Cariño: Sunshine

IN BAGUIO, there’s always been a Sunshine. A Sunshine? Yes, of course, if you’re a Baguio City-zen talking about the supermarket with that name.

It wasn’t always a supermarket. My earliest memory of it is as was once written on a dark green van parked in front of the Lower House. Sunshine was written in yellow, and the van used to deliver bread. I was very, very young.

Throughout the 60s, Sunshine was mainly a bakery. It was located on the corner of Abanao and that street which runs from the front of what is now the Maharlika Livelihood Center to the side of the Bayanihan Hotel. The front door of Sunshine faced Abanao. There was a side door which faced that other street.

Throughout the 60s, too, what is now the Maharlika Center was a perfectly fine, old stone market. Between it and the front door of Sunshine was a yellow wooden police “house,” a one-meter square portable stall built so that the traffic cop for that place could climb up into it and direct traffic, manually. There was this sign above the stall that had stop and go on sides perpendicular to each other. People waited for the policeman to position the sign, manually, before stopping or going.

So anyway, back to Sunshine. It was, then, all about bread. Good bread: pan de sal, pan de sitos (whatever happened to that one?), plain cream loaves, raisin bread (that really had raisins), other breads of all manner, shape, and size, and my favorite: banana bread. And there were cookies, puddings, pies. There was this dense, round, cream biscuit I really liked, too: pan de vienna.

At the very back of the store, there were freezers stuffed with meats and ice-cream, cases and cases of bottles, and other dry goods, to include the candles and the baking pans, measuring spoons, and such. My mother used to park me with an ice-cold Coke in this area while she shopped.

Through the decades, Sunshine grew. In the 70s, though she remained mainly a bakery, I knew that you could also find on her shelves chips galore, milk, butter, the odd school supply. In the 80s, I remember a full-fledged grocery with the cheapest ciggies in town. In the 90s, she struck me as the small supermarket where you could get just about anything. Then she closed, to open next door as a bigger supermarket with a French bakery, a pharmacy upstairs, a toyshop, and clothes, too!

The new millennium has ushered in yet more for the store. Now, there’s a photo shop, a school supply section all its own, and the best place in town to eat clean street food, a place called Food Street. There are even restaurants on one side of the now humongous building that houses Sunshine, a hotel above, and more to come.

Throughout the years, Sunshine has always been a Baguio habit. Yes, habit. All tribes, especially small towns, have them. Patterns of behavior that are inherited, imbibed, ingrained, and passed along. I certainly inherited a Sunshine habit. Aside from the fact that my grandmother shopped in Sunshine, my father, on the way home most days when I was growing up, would say “Ag-Sunshine tayo pay,” and proceed to park just outside the store’s side door.

It was often a last stop before heading home, like something you had to do as part of the day’s routine. “Don’t forget to buy eggs,” my father would say as my mother left the car. She always turned eggs into a full-sized bag of things. Since it was a last stop, and Sunshine used to keep earlier hours than they now do, they were sometimes already closed when we got there. Which brings me to that side door. And Dennis.

It’s too bad that one of Sunshine’s old fixtures – Dennis del Rosario – is one I must now write of in the past tense. Just like I grew up with a Sunshine habit, I grew up seeing Dennis around the store. We were about the same age, and we were friends.

I believe that it was in the late 70s/early 80s that Dennis was all of a sudden the guy at the counter. We chatted all the time. Why are you buying so much flour? To bake some cakes. You bake? Of course I bake. What do you bake? Chocolate cakes, cupcakes, carrot cakes...

(To be continued)
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