A Reunion with Baguio, Coffee, and Quietude

There are no set ingredients for a perfect getaway, but a good camera, n cups of coffee, the weather in Baguio, and a friend you can share meaningful conversations with is definitely not a bad recipe.

Why did I go to Baguio in the first place? Well, I came across an article which made me miss it, invited friends who rejected me, and ended up going with Ann, a friend I didn’t even invite. Because I’ve been carrying a heavy load lately, I felt like I went there trying to finish a thesis with these three objectives in mind:

  1. To write and take photographs.
  2. To experience my three favorites in Baguio (again).
  3. To make hugots and heal my broken heart (yuck, so Millennial).

Luckily, I’ve satisfied all of those during my two-day stay. Baguio even had some surprises I didn’t anticipate at all. I therefore conclude that the trip was heaven-sent. I therefore conclude that chapter of my life. Onto brighter, better things.

Conscious Disconnect

Ann forgot her phone at home, so I agreed not to use my phone, too. We decided to disconnect from everybody else for a few hours. We talked about how easy it is to just get your face stuck in front of a screen for an entire day, totally ignoring what’s currently going on and who you’re with.

For a change, we spent majority of our time connecting to ourselves and with each other. This little mishap allowed us to spend most of our time out in Baguio talking about things that matter most—getting rid of doubts, building character, appreciating other people, letting go of past mistakes, pursuing passions, thoughts about the future— everything. Moments like this you’ll realize that exchanging thoughts, ideas, and sentiments with someone you completely trust is a galaxy better than being busy checking notifications.

Surprises Await

I am a planner. I don’t like going to places without knowing what’s in store for me. That’s why it’s no surprise that I had a two-day itinerary planned for us. Only about half of it pushed through, but I didn’t mind. If this was a year ago, I might’ve been angry with Ann for not following my itinerary. Haha. Now, I’m much more open to surprises. I was actually thankful to her because I was more carefree and relaxed this time. I wasn’t in a rush to get things done. I even passed on Baguio’s most popular tourist spots to discover its hidden gems instead.

  1. TO WRITE AND TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS

For The Love of Photographs

The truth is “itodo na natin ang photo shoot” was said when we were chatting about the trip. Haha. Ann and I love taking pictures. The first time I took pictures of her was in Calaguas and most of the shots were big fails. Back then, I was still anxious and shy about taking other people’s photos because they might be unsatisfied with the outcome. Now, I feel so confident and, more importantly, happy behind the lens. I will always be grateful to Ann for teaching me how to use a camera properly and trusting me to do her overflowing beauty justice (Note: This is a sponsored sentence, chos!).

The moment we arrived in Arca’s Yard, we knew it was going to be a lot of fun to take pictures there. It was homey with a touch of vintage. There were only a few people, so we took the opportunity to roam around the quaint area and take shots before our meals were served.

We then rode a taxi going to Diplomat Hotel. The funny thing is I only thought of going here because I suddenly remembered my favorite photographer Jelito de Leon’s blog entry about it. I loved his pictures, so I just had to see the place myself.

Diplomat Hotel was supposed to be abandoned and haunted, but our laughter lit up the entire place. We were almost embarrassed by what we were doing (taking wacky shots) because other people were already looking. At the end of the day, who cares? Our shots made us happy, and creative freedom is something each of us must experience every now and again.

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Let Thought Not Escape Thee

For someone who drank coffee every day last year, I can’t believe I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a cup. It’s been months since I’ve ditched coffee for green tea to reduce my sugar intake (because I like my coffee with LOTS of add-ons).

That’s why I was excited to go to Café Yagam. On their Facebook page, it says, “You haven’t tasted the best Arabica Coffee in the Philippines if you haven’t visited Café Yagam.” I was intrigued, so I knew I needed to give it a try. Ann loves (and depends on) coffee, so this statement also got her curious. Good for Café Yagam, as it lived up to our standards. The coffee was fantastic—deliciously rich with a strong kick. We were fueled to write.

