Friday, May 10, 2013

Outing in Baguio City

by Mavic Mercene, CLM Staff Member

Anna and Sunny at Mines View Park
When I was told that the Columban LMs and staff outing this year would be in  Baguio City, I was not so thrilled. My wish for CLM outing is to soak in the cool waters of a swimming pool. Or perhaps explore other places not my own.   But decision has been made. While I was not so keen on the idea, I did my work and diligently found places to explore in Baguio, places I can show my companions, places I can be proud of as a native of Baguio.  I embraced the idea and slowly but surely found many reasons to look forward to in this outing.  As a staff, the one thing I always liked about CLM outing is our time together or bonding moments with lay missionaries that was why upon short reflection I realized the place was irrelevant after all.  As the day neared, the idea became more and more exciting. Few days before we were to embark on this journey up north, my mother texted me to say she will be crowned Lola ng Pagkakaisa (Grandmother of Unity) in our own Barangay Gibraltar, Baguio City on May 3.  This gave me another reason to look forward to. I thought my presence would really lift her spirit up. My mother lives only with my 13 year old nephew.  This was an opportune time to show her my love and support.

So at exactly 6:00am on May 2, five lay missionaries, three staff members, and my daughter (there was enough room in the van so I asked permission from CLM coordinator John to bring her so she can be with my mother) left the Lay Mission House for a trip up the winding roads leading to Baguio City.  We arrived in Baguio at 1:00pm and were welcomed by the cool breeze and the lovely pine scent.  After a buffet lunch, we had a short siesta at the Columban House.  I got the feeling that everybody wanted to wrap their pillow with their warm embrace but they had to be ready by 3:00pm to  explore the beauty that is Baguio City.  So they grudgingly got up, refreshed, and got ready.

Columban Lay Missionaries and Staff at Tam-awan Village
Our first stop was the Easter Weaving Room where we saw women manually weaving materials to make into table runners, stola, dress, etc. The Easter Weaving Room is run by the Episcopalian Church.  Our next tourist sight was Tam-awan  Garden which was further down the road. Tam-awan Garden was founded by National artist Ben Cabrera way before he founded Ben Cab Museum along Asin Road.  It boasts of native houses where guests can stay in for the day or overnight. It also has a coffee shop and regular art exhibits of in-house artists.  Then we headed to Burnham Park and arrived there early evening when temperature dropped 4 degrees centigrade from the day time temperature.  During this time the park, especially with the differently shaped boats and the warm lights of the man-made lagoon, suddenly turned into a picture perfect Paris-like romantic city .  Some of us opted to go boating and others went out seeking for that illusive yellow corn.

That night, my mother told me that the coronation will be held in the afternoon of May 3.  So I decided not to join the outing the following day to give way to my mother’s special event.  The coronation was held at the covered court of our Barangay.  It started at 2:30pm.  Since this was a senior citizens event, I prayed for patience as the participants tend to move slower than the average adult. So I braced myself for a slow afternoon and some senior moments. Not surprisingly, one lola (grandmother) forgot that she will be crowned that afternoon. She showed up just before the Queen of Royal Court was to be presented. Another lola forgot where her crown was.  Despite these senior moments, there were more moments everyone loved like the dance performances and the tai-chi. The Queen and her Royal Court all looked lovely and regal   in their own rights and deserved everyone’s praise and applause.  Truly, this coronation event left a lasting and inspiring impression to everyone present.  For me, I was just glad that my mother was happy.   When the event was fully finished, I left her with my daughter, two nieces, one nephew, two grandnieces and one grandnephew who also came to witness the crowning of their lola to meet my party at the Good Shepherd Convent.

Our next stop was the mines view park. On our way to Mines View, we chanced upon my children’s taho suki   (regular soybean vendor) who gave us 25% discount on his strawberry taho.  Marifi who usually does not like anything strawberry loved the taho.

The mines view park is the view deck for the several mines Benguet was once so proud of.  I remember with a little nostalgia my father who worked in Balatoc Mines all his adult life.  I remember too the many friends we had back then when the one big concern or problem my family and neighbors had was sending their children to school.  Education was a priority to all, no exception.  At  Mines View,  Rose enjoyed herself the most not because of the view but because of two big dogs which perhaps represented her two dogs left at the Columban Lay Mission House.  She had several pictures taken with the St. Bernard dog and more with the horse.  Each picture cost her P10.  She did not mind.  Then we drove to Marcoville to buy dinner and had it in my mother’s house.  My mother was happy to have everyone’s company.

