Baguio, circa 1982 and today

Baguio landmark, the lion's bust
The lion’s bust c.2016. It seemed better looking back then.

 

MY FIRST trip to the summer capital was during my college days. It was the semestral break of my second year in Mapua Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture. If my parents did take me to Baguio in my younger years, my memory bank retained no data of it. So, let me consider the October 19, 1982 trip as my first.

 

Schoolmates on the way to Baguio in 1982
Midnight run. MIT-AR students on sem break on board the Pantranco bus to Baguio c.1982

 

The bus fare to Baguio on a non-air conditioned bus then was only P45 one way, and with an assigned seat number at that. It was orderly back then. I guess it’s first come, first served on a non-aircon bus these days.It was around midnight when my classmates gathered at Pantranco, the bus line company at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. It was not too far from where I stayed, in Project 7.

 

What the Pantanco bus ticket looked like in the early 80s
Vintage Pantanco bus ticket. Just like an airline ticket in the past

 

Pantranco bus line serviced the Manila to Baguio route in 1982
A bus ride to Baguio. The Pantraco ticket stubs c. 1982

 

It was a five-hour drive to the Cordilleras. The bus ride with a bunch of excited college adolescents on an unescorted road trip was energy-filled, to say the least. Like kids on a sugar high. What else can you expect?

We stayed in an old house along Session Road, which seemed haunted (because I suddenly had an eruption of acne immediately after the trip. “Nabuyagan,” as it’s called), but we survived for a couple of nights—that and the ice-cold water to bathe with. Yes, there was no water heater.

 

Camp John Hay class outing photo in 1982
Camp John Hay c.1982

 

Baguio then was so refreshingly green and spacious, and not as busy as it is today. The air had no scent of smoke emission, the vegetation on the hills were verdant, Hyatt Terraces was the chicest hotel and the Gold Mine discotheque was the place to be seen.

 

Coaster of Gold Mine Disco at Hyatt Baguio
Memories of the dancing past. Gold Mine in Hyatt Baguio.

 

If I remember it correctly, we hired a jeepney to take us around the city to see the sights—Camp John Hay, The Mansion, Mines View Park, Burnham Park, etc.

 

1982 photo of Mines View Park
Mines View Park c.1982

 

2016 shot of Mines View Park
Mines View Park c.2016

 

Baguio attraction Mine's View Park
Mines View Park c.2016. Was this gazebo here before

 

Baguio City's Mines View Park entrance sign
What did the sign look like before? I can’t recall.

 

Where we ate is a blur. Except for an old photo of classmates drinking beer in a hut, I have no idea where we had our meals.

 

Burnham Park is a popular Baguio attraction.
Burnham Park c.1982

 

Each time I get to visit Baguio, it’s always the fond memories of my first trip that flashed in my mind. And the recollection always makes me smile. Yes, those were the days.

 

Baguio;s The Mansion circa 1982
Drive through jeepney tour. The Mansion’s gate c.1982

 

Baguio's The Mansion today
The Mansion, Baguio City c.2016

 

The Mansion, Baguio City 2016
Finally I get to enter the The Mansion’s grounds

 

Just like in the recent trip I made to Baguio with friends. Although it was clearly identified as a food trip, I am glad there was one foreign guest who was seeing the place for the first time.

 

Baguio attraction- the Cathedral
The Baguio Cathedral c.2016

 

Recent photo of the Baguio Cathedral's altar
The altar of the Baguio Cathedral c.2016

 

Baguio Cathedral interior at sunset
Sunset. Inside the Baguio Cathedral c.2016

 

I didn’t mind visiting the attractions again, but I can’t help compare how it was back then.

Of course, the place adapted to progress, it’s certainly getting busier by the season, especially with the addition of newer establishments like the BenCab Museum and specialty restaurants. Baguio is busier and certainly got exciting as a destination.

 

Another Baguio landmark, the PMA campus
The Fort Gen. Gregorio del Pilar aka The Philippine Military Academy c. 2016

 

Sculpture at BenCab Museum in Baguio
One of my favorite artwork at the Bencab Museum

 

Vegetable market in Baguio City
Always the last stop before heading home

 

Perhaps what connects me of the old Baguio is Camp John Hay. The place had its share of development but on a very controlled level. I love how it has preserved the vibe of the past. It’s tranquility in the midst of the pine tree forest, a world apart away from the bustle of the nearby city center.

*****

 

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