Dacawi: The Baguio spirit in the year of the dog

DOCTOR Charles Cheng, the Baguio boy and physician, must be smiling ear-to-ear from up there in the great newsroom in the sky. His vision to make the Chinese New Year an annual unifying celebration for Baguio has taken roots, with those he left behind holding a press conference that assures the continuity of this yearly celebration of life.

Charles, a former columnist of the Baguio Midland Courier, a multi-awarded scientific researcher, sports developer and philanthropist despite his lack of material acquisitiveness, was instrumental in the birth and development of this celebration that has become an official annual feature of the city’s calendar of special events.

His contributions were repeatedly recalled last Wednesday evening in a press conference called to launch this year’s festival in the Year of the Dog. Festival organizers led by hotelier Peter Ng, Charles’ partner in pushing Baguio’s celebration as an annual event 20 years ago said Charles inspired them to develop the event as an annual partnership with city officials and the Filipino and Chinese community.

That’s why the City Council, City Mayor Mauricio Domogan recalled, passed a resolution making the festival an annual official city event that residents of all ages look forward to like they do, the Baguio Flower Festival.

That’s why Soledad Go, the wife of Baguio Rep. Mark Go saw the festival as a celebration of the Fil-Chinese friendship forged over the years.

“You have touched us in your pursuit of excellence” to make the festival as a unifying experience for Baguio’s residents.

On a more personal level, that’s why Roland Wong (a.k.a Chongloi) long ago opened up the second floor of Luisa’s Café as free working area for the city’s print and broadcast media who needed most an office they could not afford to rent.

That’s why we were there, partly out of respect for this friendship that Roland established with the working media who, sometimes, forget by acting like they’re the owners of the place.

Whatever.

Here’s the calendar of the festival in the Year of the Dog: Feb, 13 – Gioft-giving at Barangay Gibraltar; Feb. 16 – New Year celebration of Bell Church and gift-giving program; Feb. 17 – Grand Parade at 2:30 p.m. from Upper Session Rd. followed by dinner and awards night and fellowship at the Hotel Supreme, again to be hosted by Peter Ng.

On a more personal level, I have had the opportunity to have a glimpse into Peter’s heart. At the height of the meningococcemia scare some years back, I was assigned by Mayor Domogan to arrange a farewell dinner at Hotel Supreme for the foreign and local health workers who came to help us contain the ailment.

Supreme Hotel, like the other hotels in Baguio then, had an almost zero occupancy because of the meningococcemia scare. After dinner and the speeches of gratitude for the medical teams who came to help us cope with the tourism disaster that plunged the city’s economy to its lowest depth, I asked for the bill so I could work out the city’s release for the dinner’s payment.

True to being himself, Peter told me the bill was on him. “Sa akin naman itong dinner para may kontribusyon ako para sa Baguio,” he told me in a genuine gesture of magnanimity, a class act at a time he needed cash most to pay his employees.

E-mail: mondaxbench@yahoo.,com for comments.
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