Heading to the airport for my flight to Thailand, I heaved my enormous backpack and boarded the MRT. A storm warning was being announced on TV as I went out of house about an hour ago. Now the rain fell, not all at once, but a slow pattering that incessantly pelted the train’s window, blurring EDSA from my view.
I was mulling over the invite I received a week ago to revisit Baguio City when my mobile phone rang. Visions of pine trees melted into a train full of early evening passengers. My flight to Phuket just got cancelled.
With several days of clothes packed inside my bag, cameras charged full and ready for use, I just can’t get it into my head to simply head home and sulk about the cancelled trip to Thailand.
I decided to try my luck and contact Baguio Holiday Villas if they can accommodate me and a friend on a very short notice. Such short notice being a few hours away from now.
After some exchange of messages and calls, the sunny beach in Phuket quickly dissipated and images of pine trees half hidden in thick mist re-emerged in my mind.
That night, we boarded a Victory Liner bus and sped towards Baguio City.
The City of Pines arrived before the day awoke. Without time constraints, we walked the chilly still deserted streets of Baguio City and headed to Burnham Park to wait for the warmth of the sun.
Failing to find Mr. Hot, a dapperly-dressed coffee vendor in the park, we bought our cheap styro-cupped coffee from other vendors milling around Burnham.
With the park slowly filling with morning joggers, we then headed to Baguio Holiday Villas , our home for the next three days. After quickly depositing our bags, breakfast awaited us. My favorite Baguio longanisa along with egg and fried rice never tasted so good.
Without a definite itinerary, the plan was to revisit Baguio City’s favorite tourist haunts at a leisurely pace. And with my friend into the arts, the first place I got reacquainted to was the BenCab Museum.
Sitting on the hillsides of Asin Road, the museum is really not a part of Baguio City. But even with its relatively remote location, it’s still frequented by tourists visiting the city.
There were the usual installations with the now familiar artworks. The staring bulols are still there. The Erotic Gallery. The artworks inspired by BenCab’s favorite model, Sabel. And the hut, still standing in the middle of the pond.
When I first read about the pond at the back of the museum, I distinctly remember the article mentioning ducks roaming around the water. I haven’t seen those ducks during the numerous times I visited the gallery. But this time, I finally laid my eyes on them.
My last visit to BenCab’s Museum was about two years ago and it remained as I remembered it to be.
Not to be outdone, Baguio City itself has its very own unique art gallery.
Nestled against towering pine trees and housed inside traditional Igorot houses, Tam-Awan Village’s own gallery boasts of native artworks inspired by the mountain people of the Cordilleras.
I still remember walking along the twisting muddy trails of Tam-Awan and that single, seemingly unending path that I didn’t finish exploring. Now with nothing but time on my hand, I decided to check that trail once more and finally see where it leads.
The trail was especially muddy since it has been raining almost everyday. Walking cautiously, avoiding icky puddles and climbing higher and higher, we finally reached the apex of Tam-Awan Village. From here, one can see a panorama of the surrounding area.
I’m quite sure we can see the rest of Baguio City if not for the heavy fog that ate the city that day.
Lunch was usually spent back at Baguio Holiday Villas, trying out various dishes from their menu. My mouth still waters over the first meal we ordered from their very helpful staff; their salisbury steak (Php198.00). At first we thought the price was a bit steep, but after seeing how large the serving was, we zipped our lips and let their food do the talking.
Nights were usually spent downing a couple of Red Horse beers and listening to a country singer strum his guitar at a bar somewhere along Session Road. Afterwards we get our hands dirty at Harrison Road. The massive ukay-ukay night market at the back of Burnham Park will make anyone’s hand all dusty after sifting through thousands of second hand clothes.
My finds; an AC/DC hoodie for Php200.00 and three trek pants for almost the same price. Surprisingly, one’s even a Columbia!
My friend told me she’s been to Baguio several times but has never been to Wright Park. It was totally unbelievable. Everyone’s been to the Wright Park and the Mansion, come on! She then told me that she’s previously stayed at the posh Azalea Residences which is really but a stone’s throw away from the park.
With that, we immediately rode a Mines View bound jeepney and alighted at the foot of Wright Park. The stinky smell of horse manure immediately pervaded our senses.
Ascending the flight of stone steps in the park, she asked where it led. Just wait and see, I smilingly told her.
On our last day in the city, we decided to go to Camp John Hay.
En route, we passed the infamous Laperal White House which got some heavy airtime a year or two ago due to a documentary made by Jay Taruc for GMA 7. Their team has set up webcams inside the rooms of the haunted house and apparently one of them recorded a voice from out of nowhere saying nandito kami, in a spine-tingling voice.
The house is closed to the public during my first visit but has since opened up, probably due to the number of tourists visiting it after Taruc’s I-Witness aired on TV.
But it’s not the haunted house we’re after.
After hailing another jeep, we proceeded to Camp John Hay’s Eco Trail. It’s not a popular destination for tourists visiting Baguio City, heck, most don’t even know it exists—being well hidden from the road.
Traversing it from end to end, we emerged at the John Hay exit near the Forest House restaurant. For almost an hour, we were under nothing but thousands of pine trees.
And all that hiking usually leads to another round of food fest. And surprise surprise, we found a carinderia selling Tuguegarao City’s famous Pancit Batil Patong right about the gate we exited from John Hay. For Php60.00 a plate, we again relived the best pancit we’ve ever had.
As I dug into my plate, I can’t help but notice how the dish is peppered with all sorts of fresh veggies. Well, we’re in Baguio City after all.
And a visit to Baguio almost always ends in one place, at the Baguio City Public Market. After buying the requisite Good Shepherd strawberry jams and Mikasan choco flakes, we were pleasantly surprised to find a section of the marketplace selling all sorts of longanisa. Our baggage promptly got heavier by a couple of kilos right after.
Baguio Holiday Villas
Address: No. 10 Legarda Road, Baguio City
Contact Number: (074) 442-6679, (074) 619-3920 (0922) 891-4738
Rates: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: +16° 24' 38.01", +120° 35' 27.32"
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