The Yan Family: A Brief History…

The Yan family has its roots in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

Pagsanjan's Welcome Arch...standing in the same spot for about 150 years...

Pagsanjan, by any standard, is a small town — approximately 36,000 residents in 7,500 households in some 43 square kilometers.  It sits along the Pagsanjan River, 101 kilometers south of Manila.

The name “Pagsanjan” is a short version of “pinagsangahan,” which was the original name of the barrio which sat where the Balanac and Bumbungan Rivers merged to become one.  It is here where Japanese and Chinese traders founded the town in 1668, originally as a barrio of the neighboring town of Lumban.  In December of that same year, the then-Governor of Laguna, General Manuel Dela Peña Bonifaz, issued a proclamation declaring the barrio as a town.  (It was also then that the town was formally renamed to “Pagsanjan,” because the Spaniards could not pronounce the polysyllabic Pinagsangahan.) Twenty years later, in 1688, it replaced the town of Bay as the capital of Laguna.  It remained such until 1858, during which it bloomed as the cultural and commercial center of the province.


The Yan Family Crest

According to family records which date back to 1719, the family’s patriarch is Don Antonio de la Resurecciόn, born on April 17, 1735.  The last to use the de la Resurecciόn name was his great grandson, Graciano.

Graciano Cosme de la Resurecciόn was born on December 18, 1831 and his wife Maria Limcuando Fernandez on August 31, 1834. They were married on February 16, 1859.  They had 10 children — Ambrosia (1859-1933), Tomasa (1830-1938), Guadalupe (1862-1916), Jose (1864-1924), Lucia (1866-1935), Mariano (1867-1929), Isabel (1869-1870), Carlos (1870-1903), Ramon (1872-1941) and Roque (1879-1960).

This generation of 10 children was the first to use the family name “Yan.”


My family comes from the “Mariano branch” — my grandfather was Mariano Fernandez Yan, born October 6, 1867 and died August 25, 1929.  He was married to Dolores Gertrudes Salem.

Dad and Mom in Burnham Park.

My father was Mariano “Menito” Salem Yan, born August 28, 1917 and died March 13, 1987.  He married my mother, Emerenciana “Dolly” Casado, on May 1, 1946.  He had just ended his service in the Philippine Army in World War II.

My brothers Albert and Louie.

They had three children — myself and my two siblings, Albert and Louie.  Each of us has one child.  Rica and I have Daniel James (DJ), TC and Albert have Kimberly Ann (Kimmie), and Debbie and Louie have Jordan. Chronologically, Kimmie came first, followed by Jordan.  DJ is the youngest.

First cousins Kimmie, Jordan, and DJ.

We all live in the US now, although Albert has made quite a few trips back to the Philippines, since his work takes him to China, Hongkong, and some other Asian countries.

All our children grew up in California, though the three of them have varying degrees of “Filipinization” — the most “Filipinized” being DJ, who still loves adobo, pongki-pongki, longganisa, tilapia and bangus, among other Filipino foods.  Jordan spent his college freshman year in Ateneo, coaching the school’s soccer team, before he came back to finish his studies.  Kimmie is working in the entertainment industry, intent on being a producer of a successful TV series.


Through the generations, a number of Pagsanjenos have risen to prominence in national circles.

In the military, there have been six generals and one commodore — more than any other town in the Philippines.  The most recognized is Gen. Manuel T. Yan, who became Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  He subsequently became Ambassador to Thailand and the Court of St. James, but is best remembered for the many years of effort he put into resolving the age-old conflict between Filipinos and Filipino-Muslim dissidents in Mindanao.  Other Pagsanjenos of general rank include Brigadier General Fidel Llamas, Brigadier General Elias Lavadia, Brigadier General Cipriano Ramiro, and Brigadier General Luis (Bobby) Rivera.  The lone navy commodore from Pagsanjan is Commodore Remo Lavadia.


Mario Montenegro with his favorite co-star, Delia Razon.

