Baguio Bakla


This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, December 28, 2004 was originally posted on January 04, 2005.

DAY 437:  The city of Baguio is the “summer capital” of the Philippines, a place to retreat to even if it is technically winter in December.  As the self-proclaimed “greenest” and “cleanest” city in the Philippines, it is a city nestled in the mountainous pine forest of northern Luzon, where the presidents of the Philippines go to get away from the smoggy air pollution of metro Manila — although from what I saw, there was still no escape from the brown haze of progress.

It was a 7-hour southbound drive to Baguio from Banaue, which we started bright and early in the morning.  Are we there yet? was the general vibe for JayPee and me in the back of the sedan.  He entertained himself making video close-ups of his face on a digital camera while I typed up some entries on my laptop until the battery ran out.  Afterwards, I passed the time trying to teach JayPee how to make droplet noises with his cheeks.  Before we knew it, we were driving in the hills of the pine forest on the outskirts of town as a mid-day fog was coming in.

MY TITA JOSIE, MY DAD’S COUSIN who apparently knows a lot of people who know people, recommended her friend’s fancy mid-range hotel on the outskirts of Baguio City, where we ended up checking in.  The decor of the place was tastefully done with a Europe-meets-Asia sort of motif, and it was no surprise when I learned that the well-off owner, Boy (a common nickname for the youngest born male in a family), was possibly bakla (gay).  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, especially in the Philippines; according to my Let’s Go guide, “homosexuality [is] far more readily accepted for both men and women in the Philippines than in other parts of Southeast Asia.”  While traditional Catholic Filipinos might deny this, they cannot deny the fact that there are many baklas thriving successfully in the Philippines as well as the Filipino community abroad.  (Let’s Go goes more in-depth into the Filipino gay scene further with an interview with John Abul, Manila Bakla in a sidebar in the guidebook, which you can read here.)

Boy was expecting us and was excited when we finally arrived.  He greeted us with a cheery face and then put us up in the suite on the top floor, a great place with cable TV, a living room set, and a view of the valley where the mid-day fog was still coming in.  Boy seemed especially excited to meet me, supposedly because he was a traveler too, thrilled about his upcoming trip to Europe. 

Although I can’t be for sure, I suspected his excitement went beyond me being a traveler from New York, what with my track record of being hit on by gay men:  gay co-workers, gay guys off the street in my old neighborhood, that gay Peruvian chef on the boat bound for the Amazon, a guy in a Cape Town bar that bought me drinks all night and tried to take me home (who ended up in a deleted scene until now).  I am however, not gay — despite what some Blogreaders have told me they’ve suspected — and I did not go home with that guy, although I’ll admit I did take full advantage of the free beers.  (Free beer?  Sure!  Hey, when you’ve got it, you’ve got it.)

“Okay, hali ka na,” (“Let’s go”) my Tito Pepito said, finally interjecting the conversation that I was stuck in with Boy that wouldn’t seem to end.  We hopped in the Toyota and left him in his fashionable lobby — not that we were trying to be rude; we were just hungry and wanted to eat.

AFTER SLUMMING IT THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS in rice terrace country, it was time for my city slicker relatives and I to go back to the familiar scene of a shopping mall, the big SM City Baguio in town, a big multi-level shopping and dining complex on top of a mountain.  It was there we walked passed the Goldilocks bakery that sold dinuguan in take-out pouches, and went to the Ifugao wood carved statue in front of Gerry’s Grill, which served fine continental and Filipino cuisine:  alimasag (crab, picture above), crispy pata (deep-fried pork knuckles), and pancit palabok (noodles in a special tangy sauce).  The four of us enjoyed our lunch near a terrace where a crisp, mountain breeze was clearing out the fog.

“Hey, there’s Boy,” my uncle pointed out.  The possibly bakla hotel owner was coming up the escalator.

Um, is this guy stalking me? was my initial reaction — not that I’m a homophobe or anything.  But Boy was just doing his own thing and went on his way.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PARKING GARAGE, we left the Toyota in the deck and proceeded on foot to the town center to Burnham Park, a central park with a small town community feel where people came for picnics and to take boats out in the little lagoon in the middle.  JayPee and I took a boat out and cruised for a bit, amidst the other boats in shapes of cobras, ducks and swans, and then we walked with my aunt and uncle up to the Baguio Cathedral to catch the sunset

After the sunset, the winds started to pick up and we head back to the hotel, where Boy was nowhere to be found.  The winds were so strong that the cable was all messed up; the only news we could get of the Asian Tsunami was from NDTV, India’s 24/7 news network.  The rising death toll depressed the hell out of me, so I hooked up my iBook to the TV so we could watch something a little more uplifting, a bootleg DVD of After The Sunset starring Hollywood hotties Salma Hayek and Pierce Brosnan.  Man, that Pierce Brosnan is a piece of work — as an actor I mean, of course — although if he was trying to pick me up with free beers, I probably wouldn’t deny them.  Hey, free beer is free beer.


Next entry: A Brief History Of The Philippines

Previous entry: From City Slicker To Backpacker

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Comments for “Baguio Bakla”

  • First!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  03:43 PM

  • HAHA you are gay.
    not that there is anything wrong with that

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  07:32 PM

  • actually WHEAT is bakla…hahaha…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  09:50 PM

  • The pancit palabok looks good. Whats the green ball in the bottom corner of the photo?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  10:43 PM

  • MICHELLE:  It’s calamansi, the limes they have in the region; you squeeze it on as a garnish as you would a football-shaped lime…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  11:55 PM

  • And everything is surrounded by like banana leaves or something??

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  01:45 AM

  • NOELLE:  Yup, but mainly for aesthetics…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  03:47 AM

  • I wonder what other “deleted scenes” there are.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  01:46 PM

  • TDOT:  re: deleted scenes… Oh man, I could write a book…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  02:39 PM

  • You Should! I’d read it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  03:37 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
A Brief History Of The Philippines

Previous entry:
From City Slicker To Backpacker


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