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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Bus to Baguio

In which I meet a real Filipino

And the next day started with a 6-7 hour bus ride to Baguio. This time of year is summer in the Philippines. Manila is hotter than Hades, and Baguio, at over 5,000 feet, is somewhat cooler than Hades. In fact, it's the summer capital: the government moves up there each summer to avoid Manila's heat.

Photo by Lila

Six hours is a long time in a bus; sleeping and iPods helped. But Lila always whiles away some of the time by shooting pictures from the bus window. Some of her shots are of the countryside; others, like the one here, show something of life in the Philippines. See more of her pictures from the bus. (These include shots of the trip in both directions, so some are dated May 1 and others May 4.)

(A word about the pictures in this post: Most of the things I shot from about March to July are locked up in a dead hard drive; almost all of the great shots you see in this post are Lila's. She's quite talented, but don't tell her I said so; she might get a big head.)

Upon arriving, our three vegetarian heroes made a beeline to the first stop in The Baguio Dining Trifecta: Oh My Gulay, a veg restaurant and artspace. Be sure to take a look at Lila's shots of this amazing site.

While Adam and Lila were looking around, she ran into her old professor, Kidlat Tahimik. This guy is a real a character, a promoter of the concept of the "true Filipino," uncowed by European culture. Part artist, part film director (one of his films was distributed by Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope Films), part shameless showman, he believes (according to his wife's book, Kapwa ) in a return to simplicity, to traditional values, to "collective sensitivity." For example, he calls the television "The Trojan Idiot Box," and sees it inculcating non-traditional values in the (addicted) viewers. He sees rejection of the television as part of a 500-year "cultural resistance" on the part of Filipinos against European imperialism.

Ah, I could go on. Anyway, we met, and he promised us a copy of his wife Katrin de Guia's book. When I picked it up on Thursday, I was delighted to discover two things. First, his inscription read, "To Lila and James: The search for our artistic sariling dwende [inner strength] and for our Indio-genius strengths goes on...just as the way plotted out in Comm 122 [Lila's class] Kidlat Tahimik." And second, Dr. de Guia starts the chapter on Kidlat with references to Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade, both of whom I've studied and written about for years.

We headed up to Iggy's Inn, run by our friend Diego Bautista. Diego is the Bad Boy of the noble Bautista family. His grandfather founded the University of Baguio; his cousin was acting mayor when we were there; his parents are pillars. And Diego? He's a bud, someone to hang with and laugh with. But he wasn't there. So we checked in and settled down for the night.

See a list of all of Lila's photo sets on Flickr from this trip here.

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