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Going back and climbing up the high school lane

Going back and climbing up the high school lane

January 2020 ยท 10 min read ยท Benguet

Going back and climbing up the high school lane

When you work in a city which is about 250 kilometers away from home, you will obviously miss a lot of happenings. The chances of visiting your relatives and friends are slim. You need to squeeze your time when you get home. This is what I did on this one fine afternoon. I had the chance to go back to, or at least pass through, my high school campus on my way to visiting a relative in a village behind the school.

I had my high school life at Benguet State University or BSU. Its elementary up to college campus is about one kilometer long stretching from KM 5 to KM 6 along Halsema Highway in the province of Benguet. It was an agricultural school but mostly still is until now even if it already offers STEM and NAT SCI courses.

I entered the campus through its gate at Km. 6 where there is a police outpost. A few hundred meters farther as I crossed the campus proper is this bridge. It is connecting the campus proper and one of the agricultural areas that the school owns behind the campus. During our time, the bridge was just one - for people and vehicles. It was that rotten wooden bridge on the right of the photo. It is self assuring to see now that there are separate pathways for people and vehicle (though that lady in red was in the wrong path).

I wonder why they did not demolish the old bridge but it is amusing to see it like it is. It reminds me of my junior year.

Under the bridge is the Balili River. I was surprised to see clear but lower water level flowing this time. That is because the water level was higher and reaching the banks on both sides during our time. It was almost black back then. It smelled. Rather, it stinked! But that did not stop me from passing my officership for the citizen's army training or CAT.

During my junior year, with black grease as camouflage all over my face, I crossed the river and army-crawled a very low obstacle course along the bank that has pig shits intentionally scattered underneath. And how low was the obstacle? I could not fit as I crawled inside and all flat on the ground. I had to press and shrink my body so that the "roof" of the obstacle do not get lifted and removed. Otherwise, I get my share of punishment from my officer. How are the pig shits? My clothes wiped the ground! Yeah, imagine how I smelled afterwards.

After the bridge is BSU organic farm on the right and a little forward to the left is the Cordillera regional Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR Fish Farm.

During our high school days, my classmates and I had countless opportunities to come to this place and had been wanting to swim in the ponds. Yes, literally! And even if I do not know how to swim. That was how silly our thoughts were. There was, and still is, no notice that swimming is prohibited in the ponds but so far, none of us classmates had the courage to break the unwritten rule.

My destination is up there on the second mountain. Not this one in front. See that skeletal structure above the barb wire on the photo? Zoom if you must to find it. That is where I was going. It is a fairly steep climb and I am not yet at the foot of the mountain.

I don't know how wide the fisheries are but there are many ponds. During the old days, gold fishes (vivid and light orange, actually) were very visible from the pathway and from the dikes. I don't know what kind of fish they were but they were eye catchers that made us always stop and watch for a while every time we walk by. I can see only carps this time. No gold or orange creatures in the water. I wonder if they stopped hatching that breed.

Along the banks of some these ponds were where I and my future classmates had our ten-day trial as part of the entrance qualifications.

The school admits very limited number of students so they have entrance exams to screen their incoming students. For high school, part of our qualifier was to pass the ten-day trial in the farm. What was that? We work for ten days in the farm with whatever we were told to do so. Most of the time, we pulled weeds and the banks of these ponds were part of the work of our hands.

About two hundred meters away from that horse is the foot of the mountain that I need to climb. Finally!

The climb seem to be a 45ยฐ slope. I climbed this a few times over the decades but I do not remember what year was the last one. I think it was three years ago so this will be a refresher climb. Let's go!

I don't know how many meters I have climbed when I first stopped to take a rest. According to the time stamp of my previous photo and this next one, seven minutes and forty nine seconds have passed. I climbed that fast? How do I say so? Because I already covered about a third of the climb. How long is the climb anyway? I'll find out later...

The fisheries are not visible at this point. The whitish areas are strawberry fields covered with plastics to keep the fruits from touching the ground and getting rotten. These fields are also owned by the university.

I have to admit my breathing was getting heavier. My pace has significantly slowed down so I stopped to smell the flowers. ๐Ÿ™ƒ

I did not know the name of this flower. It was just that it was exactly at my eye level when I turned to a curve and it caught my attention. For my post's sake, I searched my photo on the web and got a flower named Fuschia. Just the color of it is its name? Searching further, I gathered that it is also called Lady's eardrop.

By this time, I am now about half-way to my destination. Looking down, I smiled at my climb accomplishment. I was telling myself, "E-Z. You can make it..."

Now the fisheries are there. Those areas with blue cover to the right side of the roof are the fisheries. That side is where I came from.

Moving on after just about a minute, my eyes came across this tiny boquet of beautiful flowers. I also did not know the name of the flower and Google image search did not give exact look-alike result. However, the results that look like these cuties are said to be jasmine. There are many varieties of jasmine though, even the colors. For the scent, these ones did not smell something. I thought they were odorless.

Just few meters next to the jasmines were sticks bearing bright blooms of this flower. I guess we all know what it is. Or, let me know if you don't. It is one of the common flowers and became a sign of Baguio City (which is just about six kilometers away) since it is like a weed that grow anywhere. In spite of its pungent smell, I would say this is still a good flower to behold because of its bright and enlivening color.

At this point, my destination was about a hundred meters in front of me. It is actually the next block but I can not keep going in spite of the short distance. I had to take a break. Of course, every break is a photo shoot! I again looked down. The sky started to turn grey as the cloud started to descend. A rain is warning.

The rain started right when I started to finally approach my destination. Ah, God is so good. He waited for me to reach my destination before pouring the rain down.

I ran into the house and called out. It is my brother's house and I wonder who is with him because he is bed ridden. My niece, the last child, answered and came out to greet me.

We chatted and tried to catch up with as much as we can as I tried to talk to my brother. He can not talk much but he understands and reacts to what we are saying.

After about an hour, I excused myself and climbed the skeletal structure in front of the old house. Here is a cut panoramic view from the third floor.

I do not have fear of heights but my knees trembled while I was taking photos from the third level. There is a slab for the fourth floor and I thought my nephew, the first child, plans to fully furnish up to that point. I went back to the old house and told my niece to tell her brother not to complete the fourth floor but just use it as open space. We don't ask for it but it is better to stay safer when we know that they are on top of the mountain and having a structure as high as that can have a consequence. I do not even want to think about it.

I waited for the rain to stop then excused myself to leave. The descend was certainly much faster. The cool wind brought by the rain has helped even if it was darker this time.

It was not even four in the afternoon but it looked like dusk when I reached the fisheries area again.

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The bridge was wet but looked more serene when I got to it on my way back. What's with the rain? What has it brought? Serenity and peace of mind? I wish that is the case every time that it rains.

About a hundred meters after the bridge, I noticed this marker in a mini-park. Why haven't I noticed it earlier? It was, and I believe still is, the school's logo for their female high school students. It resembles woman holding and keeping a home as female students were envisioned to be home makers. The mini-park where this marker stood is right beside the Home Economics building where I attempted to learn cooking. And never did. I wonder how I passed that subject...

Google Map says that the whole walk was about 2.4 kilometers. About 40% of that is the climb so that is around one kilometer. Based on my photos time stamps, it took me sixteen minutes from the foot of the mountain up to that block before my destination. Add few minutes to that for my last stop and give or take, let's say twenty minutes in total. Do you think that was a fair pace for the distance?

After the marker, in front of me is the gate where I first entered. Ah, I entered and exited that gate countless times in high school. It feels so good to do it again even if I was just passing by. This will not be the last...

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