Mario Montenegro was born in Pagsanjan of a Filipino father and French mother.  In his teen years as a member of the famed Hunters ROTC guerillas, he became an active fighter against the Japanese.  In later years, he became a matinee idol, and was nominated thrice for Best Actor awards by FAMAS. His family home still stands in Pagsanjan.  He died in 1988.

Movie idol Rico Yan was a grandson of Gen. Manuel Yan.

Two generations later came teenage idol Rico Yan (a grandson of Gen. Manuel Yan).  He died at a young age but touched the hearts of millions of fans.

He had, before his death, formed a foundation called “Pinoy Yan!,”  a non-profit organization that aims to make young people stay in school and value education.  He died in 2002 of pancreatitis.

He graduated from La Salle, and his funeral was one of the largest in Philippine history, and millions lined the route to the cemetery.


Dr. Francisco Benitez was an eminent educator and first Dean of the U.P. College of Education.  Dean Conrado Benitez, founder of the U.P. College of Business Administration was a great professor of economics. Helen Z. Benitez, (daughter of Dean Conrado Benitez) became President of the Philippine Women’s University; Don Vicente Fabella was founder of the Jose Rizal College. Professor Arturo Guerrero was president of the Trinity College (Quezon City).



People and Events That Impacted My Life…

All of us experience some events and share lives that affect us more than others do.  I have had my share of family, community, Philippine and world events that made an impact — some were causes of celebration, some were tragedies.  Somehow, each of these events and people left a mark in my heart and in my psyche — marks (sometimes, scars) that helped shape what I am and how I think today.


Yan Clan Logo

Cover of the Yan Clan History, a book published a couple of years ago.

My father was my type of hero.  Strong, silent, unheralded.  He was not a world figure.  He was not known nor admired by anyone but his family.  He was not rich and famous — just an ordinary man living an ordinary life. The lessons he taught me were lessons learned through the examples he set — examples I strive to emulate, but have never been able to live up to.

Mariano “Menito” Yan was never blessed with wealth, comfort, or luxury.  We, his sons, did not inherit material wealth or goods.  But his whole life was spent trying to build up a nest egg he could leave behind for us.  He never succeeded, but he left a legacy for me whose value far transcends a peso (or dollar) sign.

I will never forget his zest for life, and the laughter that accompanied it. I will always treasure his commitment to family, a commitment that forced him to leave us behind and work overseas — Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam war, Malawi in Africa, and finally Oakland, California — for so many years, just to be able to provide for us.

He showed me how life should be lived, how adversity should be met, how failure should not defeat my spirit.

My heart will forever cry when I remember his words when Rica and I were finally together in the US in July of 1986.  “Now I can die in peace — you are here and the family is whole again.”

For Thanksgiving Day in 1986, he and my Mom drove down to West Covina from their Hayward home to spend my first US Thanksgiving Day with us.  He never made it back to Hayward.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, he and my Mom were supposed to drive back to Hayward.  He woke up feeling lost and disoriented.  We called 911, and the paramedics took him to Queen of the Valley hospital, where they diagnosed him as having a stroke.  In fact, he had died, but they resuscitated him.

He spent the next six months in a coma that he never awoke from, and died on March 13, 1987. My lifetime’s hero was gone, and I have never stopped crying.

Like him, I cry silently and alone.  Like him, I never show the tears of loss.  Like him, I never share the pain and emptiness I feel in my heart.  But they’re always there…the pain of loss, the sadness and emptiness, the tears mourning the time we never had together..

To me, in my mind and heart, in my pain and sorrow, my Dad lives…

Wait for me, Dad.  We’ll laugh together.  Take long walks together. Together we’ll make up for the time lost.  Share the dreams we never shared, the triumphs we never had, the glorious days of a son reveling in his father’s embrace, the warmth of your love, the resolve of your strength…  We’ll be together, Dad, with no more tears.


martial law - FM declaring

Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972.

