Latest Stories

Second chances under the pines


The pine trees in Baguio City are like national treasures. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The pines of Baguio are like family. They have been steady through the seasons and through the ups and downs of life.

I planted my first tree with my mother Mercedes in the garden of our home at 40 Kisad Road. It was one-foot tall, with a burst of bright green pine needles at the top. It was in this garden that I spent many mornings with my grandmother Antonia, tending to her roses in shades of macopa and magenta. Ah, the smell of pine and roses will forever be entwined for me!

My first kiss was a stolen one from a Baguio boy. I was 14. I found him terribly handsome, though I never admitted it. And I pretended to be horrified.

My first joint was shared with childhood friends at a concert under the pines of Teachers’ Camp.

In my 20s, I got engaged. I fled to Baguio with my brother Marco and my sister Bianca when my fiancé and I fought. Laughter lifted my spirits as we slid down the pine needle-strewn hillsides of John Hay, on cardboard boxes in lieu of sleds.

When my engagement was called off, I went even deeper into the mountains, seeking comfort in the pine forest of Sagada. I married, but the union did not last; after the separation, I returned to the mountains of Baguio to find myself again.


New love

The pines of Baguio were witness to the blossoming of a new love years later. It was on the deck of our home in Quezon Hill, beneath a golden sunset sky, that another man kissed me.

The day after that first kiss, I came home from the market to find a bouquet of pink starburst lilies on the bench beside our front door. A garland of everlasting flowers bound the lilies together with a giant wooden rosary.

A few days ago, that man named the WiFi network in our home, “Crispy Mountain Air.” “That’s how I know I am a mountain person and not a beach person,” my husband said. “I love crispy mountain air.”

My heart leapt because I realized that being mountain people was something we had in common. He grew up halfway around the world, in the mountains of Mexico City. But last summer was the first time we spent an entire month in the mountains together—in Mexico and Colorado.

My mountain man

This year, we celebrate our 10th anniversary, and he suggested that we celebrate somewhere “with crispy mountain air.” It took me a decade to realize I have found my mountain man.

Then again, appreciating what you already have is a gift that comes from the space and clarity of being in the mountains. That our first kiss was under a pine tree should have been a sign.

(A mother, writer and teacher, the author thanks her mother for the gift of growing up among Benguet pines. This article was written for the book, “Philippine Native Trees 101; Up Close and Personal,” a joint project of the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Health Environment and Sustainable Economy; Hortica Filipina Foundation Inc., and the BINHI Project of the Energy Development Corp.)

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Baguio City , married life , Pine Trees , Relationships , Sagada , Single Life

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  2. Lover’s quarrel linked to hunger – study
  3. Encounter with a ‘Mangkukulam’
  4. ‘Kamias’ for fever, ‘siling labuyo’ for headache–first aid in the kitchen
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. ‘Heaven is for Real’: Nonfiction book on life after death reaches screen
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Aquino urges public to help prevent brownouts, keep aircon usage low
  • 292 missing, 3 dead in South Korea ferry disaster
  • Romblon mining site collapses; 3 killed
  • South Korea says 295 missing in ferry disaster
  • OFW who returned home from UAE tests positive for MERS-CoV – DOH chief
  • Sports

  • China, Taiwan rout foes for 3rd, 5th places in Asian Club volleyball
  • Ginebra’s new import Freeman arrives, makes PBA return vs ROS
  • Fielder ends HR drought, Rangers beat Mariners 5-0
  • Power Pinoys salvage 7th place in Asian men’s volley club championship
  • Knicks prevent Nets from clinching fifth seed
  • Lifestyle

  • Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Entertainment

  • Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao’s greatest hits
  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Business

  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • Visa-free travel to Japan could boost tourism
  • 2 PCG men ordered arrested over Balintang Channel shooting
  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Relief worker draws inspiration from helping Yolanda victims
  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes