Saturday, May 1, 2010

Paper Delivered at the Baguio Centennial Conference

Imaging and Imagining the City of Pines:
A Tour of Baguio’s Poetic Landscape

by Ralph Semino Galán

Tourism as a leisure activity in the postmodern age is at best problematic, since issues of authenticity and simulation emerge in the assessment of the actual experience, in media res or post facto. For in the age of digital reproduction in which the distinctions blur between the original work of art and its countless copies, there is also a corresponding erasure of the lines that separate reality from fiction, the genuine from the fabricated encounters in the realm of life. This is especially true in the tourism industry which deploys high technology in the form of promotional brochures with digitally enhanced photographs showcasing, as the case may be, alluring landscapes, seascapes and/or cityscapes as part of its overall advertising campaign.

In tourism studies, authenticity is a central concern as well as a major site of contestation. For even if pioneering scholar Dean MacCannell claims “that a major impulse for travel (is) a search for authenticity, the desire to encounter cultures and people that (are) not contaminated by industrial societies and their synthetic, commercialized mass cultures,” it is equally true “that tourism itself threatened authenticity, as those on the receiving end developed synthetic and commercialized versions of their own cultures specially for tourists.”

But poets, despite their apparent vulnerability as sentient beings who are highly prone to flights of fancy and daydreaming, have a strong resilience against the prevailing ideology of contemporary times that passes off packaged items and itineraries, sights and sounds included, as the real thing. This is inevitably so, because poets are also sensitive and sensible individuals with strong personalities who are quick to detect the sham from the shaman, pyrite from pure gold, cheap magic tricks from the truly magickal. Furthermore, most wordsmiths instinctively seek the sui generis in terms of personal experience so that they can generate in their verses insights which contain at the very least verisimilitude and at their very best veritas.

Authenticity, however, is quite difficult to determine even for poets, since the criteria that distinguish the true from the false are not clearly delineated. Scholars of leisure studies like David Harris recognize that

Authentic and inauthentic experiences alike are informed by
experiences and perceptions provided by a range of texts, quite
often film or television programmes. Standing in front of the
Egyptian pyramids, it becomes impossible to leave behind the
many photographs, films, and television documentaries that have
already provided interpretations of and lent significance to the
sight one is trying to interpret authentically. Otherness has already
been constructed in ways which make it familiar.

The same argument can be used against the possibility of authentically experiencing even for first time visitors the tourist spots and heritage sites of Baguio City, for these places have also been featured in numerous photographs, films and television documentaries. Moreover, multifarious opinions and commentaries about the City of Pines coming from various sources have already been circulating in the popular imagination ever since Baguio’s metamorphosis from a hill station to the country’s summer capital, thus making it impossible for a neophyte traveler to visit this Tourist Mecca without a priori knowledge of the place.

Nevertheless, ideological debates regarding the distinguishing characteristics of authenticity notwithstanding, I aver that poetic utterances are genuine. This is so, since poetry like the other authentic art forms is a product of the imagination, not in the negative sense of the belief in falsehood, but in the more positive sense of the image-forming power of the mind. For as Octavio Paz correctly asserts, “Reality recognizes itself in the imaginings of poets --- and poets recognize their imaginings in reality.” Or as Jeanette Winterson puts it,

I see no conflict between reality and imagination. They are not in
fact separate. Our real lives hold within them our royal lives; the
inspiration to be more than we are, to find new solutions, to live
beyond the moment. Art help us to do this because it fuses together
temporal and perpetual realities.

This paper is a cursory reading of a dozen lyrical poems about Baguio City composed by contemporary Filipino poets writing from English. It deploys the term “poetic landscape” in its double sense: poetic as an adjective to aptly describe Baguio’s picturesque landscape; as well as the fact that images of Baguio’s unique geography are partly constructed by the imagination of the bards whose poems are testaments that beyond tourist brochures with their packaged promises authentic experiences are still possible in the City of Pines. Furthermore, since this paper is concerned with the perception of Baguio as a tourist spot through the perspectives of outsiders, I have limited my selection of relevant poems to those which have been composed by contemporary poets who are not long-term residents of the Summer Capital.

