Baguio: Chill!  


Jullie Y. Daza

Baguio City, a hot topic. Mayor Magalong, aka contact tracing “czar,” tarred, tainted by the city’s scandal of the season, at party where pictures were shot, advertently or inadvertently, of the merrymakers making merry sans masks. “Sapagka’t kami ay tao lamang,” he apologized immediately and earned praises for his humility, though the incident reaped regrets that it shouldn’t have happened at all.

Baguio City, from hot to cool. Christmas having long gone and the city no longer scented by the pine trees of a childhood memory, it’s still a good place to be for its spring-like climate. Starting low at 10 to 12C in the days prior to Sunday’s 9.24C (at 5 a.m.), the coolest during the season of the amihan or monsoon, the temperature was a dream for tourists from the lowlands who wished they could squeeze some of that chilled garden air into a champagne bottle and take it home with them.

The lucky ones who are there are urging their friends to “come up” and forget the woes of the pandemic – not that Baguio has been spared – but suffering is easier to bear when you can do it prettily in a clean and pleasant setting, no crowds, no congestion, no traffic.

A honeymooning couple left Balintawak on Thursday morning ten-ish and, thanks to Skyway 3 and all those other expressways, arrived in Baguio at 1 p.m. without, as the saying goes, fear or favor. They had done their research and did everything by the book. Hotel reservation confirmed. RT-PCR test results negative, hard copy showing tests were conducted not more than 72 hours ago. Form for Visita Baguio emailed by hotel, including QR code to be presented as stamp of approval of visit.

At the first checkpoint in Baguio, the honeymooners were asked to present their QR code. A motorcycle-borne escort led them to Camp John Hay, where they were asked to present their test results and QR code, in exchange for which they received a slip of paper looking like a license. They were waved away with a hearty welcome and reminded, “Carry this (license) wherever you go.”

Without that precious piece of paper you’re a nonentity – who knows how they will deport or quarantine you?