Beautiful Baguio


Jullie Y. Daza

Come up, come up! That’s what I feel like yelling at lowlanders while Baguio seems to be at its best behavior – fine, fair, beautiful weather, voila!, at temperatures ranging between 18C at bedtime and 23C at naptime, flirting with a sprinkling of spring-like rain while clouds play hide and seek with the sun.

This has to be the best time of the year, before the City of Pines is overwhelmed by lowlanders in their traffic-causing cars. It’s still weeks before the high season strikes in mid- or late November. But if reservations at the Baguio Country Club (BCC) are any indication, there’s no such thing as a premature Christmas mood when the city’s already arrayed in a sparkle of fairy lights.  

In anticipation of more heavy traffic in the days to come, Session Road is closed on weekends.

There are two sides to Baguio City. The real one and the aspirational one. The real one aches for expansion – Mayor Benjamin Magalong has plans to appease residents who wish for fewer visitors while keeping the economy robust with tourism pesos. To imagine the aspirational Baguio, one has only to set foot at BCC, “the first and only five-star mountain resort in the Philippines,” whose first-ever chairman and president for life, Potenciano Ilusorio, aka P.I., built an 18-hole golf course surrounded by an eternal forest of pine, imported Israeli engineers to ensure a safe, clean, and reliable water source, and constructed his vision of a five-storey hotel that would also be a park, garden for butterflies and growing strawberries and vegetables, among other facilities to delight young and old whether they were having fun or dreaming and thinking poetry.

Last weekend, BCC was the site of a toy exhibit and a carnival-themed Christmas Village complete with artificial snow for the kids. At the Verandah, a hawker was scooping out taho at breakfast for guests as they watched golfers tee off in the light of a mildly golden sun.

For Lin I. Bildner, P.I.’s daughter who is a member of the board, the extensive though phase-by-phase renovation of BCC cannot be completed too soon. Some of the work is being rushed for the high season, but as any five-star tourism worker knows, some things cannot, should not be rushed.