Philippines 2000

Baguio City, Return to California

Baguio City A view of Baguio City from the Santa Catalina Convent.

Thursday, November 30, 2000:  This morning we promenaded out on the deck to enjoy the view of the ocean and the nearby islands. We got into port at Manila about 3:00 p.m., and, after being herded into an Avis rental cab (which, it turned out, had a flat tire), we extricated ourselves and forged our way with our bags to the street and found a cheaper cab and shared a ride to our Fersal Apartelle. We called Roberto Masbang to confirm that we were leaving our luggage at the Fersal Apartelle which was fine since he knew the owners very well. We had dinner at the Inn Cafe, eating and watching staff putting up Christmas decorations. The life-size Santa Claus in the restaurant wasn't the familiar jovial Coca-Cola Santa, but some sinister leering overgrown elf in a white beard. Still, the food is good. The typhoon is heading north now, so we're hopeful that we can hop further north to Baguio and stay ahead of it.

group shot Sister Bibiana, Connie, Martin, Sister Jo, and Sister Elaine.

Friday, December 1, 2000:  We got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning to ensure that we are at the airport on this rainy morning. We've been living out of bags for a long time now, trying to keep our "stuff" together. When we boarded the tiny plane, we met a puzzled Fil-American serviceman from Florida who was assigned a seat number that didn't exist (unless you count the rest room). I told him that at least he wouldn't have to wait in line. When we arrived in Baguio, we shared a cab with a woman named Connie who discussed our choice of hotels with us. She and the driver agreed that the one we had picked was pretty much a dump, and she suggested that we stay instead at the Santa Catalina Retreat Center run by the Dominican Sisters. We decided to check it out and met Sister Josephina who agreed on a price for us to have a room and share meals with the sisters. Some drizzle did follow us to Baguio, so we spent the afternoon in the garden enjoying each other's company and the mountain view of Baguio. We chatted with Connie over dinner. The rest of the rooms are taken by retreat attendees of Couples for Christ.

group shot Sister Bibiana, Connie, Martin, Clyde, Sister Jo, and Sister Elaine.

Saturday, December 2, 2000: We took an excursion today with Srs. Elaine (from Peru) and Sr. Josephina, and Sr. Bibiana (from S. Korea) as well as Sr. Clemente to the Philippine Military Academy which is the equivalent of the American West Point:  full of uniformed cadets and meticulous landscaping around the campus, as well as various monuments and memorials. The historical museum was fascinating, especially with Sr. Jo' as a guide, including exhibits of the little-discussed ugly war between the Americans and the Filipinos in 1900. We also visited Camp John Hay, and a native village, before stopping downtown to confirm our return flight to Manila. That evening, we went with the sisters and with Andrew (another Korean friend) to hear the visiting Sta. Cecelia choir at St. Louis University. They were very good, though the intermission act with local kid talent was more fun.

traditional housing Traditional housing is now an artistic tourist attraction in Baguio.

juxtaposition A modern subdivision is encroaching on the model anthropological village.

hike Martin, some other tourist, and Sister Bibiana hike down to the Asin river.

waterfall Waterfall on the road to the Asin Hot Springs.

view View on the way to Asin Hot Springs.

Sunday, December 3, 2000:  We went to Mass this morning in the convent and then we took a van trip with the sisters to the Asin hot springs. Clyde and I, together with Andrew, went swimming and enjoyed the spa as well. We did some hiking with the Sisters down to the Asin River. Later, we shopped for wood sculptures. The road to the Springs is pretty bumpy, so it's not touristy. The visitors to the Springs are mainly local kids having a good time.

Maryknoll Sr. Josephina, Andrew, Sr. Bibiana, and Martin at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. Dusk is setting in on our day and the city of Baguio.

That afternoon, we visited the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. The campus used to run an elementary school until the earthquake in 1990 rendered the site structurally unsafe. They decided to turn the school into an ecological sanctuary, devoted to the union of Christian faith, creation spirituality, and ecological awareness, having built a "bio shelter" which is both a convent and a chapel, difficult to describe but possibly the single most beautiful dwelling in Baguio that manages to be both an elegant little home and a place of worship and fellowship.

