Saturday, October 28, 2006

Circa 1966

Stories are like wine. They get sweeter as they age.

Yesterday, in an effort to help recall when an old photograph was taken, a dear friend, Sarah, brought out her old journal and copied an entry from there, word for word!

It certainly took me on a sentimental journey, and brought back other memories of that time when I was 20 years old (boy, that’s a long, long time ago). I tried to recall that time, but there were lots of details that I could not remember. Thanks to Sarah and her journal, those pieces from the memory puzzle are not missing anymore.

Sarah came to the University of the Philippines in 1966 on a junior-year abroad program from Smith College. There were other girls on that program – Karlin Smaby, Gail Blattenberger, Barbara Brown and Eileen Robbins. Another American girl who traveled with us, but not from Smith, was Gerrie Teague.

The boys mentioned in her story – Wally, Rey and Tito – were members of the Beta Sigma fraternity from the university, and were friends with the Smith girls, and followed them around wherever they went – including far off Baguio.

Wally is now in New York. I don’t know where Rey and Tito are.

Here’s what she wrote:

I am not sure who else would be interested in this. Please forward as
you see fit. This is from my journal .


The bus ride to Baguio was magnificent, not that the bus itself was a
gem and I am sure I bounced off 10 lbs on the bad roads but the view
was breath taking. We just never stopped going up and up. Just when I
thought we'd reached the top of the world, we'd turn another corner
and up we'd go.You could see for miles over the mountains. Beautiful!
It's about a 2 hr. ride from Dagupan to Baguio so we got there about
2:00. Pine trees. Sweater weather. Baguio is like another country.
Many Americans go there and feel at home. The community and
surrounding area seemed very prosperous. The town itself was good
sized. The main street is continuous hill. We walked a lot in Baguio
and every step seemed to be up hill (never did go down that I noticed)
We checked in at the Patria, a very nice girls dorm and got settled
in the Pink Room. In the middle of town is the market place- booth
after booth of wood carvings and other native crafts plus some
vegetables and clothing. In the middle also is a very nice park with
a small pond. Even sail boats to rent.

On our way back to Patria we met Karlin and Harvey (note. prior to
this I think the we refered to Gail, Eileen and myself who had all
just come from Dagupan) These two had been here awhile and so showed
us around some more.

Later we went to the John Hay Air Force Base Half Way House for
dinner. I wasn't too happy with the choice. So many Americans. So
strange to look at the menu and see $$ prices. I didn't know were I was.
We all agreed to meet in the morning at the bus station for Bontoc.
Man, I thought the ride to Baguio was something---Nope. I wouldn't
trade this 6 hr trip in an open bus on a one lane road clinging to
the mountain and winding up and up for anything!!! A couple of times
I looked out over the edge, when I dared and seemingly there was
nothing but air below us. I started to count landslide evidence but
soon gave up. There were so many. You could see for miles over the
mountains and often over the clouds. What a gorgeous country!! Pines
and banana trees side by side.

The ride did get a little uncomfortable after awhile and cold too. I
almost froze. At one point we could see our breath when we talked.
Considering this it was amazing to pass men on the road wearing G-
strings!! usually with suit coats.

We got to Bontoc and found the Bontoc Hotel where we got a couple of
good rooms for just 2 pesos/person/night. We went out to get
something to eat at the Pines Kitchenette where we talked to the
Igrot maid, Ema and found out the bus times for Banaue. Then luckily
we met a man named Joe and his buddies, all salesmen for a medical
supply house. They were going to Banaue the next morning.
We slept like logs that night in the cool air--- with 3 blankets.
We started early the next morning in 2 vws for 2 hr trip to Banaue.
The road is one lane so there are small gatehouses that check
traffic and let only cars and buses from 1 direction go ahead.
The fellows left us off in Banaue and they went on to even smaller
villages with supplies. I just loved our day in Banaue. How can I
express all that I saw and felt there? First we went to the mission
textile mill and watched the girls weaving by hand loom beautiful
materials. Its fascinating to watch some of the very young work so
fast with their hands and feet. We went upstairs to a small show room
and shop. We talked with the sister from Belgium while we bought a
few things. That day we walked all through the town, stopping here and
there, watching people and being watched, talking with children,
having coffee with the Belgium priests, picking wild flowers and, of
course looking at the views of the gorgeous rice terraces.

At one point we had a little bit closer contact with the terraces
Gail, Harvey and I decided we would like to walk up to one of the
surrounding Ifugao villages. We asked one of the girls from the mill
to go with us. The village was sort of tucked away on a hill. The
path was the division between the rice paddies. It was very muddy and
very slippery. The climb was really something and we had to laugh at

The village was almost deserted because all the people except the
children and an old man were working somewhere. Thus we meandered
around taking pictures. I would not have felt right about doing this
except Maria was with us and used to live in that village
(Then I have some drawings and explanation about village life. Going
down from the village was much harder than going up. It had started
to rain and Maria took a path she thought would be ok but it
wasn't Then--splash--- Harvey had fallen 5" into the next level of
terracing and was sitting waist high in the mud. Unhurt thank
goodness, except for her pride, I think. As if that wasn't enough by
the time we got her out. Gail had gone on ahead and when we caught up
with her was sitting in the mud in which she had slid down the last
hill. Well, 2 out of 3 in the mud must have looked a sight and school
had just let out. Every kid in Banaue stood and laughed. Everyone
sure knew we had been there. We all enjoyed it!!!

Got back to Bontoc riding with Joe. Gail and Eileen went on to
Sagada Caves with the other guys.

We went back to the Patria. Then to the PAL office where we agreed to
meet Wally and Ray and Tito. It was great to see them again and to
hash over all our adventures. They had a place for us to stay with
friends of theirs in a beautiful home complete with fireplaces. After
a good Chinese dinner, some drinks and laughs we all headed to bed.
The next day we just hung around the house playing cards.

Monday, however, we went down to the markets ( This must be when the
picture was taken).