On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos, citing a national security emergency, declared martial law through Presidential Proclamation 1081.

In the beginning — and for many years — I believed in what martial law could do, if implemented with fairness, dignity, and integrity.  I believed in the need for discipline, and after so many years of “democracy,” I then believed the Filipino has begun to lose all sense of responsibility.  I also believed the Filipino studentry at that time had exceeded its moral limits, and the communist-inspired bombings, rallies and protests actually served the ends the communist element rather than the Filipino people.

martial law - express

The Sunday Express headline. The Express became a pro-Marcos newspaper after martial law was declared.

I still believe I was right — that the communist elements were the true benefactors of the lack of Filipino discipline.  What I was wrong to assume was that Marcos was the leader who would inspire and maintain dignity and integrity among the Filipino people.

After two or three years of laudable change immediately after he declared martial law, Marcos — through indifference, a lust for power, and greed — allowed, and even fostered, the growth and empowerment of an oligarchy with his cronies as the beneficiaries of his government’s policies.

Marcos would remain in power for 14 more years, until February 25, 1986.  The people finally took to the streets in a show of national defiance and, using what has now come to be known as People Power, forced Marcos and his family and close circle of supporters to leave Malacanang Palace for exile in the United States. It was the same pride I felt when Marcos declared martial law that I felt when he was overthrown.  It was a pride that stirred my heart, when he left.

I recognized then the value of the many lives that had been lost among those who fought the degenerative policies of the Marcos administration.  It took the deaths of two men for me to finally understand that no good end will ever be served by the destruction of human rights.


aquino - ninoy

Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino: his assassination in 1983 marked the beginning of the end of the Marcos regime.

August 21, 1983 marked the actual end of the Marcos regime. Although Marcos remained in power for three more years, the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, his most influential critic, sparked what was to become the People Power revolution. Ninoy was gunned down by Armed Forces soldiers as he alighted from a China Air flight that brought him home from Boston, Massachusetts.  Although the Marcos regime insisted that he had been shot in the head by rogue soldier Rolando Galman, no Filipino believed that neither Marcos nor wife Imelda did not have a hand in his murder.

aquino - ninoy collage

The murder and funeral of Ninoy.

I will always remember sitting and staring at the TV as they played and replayed the last moments of Ninoy’s life.  From the moment soldiers boarded the China Air flight to the moment his dead body was ignominiously dragged and dumped into a waiting Armed Forces truck, the coverage was absolutely numbing.

To be sure, it was not truly unexpected, but the reality of what we, as a nation, had collectively feared was too much to absorb in one sitting.  So as one people, we all sat in our homes, watched, and prayed.  Prayed that somehow what we had witnessed was not real.

*** Continue reading

SHARE…A Positive Impact on Baguio…

In my sophomore year in college, “reforestation” was the buzz-word.

It was 1966, and I had begun to make a name for myself then.  Member of SLU’s student body government.  Consistent first-place winner (since high school) of the national PRISAA annual competition in debating and extemporaneous speaking.  Guest lecturer of the SCA in schools all over the country.  PMT officer (assistant corps commander).  Stage actor (“The Lion in Winter” at UP Baguio and “Butterflies Are Free” with the Army-Navy Club).  Editor of the SLU high school “Echo.”  Laman kalye of Session Road.

It was then that I met Narciso “Nars” Padilla who was, at that time, a photographer and civic activist.  He later became councilor of Baguio City, I am told. (Does anyone know where he is and where I can find him?)

We began having coffee everyday at Session Cafe, discussing Baguio politics.  Eventually, we got around to discussing the youth of Baguio, and what project we might collaborate on.  He would know because (as I forgot to mention earlier) he was also a Boy Scout leader.

We decided to focus on reforestation, to start.  At that time, extra-curricular activities for the youth had to have the approval of schools.  So we jumped through the hoops of SLU, St. Theresa’s College, University of Baguio, and Baguio City High.

baguio - mt. sto. tomas

Mt. Santo Tomas was the highest peak in and around Baguio.

