THIS week, we begin with “the bank,” said Manilabank, in Baguio.
Its presence in Baguio, as its owner told my father, was because Baguio, in the banking industry (of the 1970s), was simply a “prestige address.” I.e., you weren’t a bank if you didn’t have a Baguio branch, never mind that it lost money. Of course, these days, it’s different. Baguio has become profitable for banks, methinks, though without necessarily denting the “prestige address” thing.
Late Manilabank owner Vicente Puyat and me in late father were fraternity brothers and also quite close friends. So much so that when the former needed a raw land site for his then new “total town” concept and his own “Newtown” brand, he called up my father and asked him where he could possible put up a “Newtown” in Baguio. This is another long story. It ends up with an Ibaloy place called “Tili” being purchased by the former from the latter’s relatives. The now old “Newtown” is currently the Sta. Lucia development out there in Tuba.
Newtown Baguio was thus staked out in the early 1970s, and Uncle Teng and team were naturally in Baguio a lot, taking chopper rides with my dad over then Tili, and so on. Another story, for another day.
Today, the story is that Vicente “Teng” Puyat thus became an Apache in 1974. The Apaches are that Baguio club, okay. It has a good number of Upsilonians on its roster, too. Aside from the two aforementioned, there are Condring Bueno, Fernando Bautista, Jr., Cesar Salenga, Nonoy Villareal, Teddy Yabut, “uncles” all. One is a ninong to me, too. Guess who.
Anyway, as this piece goes to bed, the Apaches are -- under the very experienced aegis of Chief Rudz Paraan -- celebrating the year’s end with the annual thanksgiving lunch and annual Bonfire.
Of which I have written much, and of the whole “Apache Season,” actually, in a much-published piece called exactly that: “Apache Season.” It has been serialized a number of times in my weekly columns which have run since 1999, in the 2008 Baguio Yearbook published by cousin Jack, and in an anthology titled Baguio: Precious Memories, published and launched by another Apache family (that of Upsilonian Leonides Bautista and wife Aurora) in 2014.
The year Uncle Teng was accepted, he had to be paddled standing up because he was too inebriated to crawl between the Apache legs. Of that year, I wrote about the famous Bonfire fireball:
“Aahh, the fireball. This was a piece of art to look forward to. It signaled the start of bonfire activities. It was set up by a disembodied voice speaking into the darkness: ‘Let us all stand for a one minute of silence for our dear and departed brothers.’ Everyone then stood and said a quiet prayer. When the minute was up, the disembodied voice said, ‘Let there be light!’ On cue, a fireball came hurtling down from nowhere, to land smack in the middle of a pile of firewood, talaksan, and lit it up, causing a giant blaze and a sense of wonder: How’d they do that?!
“The best fireball I ever saw was the one that hurtled down when we were at San Carlos Heights. Courtesy of my brother Matt and one Dado Pascua, it came from sooo high up that it really looked like a fireball from the sky!”
Next week, we start with “a fireball from the sky,” even as this column wishes one and all the best of the holiday season and the happiest incoming New Year. To 2017 as to 2018, a toast. Salud, everyone!