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BAGUIO LANDMARK

Fire reduces famous Café to near ruins

/ 01:25 AM May 01, 2017

BAGUIO CITY—One of Baguio’s most popular restaurants for decades, Café by the Ruins, was hit by a fire shortly before Sunday noon when the city was swamped with Labor Day visitors.

The fire ate through the cogon grass roof and wooden frames of the kitchen of the restaurant across city hall at 11:50 a.m. and was put out 15 minutes later, said FO2 Freddie Longangen of the Baguio fire department.

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People from neighboring Eurotel helped by dousing the blaze with water from the hotel’s rooftops and from scaffolding put up for an ongoing project.

Arson investigators said they had yet to ascertain what caused the blaze, but had started interviewing carpenters working at the hotel following reports that the fire first came from its roof.

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Fire! Fire!

According to the Café employees, they saw the fire at the right side of the restaurant roof near the hotel.

“That’s when we started screaming we have a fire,” one of them said.

One of the Café’s founders, Laida Lim-Perez, was at a book launch in a building near the Presidential Mansion when the fire struck. She rushed to the restaurant just as it was being engulfed by flames.

Aside from Perez, the restaurant was put up in 1988 by a group of artists and writers, including the late Christine Arvisu, David Baradas, Baboo Mondoñedo and Robert Villanueva and National Artist Ben Cabrera, Louie and Su Llamado and Boy Yuchengco.

Origins

The Café’s name came from the ruins that were a stretch of stone wall relic that used to be the home of the last American governor general, Hubert Phelps Whitmarsh.

The Whitmarsh house was destroyed when Baguio was carpet bombed by the United States as it liberated the city from the Imperial Japanese Army in 1945.

In December 2015, a Café extension, called “Dua,” (an Ilocano term for number two), was put up on Upper Session Road. —VINCENT CABREZA AND RICHARD BALONGLONG

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TAGS: Baguio, Café by the Ruins, Fire
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