memory's sacred domain

moments mundane and magical

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Rescued from my defunct blog (12/1/2004): 

, a memory: a short interlude, three workless days of a long weekend.

The usual visits to the usual places — since we had with us some first-time visitors to the city — but this time there is the Mall to reckon with, with an architecture arguably well executed , although  the idea of putting up yet another shopping center in a mountain city already crowded with the undesirable excesses of urbanization just couldn’t be a well-conceived idea.  An open Mall it is, indeed.  And to the bargain book-addict that I am, features a most welcome well-stocked Booksale shop. Filipinos are seemingly forever enamored with Malls.

Ah, this Baguio of polluted air, too much traffic, bulldozed over and tree-less hills now dotted with houses of all sizes and shapes, too many tourists; yet it somehow retains its quaint charm, and the cool hugs of mountain air in the early mornings and in the evenings.

My first trip to the city nearly a decade ago was a rush through the eye of what is yet the worst typhoon ever to hit the Philippines in recent years, a calamity whose name I have since forgotten, but which I remember still with a quick stab in the heart, because it was a trip made in pursuit of a love that wasn’t meant to be.  I remember coming down from that heady trip back into a metropolis terribly beaten up by a super typhoon, with a heart full of self-doubt about the wisdom behind the mad rush to the mountain city. Yet it was a trip that would be followed by another and another and another, and another,  until it would grow tired of its own promise, (because in the end, the promise would prove false).Walking down Session Road in the short interlude, thoughts of the Baguio lass who had once owned my heart flooded my mind: she may well be married now, but what if I drop by her family’s residence on Honeymoon Road? It was a what if I could smile about now, somehow, after the long passage of time. I decided against the wisdom of the idea.

The Baguio of those days will be a bitter-sweet memory, as the song goes, those days that, in many ways, certainly changed my life, changed me. Oh, there was a new place to explore, my officemate’s old ancestral house near Wright Park, which he had billed as haunted. True enough, the first night of our short stay everyone trooped to the place, a compound with a ten-room house perched on the shoulder of a low hill, accessible only through a steep driveway left in sheer disrepair; I joined the throng but at the last minute, just as the group was going down the dark steps of a trail to the compound garden, decided to go for Session Road instead, one the excuse that I needed cash from my bank’s  ATM.  One of our drivers and an office messenger went with me;

On the way out, my companions claimed to have seen the ghost of white lady standing by our car. The driver claimed to have earlier seen the woman by the gate as he drove on the way up. He had thought she was the compound’s caretaker.  The messenger, who was at the back seat, had pulled the hood of his jacket, nervously telling me and  the driver not to look back and to drive straight past  the opened gate. I thought nothing of it but looked ahead, my thoughts flying somewhere else – to that place where memories of  her remain.  I didn’t notice anything peculiar,nor did I sense anything spooky about that place, except that I didn’t like the idea of ghost-hunting. Meanwhile, the rest of the pack we had left behind came out of the hunt disappointed that they didn’t meet any ghost at all. They had to content themselves with listening later to my companions’ tale of having been haunted by the lady dressed in a haze of white.

Perhaps, they did see the ghost, but I didn’t. I believe in the realm of the supernatural, but I go by the theology of a spiritual realm peopled by deceiving spirits of Lucifer’s great fall from Heaven. Which should make the ide of ghost-hunting a lot more scary.

Our last night in the city we held a bonfire at the garden of the same supposedly haunted compound: it was a hassle-free affair, no ghosts, nothing, but we sure enjoyed the experience of crowding around  the fire to roasted sticks of hotdogs and marshmallows. It’s indeed quite an experience, the fragrant smell of pine wood burning in the late night, the heat warding off the embrace of the cold mountain air, the juicy taste of hotdogs and marshmallows, the happy shouts and murmurs of people brought into a huddle by the expediency of the moment.

At the end of the short interlude, we left a city that,  a few days later, would erupt with reports of a deadly contagion named Meningococcemia.