After acquiring school approvals, we began organizing for one project — the reforestation of Mt. Santo Tomas.  Mt. Santo Tomas is the highest peak in and around Baguio City.  It is topped by radar antennas that serve the different radio and TV stations, as well as Camp John Hay, when it was still a US Air Force Base.  The peak of Mt. Santo Tomas offered unparalleled 360° views.  On one side, the mountain overlooked the city, easily 15 kilometers away.  On the other side, one could see La Union and its beaches, part of Naguilian Road (one of the two access roads to Baguio), and part of Pangasinan — about a hundred kilometers away. Yes, it was that high and the skies used to be that clear.

We were not prepared for the resounding response to our invitation. Male and female students from SLU and UB high schools, girls from St. Theresa’s College, City High students — our first meeting had almost 200 attendees!  And the group didn’t even have a name yet!

Pressed for time just minutes before the meeting started, we had to find a name.  We wanted a name that was inclusive…that didn’t distinguish members by school or social status.  We chose “SHARE” as an acronym of the name…but as an acronym for what?

“Welcome to the first meeting of SHARE,” Mang Nars started.  “The Self-Help Arm for Reformed Existence.”  Shocked, I could do nothing but seemingly agree, smilingly.  Now, in hindsight, 40 or so years later, I think the name sucked.  Fortunately, “SHARE” stuck, and people soon forgot the whole name.


Aside: I remember the time when Baguio was surrounded by green hills and mountains.  It had the “small town” feeling then, where everyone knew each other and everyone cared for each other.

One reason we chose Mt. Santo Tomas was its sides were getting brown.  For what reason, we didn’t know.  Other mountains around were still lush and green.  I remember, for example, climbing Carabao Mountain. It was on the road to Trinidad Valley, and was not too high that it would knock you out if you climbed it.  I took the climb with friends from St. Louis — Rhime Basbas, Tony Tomas, and Sammy Flores — and our favorite teacher, Florentino Hornedo.

There was no bottled water then; we filled GI canteens, and packed hot dogs and bread in our backpacks.  Aside from an extra jacket each, we didn’t bring much.

There were no houses, no roads — it was totally green with pine trees and wild flowering shrubs.

Today, a friend, Ric Maniquis, showed me a picture of Carabao Mountain.  He had taken it, apparently, from an armed forces  helicopter, along with countless other airborne shots of Baguio as it is today.

baguio - carabao mountain

Goodbye Carabao Mountain. It seems like squatters' shanties now grow on the mountainside, instead of pine trees and flowering shrubs.

See the mountain rising in the background? That’s Carabao Mountain, now covered with shanties and hovels.

My thanks to Ric Maniquis for this “after” picture.


Back to SHARE…

The first project, like I said earlier, was the reforestation of a part of Mt. Santo Tomas — the side that faced the city.

We outfitted each participant with a red sweatshirt with the SHARE logo printed on the front — sweatshirts courtesy of  several department stores in the city.  We loaded 10,000 pine tree seedlings onto dump trucks, seedlings courtesy of the Bureau of Plant Industry and trucks courtesy of the Baguio City Mayor. We packed medical supplies, first aid kits, and K-rations courtesy of the Base Commander of John Hay Air Force Base.  We piled into jeepneys for the trips to and from the mountain, courtesy of the Baguio Jeepney Owners and Drivers Association.  We brought cases of Coke, courtesy of the Coca-Cola plant in La Union.  And each day, a team of participants made the trip to the city to buy fresh food from the public market to cook for our meals (oftentimes, shop owners donated the food and didn’t let us pay for it).  There were no cell phones then, so we depended on two-way radios lent to us by John Hay, and we maintained contact with the city through the base’s communications center and the city’s police department radios.

We began each morning with a group prayer — we weren’t even politically-correct enough to ask the religion of each participant.  And nobody cared.  We just prayed together.

