I took some time out from all the hectic things happening around to lug some of my smaller works up north in the mountain city of Baguio for a small exhibit in Bliss Cafe. So, with a small bag on my back, a huge luggage containing 8 framed works and a camera I filched from Marga, I took the midnight bus up to the mountains and prayed I won't be sitting beside a snoring gorilla for the 7-hour ride. (I think I was the snoring gorilla. I woke up TWICE with a start to MY own SNORING during the trip. I suspect the man beside me jabbed me with his elbow to wake me up!)
I arrived in Baguio at five freakin' a.m. I stepped out of the bus and my whole skeletal system was shaking uncontrollably from the nippy, nay, biting COLD air of the mountains. I know Jim told me to go straight to Bliss Cafe with my stuff (he had a futon prepped for me to curl in) but my body begged for something warm.
Good thing I spotted an old lady selling hot coffee at the bus depot. A few sips of it and my bones settled.
I tossed the bags on my back, went straight to the cafe, was ushered into the lobby by the nicest security guard I have ever met. He helped me with my luggage and with all smile directed me into the still closed cafe at the lobby of Hotel Elizabeth.
Did I mention that the cabbie I took from the bus depot to the cafe gave me EXACT CHANGE for the fare? If that happens in a cab ride in Manila, it's bound to be a miracle.
The sun was already up in the horizon. Since I had a good sleep during the bus ride, I was already itching to explore this mountain city. My last visit was way back in 1989, before the Mt. Pinatubo earthquake and I thought it'd be an early morning adventure.
The first thing I saw while I walked away from the hotel was this quaint church of St. Joseph. Lovely church. An all-wooden altar that has these glass panes lit up like... hmmm, I felt like it's Christmas. I said a short prayer for Ace and ended up staying for early morning mass. I call these early morning weekday masses "The Senior Special". Only old people would dare rise up that early and plunk their behinds on wooden benches of the church.
Jim later on told me that this is the church where Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales got married. Wow. A bit of trivia.
I can't resist staring at the wooden statue of St. Joseph and the crown on top it. Eventhough it's a Catholic, it reminds me of a big Methodist church. Magnificent.
After Mass, I figured I have enough time to while away before I'd meet Jim at a local Mcdonalds in downtown Baguio. (Later I realized that downtown Baguio has the most number of Mcdonalds within a three block radius. Viva Americana.) I hopped into a jeep and found myself along Session Road and staring at this long flight of steps leading up to the Baguio Cathedral. Arguing with myself whether I'd climb it or not, I saw a small pudgy thick-legged fellow with a dead toad attached to a string slung around his shoulder going up. Curiosity took the best of me and I followed him up the steps. I figured he was wondering what a tall bald man doing trailing him up the steps when he turned to face me and ask, "Yes?" I made a sheepish smile, looked at his toad and asked, "Is that a small bag?"
"Oh this? I got it in Manila," he proudly announced. "Oh," was all I could mutter.
... and the prize I got after climbing the steps - sa couple of touristy shots of the Cathedral.
A nice Chinese-looking guy offered to take my picture in front of the building, but he mucked it up by taking only the top of my head. Sigh...
No Baguio-sojourn would ever be made complete if one does not make a visit to its well-known market. Methinks, I'd keep these memories and start painting market scenes.
Vicky and Karen from downstairs at the clinic specifically asked me to get them some crinkles. After I shot this picture, I bought three boxes for a hundred pesos. If I didn't buy even just one,
Vicky will hound me for not getting her crinkles.
Oddly, I felt like I was walking in Quiapo or downtown Manila, except the air's cooler, cleaner and people were in sweaters.
Change the statues of the mountain tribes into a saint and it would suddenly feel like the plaza in front of Malate church.
And the piece de resistance. I find pure "poetry" how man has encroached himself on the mountaintops of Baguio like... locusts. Though I have never been to Brazil, it's like a picture of their fabellas.
... and then at 9.30 a.m. I met Jim of Bliss Cafe at Mcdonalds.