Baguio City is located in Northern Luzon and is situated at 1500 meters (5100 ft) above sea level. Baguio City is best well known for its cool climate. It was established by the Americans in 1900 as a getaway from the scorching tropical climate from the rest of the country. Baguio City is officially designated as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” in June 1903.
My wife Zenith together with her friend Chang had to attend a National Social worker’s convention in the Baguio City last Wednesday, November 19, 2008. I tagged along at my wife’s request. I also wanted to visit Baguio City considering that the last time I visited it was way back in 1995. So it has been 13 years that I have not seen the cool and beautiful Baguio City. Also, I’ve always loved the culture in Northern Luzon. The Filipino tribes in that area have preserved so much of their culture. Baguio City is also considered a center for the indigenous Filipino culture of the Cordillera area.
We took the early morning flight from Cebu to Manila and arrived at around 8 a.m. We then grabbed a cab and proceeded to the Victory bus terminal which will take us to the Summer Capital. The bus left Pasay City at around 10 a.m. It will be the beginning of a long 6+ hours boring journey. To amuse myself I juggled my time between writing blogposts with my Asus eepc, reading the book “Warren Buffett and the interpretation of financial statements by Mary Buffett and David Clark and watching the onboard movie.
We made several stops to go for rest room purposes and to grab some chow. Finally we started to ascend to Baguio City. After an hour in the long winding road we finally made it to Baguio City !
We arrived at the Victory Bus terminal at Baguio City at almost 6 p.m. Our first order of business was to go to the Hotel Supreme in order that my wife and Chang could register for the convention. We grabbed a cab and headed straight for the Hotel Supreme.
Baguio Cityl was not what it used to be. Back in 1995, there were only a few developments in the area. The weather was nice and cool and traffic was unknown to most Baguio resident.
Now people, buildings and houses are everywhere! The weather is not as cool as it used to be and the traffic is unbearable especially in the rush hours. What’s worst about it is that the taxis still do not use air-conditioning because the weather is still somewhat cool. So vehicles still open their windows to let the cool fresh air in. However what you mostly inhale is the carbon monoxide from the other vehicles especially when you are stuck in traffic.
Nevertheless Baguio City has not lost its appeal. The weather is still cooler than your average Philippine city. The sceneries and the ambience of the place have not lost its magic even if it’s warmer and is crowded than before.
After registering at the Hotel Supreme we then took a jeepney to our Hotel. We checked in at the Raja Soliman Hotel which has a “magnificent view” of the over-crowded Quirino Hill.
At about 8 p.m. we went out and had dinner at the Café by the Ruins. They say this is a “must” see and dine place if ever you visit Baguio city. Café by the Ruins is literally built on upon the ruins of the mansion of the former American governor of the Summer Capital. A wall which is the part of the mansion still forms part of the Café. Café by the Ruins offers food, drinks and pastries that are “indigenous” to Benguet and the Cordillera Region. We had Camote bread with Honey, strawberry jam and butter. (I never knew camote could be this tasteful!)
For our main course my wife had fresh lumpia while I had “pinikpikan” which is a a native Ifugao dish prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick before cooking. The beating bruises the chicken’s flesh resulting to bringing its blood to its surface. This ritual is what gives this dish its unique taste.
After a sumptuous dinner we walked to the city center and up Session road to have coffee at Star Bucks in SM City Baguio. We were also scouting for a hotel where we could transfer to. We wanted to change hotels for two reasons. First we wanted to be in walking distance of the City center and secondly we were not very happy with accommodations of Rajah Soliman Hotel. After enjoying our coffee, we decided to call it a day so we grabbed a cab and went home.
The next day, Thursday, my wife and Chang woke up early and went to their convention. I enjoyed the cool nice breeze and slept until 9 a.m. Then I woke up and went to have breakfast and to canvass some more hotels. I’ve always wanted to be somewhere in Session road because that is where the action is. Finally I found a cheap but nice hotel just at the tip of Session road near Burnham park and Baguio City market, the La Brea hotel. I wasted no time in getting a room. I went back to Rajah Soliman, checked out, grabbed our gear and deposited it at La Brea.
I had brunch at the Zola Café in session road then I proceeded to check out the Museums in the area. I learned that Baguio cityl has three museums.
My first stop was the Baguio-Mountain provinces Museum. I was informed that the museum will be open at 2 p.m. so I decided to check out another museum, the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Museum. Aguinaldo’s daughter Cristina Suntay once lived in Baguio City. That is why there is an Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio housing some of Aguinaldo’s memorabilia and the historic Philippine flag that was unfurled during the Philippine Proclamation of independence in Cavite.
Unfortunately the attendant of the Aguinaldo Museum was not around. The gardeners informed me that they do not know when the attendant will be back.
I went back to the Baguio-Mountain provinces Museum. I regret to inform you that I cannot show you some pictures because picture and video taking is not allowed in the museum.
The three story museum showcases the rich culture, traditions and artifacts of the tribes of Northern Luzon most particularly the tribes in the Cordillera Region and Benguet. There were three things that caught my attention. First is the mummification process. I was surprised to learn that the Igorots (aside from the ancient Egyptians) were the first among the ancient cultures that practiced mummification. The second thing that caught my attention was the fact that the Kalingas of Kalinga Appayo were said to be more “well dressed” (heavily-ornamented) among all the tribes of the Philippines. (I stayed in the mountains of Kalinga Appayo for 5 days several years ago for a medical mission) Thirdly, that there are several tribes in Northern Luzon and that the tribal people of the Philippine represent about 5 % of our population. Among these tribes the most scattered tribe are the Negritos which are found almost everywhere from Luzon Visayas and Mindanao. I want to study in-depth these Filipino tribes and get to learn more about their culture perhaps I will do this when I retire in the near future.