We ended each night with a group bonfire after dinner, shivering in the cold mountain air, almost always wrapped in blankets to keep our body warmth in as we joked and told stories and shared our lives with each other, until the last participant drifted away into his or her classroom to sleep.

It was a simpler time then.  The world was right, and we were in tune with it.

By the end of the week, we had replanted all 10,000 seedlings and we all felt a rush of accomplishment and pride.  We came home tired but happy, met at the fire station in Burnham Park by the parents of the 250 or so young men and women who had just given seven days of their lives to the concept of doing good — of leaving a legacy.

I don’t know if any of those trees are still standing.  But I know that for the next few years, I would look at the Santo Tomas mountainside and see a swatch of green where the dry brown earth once showed.


I was done for that summer.  I said goodbye and thank you to all the parents, donors, and contributors of the project.  Mang Nars and I went back to our coffee klatch in Session Cafe.

Or so I thought…

Less than a week later, I was receiving phone calls from parents, from SHARE members, from the Baguio City Midland Courier, from the Commanding Officer of Camp John Hay.  “Congratulations,” they said. And, most heartwarmingly, “When’s the next project?”

A year later, by City Council resolution and invitation of the Mayor, I was named Council Member for Youth Affairs.

Tagaytay, Pagsanjan, Paete and Pakil…plus memories of Pinoy foodstuff…

I just completed a post on my other blog, Filipinos in America, about Tagaytay and Pagsanjan, Paete, and Pakil in Laguna.  Please go there so I don’t have to rewrite anything.  In this post, I feel like concentrating on Pinoy food — not as a culinary adventure, but as simple, ordinary food that I enjoy and, in general, miss.

This feeling of wanting to talk about food began when I was writing about Tagaytay.  I remember that off the ridge highway, Tagaytay had a public market that featured fresh beef, Tagaytay being a beef-growing area.  Obviously, demand for the beef they sold evolved into demand for cooked food…some sort of “specialty” that people would flock there for.  What better “specialty” than bulalo?

food - bulalo

Bulalo: beef and beef marrow soup with assorted vegetables. Served with patis and calamansi on the side.

Bulalo!  Here in the States, sometimes referred to as a member of the “KMS” food family.  The “Killing Me Softly” family of fine foods includes, among others, lechon and lechon kawali, piniritong pork chop Pinoy style (with the skin on, deep-fried) and chicharon.  Oh, what the heck.  My father-in-law always said “Walang ganito sa Loyola,” ignoring the admonitions of my mother-in-law and his children.  Imagine steaming bulalo on a cold night, the bone marrow melting soothingly on your palate.  What could be better?  Certainly not any of the Campbell or Progresso soups.

About three weekends ago, we went to visit my Ate Eden, a cousin who’s a retired veterinarian who lives in Fountain Valley.  We went specifically to have lunch at Mami King, which is a Pinoy restaurant serving Chinese dishes, the most popular of which is mami’t siopao supposedly like the original Ma Mon Luk.

food - ma mon luk

Ma Mon Luk in Cubao: I never found out if they really included cat meat in the siopao.

Remembering Ma Mon Luk in Cubao always brings back memories; I can still remember that row of stores across the street from Stella Maris in Cubao. Commander Drug (there was always one within a few steps of Mercury Drug), Mercury Drug, Manila COD, Robina roasted chicken, Little Quiapo, a Chinese-owned watch and jewelry store, and Aguinaldo’s department store.  (The Aguinaldo’s spot was eventually taken over by the first McDonald’s in the Philippines.)

I remember visiting Ma Mon Luk or Ferino’s Bibingka after shows (now known as “concerts”) in Araneta Coliseum, or after playing mini-golf in Green Acres next to the Coliseum.  It was in Araneta Coliseum that American performers…uhhhmmm…performed.

food - bibingka 2

Bibingka at Ferino's was to be enjoyed whole year 'round...not only at Christmas.

food - mami siopao

Ma Mon Luk was mami and siopao territory.

