Back in November, Ma’am Kana and I were working on lesson plans for the students in the various grade levels of CE that we share. At the end of the Fourth-year outline, there was mention of the Church’s role in society. Immediately, I knew who I wanted to call in to speak about that. Besides, it would give her an excuse to visit when Baguio wasn’t pouring down rain and fog.
Fast-forward several months and the time came. I invited Ashley Cameron to come up and visit, to talk about her work with the diocese of Santiago. Before her visit, I threatened my fourth-year students with death/severe maiming if they weren’t good for Ashley, because I knew she was taking a lot of time out of her schedule for this visit right at her busy season.
Ashley was a brilliant speaker, and I think the students got a lot out of it. We can talk all we want about what Christian values are, but it takes seeing how they are applied on the ground to really understand what the Church should be about. Ashley’s work in Santiago is about applying the baptismal creed to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to respect the dignity of every human being: her work in micro-finance gives her clients a sense of self-respect and dignity that is often under-represented in traditional charity. Moreover, I think the students could see the love Ashley has for her work, how much she cares about and respects some of her clients as they work to improve their lives and their communities. Students can always tell when you are being sincere, and even more than my threats, I think that’s what kept them listening and engaged for the most part.
After our classes were over, it was time to explore more of the Baguio/La Trinidad area. We specifically went to events and places to tour that would have been miserable last time in the rain: the Bell Church, Miner’s View, Tam-Awan Village. And luckily, she was just in time to come and see one of the highlights of the year in Baguio: the Panabenga Flower Festival. We watched the street dance parade on Saturday and each pretty much wiped out our cameras on photos of the dancers. She couldn’t stay till Sunday to see the float parade, unfortunately. As it was, we filled our Saturday to the point where we needed to race back to Easter College after dinner to get her bags before she caught a taxi out to the bus station.
This is the main building of the Bell Church. The second you walk onto the grounds, you no longer feel like you are in the Philippines. Everything around you looks straight out of China.
After lunch at Miner's View, we caught another cab out to Tam-Awan Village. Tam-Awan is an artist's enclave started by BenCab, a famous Baguio-based artist. I don't have many pictures from there, as we weren't allowed to take photos of the artist's work. Tam-Awan is built going up the side of one of the surrounding mountains, and there's a hiking trail you can take up to see various views. It was wonderful, and I'm going to visit again sometime when I'm wearing better shoes, as my sandals were not the best choice for going up and down very narrow and steep paths.
Both Ashley and I had our portraits sketched by artists working there. This is how mine turned out: