As usual, I am brimming with stories to tell. The cold crisp air and the chill makes me lazier than I already am to start with. There are a thousand and one things to tell... from the overwhelming experience of my very first pride march, to the warmth of our rainbow brothers and sisters amidst the crisp air, to my encounters of the Tumboy type, to the memories of the Baguio that I knew. For now, indulge my laziness by allowing my a 'Tough Ten' list.
Baguio is known for 'these and those' to purchase. From strawberries, to flowers, to boys/men/girls/chicks/igorot/dildo ashtrays/man in barrel to the brooms. I will attempt to list my top ten things which requires minimal or no spending at all. Though my mind gets ahead of me in defending that there are skills that allow you to get the boys/men without spending too... Ganda lang! Then again... men are not commodities daw... or are they? Hehehehe. Huwell... here goes!
Tough Ten Reasons Why Baguio
10. Strawberry Taho
Although this costs something, it's really cheap and delightful. I am already a fan of the taho being peddled in Manila and Iloilo, but this one trumps it yet. Its the taho with a special strawberry sauce. Ninang Macmac and I came across this delight while we were strolling along Burnham Park one fine afternoon. The taho, albeit a bit cold was a delish twist to the classic taho with arnibal. At Php15 a cup, it's not bad at all. It makes me wonder if there are strawberry flavored ahmmm.... Hehehehe!
9. Centralized Air Conditioning
I love it how turning on the fan or air con is not the first thing you automatically do the moment you get home or in your room after the day. Though it's not as cold as I remember it to be, it's either Baguio is now more crowded, more heat producing, or I just grew more layers of fat. I am reminded of night strolls in Manhattan by a particularly nippy evening in Baguio. I love how sweat is a distant memory and a rare occurrence. Who needs ice cubes and refrigeration in this place?
8. The Hills are Alive...
I love how the hills and mountainside are ablaze with lights when darkness comes. At certain times, it feels like the mountains glow with an electronic throb from fluorescent veins as electric blood flows deep from the mountains. It seems that the lights grow from all sides and you are surrounded by luminescence and brilliance. It seems like the stars have come to rest on the mountainsides, too lazy to rise and shine in the midnight skies. The sight takes my breath away every time and the romantic in me is stroked, bringing tears to my eyes. I just hope it does not instantly solidify and crystallize.
7. I see skies so blue...
From the sprawling grass carpeting the park grounds to the greens of the flower stalks along the roadside, to magnificent trees and green cloaked mountains to the green of fresh vegetables and fruits in the market stalls, Baguio is indeed the gardens in the sky. I love how everything looks fresh and green around here. The variety of fresh vegetables in the local market is a sight to behold, and cheap, too. A walk in the market makes one wonder if they'd ever get tired of cooking chopsuey, beef broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, Ceasar's or Waldorf salad... errr enough... Im getting hungry na. Here, the skies are bluest, the strawberries are reddest, the roses pinkest, orangest, or what-color-have-you-est! The explosion of colors is a wild kaleidoscope that could easily overload the senses. When night time comes, the stars are brightest too, and at their sparkliest best!
6. The quickest way to a Man's heart is...
Through his pants... joke! Of course, food! Baguio is a gastronomic experience of epic proportions. Why do I say this? Simple! A hot meal is best no matter how cheap or humble. I should say, that perhaps, because of the cold and chill, a simple bowl of mami becomes a serving of heaven on earth. During my first time in Baguio, I arrived at around 4am and the first thing I reached for was a cigarette, and for the first time in my life I thanked the heavens I'm a smoker. The experience is still the same today. I'm not saying that its simply the search for warmth, because Baguio has a lot to offer in culinary excellence. What I'm saying is that in Baguio, a simple hot meal is paradise incarnate. In fact, while together with my church mates at Teacher's Camp, I adored cooking. Well, the stove is hot, and knowing that what I am churning out would give warmth and nourishment makes the effort a labor of love. It would go without saying too, that cheap thrills in the form of street food like 'binatog', 'balut,' 'isaw,' 'kwek-kwek,' 'day-old chick,' and the like also abound. On the flip side and surprisingly, too, Baguio is also the best place to eat frozen delights such as dirty ice cream, halo-halo and 'ice-scramble'. It is fun to note that here, you can hold on to your ice cream cone while leisurely walking without fear of having the ice cream drip on your hand if you take long to eat it.
