Cariño: Baguio connections (2)


This was the grade school my siblings and I went to. More specifically, we went to a Maryknoll Convent School, then with the acronym “MCS.” Students had to write MCS below (or across?) our names, methinks, on submitted written work.

I graduated in 1970, Matty, Dandan, and Heli following suit all throughout that same decade. Our youngest, Annette, graduated from a Marishan sometime in the 1980s. And still gets told by Heli that there is a difference in the schools they each graduated from, haha.

We were told when the name change occurred that "shan" was Ibaloy for hill, or knoll.

Looking back, I see in my mind’s eye these fully nun-robed, wimpled Sisters with rosaries dangling from their waists: Sister Carmencita, Sister Maria Austin, Sister John Eileen, Sister Therese. If I remember right, the lattermost was also, to many, “the prettiest one.”

Sisters Austin and Eileen also served as principals. When times were later “secularized,” for want of a better word, the principal of the school became Miss Donio. I'm thinking she came with the "shan."

Because Miss Donio was Maxima Donio, the K being for Kitma, of the Marcos Highway Kitmas, relatives of the Cariños because we all share a common ancestor, so the family stories go. I became friends with cousin Mike Kitma sometime in the 1990s, when he was part of the staff of Plan International (their office having once been in Campo Sioco, just below Maryknoll) as was Verge Carantes -- married to cuz Bobby – before she went on to successfully start up all things Smart Telecommunications in Baguio. Remember those days when mobile phones were newish and as yet strange?

Mike also helped out Maryknoll when it turned into the Ecological Sanctuary it now is, after the big earthquake of 1990. He served as a valued adviser on organic farming, having been involved in it long before it was fashionable. Verge was from the onset one of his regular buyers of organic vegetables. I bought them from Mike when I could and when these guests from Manila would ask me where they could get organic vegetables.

Another authentic pioneer of organic vegetable production in Baguio-Benguet is Patrick “Pat” Acosta, who was my brother Matty’s classmate in Maryknoll, though that was “Andy” to Pat, since Matty was the home name and “Andy” -- after my father, Matty being his Junior -- was the early school name. Pat now owns and runs an organic farm called “The Master’s Garden” in La Trinidad, which gets rave reviews all the time.

Pat’s family also had this winery called Strawberry House, on Naguilian Road. They produced, bottled, and sold the house wine, Strawberry Wine. It was a Baguio staple for the longest, longest time.

Next week, we begin with that Strawberry Wine from Strawberry House.
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