Truth be told, there were more reading, speaking, and listening involved than writing. But still, Café Yagam gave us the PERFECT place to release our thoughts on paper. If you write, you must experience going to Café Yagam at least once in your life. The ambiance was wonderfully conducive for you to finally start writing the book you promised yourself long ago that you would. On top of that, their coffee is to die for.

Sometimes, you just have to find time for your passions and for what makes you happy, and that’s what we did this entire day.

  1. TO EXPERIENCE MY THREE FAVORITES IN BAGUIO (AGAIN).

Revisiting the Constants

If our first day in Baguio was all about discoveries and surprises, our second day was all about my favorites: eating Vizco’s’ heavenly blueberry cheesecake, going to the sanctuary that is BenCab Museum, and riding a bike at Burnham Park.

Ann and I listened to Tagalog Christian songs while preparing to leave our accommodation. It was the perfect way to start the day. It was a Tuesday but we felt like it was a Sunday. We then had light and meaningful conversations over breakfast in Vizco’s. It was a delightful morning.

We went to BenCab afterwards. It was my third time and Ann’s first. I feel guilty for not appreciating the artworks like I did two times prior. We focused on taking pictures and got so tired after a while that Ann even fell asleep for half an hour. Haha.

The most memorable moment happened when we already left BenCab and rode a jeepney going back to Baguio. The driver gave my change just when a passenger was trying to find where to sit. I was at the farthest part of the jeepney, so she ended up handing over my change before she even got to sit. My heart melted. Ann and I made eye contact because we both felt how sweet that gesture was. We were also fascinated that all the passengers seem to know each other. Everyone greeted everyone and engaged in some small talk. They were also taking their time to get on and off the jeepney, which, if you do in Manila, the driver will get mad at you. Haha.

Our last stop before going home was Burnham Park. I was glad Ann decided to push through this one last destination because she said she’s never been here before. Even if she was half afraid of riding the bike, she did it anyway. As for me, of course, I had a wonderful time. I will always look forward to riding bikes because I feel like being transported back to my childhood. I have so many memories of riding bikes and I look forward to making more even if I’m already 25.

  1. To HEAL.

Acceptance

I went to Baguio with a prayer—that I may finally accept all the crap I’ve gone through the past few months. My heart was broken into pieces, but every piece was full. I knew it will regenerate because I am surrounded by so much love.

What I didn’t know was how to accept that I allowed this to happen to myself even with all the warning signs. I needed acceptance. I wanted to move forward without any resentment. I wanted to forgive someone who didn’t even say sorry. I wanted freedom from these chains.

You know what surprised me? I didn’t even make lots of hugots. I didn’t even elaborate about who broke my heart and how I felt about it. My conversations with Ann were simple but straightforward, raw and real, meaningful and eye-opening. I guess those kinds of conversations were all I really needed to finally accept the facts I couldn’t accept before.

The thing is you can’t fake acceptance; it just comes to you.

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Acceptance comes when the questions that keep you up and restless at night finally quiet down and you’re left with well-founded peace in yourself, knowing everything is going to be more than fine. Acceptance comes when you are ready to forget all the pain so you can make room for new moments, memories, feelings, and hopes. Acceptance comes when you learn to let go of what was never meant for you and realize that what you deserve will come in due time.

Acceptance comes in trips that almost get cancelled, in coffee shops where you find solace in solitude, in photographs that capture your finest moments, from a hair strand hiding in your pasta dish, from strangers you’ll meet more than once, from brick walls and unfinished floors in abandoned places, from relaxing songs you don’t understand, when you’re enjoying your favorite cheesecake, when you’re eating cheap food while standing up, when the cool breeze hits you while riding a bike in a park, and during long bus rides including the stopovers in between.

Acceptance comes. If it hasn’t yet, keep believing that it will, because it will eventually.

I’m glad it came to me. I’m glad I got my answered prayer. I’m glad I finally have my peace back.

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