Baguio may be the summer capital of the Philippines, but the “city of pines” is more romantic during the rainy season, all that mist and fog, cold wind and rain. And in the season of lockdowns and health protocols, while tourists are not yet allowed to come up in droves, the atmosphere can be as mysterious as any loner may want to wrap himself in.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong, also “the lead” contact tracer of the Inter-Agency Task Force managing the government’s anti-COVID-19 response, was taking lunch at the cake and coffee shop of Baguio Country Club when typhoon Maring slowly but decisively made herself felt with every drop of rain growing bigger and more intense. Just as lunch with BCC GM Anthony de Leon was about to end—a plate of clams and pasta cooked in olive oil—he called his office to suspend work in government offices starting at 1 p.m.
Mayor Magalong— “call me Benjie”—thanked SM Baguio and BCC for their cooperation in helping the city government manage the crisis by offering vaccination sites and providing food and other services to medical frontliners and volunteers. As of Oct. 11, BCC has vaccinated 30,000 Baguio residents, using its convention hall as vaccination venue.
Elsewhere in Baguio, the parks are empty, the tourist attractions are quiet, and bare, mom-and-pop shops are practically asleep. “The pandemic will be with us for another two to three years,” the retired three-star general Mayor Benjie said. Meanwhile, December is almost here—time to reimagine Baguio’s spirit, fairy lights and Christmassy temperature as we wait for the best that is yet to be. —JYD