Issue of September 2, 2018
     
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2018
Panagbenga Flower Festival
 
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Happy 109th year Baguio!

I was young. I am old. I was a student. I was a government worker. I got married and had kids and a grandkid. I was and still a volunteer. I got sick. I was healed. I witnessed great women and men pass away. Met icons. I saw the Pope twice. In all my 50 plus years in Baguio, I have witnessed its growth, its pain, its devastation, its rehabilitation, its jubilation, its change of leadership, the earthquake, the storms, and its transformation for the past half century.

With all the travails, Baguio remains to be beautiful. Its citizens and community are forever zealous in preserving its legacy and beauty. The weather is the same. Most often fair, sometimes scary. The fog still brings nostalgic feelings and memories. As former Tourism Secretary Peter Garrucho used to say, “Baguio brings a lot of goodwill.” Happy vacation memories still linger. Meron pa ring kurot, ika nga.

Recorded in the annals of its history are the open-close conditions of its road networks. Open ngayon, close bukas. Even its air access Loakan Airport, open-close din. And yet people continue to visit, whether it is the Christmas holidays, summer break, the Panagbenga Festival, or the anticipated long weekends and holiday breaks. Always, the cool weather continues to embrace souls who are weary of the hot weather in Manila or the lowlands. Baguio! Baguio! the song popularized by the “On Call Vocals” who now play regularly at The Manor gives such a delightful feeling. I wonder why their song was not adopted as a Baguio song. It speaks well of Baguio, just like Manila! Manila! of the “Hotdogs.”

I know a lot of people who would like to settle in Baguio, not only because of its peace and serenity, its education system, the temperament of the people, always joyous and smiling, but also because this is the place where they can find inner peace.

This is also an art haven. Artists come and go. They exist in our midst. To our mind, our “artists” command more attention than “artistas” or superstars. Hence, the artistas are free to roam at ukay-ukay milieus and centers. We now have many art hubs and havens where artists can congregate. We are also home to the artists elders like: the late David Baradas, Santiago Bose, Roberto Villanueva, Ben Cabrera, Yniong Geslani, and Kidlat Tahimik, all forerunners of art, culture, and heritage. Recently, Kidlat Tahimik and BenCab received Doctor of Humanities degrees from the University of the Cordilleras.

Among the unofficial founding members of the Baguio Arts Guild were: Rene Aquitania, Katrin de Guia, Willy Magtibay, Perry Mamaril, Tommy Hafalla, Briccio Santos, Wigs Tysman, Vins Villareal, Art Tibaldo, Shay Tamayo, Peter Pinder, Rhona Carantes, Jocelyn Banasan, and other Baguio artists like Maela Jose as well as the Bacolod craftsmen/musicians and performers Gerry Baguio, Boy Garrovillo, Tito Martinez, and Shanto Verdun, all of whom became known as musicians of the prize winning Filipino “Pinikpikan” Band.

So Happy Birthday Baguio! Continue to thrive and bring happiness to our kababayans. Be the Summer Capital, the honeymooners’ paradise, but most of all continue to nourish your unique heritage and be blessed with a weather to die for. Greetings to the 1st Congressman of Baguio Atty. Dean Honorato Aquino. It was nice seeing you sir and ma’am.

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