Friday, May 14, 2010

HILL STATION (April 12, 2010)

Ibalois had a name for their grazeland – Kafagway – or wide open space.
By 1900, the Americans transformed it into a hill station also known as Baguio.
According to artist/anthropologist Padmapani Lim Perez: “Baguio’s early beginnings as a city are rooted in the two colonial eras of the Philippines. The Spanish colonizers first established a sanitarium in the Cordillera region in the 19th century. Europeans who traveled to the tropics in the 18th and 19th centuries found comfort in the pleasant climes of the mountainous regions.
They established hill stations as places of rejuvenation and as enclaves for the European lifestyle in former Southeast Asian colonies. In these hill stations the beauty of the landscape, the temperate weather, the rustic settings and good food combined to create a feeling of well-being for visitors and residents alike. Baguio was among the last hill stations to be established in Asia, during the Spanish and American colonial periods of the Philippines.”
Last month, another one was established in all caps.
Mitos Yňiguez, together with her photographer/director husband, Boy, put up a restaurant called Hill Station!
This new 3,000 square-meter haven, or heaven, is inspired by American colonial architecture frames through seven or so French windows with Brent school and the Bishop's Palace on its Leonard Wood Road side.
Hill Station is within Casa Vallejo, the boutique hotel built in 1909, along Upper Session Road.
Awarded by the Baguio Centennial Commission last 1 September as one of the 10 oldest institutions, it has new owners in the Bagatsings, after Salvatore Vallejo and Maribel Ongpin.
They wanted to offer an alternative to what is being served on top of them, literally and figuratively, at SM City Baguio.
They needed someone who can serve the best of both worlds -- from Old World Europe to New World America.
So what came to their mind was Mitos.
Well, she was no neophyte.
For the longest time, she had been managing her father's business -- Mario's!
In Grade 5, she had been exposed to the tricks of food trade.
When her grandmother, Titona Villareal, and her mom, Nenuca Benitez, started it all there in 1971, it multiplied into several branches, including its lone survivor along Tomas Morato in Quezon City.
Now, it is about time for her fulfill her own dream in Hill Station.And Mitos gave us all the reason in the world why 50th University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop should transfer next year to Hill Station.
“Aside from the 100-year old hotel with WiFi and wired to World Cup, we have everything home-made, from breads to pastas with sun-dried tomatoes to ice cream made of cheese from Puentespina Farm in Davao City to picorino to tablea cocoa to mojitos made from freshly plucked mint from our garden to other products like salad dressings, salsa monja or granola to pottery by Lanelle Abueva and Sagada potters. And, by mid-April, you should try our French toast or Saigon steak sandwich or baguette chistorra or chorizo de bilbao from Spain for breakfast.”
People in the know – Michaela Fenix, Margarita Fores, Beat Grassi, Roland Laudico, Ariel Manuel, Claude Tayag, even actor Tonton Gutierrez and actress/singer Banaue Miclat and her parents Mario and Alma -- can attest to its ambrosial secret.
In the meantime, we had to deal first with the 49th U.P. National Writers Workshop at Club John Hay's Igorot Lodge last Easter Sunday after we let our bunso, Sulat, catch her first Salubong.
Day 2 saw us having lunch at the hideaway of Far Eastern University's Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Lourdes Montinola, but had to hurry back for her grad school classmate, Mabi David, whose poetry refreshed our “Comfort Women” memory.
Our break last Wednesday was made more meaningful when we had our merienda at BenCab's before he could celebrate his 68th birthday on April 10 with his exhibit entitled Draped Figures.
And, later, when we dined and wined at the Cafe by the Ruins where David, Kristian Cordero, Karl de Mesa, Marc Gaba, Alwynn Javier, and April Yap jammed with Junley Lazaga, Mavic Patawaran, Solana Perez, Rishab, Rosie Ventura, Sacha Weygan and certain Magda from Warsaw.
Workshop director, Roland Tolentino, with Romulo Baquiran, Chingbee Cruz, Neil Garcia, Faye Ilogon, Charlson Ong, and Jun Cruz Reyes stayed till midnight to seriously interact with Baguio Writers Guild led by Frank Cimatu and Grace Subido.
On the other hand, panelists National Artist Virgilio Almario, Gemino Abad, Jose Dalisay, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, and Mario Miclat opted to visit Cordillera Studies Center director, Delfin Tolentino, in Mirador Hill.
With them was the publisher of Baguio Calligraphy, Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing Inc., who came from the Philippine Political Science Conference at U.P. Baguio.
Kidlat Tahimik's Oh My Gulay was our next treat, after an all-veggie dinner, wherein our regular informal disscussion became special when The Present (and Future) State of Philippine Literature was predicted to end up as digital like the video diaries -- Guimaras, Roofs of the World, and Some More Rice which he showed afterwards.
Before Dada Felix's turn, filmmaker Aureus Solito, of Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros fame, presented his documentary, Basal Banar, and feature film, The Weaver, a prelude to his performance art and analysis of his upcoming Binger Filmlab project Sumbang: The Origin Myth of a Mother's Love, which was scrutinized to death by his roommates: Tim Montes whose novel is about his hometown Borongan as well as T.S. Sungit Jr. who hails from Bukidnon where his fiction about his Higaonon tribe was set.
Workshop evaluation and consultation time were scheduled before last Saturday's graduation ceremonies.
Yesterday we arrived home with another major program of the Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing in our heart and mind: Likhaan: the Journal of Contemporary Philippine
For its fourth issue, the U.P. Likhaan will accept submissions in the following genres, in both English and Filipino: short stories ranging from about 12 to 30 pages double-spaced, in 11-12 points in Times New Roman or in any standard font; suite of four to seven poems; creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, profiles, etc.); critical/ scholarly essays; graphic novels, or full short graphic stories, for reproduction in black and white on no more than 10 printed pages, 6” x 9” which should be accompanied by a synopsis of the full narrative. Everything must be original, and previously unpublished, with a biographical sketch of the author, including contact information.
You may e-mail no later than April 30, 2010 to likhaanjournal4@ as Rich Text Format (.rtf) files, or post to The Editors, Likhaan Journal, U.P. I.C.W., Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1101.
Eventually, after trooping to the 80th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary party of our adviser, Amelia Lapeňa Bonifacio, we will talk about the Yňiguez's Hill Station.
Nice having a cold drink after meals but cold solidifies oily stuff we just ate. It slows down digestion. Once this sludge reacts with the stomach acids, it breaks down and get absorbed by the intestines faster than solid food and coats the intestines. Very soon, this becomes fat and leads to colon cancer. It is best to take hot soup or tepid water after meals.
Kind heart is the soil.
Kind thoughts are the roots.
Kind words are the flowers.
Kind deeds are the fruits.
Enjoy your beautiful garden of life.

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