Ferino’s was “my spot” for bibingka.  Served hot and steaming, margarine (never butter!) sprinkled with sugar dripping from the sides, grated coconut piled high, kesong puti covering the top — all sitting in banana leaf wrap.  Ma Mon Luk, on the other hand, was “home base” for the Chinese noodle soup called mami, served with siopao, meat-filled buns.

food - barbeque

Pinoy pork barbecue -- the best.

I always had bakya taste.  Everyone told me that.  I preferred pork barbecue from Baclaran’s Barbecue Plaza over kebobs at the Hyatt or some other five-star hotel.  I bought kropeck from roving popcorn/kropeck/cotton candy stands in Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard).  I bought taho and penoy from itinerant vendors.  I ate lumpia sariwa on the sidewalks of Divisoria.  I savored tilapia and dalag from the makeshift restaurants of

food - dalag

Dalag: my favorite freshwater fish. It usually came from the esteros of Binondo.

Estero.  I preferred talangka to the rich man’s crab and lobster.  I loved (and still do) tuyo and daing — even the US version of daing called Jeprox.  I made special trips to the front of FEU hospital (then) to buy turon, bananaque, camoteque and adobong mani.  Yes, I was bakya.  I still am.

I even miss Pinoy treats, snacks and holiday dishes.  Hopia from Polland (yes…double “L” — not the country).  Champoy from Bee Tin.  Chinese ham from Echague.  Taho.  Halo-halo from Little Quiapo. Melon (cantaloupe strings in iced melon juice).  Lumpiang sariwa from the sidewalks of Divisoria.  Even sundot kulangot from Baguio.

food - collage 3

Remember all these goodies...

Yes…bakya food is good food….

If you remember other stuff you’d like to share, let me know…

Baguio…2nd of an ongoing series

Baguio - rice terraces

Baguio...gateway to the Banaue rice terraces.

Baguio was then the gateway to Banaue and its well-known rice terraces.  These were plots carved out of the mountainsides where the Igorots of old would plant rice.  There was no irrigation, just the normal rainfall.  There was no cement or concrete, just rocks and mud.  And yet the terraces spanned miles and miles of mountainside.  This was the engineering genius of the mountain people at work. baguio old dangwa busAt that time, there was only one bus company that served the rugged land.  Dangwa Tranco buses parked in their terminal close to the public market.  To get to the inner mountains, there were no tourist buses.  It was not uncommon to see adventurous white youth traveling in groups to see the mountainsides. Banaue and Sagada were a journey then, a trip to the past, into a world filled with stories of anitos and headhunters.  Barely any “lowlander” visited these mountain villages, which dotted the upper reaches of the unexplored-by-tourists world of the Cordillera mountains.

I loved Baguio in June.  The smell of the coming rainy season lingered in the air.  The change of season was generally marked by the June 12 holiday, when the independence day parade would be held.  Parade participants marched down Session Road, then moved to Burnham Park.

Baguio pma cadets 2

The PMA cadets.

The Philippine Military Academy cadets were always the highlight, at least for me.  There, they would continue their “performance” by showing off their drill skills using their rifles, twirling and spinning them to a silent count in their heads.  No words, no commands, no drums — just the swish of rifles twirling, rifle butts hitting the ground.

That was also baguio fireplacethe time of year we would begin to buy and store firewood — pinewood that smelled so intensely incense-like when burned in a fireplace.  A smell of the mountainside, and the feeling of warmth and security would waft through the house.  I could sit there for hours, staring at the flames, imagining how clean the world would be after the rains, and after the last log had been burned for the year.  Fire and water — two opposite elements that cleansed the world for me.



To the ones I love most…Rica and DJ

dancing-field with text i hope you dance

Rica and DJ…I hope you dance…

I will always remember Baguio

I started out my life in Baguio quite depressed.  After all, I had been uprooted from Ateneo — my friends were my comfort zone — and implanted in an all-new world in the middle of high school.

