in Travels with my angst

Up there in Baguio City

Thanks, Nikka Corsino for this photo.

You just can’t please everyone.
Ask residents of Baguio City, the Philippines’ summer capital.
Everytime a couple of hicks from Manila come up and visit, the locals get complaints about the weather.
It’s either too warm or too cold.
If it’s too warm, they rant about congestion — vehicular and otherwise — and how Baguio’s weather, which attracts more tourists than it can handle, has become the city’s very enemy.
If it’s too cold, they complain about coming down with the flu and how people who live in the tropics aren’t really acclimatized to temperate weather.
If you believe these people, it’s never just right, up there in Baguio City.
Of course, I have a different opinion, having gotten parts of my formal and informal education in one of my favorite cities.
When I arrived last month, everything was perfect.
The weather was cool, the air was crisp, and my accommodations were — how do I put this? — on someone else’s tab.
I stayed in a standard hotel that offered a bathtub, hot water, cable television, and enough coffee to keep me awake for fourscore and seven years.
To what do I owe this undeserved privilege?
I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in an energy conference organized by a non-government organization.
And no, it was far from being a summer junket.
It was — to use the term of my reporter friends — a nosebleed; one that lasted two days and temporarily stanched only by ice-cold alcoholic beverages.
All throughout the 48 hours, resource persons talked about ancillary charges* and indexation** as though these were widely understood by everyone.
The whole weekend allowed me to grasp these two concepts, however superficially.
Unfortunately, since discussions lasted until after supper, I was unable to hang out with my Baguio-based friends unlike last time.
It may have been all for the better.
After all, I had experienced enough misadventures to fill up a slapstick comedy movie a few hours before.
To reach the venue in time, I had to endure the Victory Liner Bus’s ticket lines.
It wasn’t pleasant.
It had the heavy flavor of a train queue during rush hour, complete with the stench of sweat and the stale air of impatience.
After finally being seated two hours later, I had to deal with a passenger who snored like a diesel engine.
And, upon arriving at three in the morning, tired, sleepy and irritable, I lost my notebook. Apparently, it slipped off my pants’ backpocket and fell onto someone else’s seat.
Good thing the bus conductor had the sense to keep it, failing to rid the world of the notes of an unrepentant blogger. [See: Picture of Conductor]
That single act of honesty made my weekend.
As a result, I was filled with good cheer all throughout the conference, helping create another fond memory of the City of Pines.
Up there in Baguio City, it’s always just right, if you ask me.

From the Credit is Good but Her No-Good Friends are Too Cheap to Pay For Anything Dept. Photograph above was taken by Pauline Nikka Corsino. For more of her photos, visit her website. Thanks, Nikka.

From the Nosebleed Dept.

*Ancillary fees
These are collected by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the private entity now controlled by Henry Sy Jr. that manages the country’s electricity superhighway. These fees are for costs incurred in keeping contingency power reserves. These reserves are used to ensure that electricity service all across the country remains stable and uninterrupted, even in case of unexpected power plant shutdowns.
There are two kinds of contingency reserves — the first is the spinning reserve, which come from plants already turned on, ready to provide spare electricity at a moment’s notice should service be interrupted. The other, called a stand-by reserve, is expected to be ready to become a spinning reserve should the first be commissioned into service.

Since commodity prices go up due to inflation, companies also pay more for their maintenance and operating expenses, among others. As a result, they are allowed to increase rates to ensure a reasonable return on its investments, a practice known as indexing rates to inflation, a standard business procedure.
However, in certain power supply contracts, generation companies have based — or indexed — energy prices on costs of oil and coal — not inflation — even if there are no valid reasons for doing so.
In one case, a company pegged its local geothermal steam prices to world coal prices when the former, an indigenous energy resource, has no connection at all to the latter.
As a result, whenever coal costs in the world market went up, so did its geothermal steam prices. Result? Higher generation costs — and therefore increased electricity prices — for consumers.

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