Baguio City View of Baguio City from the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary.

There is a long walk called the "Cosmic Journey" which takes the hiker through the evolution of the world with symbolic structures at 14 stations representing the stages of life on earth. Sr. Peggy Dillon and her dog Lupa ("earth") greeted us and told us about her work. She spent the last 15 years as a mission worker in Nicaragua before coming to the Philippines. We had a long and heartfelt conversation with the sisters at dinner about faith and family. They asked me to give the dinner blessing. I'm not a priest, so it was quite an honor to be asked by the sisters to pray.

Asin Hot Springs (L to R) Sr. Bibiana, Sr. Clemente, Andrew, Sr. Josephina, Clyde, Martin, and Sister Elaine at the Asin Hot Springs.

Monday, December 4, 2000:  This morning, the church van takes us to the airport. Sister Jo gave us a going-way lunch and a gift, and we boarded our Asian Spirit flight back to Manila though Baguio is now cool and sunny and really much too beautiful to leave. Back in Manila, we brushed off a cab driver in the lot charging P600 and found one on the street who would use a meter and charged only P140. Back at the Fersal Apartelle, we channel-surfed until we found a gay Filipino movie called "Tanag & Chos." It's about a gay Godfather character and is pretty campy and forgettable film. I guess I got my Thanksgiving "turkey" a bit late. Bert Masbang took us out to dinner at Shakey's Pizza tonight and we caught up with family news. We packed our bags for our trip to the USA tomorrow.

Santa Catalina Convent The front view of the Santa Catalina Convent. The sisters and Andrew give us a warm send off.

Tuesday, December 5, 2000:  Without the Wagner group, the KAL flight to Seoul and then to LAX had mostly Korean passengers. In the Seoul airport, we passed time talking with an Australian lady who was in Korea visiting her daughter. After a long flight over the Pacific, we arrived on the same day that we left. I spent the flight watching videos and reviewing Miller's book, The Mystery of Courage. Eve Toles and a family friend, Stanley, picked us up at the airport and take us to Clyde's parents' home in Apple Valley, CA.

oxygen Clyde's sister Diane and Martin pose with one of Clyde's father's oxygen tanks.

Wednesday, December 6, 2000:  We spent the day catching up on a ton of e-mail and making phone calls.

Thursday, December 7, 2000:  We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant today, and a long afternoon nap. We spent lots of time visiting with Clyde's sister, Diane who is still rehabilitating from surgery on her brain tumor.

family room Clyde's brother-in-law Steve and Clyde sit in his parents' family room in Apple Valley, California.

Friday, December 8, 2000:  We made final preparations today for our return flight to North Carolina. Steve Flannery treated us to lunch at an Italian Restaurant, with Eve, Diane, Charles, and Kathy. We played Trivial Pursuit with Diane and her grandchildren, Jonathan and Stephanie. Eve Flannery and I played hide and seek with the kids that afternoon. Clyde's family is very concerned abut the as-yet-unresolved U.S. Election. Mercifully, we have been spared news stories about recounts over the past several weeks.

discussion Clyde's mother, (Martin in shadows), sister Diane, and father, during a spell when no one was discussing the election fiasco.

Saturday, December 9, 2000:  We arrive in RDU Airport tonight, and our neighbor, Jason File, picked us up and took us to our home which is still intact, though the yard is covered with leaves waiting to be raked up. We have a load of mail to sort through. We walked, we talked, we had fun. It's been a great trip!

Joseph The garden of the Santa Catalina Convent in Baguio City, Philippines, has a statue of Joseph holding the infant Jesus as well as a grotto to the Virgin Mary surrounded by attentive sheep.

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Original Photographs, Artwork, and Literary Compositions Copyright © Clyde Zuber and Martin Fowler-All Rights Reserved.