Monday, April 04, 2011

Three and a half days in Mankayan, Benguet

My trip to Mankayan, Benguet had been scheduled months in advance and it was something I thought I had prepared for adequately.

After all, what would be difficult about teaching kids about news writing and blogging?  Over the years, I've gotten quite adept in using these skills both for short run and continuing communication projects.  Even if I had to brush up on some fundamentals and look for appropriate discussion frameworks, I knew that I knew all I needed to know in order to teach high school kids how to write a news article and how to start a blog.  I also knew that I had to round out quite a few corners and compress a few lessons in order to make the most out of the 3.5 days I had to teach everything I needed to teach.

What I didn't know was that I'd fall in love with the small village nestled deep in valleys of Benguets verdant, soaring peaks.

I know.. I know...

Some may say that urban bred writers always extol virtues of small town life in ways that makes people in small towns cringe and say, "What the hell is he talking about?"

It's the same thing I feel whenever a foreigner fresh from the flight says that "You have a beautiful country."

But really, Mankayan is beautiful.

Now here's one of the reasons why I say Mankayan is beautiful: I remember talking with Lisa Araneta (proprietor of Alfredo's) about the Baguio of our youth and our longing for those days when the Summer Capital of the country.

In that long conversation over coffee, I think we virtually reconstructed the Baguio of the 70's and 80's.  We remembered the smell and sight of thousands of pines surround the city, the whole experience of it engorged you on the top of Session road.

And nope, Pinesol doesn't smell anything like the Pines of Baguio. (That's false advertising for one air freshener.)

Anyway, it was those memories of the Baguio of my youth that came welling up when I arrived at Mankayan.

Of course, it didn't look anything like Baguio.  But for some reason, Mankayan evoked it so powerfully.

The smell of pine wafting thick in gushes of cold mountain air, the villagers who were always busy with one thing or another, the clean and well-kept houses, the clean streets, and the smiles of children who were trying to figure out what to make of you.

At the Lepanto Mining Site, which was near where I conducted my 3.5 day class, the imagery of the Baguio of my youth seemed super imposed on everything.

In the next few days, I'll be posting lots of pictures from my visit to Mankayan, Benguet.


I would like to thank the teachers and students of the six schools in Mankayan, Benguet that made my experience of their town so vivid and rewarding.

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