Thursday, February 28, 2013

Best day-off ever in Anilao

My friends at work has been longing for a short vacation together where we can have a great time bonding since most of have the same day-off schedules. One of them suggested to us to stay at their family resthouse in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas. It was a good idea since we’re looking an affordable trip vacation that is just near the metro. Actually, I don’t have much background about Anilao except that I know it is a fame diving destination in the country. I haven’t been there yet so I agreed to go on the trip. But never did I expect that this trip will one of my best travel trip of the year or shall I shall one of my best day-off ever from work!

Welcome to Anilao!
So when the date was set, we planned to go on the trip after our time-out from work. Our time-out was 1240 midnight. At 0140 in the morning, we started our road trip to Batangas via South Luzon Expressway. It was a long drive to south but I never get tired and bored during the entire 3 hour trip. The whole van inside was so alive with my co-workers never-ending laughs, stories, jokes and fun. It made the 3 hour drive shorter and bearable. We were so happy and there were no dull moments during the road trip. I realized that having friends while on travel has a different kind of fun compared on family or solo trips. But I’m not saying it is not fun or happier when you are with your family on trips but traveling with friends is one of the best traveling experiences you can have!

Dawn in Anilao...
Sunrise sky beauty of Anilao...
Morning rainbow.
Rocky shore...
At 0430H in the morning, we arrived at Bauan Public Market. Here, we bought our food that we will cook at the resthouse. Our arrival is just the right timing in the opening of the market stalls where most of the meat products have just freshly delivered. I and my co-workers who did the “pamamalengke” took a sip of Kapeng Batangas to energize our morning before we leave the market.

At 5 am, we reached the rest house just in time when the dawn is about to start. I hurriedly went to the front area to see the beach. It was a rocky beach but nevertheless it has a calm and scenic ocean view. I seated in one of the benches facing the sea to calm and relax myself after a 5 hour awake and no sleep. The dawn sky gave me a rewarding sight of a morning rainbow. I was surprised to see a rainbow early in the morning yet it let me sight a relief. Even I didn’t got to witness a good Anilao sunrise that morning, the rainbow among the morning sky was a great compensation. For me, it was a great view to motivate my first day in Anilao.

Mabini tourism office.
I think day-offs should be like this. It doesn’t have to be really grand or spend to a splurge hotel. Just be in an ideal place for vacation trips and don’t forget to bring best friends to make the trip memorable. Anilao is a two baranggay (Anilao Proper and Anilao East) located in the municipality of Mabini in Batangas. It is popular for divers and snorkelers for its waters are in rich marine life, coral garden sea beds and diversity of fishes. Though not popular for swimming for its rocky and coral beaches, visitors can rent boats to visit beach coves, find snorkeling/diving spots and do island hopping.

Anilao Beach.
We settled our things first before we cooked our breakfast to eat. After a few hours rest and no sleep at all we decided to do island hopping around nearby islands in Anilao which are all part of Tingloy municipality. I decided to push through with island hopping since we have nothing to do in following hours. Plus, I want to explore the beaches, islands and what it is to see around in Anilao. Everyone agreed since everyone is on day-off slash vacation mode. Of course, we haggled for a lower rate even we are a big group but I guess oil price hike really determines the rates.  After settling everything with the boatman and guides, we sailed away to the seas of Anilao onto its surrounding islands, coves and beaches.

The islands around Anilao...
A beautiful white beach cove along island hopping.
The marvelous sight that will welcome you in Puting Buhok Cove.
The white sand beach of Puting Buhok Cove.
We were reminded by the boat guides that each island in Tingloy has corresponding fees whenever we dock and stay so we have to choose which will gives an ultimate “summer experience” yet affordable for the whole group. The good thing is that we can choose which island to visit by checking it out and leave if we don’t like it. Actually, we don’t need to dock and visit every island because as the boat sailed through the sea one will already admire the beauty of the surrounding islands. I saw beautiful rock formation islands and gorgeous stretches of coves with white sand beaches. Most of the islands are not crowded by tourists and visitors which are perfect for solitary strolls, private escapade and photoshoots.

Puting Buhok Cove in panorama.
Our boat docked to a cove that welcomed us not only with its long stretch of white sand beach and turquoise waters but also its scenic verdant hill-like rock formation/karst that perfectly blends with the beach and the sea. The cove is called Puting Buhok Cove, named after the caretaker of the cove whose hair is fully white hair, hence the name of the cove which for me it is like a pun to the caretaker. Even though it’s scorching hot under the 12 noon sun, it didn’t stop us to explore the cove. There was a coral garden a few meters away from the boat docking area which some of my colleagues did snorkeling activity. As for me, I stayed with the others in a nipa hut for shade protection against the sun rays for a while first before exploring the island. Puting Buhok cove has a beautiful long stretch of white sand beach to stroll and swim. Though some parts of the beach are rocky, it was still perfect for swimming and snorkeling activity since a few meters from the shore is a coral garden. There are also some files of coral rock formations near the shore and a man-made bridge named Armis Bridge which was perfect spots for summer photoshoots. I did snorkeling and swimming before we leave the cove. And lots of souvenir photoshoots!

