Baguio City, the Philippines

April 3 and 5, 2022

Ki always set out to “support local” in our travels. On our first day in Baguio, we bought ethnic vests at Mines View Multipurpose Cooperative from a vendor proudly showcasing her hand-woven items. I chose the traditional red fabric, Ki went for green, a modern iteration. Later in the neighborhood store, an English-speaking old lady from the Benguet tribe commended us for buying and wearing the vests, not merely renting them for photo ops.

Ki and TTT @ Mines View Multipurpose Cooperative
Hasta Qwando @ Ignacio Villamor St., Baguio

Like second skin, the vests became our daily OOTD in the entirety of our vacation. The woven fabric was warm enough for the breezy, rainy weather and airy enough for our walks under the beating sun. One such afternoon promenade took us through the length of Outlook Drive, the scenic road winding through Baguio’s quaint barangay that stubbornly held on to its cottage architecture and pine groves in the face of the city’s development into a concrete jungle. It inspired not only us to take it easy. A local biker suddenly stopped and plopped down atop a roadside retaining wall.

Urban Trekker Ki and a Biker at Rest @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
An Unnamed Roadside Bar @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Bougainvillea @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Tree Fern @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Ki Under Weeping Willow @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio

A roadside atelier of antiques, Sabado’s Handicrafts, with doors wide open drew us in, though we could neither afford nor accommodate any of the exquisite hardwood furniture and decorative pieces. The young lady manning the shop, perhaps in an effort to make a connection, asked if our red and green vests were in support of the frontrunners in the presidential and vice presidential races. I awkwardly laughed it off as I was actually for the rival candidates.

Sabado’s Handicrafts @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Sabado’s Handicrafts @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio

We moved on and forward. The destination was the road. Stretches of unobstructed views of pine-covered mountains and residential valleys beyond could still be had all through its length. Houses were separated by well-tended gardens of bougainvillea and weeping willows. We reveled in all that space and air, interrupted only by our hungry tummies. My late lunch fare was moussaka in béchamel, Mom’s favorite sauce, at Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna, which also served homey ambiance in its wooden bungalow.

Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
TTT @ Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna, Baguio
Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Ki @ Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna, Baguio
Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio

We momentarily considered samgyeopsal at Bato Bato Plate, but we ended up just taking photos of the view from their wide window. Ambiance, not menu, won this round. I did appreciate the heart-shaped artwork of roses on the wall and the staff graciously allowed me a selfie with it.

Le Vain Bakery @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Bato Bato Plate @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
A Heart of Roses @ Bato Bato Plate, Baguio

Minutes before sundown found us at an uphill sideroad with an “eat drink” sign. It was also a sign we should call it a day with some drinks. An American chalet nestled up the slope was repurposed into Craft 1945. The two-storey wooden house surrounded by Benguet pine called for photo ops both in and out. A rowdy group of young people had already occupied the al fresco tables, tippling even before evening.

Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Ki and TTT @ Craft 1945, Baguio

Based on the name, we expected tap-drawn beer, care of Baguio Craft Brewery. What was unexpected was the Spanish-themed interior, complete with a matador mural. The restaurant turned out to be the sly comeback of the old Casa Marcos – pun intended – shut down in Manila decades ago. Sadly, we were too full even for tapas.

We came only for drinks. The teetotaler me left alcohol consumption to beer-guzzling Ki. I settled for brewed coffee served with complementary baby pan de sal, the size of which was perfect for dunking into the cup. We had all this while gazing out the second floor window to a grove of pine trees and the soft light of the setting sun.

Brewed Coffee and Baby Pan de Sal @ Craft 1945, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio
Craft 1945 @ Outlook Drive S, Baguio

Our walk through Outlook Drive thus ended – with an outlook of fading light and creeping darkness. My thoughts went back to that girl at the antique shop and that old lady in the sari-sari store who patted our backs, so to speak, for wearing their native red and green vests. Her parting shot, though, still rang in my ears: “It’s good it’s not pink.” In the context of the approaching national elections, I felt attacked by her less-than-subtle political statement against my presidential candidate whose campaign color was pink.

TTT @ Little Flower Retreat House, Ignacio Villamor St., Baguio

These random interactions outside my circle, few as they were, somehow gave me a peek at the dire outlook in my fight for accountable, progressive leadership and against corrupt authoritarian dynasties. In the echo chamber of my Facebook wall, I posted:

My vote for Leni Robredo is for her proven competency, transparency, and leadership. But my vote FOR her is also a vote AGAINST disinformation, revisionism, and fake news. The future of my country should not be decided by paid trolls and vloggers.

In just a month prior to the elections, I already knew mine was a lost cause.

Pink Azaleas @ Lemon & Olives Greek Taverna, Baguio

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