BY THIS TIME, we’re just about ready to call it a day, rather, a week of R and R, which is what Baguio has been through the years to many Filipinos. No, it isn’t about rest and recreation which is what the nation’s summer capital has become — and has been affectionately regarded all through many summer yesteryears — but, considering the mood of this week, the holiest of all weeks, it’s about the reflection and redemption that the pious among us immerses into.
Holy Week in Baguio is what we’re all in now. These past days, Baguio has been among the top-listed Lenten respite locations for lowlanders aching to have a breather from the sweltering heat down under. Tourist exodus is estimated to be at half a million souls wanting to replenish deadening energies. That’s about 500,000 individuals using up every available space Baguio can still offer, every single liter of water needed to endure a few days of city life, every square inch of road their motorized contraption can occupy. Peculiarly, we’re still on the benevolent climes. Baguio’s legendary temperature may not be in 10 degree C levels, but anything below 12 is still a magical calming cooling balm to sweating suffering souls.
It’s no wonder that while most residents jostle it out for sojourns out of the city and elsewhere — back to provincial roots for badly needed homecomings — our heat-suffering lowlanders brave all odds to beat the sweaty climes down under. This is why Baguio has always become a magnetic allure come Holy Week. Not enough water all around? No problem, they’ll just endure it like we residents of this beloved city have been doing, 24/7 everytime. Too much traffic on the road? No problem, they’ll manage to survive the usual snags and snarls, and even the occasional loss of common sense. If they have gone through EDSA’s monumental carmaggedon, Baguio’s version is too puny to match.
Since they’re here now, for the fresh air they expect in a mountain resort like ours, let’s just reiterate a few timely reminders for Holy Week in Baguio to be less of a festive vacation and more of a soul uplifting episode in their summertime sojourn. As in past simple weekend respite, make our visitors conscious of basic rules to abide by if only to inculcate good, rational, and wholesome ways to enjoy and experience Baguio in keeping with the somber times. Surely, they will inundate most roadways, enough to generate jams at every known choke points, enough to eject the poisonous gases up there to make pollution issues more critical, enough to pose health safety concerns, enough to immobilize for hours just about everyone from point to point of destinations, enough for many of us who value Baguio for what the city is to say enough is enough.
Our simple appeal is for them to stay as cool as our weather system. Walk it out, dear guests, leave your cars behind, step out into our world and feel the remaining pristine environment we still have — the flowering plants in full splendor along the way, the green grass of untrodded trails, the majestic thrusts our pine trees make to reach the heavens.
Care with us so that Baguio remains clean and green at all times. Founded, developed and nurtured nearest the Philippine skies, Baguio is all about caring and sharing, between and among our own residents and the visitors. It’s all about the precious environment that Baguio has beyond compare, unequalled in its uniqueness, the very pristine natural setting from which floral resources have grown in full splendor, the very richness that remains unmatched anywhere else.
Baguio is never the beach resorts now threatening to shut down, never the other valley-cradled places offering playtime activities at sky-rocketing costs, never the other summer sites with not much to offer other than the usual Philippine landscape scenes available elsewhere. Baguio is Baguio of summertime thrills, of romantic interludes beyond remembering, of nature cradling people in a benevolent embrace, of a Divine Being watching over his flock in a shared linkage from birth to rebirth.
Baguio is where we hold holy the Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection in sacrosanct piety, based on old-established beliefs transcending the borders of modernization. Our own sins we seek atonement, our own avowals for reformation we strive to realize in genuine contrition and repentance. We don’t just frown on annoying noise that disturbs our faith, we castigate the noise makers as much as we flagellate ourselves for all the sins against others, against society, against the environment that has served as our lifeline from the past into the future.
Holy Week in Baguio is spiritually more about living life the right way, regardless when everything seems wrong, regardless when everyone seems out of page, regardless of the reasons for our being. It is about being there for and with our God, when the life is too much to bear, when enduring it out amid the frustration of the days merely generates unwanted thoughts.
Be Holy this week. And be whole in the fullness of spiritual rebirth that comes from redemption. After all, Baguio is where we can experience life from its fullest measure.