Baguio and the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary
17 Jun 2011
|Limited connection to Internet in Baguio meant no new blog posts. But, that aside, I loved Baguio.
This is my third trip to the Philippines but I have done almost nothing outside of Manila. So, on this trip I decided to make a couple of extra trips. Baguio is a city in the mountains of Luzon that was established by Americans. It is a busy, crowded place, but definitely not Manila. First, people in Baguio didn't stare at me every where I went. When I made that observations to a Philippine friend in Baguio, she told me that it is probably because there are so many schools in Baguio and, therefore, so many foreigners. OK, so I tend to blend into the crowd a bit more. I can accept that. Beyond that, all the houses are build into the sides of the mountains. Baguio is green and full of pine trees and flowers. Finally and perhaps most importantly, Baguio is about 20 degrees cooler than Manila. I actually quit sweating for the days I was in Baguio.
The Baptist seminary was also established by Americans . . . the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention built and maintained the seminary for many years. They provided many of the faculty. And even put some missionary housing on the campus for folks who wanted to get away from other parts of the country for a few days of rest. Of course, the mission board has defunded the seminary and no longer provides faculty. The buildings are operated by Philippine Southern Baptists. It does have a fairly international faculty, though most are now filippinos. Two or three Koreans and two Americans currently teach at the seminary.
Over a year ago, one of my students at Golden Gate, a Filippino put me in touch with the President of PBTS. She invited me to come to the seminary the next time I was in the Philippines . . . perhaps to teach or at least to speak in their chapel. When I told her I was coming, she renewed the invitation for me to come up. In fact, she happened to be flying into Manila on Monday and a driver was coming to pick her up and take her to Baguio. She invited me to ride along. I have heard war stories about the mountain roads, and wondered if it was a good idea to be driving them at night, but all the Filippinos here told me it is much better to travel at night. No traffic. So, I accepted her gracious offer, climbed in the back, and went to sleep. Can't tell you much about the drive up except that I was surprised how often we stopped and never did figure out why.
In Baguio, President Abugan arranged for on-campus room and board for me. It was nice. Built for missionaries, each of the guestrooms has a full kitchen (which I didn't use) AND a hot shower (which I was tempted to use several times a day--just because I could). Ma'am president told me where to get food for breakfast, but I'm ashamed to say that I slept through it.
Friends at the guesthouse in Manila had told me that, if I wanted to bring them a gift (hint, hint), they would love to have some ube jam. Ube is a root crop, kind of like a sweet potato, I guess. In any case, when I mentioned that to ma'am president, she called a former student whose wife still works on campus and he came to take me to the convent where the best ube jam in the world is made . . . or so they say. Not being much of a connoisseur of ube, I have to take their word for it. Robert drove me to the convent--Good Shepherd--and then drove me around town in the president's car. Robert is a bright pastor who loves to talk about ministry. He is opinionated, but always kind in his opinions. We quickly developed a friendship.
On Wednesday, I was invited to teach a Christian ed class on the Theology of Christian Education. We teach such things at Golden Gate too, so I pulled out some old lecture notes and gave them the basic concepts I thought were important. Dr. Knight teaches the class. She is a Filippina married to an American, a delightful teacher with a warm and welcoming presence. She graciously asked me to come back and continue the next day.
The American couple invited me to dinner . . . we went to a Mongolian Barbecue place that was all-you-can-eat and absolutely wonderful. They are in the Philippines with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
On Thursday, I was preaching in chapel, so I donned by barong . . . traditional shirt made of the fibers of banana leaves and quite daring . . . and went first to teach Dr. Knight's class. It was more fun the second day than the first, perhaps because of the barong. Then, I preached in chapel. Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25. I was a little less effective than Billy Graham. Included a story about Jose Rizal. Of course, I had to explain who Rizal is to all the Koreans, Indians, and other asians in the audience. Timely as the Philippines celebrate his 150th birthday this weekend. Rizal will be recognized in abstentia, owing to the fact that he was executed by the Spaniards in 1898. Ryan, one of the Americans, also asked me to speak in his class. Clearly, no one needed me to speak in their classes, but when an American professor is visiting the Philippines, I suppose it would be bad form to not let him talk to students.
Thursday night I was invited to a faculty dinner. The food was good, all native dishes. Someone asked me if we eat rice in the U.S. Yes, I explained, many eat it two or three times a week. Everyone laughed. In the Philippines, most people eat rice three or four meals a day. (Hm. Not sure where the fourth meal creeps in.)
Boarded a fast bus back down the mountain on Friday . . . today! It was a nice trip. So much Philippine landscape flew by me. Rice patties and water buffalo were frequent sites. They were playing a pirated copy of X-Men: First Class. I just saw that at the theater last weekend.
When I stepped off the air conditioned bus into Manila, my sweat glands remembered their function and got busy. Was nice to have the respite of the cooler air. But, am not upset to be back. Somehow, coming back to Manila felt like coming home after a pleasant vacation.