Saturday, January 22, 2005

Session Road

Session Road, Baguio City

While going through our old photos the other day, I came across this old post card. Session Road is the main thoroughfare in the previously small city of Baguio. This photo is of the area where at least three of the major streets converge, and it was literally the center of town. It was, and still is, where most of the commerce is located. The large building in the forefront looks like it was being used as a market place. The purpose to a large extent, remains the same to this day, but a shopping mall is now in its place. I am sure fellow blogger TingAling will have a better memory than I, she is a veritable walking history book of Baguio :) Her posts on her memories about growing up in Baguio brings back a lot memories to this old addled brain of mine.
When I was growing up, Baguio was still a small town where everyone knows who you are. When my sisters and I decided to run away from home, we couldn't get beyond a couple of blocks before someone who knew our parents spotted us and told us to go home. This is unfathomable now, in this day and age, but as young as 8 or 9 years old, we used to roam the city. The whole city was our playground, and parents had no worries because they knew someone was always watching us. The phrase "it takes a village to raise children"? That was apt then. When we get on a taxi, the driver would inevitably be one of our dad's many friends and acquaintances. Instead of paying the fare, we end up getting a couple of cents for a snack. When we decide to suddenly drop in on someone's home, we were guaranteed at least a snack if not a full meal. Most of the time we also got a ride home or at the very least cab fare. Everyone was an aunt or an uncle, although not necessarily biological. We just called all of our parent's friends auntie or uncle, out of respect.
My sisters and I haven't been to Baguio for over ten or fifteen years now; I hear things have drastically changed. I couldn't tell if it's for better or worse, but I will always remember it as that bucolic little town, the haunting grounds of my childhood.


watson said...

Hello JMom! Way back in high school, we were also asked to do our own family tree. It was only then that I learned that my father had lots of bothers and sisters! And the same is true with my mother! That is one of my projects which I hope to do soon aside from the baguio website. Thanks for giving me permission to use this photo in the website. My parents migrated to Baguio in the late 60s.

Your story of everybody knowing everyone else is true in my childhood days of the 70s. I'll post more old photos in my blog and in the website.

Thank you for visiting the site!

watson said...

Hello JMom! I posted the above photo in my blog too. Thanks again for the permission to use it! I'll be posting it in the website as well.

J and A Mom said...

Oh, how thrilling that you've found this little gem of a postcard! It's so nice to reminisce about the good old are almost as powerful as the sense of smell in the ways it transports one to a different time and place. The pictures you posted of mom and us in Baguio bring back so many memories. I remember our after-church routine with the parents; go to lunch at one of the favorite cafes, usually the Manila Star Cafe (is that right or am I confusing the names?) for pansit loglog (same as palabok, right sis?) then to Burnham Park. It made me chuckle when you mentioned the times when we would "run away", what a hoot! I also remember the old Bombay Bazaar on Session road and how I would dream about the toys I wish I could have from there. I think the same family still run a store on Session road. Thanks for this blog, my 40 year old brain still can remember :-)

JMom said...

Watson, you're welcome! I'll be visiting your blog to see what you've done with our little find :-)

Oh my gawd, sis, you actually admitted being 40?!!!! Now it's in writing, ha!ha!ha! BTW, as our fellow Baguioites will tell you, Star Cafe and Manila Cafe are two different places. Manila Cafe is on Abanao so is the one we frequented most, and Star Cafe is on Session Road, closer to PhilAm Life, so that is where Lolo and all the old fogies had lunch, remember? There were also a couple of restaurants right on the edge of Burnham Park, just belown UCCP where we went to lunch after church. I think TingAling knew the names of those restaurants. This is fun, though, this communal reminiscing, isn't it? I'll try to go through more pictures. Too bad my memory is not so good of our time in Guisad. We have lots of pics there.

ting-aling said...

Oh JMom, I just talked about Bombay Bazaar in my blog. You see a reader wrote me an e-mail. He loves reading my blog about Baguio but he doesn't want to comment. Another one wanted to comment but does not have a blogger account so I made my blog available for "anonymouses".

Unfortunately, it's our busiest season so I could hardly write. I do hop though to keep myself updated.

The picture is indeed Malcolm Square. Pines Theatre remember? Mercury Drug, the City Market Office, tiongsan Bazaar? They're all within that area.

vlado&toni said...

Hi JMom, this is a fantastic picture of Session Road.I just have to show it to my husband. Wow! Keep that postcard in a really safe place, it can be a treasure one of these days especially with the way Baguio is turning out to be.

Anonymous said...

I was really looking for old pictures of Baguio and am glad I found yours. Please post other old ones, I'm sure a lot of people will be interested to see them.

Wasmir (

Anonymous said...

Two months ago, I gave a lecture to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Baguio Chapter on Election Law. Except for one lawyer in the crowd, I could not recognize a familiar face. That got me to talk about the changes in the city, that much of the old Baguio is gone forever.

