As I sit here and write, sipping a couple of cups of hot Benguet brewed coffee, I’ve had the chance to ruminate – in a very cow-like manner, may I add – about the day I spent roaming about my hometown. Granted that I only spent eight months away from this place, yet I’ve never been away from home for that long. Somehow I wanted to miss something out of this place; I wanted to experience something unique.
To be honest, I never thought that I would leave the comforts of Baguio. For the most part, it has been circumstance that forced me to leave this city and seek my fortunes and futures somewhere else. Like I said before, there’s always steady employment here if you want a career in the call center industry, or if you want to teach English to Korean nationals. Those prospects, as practical as they may be, are not for me. Even something as mundane or as ordinary as a writing career is not to be found here in Baguio, but down there in Manila. Small successes have come my way, and as I take a much-needed breather, I think I didn’t come back home in shame.
Even if this “homecoming” is just for one day, without having to meet anyone. Still, the experience is a sobering one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
It has always been my misgiving that myopia prevents Baguio from reaching a kind of cityhood that’s not enforced by the semantics of a century-old charter. Trudging through Baguio’s winding streets, everything seemed to be the same as I left it eight months ago.
People will always have their misgivings about Baguio; truth be told, I can’t blame them. Baguio is way different from how it’s advertised in magazines, postcards, and travel documentaries. People who are not from Baguio will look at this place from the outside looking in. For us who were born and raised here, Baguio will always be an inside-looking-out experience.
The beauty of Baguio, for me, will never be found in its tourist destinations, or the places that make it all too common or clichéd. Baguio will always be a personal experience. We who were born and raised here will not remember Baguio for lengua or choco chips, but for the memories that make this city more significant for us than for anyone else.
Maybe I’m a bit overacting to reminisce about places that are memorable for me: the schools I went to, the winding roads, the parks, the computer shops where I started out to make a small name for myself. It’s not unlike a Nickelback video, as much as I hate that band.
All seemed “different” I walked to UP Baguio and found an empty place, and gave me enough time to look around those places where I used to loiter, study, and study while loitering. I went to those computer shops and saw that the places were now owned by different people who didn’t know me anymore. The drinking spots that I frequented no longer had the drunkard ambience I enjoyed.
Nowadays, there are more of those scarf/shawl-wearing emo folk who, for all intents and purposes, I want to strangle.
All seemed “different” because for the first time in my life, I’m looking at Baguio from the eyes of an outsider. The truth to the matter is, I no longer live here. Everything about Baguio from this point on will no longer be about the here-and-now, but the there-and-then.
That, I think, is something that I’ll have to remind myself every now and then from this moment on. For now, here’s another cup of Benguet brewed coffee – with all the yummy oily bits on top that I so love – to home.
To Baguio, to life, to home.