Written by Romel

May 4, 2018 at 6:36 am

Posted in love

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An invitation

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Written by Romel

May 8, 2013 at 3:12 am

Posted in balak, beauty, love, poetry, tula

One for poetry month

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Haiku ng pagsinta


Sa  seda

ng iyong mga kamay,

halik ng mga pangarap.


April 5, 2013, 12:33 am

Written by Romel

April 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Posted in balak, beauty, love, poetry, tula

Tagged with , , , , ,

poetry recalled

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And if I look in my heart,
it is always you that I see.
-Graffigny, Lettres d’une Peruvienne


The coffee
I love
reminds me
of my
round eyes –

what sweet
lies hidden
in its syrupy

I look in
my cup
and Nocturnes
I hear
her gaze
to play
in my heart.
And then
I take
a sip,

Romel Regalado Bagares, coffee study series, no. 1

Written by Romel

March 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Posted in beauty, coffee, love, tula

Tagged with , ,

The things I love

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Gideon Strauss, senior fellow at the Center for Public Justice, asked me to participate as one of several guest bloggers on his blog. In this SIX BIG QUESTIONS  project inspired by the thought of  his friend Steven Garber,  the guest bloggers are asked to list down the things they love and then, to answer the other FIVE  big questions:

What do I believe?

Who am I?

where do I belong?  

What possibilities are afford to me what constraints are imposed on me by my time and place?

What contributions am I called to make?

Here is my response to the first question: What do I love?

Written by Romel

November 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

What moves me

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Yes, I sometimes catch myself crying over a sad movie. Small injustices stir me to anger. Poetry moves me. At church, I get a lump in my throat and mist in my eyes over a well-loved ancient hymn. I love to walk under the shade of the acacia trees on UP Campus. I thrill to the sight of a golden sunset. A rare book I find hidden in a pile of forgettable books at a used book shop get me all excited. Above all, your pretty face could make my head turn.

Written by Romel

September 27, 2010 at 5:04 am

Posted in balak, love, Uncategorized

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I was around five when I first fell in love. My very first day in grade school. I remember it oh so vividly: I didn’t want to go to school, at least not yet, preferring instead to spend my afternoons chasing dragonflies in the grassy lot behind our house. I had had my taste of kindergarten and didn’t quite get the hang of it. But Mama, who was a public school teacher, wanted to enroll me as a salingpusa in a colleague’s class; there I was – furiously wiping away tears with my hands as I stood behind my mother’s skirt and oblivious to her entreaties that things will be okay as soon as I meet my teacher- when she passed by.

She seemed to float as she walked, this pretty girl who, from out of nowhere, entered my life at such an inopportune time. It was such a fleeting but heavenly moment; she threw a glance at me and and my tear-soaked gaze met hers; the embarrassed cry-baby in me smiled at her, and she smiled back, and then she went on her sweet, sweet way; I don’t remember now if at that time, she was with her mother. All I remember were her lovely round eyes and the dimples on her cheeks. Inexplicably, my heart beat like mad as my tender gaze followed her, until she disappeared in the noisy sea of students excited to attend their first day at the Lagao Central Elementary School.

Right there and then, I decided that I was going to like school after all, and then–dutifully headed for Mrs. Tulio’s class.

Written by Romel

March 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Posted in love, W. schooldays

Tagged with ,

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(Non)stirrings of the past

I feel a certain tug in the heart reading this poem by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska:


They say
the first love’s most important
but not my experience.

Something was and wasn’t there between us,
something went on and went away.

My hands never tremble
when I stumble on silly keepsakes
and a sheaf of letters tied with string —
not even ribbon.

Our only meeting after years:
the conversation of two chairs
and a chilly table.

Other loves
still breathe deep inside me.
This one’s too short of breath even to sigh.

Yet, just exactly as it is,
it does what others still can’t manage:
not even seen in dreams,
it introduces me to death.

– from the New Yorker Anniversary Issue (2004)
(translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Written by Romel

June 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

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