In the city that I grew up, I told the lawyers that I remember when I would walk down Session Road, I could recognize one in every three or four for the people walking down the street. After the fire in Kayang and Abanao Streets in 1962, my parents decided to build a house in Pacdal, but in the years between the 1962 up to the time we got to move to our new house, we occupied the entire second floor of the building that housed Pohumuls (beside Valiram) that was owned by the Lims. The Stone Building occupied the concrete monstrosity that is now Marbays, when we kids were behaved of got high grades at St. Theresa's, Dad took us for a Poor Boy or a Hamburger at Mile High or for a Sundae at 19th Tee. For one strange reason, Thanksgiving was celebrated (though I think now it was because it fell in during my birthday's or my sisters' three of us were born in late November). We grew up playing baseball at the baseball field beside the mini golf course at John Hay, right in front of the John Hay library and the Px. The market still looked much like the market in the picture.

Baguio was the city of Valirams and Bheromulls and Bombay Bazaar (Tiongsan was a relatively late comer.) In the afternoons, the deal makers and politicians would sip coffee at Dainty or Session Cafe.The businessmen preferred the Star Cafe, beside Bombay bazaar. I remember that the best Chinese food take out was at Kayang restaurant and I still think that its Pancit Canton is unrivalled anywhere here, in Hongkong or Shanghai or in New York. They had the best raisin bread, American rolls and jelly rolls.

One would still see, on weekends, natives in full native dress (bahag for men). The older women were tatooed all over the body in designs so intricate they seem to be a lost art from. Tourists (especially during Holy Week when it was mandatory to trek to Baguio not Boracay)would marvel at the fluency and sophistication speech (in flawless English) of the Igorot vendors and it was a time when in summer, mid-day, it was just a little warm but it was very cold at night (I still remember measuring the cold by the number of woolen blankets mom piled up on us).

I miss Baguio. I am not against development and modernity but I do not equate development with the number of concrete structures built, replacing the quaint old ones. There is another picture in another website of the Baguio City meat and fish market which looks vastly better than the one that replaced it. It reminds me of the Pile Place Market in Seattle, which still survives. Nobody would say that Marbay is better than the Stone Building or SM Better than Baguio's iconic Pines Hotel.

Some structures remain AND CAN STILL BE PRESERVED:

1. The Vallejo Hotel
2. Most of the Structures at John Hay
3. The Session Theatre
4. The Pines Theatre
5. The old STC building (I hope SLU Boy's high which is now occupying the place has not defaced the old structure).

I was told that the City of San Diego has a strict building code that defines what structures may or may not be built. Many of the great old towns in the UK have structures that date back to medieval times. The great old towns have managed to harmonize modernity with the need to preserve their identity and legacy. We don't have a sense of that, and we throw away the best parts of our cities and pine for what should have been, like the old faded pictur that brings to us a lot of memories on this page.

Thank you for posting this picture.

JMom said...

Wow, anonymous, you have a great memory! Those places you mentioned are institutions indeed and should be preserved. I finally made it back to Baguio last Dec. '06 and felt so lost. I almost didn't recognize it. Gone are my old haunting grounds, replaced by throngs of people on every street and new construction everywhere. It is totally transformed.

On the outskirts of the city, you can still feel that old Baguio feeling. Cool, peaceful and beautiful. Of course, the old Baguio families are still there keeping the old fires burning.

Thanks for sharing your memories.

Lisa said...

Hi, I stumbled upon your blog just as I was about to write something about Maharlika taking the place of Stone Building.

I was born too late, having first visited Baguio in 1969 when I was 4 years old and having been in love with the place ever since. I have vivid memories of Baguio in the 1970s and 1980s and am currently struggling to attempt to get our old Baguio back despite present day conditions and personages.

This is a nice post. I do remember Baguio having that small town feel up to the late 1990s. But the deluge of students from the lowlands has changed all that.


blog62Admin said...

Hi JMom...
Finally, I was able to trace this picture back to you, after going backward on an email thread.

I was hoping to get permission to post this picture of Session Road on our class blog & the FB page "Old Baguio Historical Club". I want to give you credit for this picture and want to label it appropriately.
Ag-yaman nak, Aurora

Albert Yan said...

Somewhere in my archives, I have some negatives of the old stone market after it burned down in the late 60s or early 70s. (Was it '69??) Now if only I could find that neg......

ooteyza said...

I was born there. My parents grew up there before the war and saw Baguio from its very early days. I spent many a summers there and have very fond memories of all the places mentioned.

I visited last 2009 and was floored by the changes both good and bad. I prefer the old Baguio but thats just me.

If you get a chance visit VOCAS on the top floor of the Asotea building on Session Rd. The art center was named after my dad.

Nice site btw for young and old Baguio natives.