I arrived in Baguio at 6 this evening after a gruelling four and a half-hour bus trip from Dau in Pampanga. I took a cab from the bus terminal where I got off and went to Burnham Park where I shall take a Ohayami bus that will bring me to my destination later tonight.
I originally planned to wait for tomorrow and take the first bus to Banaue (not anymore going to Sagada) but I was told that they only have two schedules of trip: 8am and 9pm. The travel from Baguio to Banaue is a butt-soring 7 hours. I’ll be there at around 4am later.
Since I am feeling romantic this time, albeit going on a solitary trip, I thought that seeing the sunrise tomorrow with the magnificent rice terraces on the foreground is worth the sacrifice I have to endure later for taking a night trip. A young-looking, betel-chewing man in a shabby Versace leather jacket issued me this ticket that costs 360 pesos.
I thought that the Rice Terraces are a better backdrop to my introspection, the main reason why I even contemplated on having this escape in the first place. The terraces are, for me, more tactile than the abstract image of Sagada on my mind.
I remember the chart my second-grade teacher pasted on our classroom wall showing the different wonders of the world. The Banaue Rice Terraces left the most lasting impression on my young mind. It was the only ‘wonder’ that is from the Philippines and it was, for me then, and tomorrow at sunrise, the most beautiful of the Eight Wonders and of the things I have yet seen.
After buying my ticket, I strolled around Burnham Park. This city landmark was literally littered with tourists who take pictures of themselves and their friends at every conceivable opportunity. Riding one of those grotesque swan boats, although a staple in the list of must-dos of anyone who has been to this city, was not an option for me–one, because collectively they look like they were taken fresh from a Tagalog horror film gone awry; two, because I do not want to be splashed with that murky stagnant water reeking with all virulent pathogens known to Science; and three, because I am a lonesome tourist away from his beloved. Being on one of them, alone paddling, is rubbing salt on my still bleeding wound.
Well, sipping free coffee from a paper cup while standing beside a makeshift stall selling roasted dried squid was a good enough image of a city whose feel I barely remember since my last visit when I was 14 years old.
For now, I have to brave the slight drizzle outside this internet cafe and find my place in that cramped, ricketty pink bus.
Banaue, here I come!