Would you like to enroll in a University that prides itself of an assurance that all students will eventually flunk its course?
As you know the Tagalog word for flunk is “bagsak” which can be translated as “fall;” very appropriate for a mountain bike course. So flunking its course literally means falling in the course itself (track). The guys at the university are hard core riders who really love technical riding and at the same time, they take pride on the trails of Baguio and are so eager and accommodating to share that stuff to visitors especially from lowlanders like Manila. With charismatic members with such names as “Bakulaw” (Gorilla) or Baks for short; it all the more creates fears to the hearts of the guest riders scheduled to take their test in their famed university course.
We contacted their group through Anne Cortes via some Philmofo members who were alumni from the University. That same batch’s activity has been published in one edition of Weekend Warrior Magazine. We planned of trying it out during a long vacation in 2009 and that date came on August 22, 2009. The Manila (MMS) group was composed of Dindo Narciso, Juboy Willkomm, Roy Lopes, Beth Policarpio, Tintin Henson, Anne Cortes, Deo Cas, Oyie Margallo, Rodel Palisoc, Jojo Romero and me. On our way to Baguio; Dindo, Rodel, Juboy and myself rode our bikes from Rosario Junction (Chowking) to Baguio City via Kennon Road. It was our first
time and we were there to see how it fares with the Marcos Hi-way route to Baguio City which some of us we were able to do earlier. For me, personally, Kennon is easier than Marcos. We arrived at Baguio by lunch time. We started having our beer session after a quick rest when members of the University paid us a courtesy call. I am not sure if it was due to alcohol that the friendly discussion turned out to a friendly challenge between one member of our group and another one from their camp. After that, some of us went out for some bar hopping within Baguio.
The next day, we started riding early towards John Hay where we entered the trail. The trail was a bit technical for us especially from the newbie and occasional riders. It was not really that enjoyable for them. There were sections where we have to carry our bikes as we were not that technically gifted. Maybe because of those bike-carrying instead of riding the technical portions of the trail, that there were no falls that happened from our group. The two who were in a challenge separated from the group for a more technical showdown. We had a midway rest at the hidden US
Embassy property where all of us converged. We finished the ride visiting the same track where the famous accident involving a popular director’s husband, died while practicing for an upcoming race. After the ride, we had some lunch together and some bonding moments. After graduation, the group generously gave us souvenir shirts as a proof of being an alumnus of the famed Semplang University.
If you want to experience trails within the city of pines, then contact these gallant men in bikes. The men of the Baguio Semplang University. But if you’re in for a road trip, then you can contact the other Baguio group, the one of Boy Ballesteros (he lives in a restuarant-internet cafe a few meters from Victory Liner terminal).