MANILA, January 5, 2004 (STAR) Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) security officials are implementing tight security measures, specially for US-bound passengers and aircrafts.

Airport Security chief Gen. Angel Atutubo (retired) deployed a team of airport police with trained bomb sniffing dogs at the vicinity of the airport and even inside aircrafts before they roll out of the bay as part of the airport’s tight security being implemented.

All US-bound passengers at the terminals 1 and 2 will have to submit to body searches and will be required to remove their shoes as part of the security check.

Malacańang allows the presence of air marshalls inside departing aircrafts to protect passengers from any terrorist threat or attack.

Gen. Atutubo said that they were on the highest level of alert and they are asking for passengers’ cooperation.

About six trained bomb sniffing dogs were also deployed to scan baggages, patrol the tarmac where aircrafts are docked and ensure the safety of these aircrafts from attack. — Rudy Santos

COLUMN: Baguio’s highs and lows TURO-TURO By Claude Tayag The Philippine STAR 01/01/2004

We meant to stay only for one night, but the moment we got off the car and felt the cold wind on our faces, we knew right away we just had to stay for another. We would have stayed on even longer if only we could. I will always have a soft spot for Baguio.

Back in 1984 (Wow, that’s two decades ago na pala!), I lived in Baguio, renting the second floor of a pre-World War II wooden house, just like the cottages in the old John Hay, on Gen. Luna St., a street away from where the Pink Sisters are. There, I found myself painting the Cordilleras, dreaming and cooking for friends, like Wig Tysmans, who was then still a fledging photographer, and wife Carole, my cabalen Pynky Gomez and sister Daisy Maulbecker, who, years later, perished at the Hyatt Terraces in the 1990 earthquake.

I used to walk down my street, crossing Gen. Luna Park, going up towards Baguio Cathedral, then down again towards the public market, passing by St. Louis University.

At the market, I would literally scrounge for the catch of the day, which could vary from half a kilo of lechon, with some flowering pechay thrown in, or some fresh fish grilled or made into pesa (boiled with rice and ginger), to a nilagang manok or bulalo. It became a daily routine, a great way to exercise, but mainly for my daily sustenance.

Sometimes in the afternoons, I would do the rounds of the antique shops in Marbey (Maharlika Hall) near the wet market. Merienda would be this grilled longganisa on hot pan de sal sold on the sidewalk along Abanao St., or palitaw and salabat near the fruit vendors. It was in Marbey where I first had an awareness of antique Igorot crafts and textiles, and hanging around the Gomez sisters, and even joining them on several trips to Sagada, made me appreciate more the rich culture of the Mountain Province.

One didn’t have much choice when dining out that time, well, save for Star Café and Rose Bowl for Chinese food, Mario’s Steak House for steaks and salads, Session Café for lugaw, and no place else for safe food. But even then, I used to go to this shack called Mother’s, frequented by taxi drivers and employees, right below Nevada Inn, before it also collapsed during the 1990 earthquake, where they served barbecued chicken and a deep-fried beef steak (Me suspects it was carabeef.), so tasty (almost like bistek) and tender. One had to eat it fast, though, as it tended to get a bit chewy as it starts to cool, forming a ring of sebo (coagulated fat) around one’s lips in the cold air. A serving cost all of P10!

At the end of those two years, I closed that memorable chapter with an exhibition at Galerie Dominique at the Hyatt Terraces, which was managed by Daisy’s daughter Meg Locsin, with a collection of watercolor landscapes of the Cordilleras. The lure of Baguio has never left me all these years.

This was all before I met this woman, who loves to tail me everywhere, and I now introduce as my wife. My life was simpler then. I could go and stay as I wished. I remember Bongbong Marcos, when asked while still a bachelor why he was still unmarried, replying "I move faster alone," or words to that effect. I’m not complaining, though. Really, I’m slowly getting used to waiting an hour for the bathroom, having the car loaded with three extra sets of shoes and enough clothes to last a week, just in case we get stranded somewhere, and having no choice but to listen to an incessant discourse on almost everything as I drive, to keep me awake and alert, she claims. If only I could change stations or turn it off completely like the radio. There’s never been a dull moment since I got hooked on that gal. Oh, well, we just have to live with some things in life!

That evening Mary Ann and I arrived at the Baguio County Club, we bumped into family friends Tito Amado and Celia Narciso Dee and her siblings on their way to Rose Bowl for dinner. Immediately, we dropped our appointment for massage and joined them.

For my wife and many others, a Baguio trip is not complete without a meal at Rose Bowl. It is more of a tradition than anything, bringing back nostalgia of family holidays before fast-food chains invaded the City of Pines, just like Star Café or Dainty, where early risers and journalists would have coffee every morning.