Fascinating Baguio: A City with Many Names

According to The Baguio City Traveler’s Guidebook 2006 , aside from being known as the City of Pines, the Summer Capital of the Philippines has a good number of other monikers. This list of descriptive appellations include the following: City of Flowers, The Highest City in the Philippines, Honeymooners’ Paradise, Educational Center of the North, The Land of Ukay-Ukay, among others, for as the guidebook points out:

If we are to apply the feminine principle to a city, Baguio would
easily romp off with just not one but several beauty titles. For
that’s exactly how this highland getaway enchants --- or re-
enchants --- its many visitors who have bestowed her with many

Baguio’s many names indicate that it has a myriad of images on display to delight the vision seekers, not to mention the countless sensory delicacies it has to offer for the other organs of perception. Rofel G. Brion’s “Baguio, 1995” presents some of these scenes, like “The market swell(ing) with strawberries,” “mouths spew(ing) fog,” the sun rising on Burnham Park, and “old women trekking up to church” along Session Road. But not all of the purported places of interest are necessarily flattering, like “the caves full of mud/And rocks instead of crystals.//”

Nevertheless, the charms of the City of Parks remain inexhaustible to regular visitors despite repeated encounters and the influx year in and year out of more and more tourists. This is the exact sentiment of the persona in Brion’s poem:

Thirty years and dozens of trips later
I still crave an extra night
Watching wood spark in the fireplace
And one more morning of Benguet coffee
I must drink very quickly
Before it gets much too cold.

The Upward Journey

From the National Capital Region (NCR), the five to seven hour sojourn to the City of Pines usually begins with a bus ride from one of the many terminals that dot Metro Manila. Unless they have the privilege of being driven the entire 250 kilometers, the best way for first time travelers to enjoy the upward journey to the City in the Clouds is by taking the midmorning bus at 9 A.M. or thereabouts. By doing so, they are bound to see the breathtaking panorama of mist-covered mountains and pine-clad ravines as the bus zigzags along the snake-like road at the tail-end of the voyage, earning Baguio the title the City of Many Scenic Approaches.
Lourd Ernest de Veyra executes the experience in “Ascending Baguio by Bus” not only in terms of the visual, but also in terms of the auditory. De Veyra who is both a poet and a musician chooses mostly acoustic details to recreate the sensation of traveling to the Summer Capital on a rainy night: “Slamdance of rain rioting against the pane/,” “A cold that hums like the sinister music outside/,” and “Percussive nightmares raging on the roof/ And the mind.//”

At the end of the poem, he makes a metaphorical and sensory leap by comparing the “Headlights dissolv(ing) in the distance” to “an imagined poem/ Word/ By/ Word,/ Lost to memory.//” De Veyra’s rendition of the upward journey to Baguio is impressionistic and personal, a refreshing change from the usual postcard-perfect but generic portrayal found in other travel accounts.

Lovers’ Lair

As the Honeymoon Capital of the Philippines, Baguio is the ideal trysting place for all sorts of romantic couples, whether straight or gay, married or otherwise, since its semi-temperate climate encourages intimacy and lovemaking. To provide temporary shelter for sweethearts celebrating their togetherness, the City of Pines has six exclusive mountain resorts like The Manor inside Camp John Hay and the Baguio Country Club, 38 deluxe and standard hotels, and 75 other lodging, pension and retreat houses for every type of budget.

Angelo V. Suarez’s “baguio suite” is a cycle of erotic poems bordering on the sexually graphic about the lovemaking of an adolescent heterosexual couple. The four verses articulate the activities of the male speaking voice and his female beloved as they spend several days in an inn located along Lower Legarda Street. In this lyric sequence, Suarez deploys the word “suite” twofold: as a set of rooms (in reality, the same boudoir that simply gets transformed in the persona’s imagination and memory); and as a series of musical movements in an immoderate symphony of young romantic love and lust, for the poems are certainly marked with a strong sense of rhythm as a result of the preponderance of alliteration and other rhetorical devices.

