First blog (while) in Benguet =)

Posted on: September 28, 2011

I ticked both travel and work in the categories ‘coz it seemed both…

It’s been five days since I arrived in this peaceful little community. I remember arriving just a little after 2 in the morning, with about nine other people who also work for my company, cramped into one Grandia. One colleague is just doing field work while the others are based here. I was carrying one 30-kilos luggage and another large duffel bag, my laptop, and my camera. It looked like I am never going back.

I’ve been talking about living elsewhere outside of Manila ever since I got that call that I bagged the job as early as July but it didn’t feel real until I was already on my way – worried and excited at the same time. Excited – no questions. Worried – I will be alone… again.

The idea sunk in deeper the moment I turned the keys to unlock the apartment that was assigned to me. It is huge. Damn huge for just one person – wide living room, spacious kitchen, an-eight seater dining table, and three bedrooms. My colleague Kris kept smiling and shaking her head while I stupidly gawked at the enormity of the place. “Try mentioning  your silly ghost stories and you’ll be compelled to let me live in your place,” I warned her. Ten minutes later, I was by myself, paranoid about every single noise I hear from outside my room. “Just pray,” I tell myself. And by God’s grace, I was able to sleep (albeit with some difficulty… namamahay).

Work starts NOW.

Work here in Padcal starts at 7PM and ends at 4PM. But because we arrived really late, I was spared. Kris fetched me and we both walked to the office (which was just 5 minutes away by foot!) My globe sim is officially useless ‘coz there’s no other signal in the camp except for Smart (it being a sister company of my company). So I had to swing by the cooperative (the place to run to when you need anything) to buy a Smart sim. The rest of the day was spent getting to know the people around the office. A colleague toured me around and introduced me to everyone (I wish I was able to remember all their names!) Another one walked me home. Just when I was about to lose hope that kind and nice people still exist, I meet people like them… what a refresher! =)

Saturday is also a full working day. Work starts at 7AM and ends at 4PM just like the normal weekdays. Surprisingly, I was very productive – made some interviews and wrote a few articles, while working on some stuff for the media tour, which we’re planning to do this week.

Living in Padcal has significantly altered my body clock.  Back in Manila, I sleep very very late – the earliest being at 11:30PM and the latest at 3AM. Consequently, I also wake up late. Here, I sleep at 10PM latest, and wake up at 5AM. I finally get about seven hours of sleep, which I so badly need. Last time my sister checked my sugar level, it was quite low; the same goes as well for my blood pressure.  So, I guess it isn’t such a bad thing that I have so little to do to pass the time that’s why I sleep.

You wouldn’t miss what time it is already here. They sound the alarm, which can be heard all throughout the community, every hour as early as 5:30AM so you wouldn’t even need your own alarm clock.

Free food and free everything

I guess the most wicked part of being based here is the fact that I don’t really have to spend a single dime every single day. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the guest house dining area below my apartment. They serve free (and very sumptuous) food for all the people staying at the house. Every meal is complete with meat, veggies, and dessert. They even have a coffee station where you can drown yourself in native Benguet coffee at your whim. And every time I just sit there with my laptop, finishing some articles or just plain browsing the net, while glancing at the TV once in while, Manang Mila or any of the manangs would serve me a plate of biscuits and a big bowl of warm smiles. =)

When I leave the house in the morning and return for lunch in the afternoon (I did say that the office is just a good five-minute leisurely walk away, right?), I would find it orderly and spotless clean. My bed would be made, the tissue paper replaced with a new roll, the trash bin empty, and the curtains nicely made.

Snacks in the office canteen do not cost that much either… and free food are almost everywhere. The Legal Department where I temporarily hold office at also has a mean coffee brew; I think I can finish around 2-3 cups everyday.

Errands in Baguio

Sunday was MY Baguio day. At 9:30AM, my company service picked me up (with my new-found-kuya, Kuya Ruben as my driver) and a little before 11AM, I was already at the Baguio Country Club, meeting with some folks to finalize the arrangement for the media tour. An hour after, I was eating a chicken pancake sandwich at my (used-to-be) favorite place, 50s Diner. I opted for their new branch when Kuya Ruben asked me which branch should we go, hoping that it would be a better one (I didn’t like the one that replaced the Abanao branch much). But my expectation took a nasty dive – the place looked kind’a dingy, has a very tight space, and even the servers’ uniform shirts looked like raggedy hand-me-downs. I’m not being mean but during my college days, the 50s Diner that I know is capital AWESOME – with their servers in those cute little skirts, and neat look, skating their way to your table to take and give your orders.  Even the food is not that great anymore (although they still serve big portions).  Anyway, Baguio is still awesome.

I had some errands to run and some things to buy for myself so I asked to be dropped off at SM Baguio (yes, forever SM Baguio).  First I had to buy some sample papers and sample bags for the media giveaway. Then, the rest was shopping for toiletries and some stuff I really don’t need but I feel like I should have. =) I was planning to walk along Session Road and just be smitten by Baguio’s awesomeness but I got tired and lazy and just stayed at the mall. I don’t know why I missed Starbucks all of a sudden so I bought myself a caramel frappe, sat there, and wait for Kuya Ruben.

Our next stop was Camp John Hay. I had to check and personally inquire about the Tree Top Adventure, which we plan to indulge our media visitors in for their leisure day on Friday. (Latest update: the Media tour was cancelled due to the very bad weather condition). So much has changed at Camp John Hay since the last time I saw it – way back in 1999 (that’s more than a decade ago!) I’m just thrilled there’s already an Army Navy resto, Pancake House, and a lot of store outlets inside.

Stormy night

So here I am writing in the dark, with only this laptop and my cellphone as the only source of light. The storm is at its peak tonight – the windows are rattling and the wind is howling like mad. I hear all sorts of strange sounds like a tapping on the ceiling; a banging on the door, and some rocks falling on the roof. I can practically feel the house trembling because of the intensity of the wind. Now, this is a first time for me. As they say, I might as well indulge. =)

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1 Response to "First blog (while) in Benguet =)"

Just reading your post made my stress level go down a few notches. Living the dream! Can’t wait to visit your new home away from home. hehe

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