Rose Bowl is your typical Chinese restaurant to be found in any province in the Philippines. The food is generally passable, what I would describe as Filipinized Chinese food, like the sweet and sour pork, yang chow fried rice, chopsuey, pancit canton, hototay soup and beef with onions. Out of habit, we dip everything in kalamansi, toyo and chili sauce as the food is generally bland in taste. I always enjoyed its lechon kawali with flowering pechay. I’ve never been disappointed as the pork belly is consistently crispy. An interesting dish that is not on the menu but one can order is the watercress with three-kinds mushrooms in oyster sauce, a vegetarian dish for me, for a change. Rose Bowl, now in its 35th year, remains popular as ever among visitors to Baguio. Just like walking up and down Session Rd., you will most likely bump into familiar faces ordering the same dishes as you would.

The following morning, we braved the cold weather and heard the first of the nine-day 5 a.m. misa de gallo Mass at St. Joseph Church. It was refreshingly nice to hear ethnic music incorporated in the Mass hymns. Five native lads walked down the aisle in single file, playing their gongs, ushering the entry of the priest.

Standing outside during the Mass – it was an SRO crowd – I noticed several taho vendors out in the churchyard, but none of the usual bibingka and puto bumbong vendors we normally see in the lowlands. The hot taho must be to warm the bodies. By noontime, we headed back to the BCC parking lot and walked outside the gate towards Camp John Hay. On a tip from my brother Mario Tayag, who joined the Fil-Am tournament the previous week, we headed to the other side of the fence. Trust the Pinoys to name these two neighboring shanties with colorful monikers – the karinderia named Over the Bakod and Rimando’s Countryside Restaurant, with tel. no. 0920-3879065. Both are located right behind the exclusive Baguio Country Club property wall.

This I recommend only to the brave and adventurous. Literally cross the bakod (fence), passing the attendant and the horses’ station reeking of the smell of dung and urine. If you survive this, you’ve passed the initial test and should reward yourself with a round of papaitan and beer.

Rimando’s may be basic and quaint-looking, with its colorful plastic covered tables and a Sto. Nino as highlight of the décor, but it probably serves the best honest-to-goodness homecooked food on this side of the fence. Mary Ann and I had papaitan (the real McCoy), a boiled fat crab and five pieces of tiger prawns, served with tomatoes, green mango and bagoong, kalderetang kambing, and two cups of rice, all for a little less than P300.

The place doesn’t worry about ambience, but puts all its effort into its food. It’s as homecooked as homecooked can be. Manang Helen Rimando, the chef owner, refills one’s order of papaitan or bulalo with broth without being asked. She makes the diner feel he’s a pampered houseguest and not merely a paying customer. She even gave us several macapuno candy bars to go with our doggy bag. This may not be the place for the finicky, but it’s definitely worth the gastronomic experience. It is frequented by locals and out-of-towners alike, particularly BCC members crossing over the bakod for papaitan and kalderetang kambing after a round of golf.

After a long siesta, then a dip at the heated BCC pool and a massage, we decided to have something a little bit high end for dinner (Enough of the adventurous stuff!) and that could be nothing else but Salud. It is located in Lourdes Subd., just off Quirino Hi-way (formerly Naguilian Rd.), a few meters past the "God Speed" arch. Salud, with tel. no. 0917-8154055, is owned and managed by chef Paul Poblador and his wife Nina, the daughter of Patis Tesoro, on what used to be a Tesoros holiday house, and is now a shabby chic bistro serving pan-Asian with a French flair.

The menu, which chef Paul and his Californian chef assistant Tony Conti change every month, has a rich sopa de ajo, chicken teriyaki Caesar salad, crisp-fried stuffed tofu, soy-glazed tilapia fillets, stewed shank and ox-tail Burgundy-style and braised lamb, to name a few. I particularly enjoyed the mushroom-carrot-spring roll with watercress salad and roasted half native duck with sauce a l’orange, served with kamote and carrot puree.

Salud is an interesting place and a nice addition to the food choices in Baguio. The ambiance is relaxed, the service warm and the dishes innovative. It is a nice place to wine and dine a girlfriend, and in my case a beautiful date – the wifey. And if you’re a family man, I recommend you leave the hyperactive rascals back in the hotel, as they might disturb the peace the adult diners enjoy.

The following morning, we headed back home passing by the EPZA flea market down Loakan Rd. There were clothes and beddings galore, and the reddest poinsettias at the King Louis booth, being offered at half the price in Manila. Mary Ann filled the back seat and trunk with flowers that I had to fix the pots each time I needed to get a drink from my cooler. She doesn’t normally like shopping – something unusual for a woman, I know, and she keeps reminding me how lucky I am – but she succumbed to the beauty of the deep-red poinsettias and healthy pink million-flower plants. Again, I’m not complaining. I enjoyed seeing her shop excitedly, no matter how rare. Though as Bongbong said, I could have moved faster, to which I say, I choose to be happier.

Happy New Year to all!

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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