Baguio is the one of the coldest places in the Philippines simply because it’s perched at a height of five thousand feet above sea level. And it is one of the most happening places in the morning and at night. We had come to a close of our three day trip in the city having visited the lush grounds at the Military Academy, shopping at he local open air market and of course the mall at the very top. The visions were truly breath-taking as we saw clouds walk along with us as we crossed roads and bridges. In the evenings we frequented several pubs where the live bands drew massive crowds to the dance floor and food was traditional. We were never at our residence which happened to be the home of a local friend who had welcomed us so kindly.
On our last day as we packed we shoved our very expensive and borrowed camera into the front pocket of a back pack. I was put in charge of staying behind the back pack at all times and making sure no one stole it from us. The bus station to Angeles was a football field away and we were forced to take the crowded overhead bridge complex. As we wormed our way through the crowds, we stopped to see knick-knacks and souvenirs to take home. Bad ideaǃ Little did we know that as we were checking out the souvenirs, thugs were checking us out. After all we were conspicuous being foreigners. Climbing the final flight of stairs, my eyes quickly flew to the back pack in front of me. The little zipper of the back pack was open. I ran ahead to my travel companion and alerted the two girls. They did a quick search.
The expensive, borrowed camera was now kidnapped. We could have let it go; we should have let it go. But this wasn’t even ours. We had saved up to be here and now it would cost us three times the trip to replace the damn thing. Hell, over three hundred clicks were on that camera not to mention the videos we had saved of those clouds and whatever other stuff. It didn’t matter now the camera was gone. But no way were we letting it go just like that without a fight.
In the fraction of a second Miss back pack said, ‘let’s look for it.
That guy on the stairs he’s watching us and he’s got his hands in his jacket. He’s the guy.’ And soon we were walking behind him. He quickened his pace and then we were running, chasing behind him. He was swift. He jumped over, so did we. I was breathless. The mountain has less oxygen as it is and this panic run behind an extremely organized criminal was further squeezing out whatever remaining air there was in my lungs. Still the other two kept up the chase. Soon there were a couple of other men walking behind us and a lot of others staring. I looked around; we weren’t in the same complex anymore. This was a different place on the same bridge. But there were no crowds and there were no people. Just a handful of men and they didn’t look nice.
Ok forget the damn camera, I could starve for the next whole year and eat pancit till I graduated but our lives were worth more than that camera. But the girls continued running after him. I was struggling to keep up. One door to the next, another flight of stairs, turns again, yet another shabby exit and another complex. We kept up for a good fifteen minutes and then finally the girls admitted this guy the guy knew the place well. We had lost him. Finally the girls looked around and surveyed the place; we were in a lonely place with just a couple of ugly men at the other end of the corridor looking at us. Oh no ǃ We weren’t supposed to be here. My Filipina friend barley whispered, ‘let’s get out of here’ and we quickly retraced our steps. A little girl on the way showed us an easier exit when we got lost and asked for directions. Lo and behold, we were on the same floor on the other side of the complex right where our camera was stolen. That day from the moment that camera was stolen I didn’t want to be there.