In the first movement, the swain celebrates the newfound freedom they are enjoying as sexual partners when he declares after a particularly heavy staccato of amorous artillery that,

…on this bed we finally

further a shared notion of bliss, a kind of peace,
a piece of heaven we used only to aspire for.
while inside this room surrounded by rumors,
we smile to ourselves, then coo, then kiss.

The persona observes in the next movement that the room does not really need an air-conditioner, for indeed Baguio is also known as the Ener-Con City of the Philippines because of its generally chilly weather. But the body heat they generate is sometimes too much for even the pine-scented breeze to cool down (“blessed be this continuity/ of skin”… “no need at all for air-con here,/ which is not to imply the cool is complete://”).

In the third movement, the beloved damsel knocks on the bathroom door as the persona is taking a shower oblivious of anyone but himself, since bathing is perhaps one of the most private rituals a man usually keeps to himself. But the desire for more intimacy is too much to bear for his smoldering loins, so he opens the door, grabs her towards him and wishes that in the future similar journeys will be taken by the two of them, so that they can forever “kiss/ away doubts, on-off droughts, & bouts/ that dragged (them) down to depths (they) wish/ (they) hadn’t been to before./”

The final movement finds the young couple saying their “ample goodbyes/ to bed and bath” as they brace themselves for the homeward journey. While having breakfast near a bus station, they “break the sorrow of leaving, only to follow// the path of remembering.” So they recall the places they have seen, the people they have met albeit with minimal interaction or exchange of words, for they are already a world unto themselves like all honeymooning lovers.

But what they surmise will be missed the most is the room itself and “the common/ bed, synthesis of skin & easy conversation ---/ (their) own shared space of infinity, intimacy.//” Suarez’s choice of commemorative space, an ordinary room in an unnamed inn, is a bit offbeat for a love affair of such passion and intensity. However, the nondescript setting of “baguio suite” makes its emotional narrative so unlike the run of the mill great romances with their manicured lawns and picturesque manors.

Earthquake Zone

But Baguio also has a bleaker, more sinister image in the Philippine literary imaginary, since it is the most heavily damaged city during the major earthquake that hit Luzon on July 16, 1990. In the words of Dolores Stephens Feria, the earthshaking experience is cataclysmic, nightmarish, almost apocalyptic:

For that first unspeakable impact of an intensity 8 tremor is
never purely physical --- have no illusions about that.
Those 45 seconds generate an emotional quality with a
bizarre inner dimension, making it conceivable for one to
age a couple of decades in a few minutes. That a near-
mystical paradox of outright transmutation is built into the
experience must also be admitted. For the pious and
orthodox it has to be an unsolicited God speak event, even
if punctuated with wailing and hysteria. For others, a
moment of blinding recall into Doomsday itself, both past
and future: for one cannot imagine what has never been
experienced at some time of unconscious memory. This
unavoidable fact is to be reflected on at length during
those four inky, unrelieved nights of darkness, during
starless hours when the bonfires of the terrified had
burned themselves out.

Alfred Y. Yuson’s “Seven Haiku on the Heave-Ho” textualizes in spare language the powerful seismic activity that shook Baguio to its very roots. Each of the seven haiku in the series is like an imagistic snapshot of a particular moment of the temblor, from the initial impact (“Heaves once, twice, the land./ Seethes, pulses, seeps cries of fright./ A mountain surprise.//”) to the effects of the aftershocks (“Lives quick to the fire./ Looms aftershock prayer./ Sleep of roads, floors, temples.//”).

The choice of the Japanese haiku as the lyrical form used to articulate the harrowing tragedy appears to be inappropriate, for how can seventeen syllables albeit multiplied seven times capture the magnitude of the catastrophe. Furthermore, the flippant-sounding title of the sequence seems to enhance the light, slightly irreverent treatment of the subject matter, which might be offensive to sensitive survivor-residents of the great Baguio earthquake. However, one must remember that the haiku has always been employed to deal with disastrous events in a few deft but transcendent strokes.

As an exemplar, nothing can compare to Masahide’s most famous pithy masterpiece:

My storehouse having been burned down,
nothing obstructs the view
of the brightest moon.

