Every Christmas, Carlo and I miss some family reunions to fly beyond our Central Luzon backyard. I figure that if I get a heart attack and lose my Class II medical, then I can go to all the family reunions.
Last December’s plan:
1. Baguio to scavenge childhood memories
2. Beaches. La Union!
3. Stunning coastline to Vigan, Ilocos Sur
4. Home for New year
We’ve done this for two years now. Four days together, talking about books, computer games, school. And now, about jobs and serious girlfriends.
This year we had a surprise ending.
Our start date, December 27, was blessed with perfect weather. The image on the left is not retouched.
Maybe we were imagining it, but climbing past 4,500 feet we could almost smell the ripening rice crop, and the sharp tang of carabao dung.
The dirt runway of Paniqui airfield nestles between the sleepy towns of Paniqui, above, and Ramos, below.
We are told that a lone watchman still tends this airstrip, waiting for an aerial emergency.
The trick to enjoying the scenic Cordilleras is to not think about the engine quitting.
This settlement on a mountain top has intrigued us for years.
If the engine does quit, that plateau is the place to glide to. Hopefully they have Jollibee there. Besides, the river below would be far too cold.
I was flying left seat. You can see my landing is far more creative, dignified and artistic than Carlo’s [sniff] barbaric arrival ten days earlier. Humph! 😛
At 2′ 30″ in the video, just after I pass over Kennon Road on short final, the tower said,
“1513 be advised there is a ray gun, near runway touchdown markers.”
It puzzled Carlo too, but I was too busy landing to worry about Klingons or Imperial Stormtroopers.
At the 2′ 38″ mark, you can see the stray dog running off the runway to the right.
The President was at Baguio, so the ramp looked like Khe Sanh or Tora Bora.
Our friends from the 505th Search and Rescue Squadron were there too.
These handsome gods get special mention here because if our engine does quit, they are the ones who will pick us up from the mountain top village.
Baguio was cold — 9 degrees Celsius, the air was clear as a bell. Plus, the 68-year old Star Cafe was open! My Dad fed me breakfast here every year since the late ’50s. I even have a 1959 picture standing in front of it, in diapers.
I’ve always tried to pay it forward with Carlo. But they were always closed for one reason or another. This time, we pigged out on the same mami and congee I remember from my childhood.
Lunch was at Cafe By The Ruins. We loved their food in 2004, cooled off in 2005, despaired in 2006-07. Market Manila reported similarly on this clinical history.
Last year, they must have gotten the old chef back. The pinikpikan, chicken beaten gently with sticks before slaughtering, was tasty again (unless you’re from the SPCA), the lumpia crisp and fresh, and the longganisang hubad had nothing to be ashamed of.
Carlo’s eyes are cropped out so that our criticism will remain anonymous.
We also vandalized their menu. They had “Poets,” but we had a better “P” word!
The day’s highlight was dinner at Mario’s, a family favorite.
Gambas, lentejas con chorizo, salpicao. We always ask wistfully about their corned beef and cabbage, even if they took it off the menu a million years ago.
They did have Alphie, on-the-job trainee for the Christmas Season.
Leadership guru John Maxwell talks about eagle jobs and duck jobs. You never put a duck in an eagle job — customer service, entertainer, call center agent. Eagles thrive on attention and high energy.
How many accountants make it as President? Ducks — accountants, engineers, geologists — do all the work underwater, while eagles fly high.
This is why we hate going to banks, or government offices. We have to deal with ducks employed in jobs that require eagles.
Alphie hovered nearby all night, quick to offer menus and chat with diners. She sneaked some dessert out for us to sample so we would order it.
OJT servers don’t earn any pay, apparently. They compete for training slots to complete school requirements, and pay for their own board and lodging (Alphie isn’t from Baguio).
We promised to put her picture on the blog 🙂 Fly high, Alphie.
Posted from Amsterdam, February 17, 2009