Thursday, September 16, 2010

“...here, floating in the solid mountains and in the space between your ears"

Sadly, but really - to a lot of people in Baguio, a bookstore means a place where one can buy almost every imaginable school or office supply, but not books. Ok, some do have text books, and there's that one bookstore at the mall that actually sells books. So the news that a bookshop that will actually sell books was opening in a resurrected Baguio icon near the top of Session Road was a very welcome one.

From a photo by Marta Lovina
Sisters Padma and Fifi Perez opened Mt Cloud Bookshop last August 29, 2010. We arrived about an hour into the party and could hardly walk through the throngs who filled every inch of space inside and out. The bookshop is the newest addition to the coolest watering hole in town that is the newly-renovated Casa Vallejo - aside from providing cozy accommodation at reasonable rates (the rooms smell of old Baguio!), it also hosts Mitos Yñiguez's new restaurant, Hill Station, and Lala Gonzales' North Haven Spa.


“Two reasons for the bookshop,” says Padma when asked why they put up Mt Cloud.  “First is a dream, and second is faith.” A dyed-in-the-wool bookworm, Padma is, and according to her, “what bookworm hasn't dreamed of opening his/her own shop that answers the needs and addictions of fellow book-lovers? When we learned that Casa Vallejo was going to be revived, and that Hill Station would be opening there too, we knew that this was the right place and the right time to try and make this dream come true and we jumped at the opportunity.”

And while there are people who doubt the viability of a bookshop as a business venture, Mt Cloud is there to prove otherwise. Since its opening barely two weeks ago, the bookshop has continually enjoyed a steady flow of people. “We believe that people in Baguio love to read, want more things to read, and are ready and able to invest -- whether it's with a student's allowance carefully saved up or a professional's well-earned salary -- in good books,” declares Padma. She adds, “Baguio is a university town. Shouldn't every university town have at least one, good bookshop that caters to the life of the mind?”

True.

SISTER ACT: Padma & FIfi with mom,
Laida  Lim (photo by Rudi Tabora)
Aside from books, brand new and pre-loved (yeah, second-hand), Mt Cloud also offers alternative and independently-produced music CDs and videos on DVDs and the occasional objet d'art. [insert shameless plug here: our documentary on the history of Baguio, “Portrait of a Hill Station,” is available at Mt Cloud] And if the money in your wallet isn't enough to buy a particular find, you can ask Padma to reserve it for you: my 8 year-old son Aeneas has a book or two reserved in his name. 

While Baguio brings to mind images of mountains and clouds, I had to ask, why Mt Cloud? And Padma says,  “Mountain cloud, Mount Cloud, Mt (empty) Cloud, is a play on words. People can read it and say it as they wish. It's also a statement on where we are -- here, floating in the solid mountains and in the space between your ears.”

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