Saturday, March 14, 2009

RetroTravel: Baguio

Baguio is definitely a cool place to stay especially in this heat wave of summer. I have visited Baguio when I attended a religious seminar with my mom and sister for 3 days in the summer of 1997. Honestly, I have never 100% attended the whole program of the seminar as in between the sessions we sneaked for visiting the tourist places of Baguio. (How naughty we are ^_^)

Baguio is a city on the Cordillera mountain range in the middle of the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. Due to its cool mountain weather, Baguio is considered the "summer capital of the Philippines". Because of its many pine trees it is also called the "City of Pines".

From Cavite there are direct aircon buses that operate to Baguio city so transportation is easy. We leave at 4am. It was still dark when we leave Cavite. I am quite excited at that time as it was my first road trip to another place. It was a long bus journey. I think it was roughly 5 to 7 hours on the road before we reach Baguio. There stops at Tarlac and Pampanga along the trip. As we near Baguio, I won't forget the zigzag road as we travel on the mountain side roads. It was quite scary because of the steep cliffs beside you as you look at the window while the bus direction goes on the zigzag direction because of the road.

We arrive at the Venus Park Hotel at around past 11am - perfect time for registration and continue onwards for a buffet lunch. The hotel was near Burnharm Park, I think walking distance only. It was crowded at the lobby because of the registration. We share the room with collegues from the seminar. It think it was triple sharing room but we are 6 person occupying it.

Baguio is an ideal place to have a vacation when its summer. The cool atmosphere makes up for the heat of summer sun. Plus the nature sceneries and flowery parks of the place gives a relaxing and calming feeling. You would also appreciate culture of Mountain Province and Benguet as Igorots or natives flocks the market and parks in their traditional clothes (especially who wores the red and yellow knitted fabric that the native is noticeable for).

In 3 days of stay you can visit the beautiful spots in Baguio but if you were in a seminar like us, time is limited because going around must be manage along with the time of seminar programs we have to attend. We end up skipping some of the seminars just to see the places of Baguio.

Burnham Park
Strawberry Farm
We first visited the Mines View Park and then the famous Burnham Park which has a romantic atmosphere in lake boating perfect for lovers. I also like the colorful flower gardens of the park along with the pine trees surrounding the park. It makes you feel so relax and longing for a romance.

Mines View Park is a park located within the city limits of Baguio City, Benguet, is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can shop, explore and view the scenery. An abandoned mine, used by early Ibaloi/Igorot peoples, is viewed from the said tourist spot.

Mines View Park gives visitor a wonderful view of mountain ranges surrounding the Benguet area. Tourists troop here not only because of the breathtaking view of the mountains overlooking on a high cliff but also for souvenir items that you can shop around. Most commodities are native products of Baguio like strawberry jams and wines, peanut brittle delicacies, wooven articles like bookmarks and wristbands and woodcarvings. Stone formations around the park are ideal shot for souvenir photos.

Burnham Park is an urban park located at the heart of the City of Baguio, in the Philippines. It was named after the American architect and urban planner, Daniel Hudson Burnham who laid the plans for the city. Several stretch of roads around the park lead to Camp John Hay, a former recreational base of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines. It is a scenic park overlooking Mount Kabuyao, the tallest mountain in the Baguio region. The park features a man-made lake situated at the center where tourists can enjoy boating with rented boats. At the southern part of the park, a skating rink was constructed.

We have never visited the following spots in Baguio, but these places are worthy to see while staying in Baguio.

Camp John Hay - the former R&R facility for American military personnel during the American occupation. Was turned over to the Philippine Government in 1991. Now under the auspices of the Bases Conversion & Development Authority (BCDA), Camp John Hay is now a sort of country club complete with an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, camping and many more. A condotel has also been in operation since 2001.

Session Road is the main thoroughfare of Baguio City and is the main hub of what is called the Baguio Central Business District. Located at the city center, it is actually divided into two parts: Lower Session Road and Upper Session Road.

Picking strawberries at Strawberry Farm

We visited the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto where there is a 100 stairways step leading to the shrine of the Virgin Mary image. At the bottom of the grotto are souvenir shops where you can buy various Baguio souvenirs and food delicacies. Tourists flock the place for the Virgin Mary pilgrimage and prayer as well as for the cool waether of the mountain side area.

We also visited the Strawberry Farm. It is located outside of the city near the border... Here, you can buy cheap prices of strawberries in a whole basket. I am happy to see this place. Strawberry is one of my favorite fruit. I am looking for it whenever I travel to countries where it is widely grown like US and Korea. Especially those bright red and big ones, I crave for it. Anyway, the farm was so wide with numerous line up of strawberries cultivated for harvest. We are so excited that we take a souvenir photo of picking strawberries. The difference with the local strawberry in Baguio is that it is smaller in size compared to those in US. But the sweetness of the fruit is still there. We end the tour by buying strawberry jams and two baskets of strawberries.

Mines View Park
Baguio is also known for Panagbenga Festival a month-long annual flower festival occurring in Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines. The term is of Malayo-Polynesian origin, meaning "season of blooming". The festival, held during the month of February, was created as a tribute to the city's flowers and as a way to rise up from the devastation of the 1990 Luzon earthquake. The festival includes floats that are decorated with flowers unlike those used in Pasadena's Rose Parade. The festival also includes street dancing, presented by dancers clad in flower-inspired costumes, that is inspired by the Bendian, an Ibaloi dance of celebration that came from the Cordillera region. Aside from economic boosts from tourism, the festival also helped the younger generation of indigenous people to rediscover their culture's old traditions. The indigenous people was first wary with government-led tourism because of the threat that they will interfere or change their communities' rituals.

Travel tips to the summer capital of the Philippines? See Wikitravel: Baguio

RetroTravel: Baguio is part of my RetroTravel series in which I recall my old and past trips in pre-digital picture era of my travel experiences but memories of it is still vivid and enjoyable. My trip to Baguio dates back in April 10-12, 1997. Photo credits from by perspective engineer, ian ong, lanclav and verongski.


  1. thanks for the visit..hope to visit baguio this year!! ingat!! have a safe and sound trip always!

  2. hey there ian. you should go to camp john hay. it's a very cozy plaze and looks beautiful with fog. i've never been to the strawberry farm ever which i was told is in la trinidad i think?

    thanks for the visit. i'd be happy to have an exchange link with you and i'm putting it up now.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I hope to return to Baguio again to see its other places. I really like your travel blog and I enjoy reading it. I will update my links to include you soon.

  4. Hi! I enjoyed reading your experience in Baguio. It makes me want to travel there again this year.

  5. @CDO: Thanks for visiting and reading my travel stories...


All comments and reactions are highly appreciated.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...