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Lacking: a rainbow

All that was lacking was a rainbow to hang across the sky. That clear blue sky laced with softly puffy clouds, the light luminous at 5 p.m. and the air a tender breeze traipsing over treetops and a blue-to-purplish range of mountains.

What a perfect day and place to inaugurate what the Baguio Country Club calls its Infinity Garden, at a time when the city doesn’t look much of a hilltop country anymore. Only BCC and to a lesser degree Camp John Hay have retained the vibe of a Pines City, one long lost in nostalgia as the rest looks (and smells) no better than Manila with its traffic jams and pollution.

One month before the Infinity Garden was opened, BCC’s brand-new Convention Center – said to have been built at a cost of R170 million – opened its great wooden doors for business to become THE one and only convention center worthy of the name. The old convention hall downtown, owned by the city, has turned into some kind of a joke, the rumor being that underneath its floors lies part of Yamashita’s gold horde (and that’s why the building cannot be torn down and replaced?).

The BCC Convention Center was designed by architect Luigi Sison and occupies what was once three tennis courts. Its interiors are furnished in pine wood – this is Baguio, after all – but pine imported from Finland and Norway. Sylvia Ilusorio Yap oversaw the project through its million and one details from concept to construction, the way her father, Potenciano “Nanoy” Ilusorio, grand old daddy of the Club, would’ve wanted it. Several times a year, her sister, Lin I. Bildner, drops in on Baguio to escape from her work in New York, Makati, and Montemar Beach in Bataan.

Last week, Lin was guiding BCC’s executive chef how to perfect Brazilian bread served with truffle butter, from a recipe of her NY-based daughter BG.

Those of us who’ve shared the privilege of stepping into the Country Club are keenly aware that what makes this place the most pleasant, most magical (especially at Christmas-New Year’s) and most precious, beautifully green in the entire country is the care lavished on it by the descendants of Nanoy Ilusorio, a nature lover who was adamant in his belief that “trees are more useful than some people.” (Jullie Y. Daza)