LEAVING Baguio to return the next day is not as easy as cruising down the highways, cooling down a bit in the big city with a loved one and then getting back as a weekender. This time around, you do not only get bothered negotiating the metropolitan traffic and patiently eluding the road-center taking tricycles but you also need to comply with the required travel pass, health certificates and for us locals, the Returning Baguio Resident online registration.
During our scheduled and much awaited weekend travel to Metro Manila to check on our daughter who hasn't strayed from her shell since the lockdown, my wife and I first secured a health certificate at the city health office, the city police department and the city mayor's office for the required travel papers.
Yes, it is a bit rigorous but it is the right thing to do to help flatten the curve considering that both Baguio and Metro Manila are highly populated areas.
Our daughter lives in one of the towering buildings of Kalaw Ave and Quezon Boulevard and since there was a scheduled launching of a Covid-19 drive-thru testing facility at the nearby Quirino Grandstand, I did not hesitate to check on the event as I was also producing my Covid-19 related travelogue diary and indie film.
Right in front of the grandstand, dozens of motorists have already lined up queuing for their individual testing by health workers under a makeshift open tent. Wearing my face shield and tangerine vest, I also sweated it out under the scorching sun snapping images from the pass-through sanitation section with sprinklers to the data recording and blood extraction area after which I immediately had a shower upon returning to my daughter's condo.
Metro Manila's health centers and barangay halls are very much unlike Baguio according to my brother who stays in Quezon City and works at a steel roof manufacturing company. Accordingly, they are often confronted by the usual paper chase scenario where signatories of health certificates are not around as they are under the 14 day isolation and self-quarantine.
While still in Manila, my wife and I received a text message from LGU Baguio that says "Good morning, you are scheduled to return to Baguio today ( July 19, 2020 ). Please endeavor to arrive before 12 noon, as the Central Triage will close at 3 pm. After initial diagnosis at the entry checkpoints, you will be directed to the Central Triage at St. Vincent's Gym, Brgy. Campo Filipino. It would be in your family's interest if you were thoroughly examined by our Doctors and Nurses before going home."
The second message says "Please allow us to keep Baguio City and everyone safe by submitting yourselves to the safety protocols set by our health authorities. Depending on the results of the risk assessment during your phone interview and the routine check-up when you arrive, you may render your 14 day quarantine either at home or at Baguio Teachers Camp. Our health authorities will decide. Welcome back to our lovely City."
On our return and arrival at Baguio City's check-point at the junction of the Sto. Tomas Road, we were ushered to the St. Vincent Gym for the mandatory triage set by the city government where we were interviewed following the usual handwashing and thermal scanning. Because we already had a responded online Returning Baguio Resident application, the whole process was smooth and well-coordinated thanks to the efficient frontline service providers who assisted us. We were also escorted by a motorcycle cop from the Marcos Highway check-point to the St. Vincent gym for our fast and uninterrupted mobility.
As a whole, our recent travel gave us with two firsts, one for the straight expressway drive from Rosario, La Union to Manila and the second is my visit to the Clinton Museum located within the bounds of Pugo, La Union and Tuba, Benguet along the Aspiras-Palispis Road of more known as Marcos Highway.
I was able to drive-by Clinton Anniversario's Museum that has a display of Cordillera arts and crafts and a section that displays a wide range of cameras, photography gears and a darkroom that is really shaped like a single-lens-reflex camera.
Clinton, an enterprising young man is actually a multi-talented artisan, sculptor, photographer and innovator whose crafts range from wood, metal, resin and mixed media. He is also a culture bearer belonging to the Kankanay tribe of the Cordillera and he can likewise be mistaken as an Ifugao woodcarver because of his chiseled woodworks and one-of-a-kind crafts.