Read in this light, Yuson’s work is worthwhile, for indeed despite death and destruction “The mountain survives,” and so does the City of Pines.

Burnt Out Hearts

On the other hand, in “Baguio: The Demise” Jose Wendell P. Capili utilizes the aftermath of another disaster, the gutted down remains of the Pines Hotel that burned down in 1984, as one of the objective correlatives (“the turn and flow of stones/ we perceived from childhood/ as walls, doors and ceilings/” to express the emotional vacuity the personae in his elegiac poem are experiencing years after their major romantic breakup. A very private poet when it comes to his own emotions, Capili is able to obfuscate the obvious intensity of the emotions that are being stirred by the reunion, for he makes the ex-lovers focus on the physical landscape, rather than the inner turmoil they are feeling in each other’s formerly familiar presence: “the rustle of leaves/ behaving like music,” “the landscape of cones/ falling on mountain sleeves,” “pure hemp and other bell-shaped/ things awakening from/ a sudden gush of the wind.”

In the second half of the poem, through cryptic clues and elusive allusions, a demi-disclosure is made: to avoid inflicting pain on each other, both parties decide to build “shelters away from home/ cleansing bloodlines with/ the safe-keeping of knives.” Nevertheless, despite denying their genuine sentiments for each other, the truth emerges when the personae declare that “homecomings (fill) up the swell in (their) eyes.” The enigmatic ending (“We uncover Baguio’s reef of edges/ taking a plunge like mystified divers.//”) is both ominous and ambivalent: Are they taking a collective leap of faith? Or are they committing conjugal suicide? Capili’s open-ended poem is symptomatic of postmodern relationships which are characterized by uncertainty, indecision and the failure to take risks for the sake of love.

Session Road

Session Road is the main thoroughfare of Baguio City’s commercial district. It is also the oldest avenue of the Shopping Capital of the North as well as a historical site, for the Second Philippine Commission of the American Insular Government has held its sessions in a building proximate to where Baden Powell Inn is now located, hence the street’s name. As a tourist spot the lower part of Session Road, between Magsaysay Avenue and Governor Pack Road, serves as “the undeclared catwalk of Baguio, where people-watching at its best could be done while sipping coffee in one of the many cafés lining up the road.”

In Nerisa del Carmen Guevara’s “Session Road,” strolling on the sidewalks of Baguio’s most frenetic street becomes an analogue for the art of poetry. The personae in the poem who are all poets seem to exist in an imaginative if not imaginary world of their own, apart from the teeming multitude who saunter to and fro even at nighttime the length of Session Road. This group of wordsmiths “sigh metaphors/ Like white puffs of breath” as they plod along the busy street, unmindful of the other pedestrians whose prosaic pace are not in rhythm with their measured steps.

As to be expected the versifiers “appreciate/ The closeness of the stars,” since these heavenly bodies scintillating in the evening sky are desirable but distant, like unrequited love. The personae however are not averse to laughter, for true poets must embrace both the sorrows and the joys of life, the agony and the ecstasy. In the final analysis, the linguistic entity known as poetry, like the shadows the bards are casting on the pavement “Lengthened by the lamplights,” is nothing more than the product of the interplay between light and dark, pleasure and pain.

City of Parks

Aside from being a Garden City, Baguio is also known as the City of Parks. Besides Burnham Park and the Baguio Botanical Garden inside Forbes Park, there are other areas of sprawling greenery spread around the city limits that include Mines View Park, Wright Park, Sunshine Park, Club John Hay and Baguio Country Club, among others. This proliferation of public parks and private clubs have helped Baguio acquire the Department of Tourism’s Hall of Fame Award as the Cleanest and Greenest City in the Philippines, after successively holding the title in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

My own composition titled “Baguio, the Return” has for its objective situation the famous and now infamous Burnham Park. Located in the most precious piece of Baguio property, “the mother of all parks” has been designed and named after Daniel H. Burnham, a leading American architect and urban planner of his time. Originally conceived as an oasis in the heart of a bustling city, Burnham Park with its 12 clusters has since become a highly commercialized amusement center for tourists and indigenes alike. Its facilities include a man-made lake with swan-shaped rowboats for hire, a children’s playground, a cycling area, a roller skating rink, an athletic bowl, a grandstand, a picnic grove, themed gardens (Rose Garden and Igorot Garden), an orchidarium, as well as inexpensive eateries along the park’s periphery.

