrucia McNeal and the best song ever by the D’Sound ‘Tattooed in My Mind’. For obvious reasons, the latter song always reminds me that I am a ‘loving being’ and to be alone in Baguio is a big no-no. The other song, however, has a left a more significant dent in my personality since it made me reflect what to do after college. As if like an accident, I encountered the song of Ms. McNeal as I travel from Manila to Baguio for attend a retreat-a spiritual retreat to help us out with our decision after college. The question (in the song) rang in my mind during the four (4)-five (5) hours of travel time and we were really blessed when we arrived at the place. Mount Peace Baguio is not really a place where visitors or tourists would be in an out of the place since it is a property owned by Archdiocese of Manila and it is in a way exclusive. We were then lucky that we were given a chance to use its facilities and amenities for almost a week-another bonus: it was for free. The place cannot be considered as cozy as the other retreat houses around Baguio, but in one way or the other, it lives with its name: Mount Peace. At a spot in the place, one could really feel a deep sense of serenity and ‘heavenly’ bliss because whenever fog will cover the place and one would be over looking the city with its ‘chaos’ while one enjoys his or her sense of serenity. A perfect place for discernment!
Having these realizations and reflections in mind and in my being, Baguio has been more than a place for me. Tourists and visitors may remember Baguio as a ‘cooler’ city (in terms of weather) in comparison with other cities in the Philippines that has some noted sights and significant places to behold. Nonetheless, Baguio has been a symbol of shaping my personality as a whole. I may not be a local of the place but, I take pride of this dear city as my own. I may not be able to totally explain it by words but, the places around Baguio would definitely speak for themselves. As I have mentioned, my favorite city is just four (4) to five (5) hours away from where I am (Manila) and accessibility and is not really a problem and not to mention it is affordable. My only issue is the question ‘when’, but if I would have a long weekend anytime soon; I would definitely make a point of getting to the city that shaped my being-Baguio City.