There are also several showcases on how Baguio City was founded featuring the history of Baguio City through old blown up photographs of the past.
After the rich cultural tour, I decided to go to the SM City to relax by watching a movie. Ichose to watch the tagalong film “One True love” as it is the only movie I haven’t watched among all those featured in SM cinema. Before the movie started I took pictures of Baguio City.
After enjoying the film, I decided to try out the Cordillera Café in SM. The Cordillera Café offers unique coffee flavors and food from the Cordillera area. Unlike Star Bucks, they offer free WIFI. So I surfed the internet and enjoyed my coffee. After a while my wife called in and told me that I should meet them at Palizzata.
Palizzata is a nice little restaurant with a great view of Session Road. We ordered salads and pizza. After satisfying our gastronomic cravings we walked back to the hotel. At around 10 p.m. my wife’s aunt, Helen Mecarsos Naces and my wife’s cousins, JR and Ann dropped by the hotel. We chatted and talked for a while. They said they would pick us up to invite us to dinner on Friday night.
Friday morning came and my wife and Chang went to their convention. I spent my morning watching the History Channel and trying to get a WIFI signal from the McDonalds across the street. Later on I went out and ate pancit palabok at a Filipino restaurant just beside Session road. At around 3 p.m. my wife told me to go the Hotel Supreme as we will be visiting the Strawberry farm in La Trinidad Benguet, just the next town from the Baguio city which is about a 15 to 20 minutes ride.
The Strawberry farm features several goods that are made of strawberry. We tried their strawberry “Taho” a Philippine snack food made of fresh soft tofu, brown sugar, vanilla syrup and pearl sago and of course some strawberries. We also tried their straw berry ice cream.
And who could ever claim that they went to Baguio City without buying the world famous strawberry jam? So we bought a box. We also had some strawberry wine. I was tempted to buy strawberry vinegar but I didn’t and I still beat myself today for not having bought some. We also bought other delicacies that are not strawberry based but were nevertheless unique to the region. My wife and Chang were fascinated on how cheap the silver jewelries were. I told them Benguet is also known for its mining industry which explains why silver is cheap. So they bought some silver jewelry.
We caught the taxi back to the hotel and since we still have time before my wife’s aunt Helen will pick us up, we visited the famous Burnham Park.
The world famous Burnham Park which is in the center of Baguio City was named in honor of Daniel Hudson Burnham who was a famous American architect and urban planner. Burnham was also the one responsible for designing Baguio City. The park has a man made lake which features a boat ride. You can also rent out bicycles or go roller skating. Unfortunately there is no horse back riding so there is no use for my equestrian riding apparel.
I went around the park trying to find some wood carvings to take home with me. I couldn’t find any. I remembered that there were some at SM City so I hiked all they way up to SM City. This is the thing I love about Baguio Cityl; you get to exercise a lot when walking around because of the steep terrain.
At SM I bought some wood carvings of Ifugao warriors. The ladies (2 of them Ifugaos) who were watching the booth told me that they sell wood carvings much cheaper than those sold in the Baguio City Market. I beat myself up on why I haven’t tried the Baguio City market when it was just a stone’s throw away from our hotel room. So before I went back to the hotel I tried the Baguio City Market and bought two wood carvings there.
At about 8 p.m. my wife’s aunt and her cousins picked us up at the hotel. Their house was about 20 to 30 minutes from the main city proper. We had dinner at their place and spent the night walking around their village and talking. Afterwards they dropped us off at the hotel.
We grabbed our gear and then proceed to the Victory Liner terminal where we grabbed the 12:40 a.m bus to Metro Manila. It was a horrible 6 hours journey. We were so tired and we wanted to sleep in a comfortable bed but we have to be contented with what the bus has to offer. We made only 1 stop since it was dawn and most people were asleep. Finally at around 6 a.m plus we arrived at the Victory bus terminal at Pasay City. We checked in at the nearby Kabayan Hotel and slept soundly until the afternoon. I had to go out and drop by our Lex Pareto Notes publisher to sign close to 2000 copies of the Lex Pareto Notes. My wife and Chang went to the Manila Ocean Park.
We agreed to meet at Star City in the evening. My wife and Chang wanted to try out Snow World so I went along even if I had already been to the place. We tried our luck by trying out the games that offered huge stuff toys as prizes. Unfortunately we never won any. We had coffee at Starbucks and then decided to call it a night.
The next day will be our flight back to Cebu. But before flying back, my wife and Chang went to Baclaran to shop for clothes. Afterwards we visited the Mall of Asia and bought some toys for our son Zed. I also bought some more Warren Buffett Books.
Our trip to Baguio City had truly been a well deserved break from the day to day office-home-work-church routine that I religiously followed. When I visited Baguio City in 1995 I always dreamed of living there. But now that it is so congested I do not know if I still want to live there. However I remain fascinated and long to immerse myself with the cultures of the tribes in northern Luzon. Perhaps I might spend a longer time there in the future. For now a side trip every now and then to the Summer Capital might offer some respite.
Hi ! my name is Zigfred Diaz, Thanks for visiting my personal blog ! Never miss a post from this blog. Subscribe to my full feeds for free. Click here to subscribe to zdiaz.com by Email
You may also want to visit my other blogs. Click here to learn stock marketing investing. Click here to learn more about How to Earn cash online. Visit my travel blog to learn more about great travel ideas.