Sunday, July 19, 2009

14, 100

Our 14th year, no precious stones, no grand getaways, just an evening with friends, an evening of whisky and brandy and chicharon, at an exhibit opening and at table number one in Luisa’s on Session Road. A beer brought over from Rumours next door. Acquaintances slip in and out. Monsoon rains raging outside.
“Really?” asked Pigeon, this paper’s editor-in-chief, asked in between brandy refills, “14 years? This calls for a toast!” And so we raised our glasses for the sixth or seventh or eighth time last night. We have been raising our glasses to Baguio, our dreams for Baguio and our resolve to realize those dreams, all night.

Nung una kitang makilala, aking mahal
Ang aking puso’y nabihag ng ‘yong kariktan
Magmula noon, ‘di ko na kayang mawalay sa’yo.
Kafagway sa yakap mo ako’y hihimlay
Pinapawi mo’ng lumbay na aking taglay
Kafagway

I wrote that song, and in my mind the word Kafagway and my wife’s name crossfade.
So there, it’s been 14 years since the day we decided to spend the rest of our lives together, and that life has been closely intertwined with Baguio's last 14 years, or perhaps the last one hundred.

Halimuyak ng mga pino nariyan na
Nagsasabing ako’y malapit na
Isang daan, patungo sa puso ng Cordillera
Daang malapit sa mga ulap, puno ng talinhaga
Dugo at pawis ang gumuhit ng ‘yong kasaysayan
Walang sawa kong tatahakin ang ‘yong kagandahan

It’s been quite an adventure – we’ve lived in a rundown apartment tucked away in a corner in Campo Sioco (named after one of the fathers of the city), in a friend’s house in Mines View (which once offered a glimpse of Baguio’s gold rush in its early years), in Gen. Luna and Gen. Malvar streets (reminders of Baguio’s role in our nation’s struggle for independence), we now live in Asin Road, a stone’s throw away from the Ifugao carvers’ village, and just a little further down the road is Asin’s famous hot springs (which has drawn visitors since the time of the Spaniards). For 14 years we have walked the streets of Baguio, saw the construction of tall buildings and flyovers that ruined the beautiful skyline, the transformation of Camp John Hay and the deterioration of the Baguio Convention Center, malls sprouting one after another in different parts of the city, the closing down of theaters along Session Road, a snatcher being chased by the police and young men hurting each other for no reason.

And we told these stories to the community, my wife and I. We staged plays that we believed asked relevant questions, that provoked, inspired, painted the real picture. We made films that reminded all of us of the city’s beautiful history. We’ve tried to voice out the aspirations of the community, its heartaches, its dreams…

Ang mithiin ng Baguio
Isapuso mo
Itaguyod mo
Isulong mo
Ang kailangan ng Baguio, ikaw at ako


14 years. Isang daan. And so our fifteenth year together begins on Baguio’s 100th.
And so soon, we go onstage once again to tell the story of “Kafagway: Sa Saliw Ng Mga Gangsa,”a performance art piece that will sing the city’s songs, and our songs.

Happy anniversary, RL. And we wish you well, our beloved Baguio, on your 100th year.

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