3 things I relearned by revisiting Baguio

Baguio has always been a special place for me.

The first memory I have of it was when I complained how ‘hot’ it was in Baguio back in the early 2000’s. I was wearing a matching plain yellow pullover and denim pants with my older sister, so my parents bought a white shirt for me, thinking that my pullover was sweating me out, but I actually wanted the blue-tinted Hello Kitty sunglasses I saw on the street vendor in Burnham Park to cool me down from the ‘heat.’ (This memory makes me hate my younger self! Haha!) Our family gatherings in Baguio went on as we grow. We would often go up north with a different set of relatives whenever long weekends and special occasions come. One of the most memorable trips though was when my deceased lolo Mario would keep a roof over our heads through his friend’s rustic house.

In 2011, my high school batchmates and I had a retreat in Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House Society of Jesus located atop Lourdes Grotto. It was one of the most awaited events in our high school life because we are going to spend our last retreat in Baguio. I remember how our class would listen to Katy Perry’s Peacock in the bus, how my roommate Selina and I would overthink the ghosts in our head, how my teachers caught my friends illegally paddling in Burnham Park, and how young and in love my then-boyfriend and I were!

In early-December 2016, I got to revisit Baguio with my almost boyfriend after six long years. It has changed a lot, but every corner of it still looked familiar to me. Every familiar place reminded me of a familiar face, especially my lolo Mario who just died nine months before. Baguio became all the more memorable when my almost boyfriend ‘broke up’ with me the day after our trip. Baguio became my answer to the question, “Where do broken hearts go?” I went back there on all weekends of December with a different set of friends to create new memories so I won’t have to roll my eyes whenever I come back to the places we’ve been to. And it worked! It helped me prevail acceptance over hatred. I was able to move on with a happy heart.

This November, my family and I planned to come back to Baguio in time for the ASEAN Summit holiday to celebrate my mother’s birthday. We already booked roundtrip bus tickets for Friday night, but we got tested twice. First was the coming of Tropical Storm Salome, and second was when my younger sister broke the news that she’ll be having a makeup class on Saturday. My sister has never been (and never will be) absent from school, so it took us a lot of frustrations and compromises just to make our trip happen, but none of them worked.

Through it all, only one thing worked: prayer. For two days, I persistently prayed for our trip, for a good weather, for my sister’s discernment, and that the superiors in my sister’s school may realize that this holiday is meant to be enjoyed with the family. As faith would have it, she came home on a Thursday night with the news that their Saturday class got canceled!

Our comeback as a whole family was a long time coming and it was worth the wait! However, the tests did not end at home. Much of our patience were tested in Baguio because this time, we commuted, we didn’t have a private car to carry us around, they relied on me on all of our whereabouts, and my family can’t afford to take long walks. Oh, the perks and the perils of traveling with the whole family!

Because of these, I was able to relearn some things: 1) unlike money, time and energy consumed cannot be replaced; 2) everything takes trust and patience, and 3) God is always with us. Here’s why.

Unlike money, time and energy consumed cannot be replaced. This has become one of my mantras after I graduated from the University. Of course, money is important, but I didn’t want it to become the strength and hindrance of what I choose to do in life.

According to an article on Medium, time, money, and energy are the constants that ‘rule our life.’ “When people are young, they have a lot of time and energy but no money and unfortunately most of them aren’t really wise enough to utilize these constants properly. When they grow into working-class citizens then they have a lot of energy and money but no time. They have work that takes their time. Of course, they are still young, so they have energy too. When they grow old, they have money, if they were smart enough to have saved some for retirement, but have no energy to do all the things they wanted to do when they were young.”

I got reminded of this when my family and I were in Baguio. I prefer walking around the city even if it takes me 15 minutes to reach my destination. I love maximizing its breeze and trees. I absolutely can’t and won’t do that in Manila! However, it is not for everyone. Most roads are steep, which make it hard for impatient and (in denial) aging people—also known as my family—to walk. It takes too much energy from them. This is why I decided to travel and pursue my passions at a young age. I didn’t want to look back on my youth and take a deep breath on the things I could have done while I was young and able. I can earn and save up again, but I can never bring my time and my energy back.

It takes trust and patience. As mentioned above, my family relied on me on all of our whereabouts during our trip. I knew almost every place in Baguio, although choosing where to eat was still a struggle. They kept asking me, “Saan na tayo?” “Malapit na ba?” “Maganda ba doon?” “Masarap ba doon?” As if I will take them to somewhere they don’t deserve.

In those moments, I saw myself in them. I saw how worried I am whenever I don’t understand where the Lord is taking me. I often overthink, “How will I achieve this?” “How will I get there?” “How will I do that?” “Are we there yet?” As if our God is not able. As if our God will not fulfill His promises to me and you. As if He doesn’t know what He is doing. As if He doesn’t have the best plans for me. As if He will take me to somewhere I don’t deserve.

Yes, waiting is not easy, especially when we don’t know what’s ahead of us. The long hike to the summit, the rocky road to employment, the coming of our future spouse. But in the end, the result is always beautiful because it is from God.

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

So what do I do during the wait? Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. From experience, I decide on what areas in my life I should work on and persistently ask for His blessing and provision on my decisions. In the long run, He will establish your steps. He will reveal His answers to you through the Bible, the people around you, and the experiences you encounter. Work according to His will and believe that he will fulfill His promises for you. All it takes is trust and patience.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

God is always with us. It was 10:45 PM when my family and I just got home from the night market on Harrison Road. We thought we can finally rest after the long day until I found out that my phone is missing. I can’t remember how and when I lost it. All I know is that it can’t be lost because I have important files, notes, contacts, and conversations in it. My mother called my number, but it was out of reach on the first attempt. My sister kept calling, while I stayed in the room to compose myself. After a few minutes, someone was blowing the horn. My father and sister went out, only to find out that it was the taxi driver who drove us home from the night market. “Nagulat ako may umiilaw sa baba,” he said as he gave my phone back. “Thank you, angel, ha!” my father shouted in delight. When I went closer to them, I saw the name of the taxi (Angel Brielle Rose Taxi) and the name of the operator (Emmanuel Altaki).

Emmanuel means God is with us.

This incident reminded me that God is always with us. We are only passengers in this world. He assigns our respective driver to guide and protect us along the way, and He alone is the operator of all the rides we encounter. God is good. He is faithful. He is in control. He got it all figured out. He never fails. In all ways, always.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

You see, relearning is one of the reasons why I like revisiting places. No experience is ever the same because places continuously reveal new aspects of the things we thought we already know. They keep on reintroducing themselves in the form of new experiences, new people, new food, new wisdom, and new eyes that no new place could ever give.

This goes the same with our life. God lets us revisit our life every waking day to let us make things right, to be a blessing to others, to maximize the talents and skills He has given us, and to glorify Him alone.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

What place do you keep coming back to? What relearning experiences do you get every time you come back? How does God reveal Himself to you when you’re out there? I’d love to know your stories and testimonies!

World in my (and His) words,

Mikee

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