A twist of fate

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Monday, May 19, 2014


LAST week, I was writing on praises for Pasig City, my old hometown, which won the merit as the Most Liveable City in the World by Liv.com, an international organization that conducts the search yearly.

On May 14, I read in the posting of ABS-CBN this news, which disturbed me with apprehension and disbelief. Baguio, my beloved city, was proclaimed as the "dirtiest city" in our country, according to the findings of the World Health Organization. I read the news with apprehension and disbelief. This is the Baguio that I love. Mayor Domogan disagrees about these findings. He ordered all concerned government agencies to check the veracity of the findings. If there is truth to this, he is willing to mitigate the bad effects of this incidence to the health and well-being of the people. He knows that with the influx of more migrants and tourists and the traffic in the city's main roads, the untidy market areas, and some crowded areas of roaming settlers could result in this polluted atmosphere. The netizens had pros and anti comments on the issue.

This is the Baguio that I love. I lived there for 15 years from 1960 at age 30 to 1975. I went there from Pasig to teach at St. Louis University and pursue my graduate studies for a master's degree in Science Education. I lived at Patria de Baguio, a dorm for ladies. From here on was a major change in my destiny. In school, I met a teacher who became my husband. We were married on August 26, 1962 at the historic Baguio Cathedral. Yes. I got my MA (married already) before I got my MA in school in 1965. Our guest speaker was newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos. He gave a one and a half hour speech without prompter, which inspired me. He whispered to me as he pinned my medal these words: I hope you will be a good citizen of our country. After many years, I was musing: I followed Marcos' advice but I do not know what went wrong with his promises in his talk.

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In 1967, my family with two young kids, my son and daughter, built our home on a hilltop at Camp 7, Kennon Road. It was a sprawling bungalow where we lived till 1975. It was the best home with the fresh unpolluted cold air, with the sweet scent of luxuriant pine trees, the whizzing sound of the whispering pines, birds flying in the air. We had a panoramic view of strawberry and ricefields. Native women in their sarongs with breasts exposed walking on the footpaths of the paddies with big baskets on their heads; children with rosy cheeks playing around munching their raw carrots. These we witnessed as far as our eyes could see. Aren't these heavenly? God was our gardener. We need not plant. Buds and sleeping seeds grow by themselves according to the season sprouting from the fertile soil in our gardens and the mountain sides.

Calla lilies, gladiolas, everlastings, marigolds, and big sunflowers just appear seasonally on time. Baguio was so heavenly. At its height, you are literally feeling it. Sundays were spent at mass, then off to the Burnham park for the kids to play and ride in the boats at the lake, sometimes, horseback rides near the pool of pines and the Mansion house. Then we had lunch at our favorite restos. We had our unforgettable peaceful neighbors, friends, comadres, compares whom we remember until now.

Togetherness was no problem we went to school together, shopped together, enjoyed all the luxuries at Camp John Hay. Now you know why Baguio is unforgettable. Come 1975, we had to move back to Manila because my husband had a contract to teach European Languages at UP-Diliman. I cried for a month, contemplating on what will happen to our family leaving our home, everything pleasurable and the healthy ambiance of Baguio and moving to the hot metropolis, Metro Manila, and its traffic and its entirely new mode of life. It took months to readjust. We motored to the highest possible residential city at Marikina Heights. Come to think of it. I lived in the four ideal cities of the country, North to South, Pasig, Baguio, Marikina, and Davao. For comments, text cp no. 09202112534.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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