But Burnham Park also has a darker side. Due to Baguio’s rapid urbanization which is concomitant to its transformation from a hill station to the summer capital, Burnham Park in the evenings has become a red light district of sorts, especially for the homosexual tourist. This really comes as no surprise, since where there is capital in the cold cash sense of the word, the sex trade inevitably flourishes.

The persona in my poem however resists the easy lay that can be provided by the ever willing callboys who prowl the area like wolves. Instead he waxes romantic in his perpetual search for the metaphorical you, the significant other whose “absence/ (he) seek(s)/ among the pines.” Although his quest remains unfulfilled at the end of the poem among “the mist,/ like dragon’s breath/ that shrouds/ Baguio with myths//,” his yearning for true love in such an unlikely place subverts the very notion that the gay tourist only visits Burnham Park at night for purely sexual reasons.

A Season of Blooming

Every February, Baguio City commemorates the Panagbenga Festival, a month-long celebration whose highlight is the annual parade of blossom-bedecked floats and the street dancing that accompanies it. Panagbenga or “a season of blooming” concludes with the closing of Session Road to vehicular traffic and the transformation of its length into a night market replete with commercial stalls and al fresco cafés and restaurants. The event attracts tens of thousands of tourists who are eager to participate in the revelry and merriment the City of Flowers has to offer.

But historically speaking, the Panagbenga Festival is a fairly recent seasonal attraction invented by the local tourism industry in 1995 to help combat the devastating effects of the major earthquake that hit Luzon in 1990. Formerly known as the Baguio Flower Festival, the name has been changed in 1996 to Panagbenga upon the suggestion of artist-curator Ike Picpican, adding an indigenous flavor to the festivity.

Far from the madding crowd, Ophelia A. Dimalanta memorializes a “lone/ Gardenia” blooming near the Dominican House in Baguio City. In her poem “Flowers are not for Picking, are they?” the persona asks the reader to imagine the objective situation as if it were a painting by the Dutch master Jan Vermeer who is famous for his skillful handling of scenes from everyday domestic life as seen in natural light:

Imagine a Vermeer and swear
This is exactly how the eye catches the scene,
Illumined in its hush
By Baguio’s mist-borne light.

The persona is perfectly aware that despite their refreshing scent, velvety texture and natural beauty flowers are not meant for picking, since as she herself observes “for picked, they easily/ Wilt in mortal hands, their gloried peaks/ Nipped all too soon, arrested dreams./” But despite her erudition she gives in to the temptation by stealing a single blossom and ends up regretting the transgression, since gardenias close their petals and begin to shrivel the moment they are plucked. As a form of redress, the persona immortalizes the experience and the lessons learned:

... Confine it, now,
Its blurring scent with words, such as
Fashioned into poetry of the palest
Frostiest shades, to holograph and hang
For fame, postscripted in afterthought,
Thus: read, but pluck and plunder not
To your hand’s content. For there, too,
Are private rituals one may touch
From a proper distance. And no closer.

City in the Sky

Because of its high altitude, Baguio is also an idyllic place, fit for stargazing as well as to contemplate the immensity of the universe. For visiting urbanites, situated at some 1,500 meters above sea level, the Highest City in the Philippines represents release from the mundane cares of the material world. Baguio as Cloud-Kissed City, City in the Clouds, Skyland, is a postmodern Shangri-La, an earthly paradise that provides a temporary haven if not heaven for tourists who badly need a break from the vicissitudes of everyday life.

