Baguio folk ‘brr-ave’ the cold to attend first dawn Mass
BAGUIO CITY — It was an almost freezing start for Misa de Gallo (dawn Masses) here when the early morning temperature plunged to 11.5 degrees Celsius at 5 a.m. on Saturday.
From 14.2 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and Thursday, the mercury dropped to 12.5 degrees Celsius on Friday morning.
Saturday’s temperature was the lowest since the onset of the northeast monsoon on Oct. 27, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
The chilly weather, which usually lasts until late February, draws as many as 500,000 tourists to this city.
That number could double with the opening of the Pozorrubio exit at the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), which cuts to less than four hours the travel time from Metro Manila to Baguio, local officials said.
The temperature drop may boost the tourism economy in Baguio City and nearby Benguet province, but it’s bad news for the local vegetable industry.
Extreme cold winds could lead to frost, called “andap,” around vegetable farms in Benguet towns, among them Buguias. Some of these farms are carved along mountainsides that are significantly higher in elevation than Baguio, and could experience temperatures as low as 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, much lower than those recorded in the city.
But according to the Benguet provincial government, there has been no report of frost just yet.
The lowest temperature recorded in Baguio was on Jan. 18, 1961, when the mercury plummeted to 6.3 degrees Celsius.
In Mindanao, Catholic prelates assured the faithful that the continued imposition of military rule in the island will have no effect on the observance of the nine-day “Simbang Gabi,” which began on Saturday.
“Martial law will not affect the observance and celebration of the Misa de Gallo. When I was in Basilan, we’d [even] be happy when the military were around during the Mass,” said Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad.
“Our soldiers are professional, respectful and well-disciplined. Let us not think badly of [them],” Jumoad said during the start of the dawn Masses.
Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez agreed, adding that the situation was normal in Mindanao.
Congress in a special joint session on Wednesday voted to allow President Duterte to extend military rule in Mindanao for another year.
The President cited the threats posed by communist rebels and terrorist groups in the aftermath of the five-month Marawi City siege as conditions that necessitated the one-year extension of martial law in the island.
On May 23, President Duterte imposed military rule in Mindanao after the Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City.
Earlier, members of the Catholic Church criticized the extension of military rule in Mindanao, with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo warning that it could signal the start of a “creeping authoritarianism” in the country.
In his blog, Pabillo said it would now be easier for Mr. Duterte to declare martial law in the entire country after getting support from a “subservient Congress.”
Other prelates, among them Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, also voiced their opposition to the extension of military rule in Mindanao. —Reports from Julie M. Aurelio and Karlston Lapniten
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