The -ber months are in and in my country, this means hearing songs about white Christmases in a land that sees no snow. Surely, the malls and the bookstores will say goodbye to the top ten songs of the week and give way to merrier carols. I never expected September to come by so quickly. It feels as if the year hasn’t begun at all. Or perhaps I spend too much time awake, counting the hours, waiting for something to happen. Incidentally, things have been happening. Today (or yesterday, if real time means anything at all to you) marks the centennial of my hometown. The country might be famously tropical but up north, in a city known to Filipinos as Baguio, it can feel like New York in the fall.
Thinking about its first hundred years seems odd in that I always thought it was older. The people whom I grew up admiring and getting to know seemed to have been so deeply rooted in their love of place that sometimes it feels like it’s been around forever. My grandparents for one, when they were both still living, exuded an air of knowingness about this place that sustained them and filled their thoughts long after old age compelled them to move out of their home. They knew the people and the city so well they could walk along the town’s streets and tell stories one after the other in a way that brought dead, lost things to life.
This month is all about Baguio. I hope to find a more comprehensive history including personal anecdotes and pictures if I can find them. I lost my grandparents one after the other as a result of old age. They were the most loving people I came to know and as a tribute to them, I hope to bring the Old Baguio alive, if only in stories. Losing them was difficult and during a mass for the repose of my grandmother’s soul, the officiating priest suggested praying to them as though they were my own personal saints ready to mediate between me and God. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do this. Something about the loss has made it difficult to speak out and yet, I fear if I don’t speak, I might end up forgetting.
Before Christmas rolls by and before facing holidays without them, let me just say a bit about them and the place they loved the most.