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Posts Tagged ‘STC Baguio’

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A door. A French door. A French door with panels of textured glass. Front steps leading to the French door. Cement steps, polished to smoothness leading to a short terrace that led to the French door. Smooth tile, cool to bare feet, marking the space between the steps and the door. The smell of cool air, and moss, and pine.

The sun was bright, but the porch was cool. Sitting on the steps I could watch the whole world go by. Across the street was the Main Gate of Camp John Hay. All day long, vehicles would pause going in to the base, and the guard would wave them in.

In front of the house, on Loakan Road, Peterbuilt trucks would rumble by. Buses from the mines, Antamoc and Balatoc, and the military academy would go by the house. There was a lot to look at, as a child. And when the road was quiet, there was a blue sky and puffy clouds sailing by.

In Baguio, in that Baguio, the days were long and the air was clean.

On school days, a jeep owned and driven by Mr. Hernandez would pass by the house to bring us to school. School was St. Theresa’s College on Navy Road. As the jeep with open sides would sail to school, I could feel the cool air and enjoy the ride. Sometimes we would go on South Drive, and the New England style houses would look at us from the windows that were like eyes. I would wonder about the people who lived there. Many of the houses were vacant, because they were summer homes.

Once at school, the daily drumming of leather shoes on tiled corridors. Again, the pine trees surrounding us, shone with their own light. The lilt of my classmates voices, their dear faces, are what I remember. We were just girls then. In those days, the hours were marked by subjects. It was strict, but not oppressive. There was a certain gaiety to the school, the mother superior was sweet and kind. We had uniforms, with a vest and a white turtleneck, knee socks and a school pin.

The pin had the seal of the Carmelites of Avila, though the school was run by a Belgian order.

Every day, I would try to go to the chapel and visit. There was a large statue of St. Therese of Lisieux on the landing going into the chapel. The chapel had the Blessed Sacrament reserved, and there was usually a student or two kneeling in prayer.

On the way out of the chapel, a right turn would lead to the corridor that ended with the music rooms. I could hear the pianos going. In one of the rooms, Mother Modesta, an ancient Belgian nun, taught her fifth decade of piano pupils. She taught my mother and my aunt in their day.

So there we were, in the city where my grandfather made his home. I was living in the house that he built, going to school every day amongst religious who taught my mother, and sitting amongst girls whose parents had been childhood friends of my mother and aunts and uncles.

And this was my everyday.

At the end of the school day, I would talk for hours to my friends, while we all waited for our rides to carry us to Loakan Road and beyond. In these hours of chatting, in these years of storytelling, we forged deep bonds which remain strong today.

Finally Mr. Hernandez would arrive. He would often speak of “peacetime”, that time before World War II. He would talk about his American teachers, and how he hoped his son would join the US Navy.

When he pulled into the driveway, the steps would be there. Clicking up the steps and bursting into the house was a ritual that went for years. The floors would be shiny and smell of floor wax. The table would be set. I remember the smell of adobo, because that was my favorite. I would go to my bedroom and change out of my uniform. Sometimes I would climb into bed and read because it was so cozy. Then the dinner bell would be rung. (I ring that same dinner bell now.)

The windows facing the mountains would capture the splendid show of a Cordillera sunset. All around us, the noise of a family dinner. I would often be riveted by the play of colors outside the window. This was a world I thought would go on forever, as most small town people do.

I had no burning desire to leave. To repeat the day again, was enough for me.casablanca29

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