5. Don't! Don't!
Elsewhere, it's called UK - short for Ukay Ukay. In Baguio, it's called Wagwag... hence the subtitle Don't Don't! I tried to come up with a list that does not involve spending, or is not 'touristy' but this one just has to be in the list. You know what I'm saying, right? You know what UK is right? Best of all, here, you get to do it at night! Oh yes! Hang on to those hard earned cash because you would gladly be forking it over to the wagwag manang or manong for that slightly used Armani Suit, or that A/X jeans, that Versace Jacket, that Prada Boots, that LV clutch; ad infinitum. You know me - I'm a cheapskate and I believe in piracy to a certain extent, hence, I'm a fan, lets go do the Don't Don't!
4. Culture and Arts
Baguio is an artsy fartsy town. I would not be surprised if it follows suit with Vigan being declared as a Heritage Town. The remnants of history and heritage are all over the place. The diversity of culture and arts is apparent and prevalent. Art is not just a fad here. It is a lifestyle. Crafts - traditional, learned or emerging are to be found richly everywhere. All art forms thrive in Baguio - from literature, theater, dance, architecture, visual etc. The range is also from ethnic, tribal, indigenous, folk, post modern, experimental, emergent - name it, Baguio has it, and not only has it, but has it excellently. It is a wonderful experience to see tribal ethnic art being showcased side by side with digital photography, air brush and other more modern art. I did not feel singled out because of my long, curly rakista hair. Instead, I exclaimed "I belong!"
3. A cuppa
Mentioning cigarettes is an inevitable foreshadowing of course, for the second love of my life... Coffee, of course! As already mentioned, here a hot bowl is paradise... how much more coffee? There is a Starbucks branch here in SM City Baguio, but I have yet to lounge there, since there is an abundance of superior Benguet blend to be had elsewhere, and cheaper at that. Sagada also produces excellent coffee. If this is not true love, I do not know what else is!
2. I think that I shall never see...
But of course, the love of my life thrives and is well fueled in Baguio. Poetry of course! The bluest skies, greenest greens, reddest reds... Chill in the air, the search for warmth and all that jazz... Poetry is inevitable, and perhaps, the muse lives atop the mountains, and is closer at hand! In the next few posts, I will be posting poetry that came with the fresh Baguio air. Here, a heartbreak is magnified ten times, and falling in love feels like destiny all the time. Sex is not just sex, and a casual 'booking' becomes a soulmate. I could not explain it really but Baguio induces poetry more than anywhere else, perhaps, rivaled only by the call of the sea on a hot sandy beach. If feeling your aloneliness is too much, there's the Baguio Writers Group or the young poets of Ubbog to keep you company and perhaps even critique your works too.
1. When the moon hits your eye like a big Buko Pie...
Well, what else is new from a hopeless romantic shmuck? Baguio it is, because it probably is one of the best place to fall in lourve! Walk down Session Road hand in hand, stroll Burnham, sip coffee. Romace is in the Baguio air, and sooner than later, you find yourself on a roll, tumbling over the mountains, all the way to Kenon Road, or Marcos Highway, whichever way it takes you.
The cold is always a ready excuse to cuddle and do PDA (Public Display of Affection, gaga! Not your Palm Pilot). Oh and I did say it doesn't matter what sort of love, didn't I? Gay love, Hetero love, Godly love, whatever love... should it be the homolove, no problem. There is the Baguio Pride Network to back that up and keep you together, instead of break you up. Should you decide to tie the knots instead of knotting in ties, then there is MCC Metro Baguio too, to hear you declare to the heavens, the mountains, and even to the bul-ols, your undying love and devotion, and to pronounce you husband and husband or wife and wife! Now, hey you, where are you, and what the F are you waiting for? Come on! Sweep me off my feet! Promise, I'm not that heavy as I look, ya know!