Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BAGUIO BEANS by Jovito Cariño

Last weekend, Cel, Lance and I went to Baguio for a budget “R and R” in the company of some friends. We call ourselves Baguio Beans.

This is actually the revived version of Baguio Beans. The original group was composed of mainly office personnel of OSA (Office of Student Affairs in Letran-Calamba) and some selected student volunteers. It was in Baguio where that name was hatched, when we went there for an off-school evaluation and planning activity some four or five years ago; from then on, the group called itself with that tag.

I have long ago left Letran-Calamba but I remain in touch with the group. Sadly, efforts to organize a reunion with them have all been unfruitful; some were too busy to come, others were just too busy to text back; it’s probably their new priorities or maybe they have outgrown what Baguio Beans was.

Early this year however, I had a chance to meet two of the original members of the group (Avel and Ice) and apparently, they are interested too to revive the spirit of Baguio Beans, if not with the original group, at least with our other friends at the OSA. Many texts and a couple of meetings later, Baguio Beans, the revival, was born.

It was, as I said, a budget trip, the primary purpose being to come together rather than to come and see a particular place. Baguio was a common choice because of its accessibility and ease on our pockets. Per head cost includes P770 for a two-way bus fare, P250 lodging and P500 for meals; that’s roughly P1520 per person, throw in a few extra bucks for sundry expenses and the usual pasalubong (Cel and I restricted ourselves to 1/4 kilo of lettuce, three kinds of them, half a kilo of sweet peas and Romana peanuts).

To be able to join the trip, Cel and I decided to delay our June payment for the equity of the house where we are to due to move in soon. Despite our tight budget situation, we thought the trip was worth spending for. We realized it can be a great experience for us to bond as a family. It can also give Lance great moments to enjoy and remember before he goes back to school. It can also be a wonderful opportunity for Cel and I to reconnect with our friends and to refresh, as I said, old ties. When it comes to family and friends, cost is not a mere expense but investment.

We have a rather interesting set of friends in Baguio Beans. None of them are our contemporaries nor batchmates nor officemates. They are former student-volunteers at the OSA of Letran-Calamba where Cel and I used to work. We are working in different schools now and these friends have long graduated from college too yet our bond with them remains tight-knit and communication, constant. Avel is no longer a staff at OSA but he’s still working in Letran-Calamba at the HR Department; Joseph is still attached with Letran but hooked with a different girl now; Ice is already an Engineer, has found a charming girlfriend (but she was not in the trip), and is now hunting for a more challenging job after quitting his previous work; Lois is also an Engineer, is still tied to her first work of five years but is no longer tied with her boyfriend of five-years also (sad...); Jack is already married, is still working as a management staff of Caleruega Retreat House while her husband Rommel is in Mexico busy earning dollars; Jack is also a self-confessed collector (read: addict) of flip-flops specifically, Havaianas.

The trip was fun, every moment of it and it sure was a great proof that one that does not need to be extra moneyed to experience life at its sweetest; one only needs the heart to be happy and a set of friends to share it with.

There are friendly people and there are friends.

Friendly people can easily charm you with a smile, make you feel at ease at the first instance of conversation, win you over with a simple inflection of voice. This type you can meet in sales agents, in insurance underwriters, in politicians, in practically every person who make you feel special because they need something from you (the user-friendly type). In their eyes, you are important because you are a prospective provider of what they need.

Friends are a different breed. They are people you grow up with, people who allow you to discover themselves as you likewise discover yourself; they are people who let you in into their inner spaces, without inhibition, without pretension, and in their stark simplicity, make you feel at home. They are the kind of people who can make a trip to Baguio in two compressed days such an easy feat. The body aches, the empty wallet afterwards and the eyes screaming for sleep are but puny remembrances of an experience that is hard to forget as it is difficult to forego because it is very, very rare.


tama ka aris. masarap talaga 'to basahin paulit-ulit.