We first lived in a place called Sanitary Camp, which was on the way to Trinidad Valley.  I went to high school at St. Louis University.

Baguio fog

The fog in Baguio brings back memories...

My fondest memories of Baguio are the cold weather and the fog.  In the months of October through January, fog enveloped the city every morning.  Every night was its own excuse for a roaring fire in the fireplace.  It was heartwarming, despite the chilly weather that accompanied it.  To me, it seemed to blur reality without erasing it.  It lifted truth to the ephemeral….  These are what memories are made of, the true and the ephemeral.

Baguio cathedral 2

Baguio Cathedral overlooked the hub of the city.

I will always remember Session Road — then the center of Baguio life.  The kilometer-long road began at the plaza and crested at the Baguio City Post Office.  (There was no SM yet, so from the circle that marked the end of Session Road, you knew — but couldn’t see — Pines Hotel was a little ways up and the Baguio Cathedral was to your left.

I can still remember practically every establishment along Session Road then.  First was the Post Office.  Across from the Post Office was Piltel, the city’s telephone company.  Did you know that telephone numbers at that time consisted of just four digits?  And that the surest way to make a long-distance call was to go to the Post Office and make it from one of the four long distance phone booths they had?

Then there was Patria de Baguio, home to many teachers of St. Louis as well as boarding house during the school year.  In the summer, they rented out the rooms to vacationers.

Right next to Patria was D&S Fine Foods, the first true supermarket in Baguio, though it was not that large.  I remember salivating over the car of the owner’s son, a blue 1966 Pontiac GTO with a white roof and a 3-speed stick shift.

Old Mario's on Session Road

The old Mario's on Session Road.

Across Session Road in front of Patria was Mario’s, which specialized in pizza, spaghetti, and everything Italian.  It was owned by the Benitez family — Mario and Nenuca and kids.

On that same side of Session Road was the Telefast office where people went to send telegrams.  (There was no Internet then, no email, no chat.)

Baguio adobong mani

Adobong mani from Skyview (served hot and salty) are still, to me, the best-tasting peanuts in the world!

Further down was Skyview which served a wide menu but seemed to focus on San Miguel Beer and peanuts.  Yes!  Their peanuts were to die for.  Always hot and fresh, perfectly salted, flavored with fried garlic that they left among the peanuts.  I haven’t found peanuts so flavorful and so tasty ever since then.

Skyview’s next-door neightbor was Session Theater, one of the only two first-run movie theaters at that time.  Next to Skyview was the Magnolia store.

I will always remember hanging out with friends at the Magnolia ice cream shop, especially when it was raining.  It was cold outside, the rain pouring down incessantly, and sometimes the wind whipped up into a frenzy that blew everything in sight out of whack.  When it seemed that the rain was peaking, we would order our ice cream cones and as the rain waned, we would walk in the shower eating ice cream in the cold.  That was fun.

Baguio longganisa 2

Baguio longganisas are always fresh, never frozen, and come in many different "flavors."

The public market was a favorite place.  Aside from the fact that we had friends who hung out there while tending their family’s store, there was so much to see and enjoy.  Baguio longganisa comes in many “flavors” — sweet, sweet and hot, hot, and many more.

Vegetables are always fresh, and flowers seem like they’re still blooming in the pails in which they are displayed.

But Baguio holds much more in my heart for the simplicity with which people lived their lives then.  It was rare to find someone with “airs,” and certainly the younger generation treated everyone else equally.  Children of doctors and contractors and lawyers and bankers walked Session Road with children of miners, and teachers, and market vendors.  “Class” was not an issue — in fact, it didn’t even show.

Whether you had a car or not didn’t matter; neither did your address, or the size of your home, or the occupation of your parents.

Baguio was a beautiful city then — a beautiful city with truly beautiful people.

Baguio City is also home to the Philippine Military Academy.  Here, carefully selected cadets train to be the future officers of the country’s armed forces.  PMA is a tourist spot in itself.