“City-bred and dazed,” the personae in J. Neil C. Garcia’s “Baguio. By Starlight” suspend their collective disbelief as they lay on the ground and stare at the night sky filled with “stars that shoot and fizz.” They are overwhelmed by the dimensions of the cosmos as the elements conspire to make them feel diminutive (“we withdraw into the downy folds of our bodies/ small and genuflected among the lower crags/ of our earth.”) Nevertheless, they are surrounded by “profound love” the rooster protecting his brood from the cold; lovers tossing and turning in bed like arachnids spinning the gossamer of their webs; Polaris moving toward “climax/ in a sensuous patch of sky.” Despite their jaded selves, the personae in the end become hopeful as the sense of wonder comes back to them, even if eventually it “fireballs, falls short and disappears/ in the star-filled eyes of the heart’s/ own gracious nights.//”

Wagwag Country

Originally intended as relief goods for underprivileged Filipinos, the used clothes donated by foreign countries and known nationally as ukay-ukay (wagwag in the local tongue) have become a main source of income for enterprising Baguio businessmen. It is beyond the capacity of this fledging researcher to determine the processes involved behind the commercialization of an originally noble and humanitarian initiative, since the scope of this paper does not include in its provenance the socio-economic aspects of the used clothes industry. Nevertheless, the ukay-ukay, whether you like it or not, has become a staple product of Philippine alternative fashion, for the apparels that are available in its rickety racks and dusty bins are one of a kind, ranging from vintage dresses to the most recent rip-offs.

Ronald Baytan’s “Ukay-ukay” celebrates the countless clothes in a variety of fabrics (“So muck silk and suede,/ Cotton and rayon,/ Polyester and lycra./”) which are available for purchase to the stylishly adventurous. So the you-persona in his poem rummages through box after box of garments, imagining himself wearing “suits of brown, black/ And navy blue, in shirts/ And shoes dressing/ Up the market street,” well aware however that each donated piece of clothing from abroad has a story to tell, whether its former owner is still alive or not. But what pricks his conscience in the end is not the thought of putting himself in a dead man’s pair of shoes; rather it is the thought that by buying an outfit which has been given for free, he is depriving his “little brown/ Brothers and sisters” of wearable clothes, for his acquisition however little it may seem to be in the scheme of things is nonetheless helping to perpetuate a trade practice that should have never existed in the first place.

Writers’ Haven

Baguio’s rich cultural heritage which combines the tribal indigenous, the foreign colonial and the modern postmodern has fueled the imagination of the local populace. As a result, the City of Pines has become a center of creativity for the different art forms, including literature, since it is the home to both established and aspiring writers, whether indigenous or migrant. The roster of wordsmiths that have graced this writers’ haven with their permanent or provisional literary presences reads like a who’s who in contemporary Philippine literature, even if we only include those poets who write exclusively or mostly in English: Cirilo F. Bautista, Edgardo B. Maranan, Luisa Aguilar Igloria, Francis C. Macansantos, Elizabeth Lolarga, Frank Cimatu, Pia Arboleda, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Jennifer Patricia A. Carino, and of course, my dear friend, the late Maningning Miclat.

As host city to University of the Philippines National Writers’ Workshop since 1993, Baguio has been further textualized by many young but talented poets. Isabelita Orlina Reyes’s “Workshop City” captures the emotional state of a writing fellow who observes that her “time in this city is unreal,” for “The wind moves at a rhythm different/ from (her) steps.” The persona then catalogs the sights which her valley-raised urbanized self finds peculiar or amusing:

…The thin air with its thick scent
of pine is an ever-present blanket,
and come dusk the shadows begin to melt
into the blackness. Fog fingers take hold
of trees, and I lose myself in forests
as much a part of the city as streets,
neon lights, people and mild gusts of smog.

But despite her awareness of the evanescence of the visit, the persona also knows that upon departure she will “go home bearing pretty gifts,” (a bagful both of sights and insights perhaps?) which is a feeling shared by most itinerant poets who have experienced firsthand the inexhaustible charms of Baguio.

Returning to the Lowland

For tourists from the Metropolis, a vacation to the City of Pines always ends with the homeward journey, a return to the lowland from whence they have come. Merlie M. Alunan’s “Baguio, the Last Day” captures the “panic of endings” experienced by the personae as they gather souvenirs hyperbolically:

…we broke off twigs,
Boughs, blossoms, hacked earth for sprouts,
Rootstocks and bulbs, forced seeds
From their green pods --- to bring home,
To bring home, we said.

