MY FIRST trip to the summer capital was during my college days. It was the semestral break of my second year in Mapua Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture. If my parents did take me to Baguio in my younger years, my memory bank retained no data of it. So, let me consider the October 19, 1982 trip as my first.
It was around midnight when my classmates gathered at Pantranco, the bus line company at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue.
It was not too far from where I stayed, in Project 7.
The bus fare to Baguio on a non-air conditioned bus then was only P45 one way, and with an assigned seat number at that. It was orderly back then. I guess it’s first come, first served on a non-aircon bus these days.
It was a five-hour drive to the Cordilleras. The bus ride with a bunch of excited college adolescents on an unescorted road trip was energy-filled, to say the least. Like kids on a sugar high. What else can you expect?
We stayed in an old house along Session Road, which seemed haunted (because I suddenly had an eruption of acne immediately after the trip. “Nabuyagan,” as it’s called), but we survived for a couple of nights—that and the ice-cold water to bathe with. Yes, there was no water heater.
Baguio then was so refreshingly green and spacious, and not as busy as it is today. The air had no scent of smoke emission, the vegetation on the hills were verdant, Hyatt Terraces was the chicest hotel and the Gold Mine discotheque was the place to be seen.
If I remember it correctly, we hired a jeepney to take us around the city to see the sights—Camp John Hay, The Mansion, Mines View Park, Burnham Park, etc.
Where we ate is a blur. Except for an old photo of classmates drinking beer in a hut, I have no idea where we had our meals.
Each time I get to visit Baguio, it’s always the fond memories of my first trip that flashed in my mind. And the recollection always makes me smile. Yes, those were the days.
Just like in the recent trip I made to Baguio with friends. Although it was clearly identified as a food trip, I am glad there was one foreign guest who was seeing the place for the first time.
I didn’t mind visiting the attractions again, but I can’t help compare how it was back then.
Of course, the place adapted to progress, it’s certainly getting busier by the season, especially with the addition of newer establishments like the BenCab Museum and specialty restaurants. Baguio is busier and certainly got exciting as a destination.
Perhaps what connects me of the old Baguio is Camp John Hay. The place had its share of development but on a very controlled level. I love how it has preserved the vibe of the past. It’s tranquility in the midst of the pine tree forest, a world apart away from the bustle of the nearby city center.
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