Romance in Baguio (2)-A A +A
Friday, March 1, 2013
THIS past week, Baguio’s Apache nation paid their last respects to Felipe “Peping” S. Romero, a tribe stalwart. He passed away on February 21, after having left concise instructions about how he was to exit the world. Yes, one of those.
The instructions included that after a funeral parlor stay, his body was to be returned to the Romero residence in Scout Barrio to spend a last night there. And that on said night, there was to be a bonfire in his backyard, and that the Apaches were to serenade him with a list of songs included in said instructions (his serenaders threw in Christmas songs). Which also included what food was to be served that night, take note.
What was served? A lot, including an American favorite: hotdog sandwiches with chili con carne on the side. Very old John Hay, where Uncle Peping manned the base switchboard for decades, this after he served with the American military in World War II. All throughout the iconic 1960s, his voice was what we heard when we dialed 2101 and he answered with a very, very distinctive “John Hay.”
Uncle Peping is survived by his seven children and their families and his wife, Leticia (nee Zaguirre), whom he began wooing when she was just 15, after the war. Theirs, like the Marcos-Imelda courtship, was set in a hopelessly romantic 1950s Baguio, between an older (hah!) man and a woman quite younger. Auntie Letty was the youngest daughter of great Apache chief Marcial Zaguirre, who was also chief of the John Hay fire station in the 50s.
After his John Hay stint, Uncle Peping headed up the Baguio Pantranco office, Pantranco being then managed by yet another Apache, Eduardo Olaguer. For a good number of us in school in Manila in the 70s, Uncle Peping’s office was a bank counter. Our parents deposited money there with the boss, who put it on a bus to Manila. In Manila, the Olaguer office was also a counter, where we “withdrew” the money sent down. Talk about the ATM machine of the 70s.
The Romero home was the site of many an Apache powwow for, again, decades And on that final night of his written (yes, written) instructions, Uncle Peping threw a party and left exactly as he wished.
Way to go. To the heavenly hunting grounds and the nation that there awaits.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 02, 2013.