During my vacation in Baguio, I happened to bump into this most interesting independent bookshop. It is known as the Mt. Cloud Bookshop, situated right beside the swanky hotel-restaurant Casa Vallejo/Hill Station in Baguio. Seeing it’s all too interesting sign and with my ever fondness for bookshops and books, there was no denying myself to venture inside.The bookshop is really small, its walls are lined with shelves stuffed with all manner of books and items of interest.
Inside the bookshop, there is an eclectic mix of books from a wide range of topics. Like the Silahis center, books in here are mostly of the Filipiniana kind. Topics are mostly about the culture and life of our indigenous tribes in the North. There are other types of books on display as well, the best one for me would have to be “A History of Japan” (P1,200), likewise the bookshop is also stocked with works by the Filipino literati. Think Nick Joaquin, NVM Gonzales, Bienvenido Lumbera; and my-once favorite author, F. Sionil Jose.
Browsing the shelves of Mt. Cloud, I felt that each book was purposely placed there and that if I did not get the opportunity to buy the book I wanted, it would be a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity means having to go to the ends of the earth just to look for that book. The rarity of books are characteristics of independent bookstores and Mt. Cloud belongs to that category.
Though I don’t shun the big chain bookstores like Powerbooks and FullyBooked, but its the quality of books and the services that independent bookshops have that make you want to keep shopping there. While browsing the different books, the manager of the bookshop was catering to her customers with expertise. She knew where to find a certain book, could recommend one for you, and even give her own expert literary opinion of the books you’re looking for. Something that I don’t think the sales people of big chain bookstores do. In many ways the arguments of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan about their respective bookstores come into mind, but that’s another story.
Besides books, there were a lot of items on display; old typewriters (me and typewriters), paper balloons, comics (new and vintage), and a lot of paper cranes. Some walls had these paper cranes hanging by windows and others as objects of art pieces. I guess the owners have been reading a lot of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes story and were probably moved enough to start their own crane project.
In the end, I didn’t buy any book so it’s a missed opportunity, but the memories I have of Mt. Cloud will undoubtedly be stuck with me not just in memory but also with every book that I pick up. Of course I did not leave empty handed, I bought three postcards that I have since turned into laminated bookmarks and a water colored Ron Weasley Popsicle bookmark. No doubt the products that I bought were locally produced by the budding artists in Baguio. With that, I urge you to come visit Mt. Cloud Bookshop and support the local literature and art scene in the summer capital of the Philippines.
Mt. Cloud bookshop can be found at Casa Vallejo Bldg, DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio City 2600. They are open from 10:30 am-8:00 pm and can be contacted at (074) 424 4437