Since reminiscing is not sufficient to satisfy their craving for things Baguio, they snatch everything within sight. But the personae are cognizant of the fact that some things are impossible to hold on to, like “The rush of wind among the pines,/ A hillside blaze of marigolds,/ Perfume of willow flowers/.” So they imbibe deeply the “sweet wine of air” and wind up tasting a trace of salt, instantly reminding them of their seaside origins. As the personae travel downwards along Marcos Highway, things begin to fall apart: the flowers droop, the fresh produce shrinks, and finally even their memories fade. In the end, the only thing they can carry with them as a keepsake is this realization:

All we could bring on the long trek home
The old knowledge --- we cut the same trail
Through which to return.

Some Concluding Thoughts

Visiting Filipino poets writing from English by virtue of their visionary function as opposed to the purely documentary have authentically articulated through their poems their personal encounters with the City of Pines. By providing prospective readers alternative images and more imaginative experiences, their verses subvert traditional representations of Baguio and the generic itineraries that are thus engendered and encouraged in tourist brochures and other promotional materials. For notwithstanding its many monikers and the concomitant insidious expectations each label brings into the big picture, the City of Pines undergoes what the Russian Formalists call ostranenie or defamiliarization in the deft hands of these wordsmiths, who bring back to the collective consciousness the missing freshness in the discernment of reality which has been deadened by habitual modes of perception. Baguio’s landscape, therefore, despite urban decay and overpopulation, will always remain poetic as long as there are bards who will sing her praises after apprehending from another angle of vision the sights and sounds this hill station turned summer capital has to offer that ordinary tourists tend to ignore.


See the entry on “Authenticity” in David Harris, Key Concepts in Leisure Studies, SAGE Publications Ltd., London, 2005, p. 25.
Op cit., p. 30.
Ocatavio Paz, “A literature of foundations” (Lysander Kemp, trans.), in Triquarterly Anthology of Latin American Literature, Jose Donoso and William Henken (eds.), New York, Dutton, 1969, p. 8.
Jeanette Winterson, “Imagination and Reality” in Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, New York, Vintage International, 1995, pp. 142-143.
The Baguio City Travelers’ Guidebook 2006, Baguio City, Heritage Promotions, 2006, p. unnumbered.
Rofel G. Brion, Story, Quezon City, University of the Philippines Press, 1997, pp. 74-75.
Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Subterranean Thought Parade, Pasig City, Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1997, p. 10.
Angelo V. Suarez, else it was purely girls, Manila, UST Publishing House, 2005, pp. 22-25.
Ani, Volume V, Number 1, (Cordillera Issue), Manila, Coordinating Center for Literature, Cultural Center of the Philippines, January-April 1991, p. 15.
Alfred A. Yuson, Trading in Mermaids, Pasig City, Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1993, pp. 14-15.
Jose Wendell P. Capili, “Baguio: The Demise” in Philippines Free Press, 22 September 1999, p. 36.
The Baguio City Travelers’ Guidebook 2006, Baguio City, Heritage Promotions, 2006, p. 37.
Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, Reaching Destination: Poems and the Search for Home, Manila, UST Publishing House, p. 92.
Ralph Semino Galán, The Southern Cross and Other Poems, Manila, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, UBOD New Authors Series, 2005, p. 44.
Ophelia A. Dimalanta, The Time Factor and Other Poems, Manila, Interpress Publishing House, 1983, pp.1-2.
First appeared in J. Neil C. Garcia’s Our Lady of the Carnival, Quezon City, University of the Philippines Press, 1996, pp. 115-116, revised version provided by the author.
Unpublished manuscript provided by the author.
Isabelita Orlina Reyes, Stories from the City, Quezon City, University of the Philippines Press, 1998, p. 42.
Merlie M. Alunan, Selected Poems, Quezon City, University of the Philippines Press, 2004, p. 63.

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