Having had my taste of overseas travel, it would have been just too easy to overlook journeys to places in my country. In truth, before I boarded a plane, I have been to places other than my hometown. My very obvious other home was my father’s hometown of Oriental Mindoro. There, we lived a walking distance away from the ocean. It’s a wonder I hadn’t learned to swim as a child because I spent a lot of time in that paradise.
After I passed the bar exam, I landed my first lawyer employment in October 2007 and occasional travels were one of the perks of that new job. Barely a month into the job, I and my colleagues took a road trip to Baguio City. The supposed seminar was, everyone knows, an excuse to do some sightseeing on official time.
Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines. The temperature is lower there than in any other part of the country. It wasn’t that cold when we went there in November, but it was a nice climate for breathing in the morning and evening air. Again, my pictures were gobbled up by the multiply.com monster. I’m sure I have those pictures in another hard disk but it might take a while to sort through them. (I borrowed that picture from another blog.)
Going up to Baguio was a challenge because there were two storms welcoming us — one that was just entering the country and the other had left but came back. Still, we had hired a van and were pretty cozy in our seating arrangement.
There were other memorable anecdotes from that travel, one being sort of supernatural in nature. My colleagues and I were fortunate enough to stay at the Court of Appeals cottage. There were three rooms and four of us girls took one of the rooms. Another three took the room beside ours and the three boys bunked in the room across from ours.
One of the boys (now a judge) was a quiet guy who liked to read. His laughs were controlled and he mostly smiled, but I like that boy. My roommates and I were chatterboxes who talked well into the night. I could hold my own but at the night in question, I had gone to sleep ahead of the others. I woke up a few hours later to see the girls still chatting. At that point, they were debating about whether or not to call Elmer (the quiet bookish guy) who was sitting at the sala with his back to us. One of the girls called his name but he didn’t look.
The next day, at breakfast, we confonted Elmer about snubbing us. He and the other boys said Elmer went to bed early. At first, we thought they were joking, but they stuck to that story, and I don’t think any of those boys were pranksters enough not to let it on eventually that they were messing with us.
I don’t know how long the goosebumps stayed, but our verdict was that it was a close encounter. Baguio has those legends of ghostly sightings and we were too spooked to look for a scientific explanation.
Food-wise, those convention organizers didn’t know shit about what tasted good. It was a pity because a lot of yummy fruits and vegetables grow in that place.
As if the storm and the ghost weren’t enough, we also weathered an earthquake that brought two bestfriends (girls in the other room, one of whom is also now a judge) fighting. (I don’t think they’ve quite made up since then.)
And the cherry on top? A military man chose the day we left Baguio City to cause a minor havoc in Manila that prompted the government to declare a curfew. As we were still on the road well after the curfew, (1) my incontinent colleague had to beg an attendant of a closed (previously operating 24 hours) gas station to let her use the toilet; (2) we were stopped by a police officer when we were already in Batangas City; (3) people still voted that military guy to the Senate.
Welcome to the Philippines!