We were ready for summer even if it came early this year, what with Holy Week beginning almost as soon as April did. Without a vacation home of our own—and I’m not complaining, but in fact feeling relieved—Vergel and I have to plan out-of-town trips months ahead.
Actually, beating the crowd to choice accommodations is part of our summer fun. Also, having no home province of our own—ah, another old lament that has turned positive for us—our choices are wider, although Baguio is still easily a favorite.
I had arranged for Holy Week reservations as early as last Christmas, when we were last there. Considering that we do little more than walk around and breathe the mountain air to feel refreshed and revitalized, it’s got to be Baguio’s weather and sentimental charm that keep us coming back. For Mona and her dad, Tex, my youngest son, Baguio means especially horseback-riding.
Until Tex moved back from the United States for good, it had been my eldest child, Gia, riding with toddler Mona. Aunt Gia, of course, is more than qualified, having had more than enough practice with her own three children. I like to tease Tex and Gia that all they could show for all those expensive lessons in horsemanship was riding Baguio horses, dwarves compared with their old mounts.
For me and Vergel, the culmination of a Baguio vacation is a fix of Simply Strawberry Sundaes at the Food Station near the rides.
Baguio is only four hours from Manila now, and looking for accommodations, if done early enough, should be no problem, either. It’s the packing that’s tedious, maybe because I can’t seem to change my habits: Even when I know all hotels provide practically all the bathroom and bedroom amenities, I can’t seem to stop bringing our own, including slippers.
But the one thing I’ve mastered is packing the minimal amount of clothes. I’m proud to say I can fit everything into one carry-on. Of course, its primary contents are things critical to our happy and healthy existence—mainly, medicines and, especially, my hair-saving lotion, whose absence I dare not risk, if I treasure what growth I still have on my head.
At another time, in our menopausal years, it was the hormone pills we couldn’t do without. I can’t imagine how we could have survived the curse of hot flushes without them. A peer confessed that on one vacation, she and her family had entered the last La Union town before Baguio when she realized she had forgotten her pills and had to send her driver back to Manila. We hot-flushers immediately understood.
Nowadays, despite the blessed fact that Vergel and I are still relatively healthy, we seem to be taking more natural herbal supplements than we need, but we’re completely sold on them. It’s our girl, Lani—bless her heart—who prepares our daily his-and-her packets.
Those are only maintenance medications and daily supplements, and we’re not even sick yet. There are yet emergency remedies for unforeseen but probable situations that may arise on out-of-town trips—pills and syrups for cold and fever and allergies, antibiotic ointments, medicated patches, balms, eye and nose drops, alcohol, insect repellents, sunscreen lotions, and now, a newly discovered nose strip that makes me breathe easier and sleep better. Alas, the packing habits of a determined survivor like myself die hard.
My traveling handbag is, among other things, a survival kit the size of my imagined fears. It bulges with emergency readiness: extra underwear, wipes, tissue paper, room spray, an extra pair of glasses, apart from sunglasses, for Vergel and me, and soda crackers for anticipated hunger between stops. My cosmetic bag carries the basics—cleansing and moisturizing creams, pressed powder, blush-on, and two shades of lipsticks.
Since what I bring is all our own, I take home all the hotel complimentary toiletries, including the bedroom slippers, handy for my houseguests.
Once our suitcase and my handbag are packed, I’m ready for anything anywhere, be it Baguio or any other summer choices—Hidden Valley, Boracay, Punta Fuego or nearby Tagaytay.
My own youth was filled with memorable summers with my parents, and aunts and uncles and cousins. I also have my own fill of summer memories from when my children were young. Vergel himself having been raised in Malabon, a paradise for boys in his time, must have imaginary summer albums of his own and with his children, as well.
Getting together later in life, Vergel and I have some catching up to do. And it is at this time of year that we consider ourselves particularly blessed, for there’s no time like summer for making memories of our own with our grown-up children and our grandchildren.