Years before I had the opportunity to travel outside of the Philippines, I have always wondered how the people in other countries looked like, how they dressed, and how they would go about their daily lives. Even when I was still a much younger boy back in my home province of Cebu, I also was curious about other Filipinos ... the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu, the Igorots in the Mountain provinces, the Ilocanos, Waray-warays, Bicolanos, and Tagalogs. Often I would wonder if they just looked like us Cebuanos and also did the same things we normally would do.
It was only in my late twenties when I was able to start travelling to other countries. In old Saigon in South Vietnam where I stayed for two years, I saw for myself what Vietnamese people were really like and how similar in many ways they were to us Filipinos. A few years later I traveled to Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, and also South Korea ... seeing for myself all these different people, and learning about their cultures, traditions, customs, and their ways of living. Looking back, I realized that people may differ in some aspects but they are also very much similar in many ways after all.
If you are not a Filipino and have never been to a city such as Baguio, I'm sure you would also be just like me when I was a young boy and started getting curious about other people in different countries. There is no doubt that in your mind you would like to have a better and more accurate picture of the people of Baguio ... for whatever reason there might be. Perhaps some questions that would come to your mind are: How do these people look like? What clothes do they wear? Do they live in trees and go around naked? Does an Igorot male still wear a g-string and do the females openly exposed the upper part of their bodies in public? Do they still use bows, arrows, and spears to hunt? Are they headhunters? It won't be surprising to know if these questions are asked and I certainly couldn't blame you for being ignorant about it.
In order to clear some doubts about the looks and ways of the people of Baguio, I decided to briefly write about this matter and show actual and candid photographs of those who live in my hometown. The different photographs shown in this page should provide a better idea of how these people look like, how they dress, and how they go about their respective ways. They really are not much different from people you would see in many other Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, Singapore, or in Malaysia. In fact, they are just almost like any other Asian-American you would find in the streets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu. Just like their counterparts abroad, our young people do wear signature clothes, use sneakers and high heels, put on lipstick and mascara, go dancing and drinking at discos and bars, and a large number of students, employees, and professionals now use the Internet and even have their own e-mail addresses and Websites. Yes, the people of Baguio City are very much abreast with modern life and technology. They certainly are not the same people of the mountains we used to sing about in grade school.
[ Click on a "thumbnail image" to view the photo in a larger size format ]
The photographs portrayed above were taken last September 20, 2000 when I was visiting Baguio. That Wednesday afternoon I positioned myself with my two Nikon cameras at the lower end of Session Road, the main thoroughfare of the city. It was past 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon when I started taking the candid photographs of people walking down a sidewalk at the vicinity of Mido Inn and Mercury Drugstore. I stayed in position for over an hour and only stopped taking pictures when the sun started to set. In order not to make people conscious about what I was doing, I had to use a 210 mm telephoto lens to get as close to them as possible. There were some who did notice my camera being focused on them and they were indeed curious as to what I was doing. I tried my best to take a sampling of photographs which could represent a good cross-section of the residents of the city.
In the different photographs I took, you will see some old and young people, males and females, students and probably some professionals. Captions have not been provided since it is believed that each picture should be self-explanatory in itself. Hopefully the photographs I took will be able to project a better idea and a clearer understanding of just how the people from Baguio City look like and go about their ways. If you are from Baguio City or still have relatives and friends in the city, take a close look at each photograph for you might just recognize someone.