John on discernment - to eat or not to eat

On the third day, we went to La Trinidad, the capital of Benguet for strawberry picking.  We registered at the front desk and were told that personally picked strawberries will cost P400 per kilo.  Whew! Experience is expensive eh! But we went ahead. We were also told that we can only eat the strawberries after they were weighed and paid.    But some of us just couln’t get enough of these heart shaped red head beauties exposing themselves right before our very eyes.  Rose, John and Nani devoured perhaps ¾ kilos each. That was two and a quarter kilos of strawberries never to be seen or paid again.  In all, we paid P1000 for the two and a half kilos we took home.  The one thing we missed doing at the strawberry farm was to taste the strawberry ice cream.

Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary
We said goodbye to the red head beauties and headed back to Baguio proper.  We dropped by the Bell Tower and climbed its many stairs.  Then on to Camp John Hay.  Camp John Hay was one of my favorite places especially when I was in college.  This was where two of my best buddies and I went to study before an exam and again to relax and de-stress after an exam. I know the pine trees here still remember me with the many stories, joys, heart aches I shared with them. Then we drove down to Philippine Military Academy and just looked around.  We saw one cadet who was tasked, so  it seemed,  to stand as erect and regal as possible so guests can have his picture taken.  I challenged Marifi and Rose to take off his hat but they did not take up my challenge.  They  were not ready yet to be kissed by the cadet. Our next and last stop for the day was at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary along Sto. Tomas Road.  Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary re-opened on May 2 after some renovations.  We walked the creation path and re-discovered the origins of our being. Maryknoll will offer its loyal patrons bread and breakfast by October 2013. 

Our trip down to Olongapo en route Manila was on Sunday the 5th of May.   We hit the road at 7:00 am with the hope that we’ll be at the CLM House by 3:00pm.  But the Lord had other plans for us.  At around 11:30am upon entering PORAC in SCTEX, John noticed something unusual with the way the van was running. He stopped and checked to find the left front tire punctured.  With all his might left from driving, he took out the spare tire only to find out that the spare is not also in its best form.  We braved the heat of the mid-day sun while trying to locate any number for rescue.  I rang emergency hotline no 1627 and asked for SCTEX HELP number. Thirty minutes after I rang mobile no  09232808560, three gentlemen in the persons of Mr. Macapagal, Mr. Basco, and Mr. Tampus came to rescue us. They were from the Traffic Management Safety and Security Department.  They accompanied John to the nearest vulcanizing shop, around 12 kilometers away from where we were stranded. They also helped John return the tire.  We said our gratitude and goodbyes and were ready to part with P200 for their snacks.  But they did not want the money.  I was impressed.  They said a simple thank you will do.  Just as they were leaving, we all boarded the van and ready to hit the road again. Voila! The van did not start.  Another try and still no encouraging sound. So we waved for the three men to come back. And after a couple of pushes, the van let out that encouraging start sound.  At this point, I let a big sigh out and a quiet prayer thanking the Lord for allowing us to get past this experience.  Thank you Misters Tampus, Basco and Macapagal for all your help. You are truly appreciated.

Stranded at SCTEX
We headed for Subic, had lunch at the Harbor Point, and allowed John enough time to recharge and de-stress.  Then we scouted for a brand new tire.  We had no choice but to settle for a made-in-china brand. We had also all the other tires checked to ensure a smooth ride ahead.  Then we dropped Sunny at her house.

We left Sunny’s place after 6:00pm.  We took one last coffee and toilet stop just before NLEX. We arrived at the CLM House at around 9:00pm. 

Was the outing in Baguio worth it? YES YES YES.  Baguio is best for its cool weather, beautiful pine trees not found anywhere in the country, fragile yet beautiful and sweet strawberries, and more…….

For more photos, visit us at facebook. 


angie said...

trip to Baguio is something to be envied.Thank you for sharing the trip to us.

Hakuna Matata said...

I have memory on the place also, its just a precious one.

God Bless! Thanks for sharing.

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