Last Friday I went to Baguio by myself, which started with me taking the wrong bus, and ended with me buying six jars of choco flakes.
I was invited (sort of last-minute) by the Cordillera School of Digital Arts to speak at the 1st Baguio Animation Symposium, held at the University of the Cordilleras. I was to take the 12:15 am Victory Liner deluxe bus from Cubao. Deluxe meant twice the fare (reimbursed), only 4.30 hours of travel time, spacious air-conditioned seating, and a bathroom (!).
Those who know me well know that I cannot commute to save my life, unless it’s in an area I grew up in, and Baguio was definitely not one of those. So it was only when the bus was on the road that the conductor looked over my ticket and said I was NOT on the deluxe bus, but rather on the ordinary bus, which meant 6 hours of travel time, two stops along the way, and no bathroom.
(How was I to know? It seemed like a nice bus…)
Not the type to sleep during transit as well, I was well awake at 3am when I saw the driver (who was right in front of me) start slapping himself silly to stay awake. Dear Lord, I thought, I should not be awake to see this, and eventually fell asleep.
I arrived in Baguio just before 6am and missed my provided ride to the place of stay, so I took a cab (more commuting!).
CSDA arranged for us speakers to stay at PNKY Bed and Breakfast on Leonard Wood Road, and I have to say it is gorgeous there. Everything was well-decorated (it should be, as PNKY is also a home store in Glorietta 4), and more importantly, everything was cozy. The food was excellent (with vegetarian options, like the Spinach Fritata), and there was free WiFi (though I tried to stay off the Net, so I could enjoy Baguio properly).
The Baguio Animation Symposium itself was a roaring success – a jampacked theater, 300 or so students from all over the region, and enthusiastic response to all our talks. My talk was cut down from 45 min to 30 min so I sped through it like Speedy Gonzales on speed, and everyone laughed at my jokes. The students asked very good questions, and many came up to me afterwards (including a parent!). The zest from Baguio was something I hadn’t seen in any other talk; it was a refreshing change.
The rest of our stay in Baguio was pampering all the way – free food at nice places like Iggy’s, and shoooopping. I bought a ridiculous amount of food for my 24 hungry developers (+5 admin). I kept chanting, “Choco flakes! Choco flakes! Choco flakes!” until my kind hosts finally relented and let me buy my choco flakes. (I still have some left over, which mom says I shoudl stop eating as they’re giving me pimples. Does anyone want choco flakes?)
Baguio, I found, is a beautiful city. Sure, it’s congested and polluted in some parts and it’s not all green like how it used to be. But in the nice quiet parts, like PNKY, I found myself itching to write. And in the busy city parts, I thought of places where I can set my next NaNoWriMo novel. Maybe I can go up there to write it.
To my kind hosts Raul and Lel, friends Rene, Cita, and Avic, and speakers Ms. Grace, Sir Benjie, and Sir AJ (who btw was my 3D animation teacher in college, and is the reason why I am in gaming in the first place) – much thanks!