Armis Bridge in Puting Buhok Cove.
Gorgeous beach of Puting Buhok Cove.
Escape to Puting Buhok Cove's shoreline.
Snorkeling at Puting Buhok Cove.
The next island we hopped on is Sombrero Island, named after because of its shape is like a hat. Sombrero is the Filipino term for hat. We actually did not docked at the island since we will be collected with fees. What we did here is that the guide led us to an ideal snorkeling spot of the island where I saw beautiful and much-alive corals compare to Puting Buhok Cove. Present are colorful fishes as well. I won’t forget the giant blue starfish that I saw under the sea which my friends who snorkelled with me also saw it too. I was delighted to everything I saw under the waters of Sombrero Island. I stopped snorkeling when I felt that the current is becoming too strong already. We then circled around the island and thus, it gave us already a tour of it without having a dock on it! Sombrero Island had a small beach area and cautious swimming should be done as some parts ashore have sudden deep parts that one might not notice.

Secret cove?
Sombrero Island.
Snorkeling at Sombrero Island!
Closer approach to Sombrero Island.
By 3 pm, we returned again to the rest house to give rest to our tired bodies. Remember, we don’t have enough sleep plus a whole noon activity. As we prepare our dinner, I notice the sea front view by the rest house.   The cloudy sky hides the afternoon sun yet the escaping sun rays reflects to the surface of the sea creating a beautiful shimmering and illuminated ocean. This is the perfect time to practice my photography skills! So I took shots of the view while having a good conversation with a few of my friends. A few more minutes later, the sky and sea started to bath in golden yellow color. The time has come for me to witness the beautiful Anilao sunset slowly unfolding into my eyes. It was a gorgeous sunset and seascape scenery that I felt I become partially deaf for a moment to my colleagues’ call for dinner because of its magnificent beauty. I’m always drawn to sunsets and they are really best viewed by the beach or by the sea. As the sun sets down and I sat to watch it gone by, I reflected it as the most beautiful moment of the day in Anilao.

Moments before sunset...
Anilao seascape - perfect for testing your photography skills.
Moments before sunset...
I took the opportunity to sleep this time after dinner. I think I slept for only 3 hours when one of my friends woke me up because it was time to have booze on our first night in Anilao. Of course, I join with my friends at work to enjoy our night booze session filled with lots of shared stories, laughs, fun that later went down to cries, counselling and sharing our life dramas and drinks, of course! I admit that I was drunk that night but I had a lot fun bonding with my friends. At least, I didn’t vomit out of drunkenness! Wee! Until now, whenever I recall that night in Anilao, I laugh and smile at the same time. We had fun and jokes to each other but most especially I had a great time with my friends as here we get to learn and appreciate more about each other. Hmm... Does that mean beergin* sessions has a good effect, at least?  *beergin – beer and gin mixed liquor.

Awe moment.
Sunset drama...
Anilao sunset... breathtaking...
I think we finished the booze session with sharing our life dramas by 3 in the morning. It was only after that I get a decent sleep. The following morning, three of my colleagues tried snorkeling in the front beach of the rest house as a few meters from the shore there is already a coral garden teeming with rich marine life. After eating our breakfast, we get ready to flee out of Anilao, as one of my workmates has a duty to work at 3 pm. And so we leave Anilao by 10 am and arrive at the metro by pass 12 noon.

The casts of this best day-off ever in Anilao!
I felt exhausted after the trip. Now, my day-off is over. I’m bound to resume working the following day and return to my normal work life again. Yet, amidst all these, I realized that this is one day-off that I won’t forget! Not only I did have a quick vacation on my day-off to distress and relax and explore the beauty of Anilao but I got to spend this “best day-off” with my best buddies and friends at work. What I like best in this trip is that after having a memorable bonding together, we get to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s personality and uniqueness all the while in the sweet escapes of Anilao. Day-offs should be like this - stress-free, spend on a wonderful place, good share of stories, endless fun and great people to share this day-off with – that what makes the best day-off ever!

Best day-off ever in Anilao is my travel story about how did I spend my day-off last November 19 and 20, 2012 in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas where I get to have short trip and quick vacation to Batangas with my friends at work who happens we have the same day-off schedules. We planned to have an ultimate bonding experience by spending a worthy and relaxing day-off in Anilao where one of my colleagues has a family rest house. This is one of the best trips I had with friends which made me dubbed this trip as my best day-off ever!
This is my last travel trip of the year 2012. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Banaue's Magnificent Stairways to Heaven

The mountainous side of the Cordillera region is covered by thick clouds of mists while the sky is starting to color gray - a sign that a rain will follow while taking long road trip from Bontoc. In some turns on the road, I was delighted by gorgeous views of rice terraces and in some turns I was stunned by beautiful mountain sceneries without worry of danger that we are driving on the edge of cliffside road. Some roads were bumpy because of a rocky surface while some were smooth and pave that gives a steady drive. It was a long trip on the road again as our journey in search of Banaue’s magnificent stairways to heaven had just started.

As the van drives through the mountainous border between Bontoc and Ifugao, fog is starting to be thick until it seems impossible to see the surrounding mountain sceneries. I did not feel unsafe as we run through the road even when we went to a risky landslide prone mountainside road.  Maybe because this road trip is the most scenic I had which had made me bear the pain of long drive. And I have been positive all the time.  But nevertheless, the journey continues. The excitement of arriving in Ifugao is just building up while enjoying the sceneries on the road trip.

Banaue's magnificent stairways to heaven.
Fog all over the mountains when we arrived at Mount Polis.
After 40 minute drive, we arrived at Mount Polis viewpoint. We’re officially in Bananue, Ifugao but this is just the border of the province to Mountain Province. This viewpoint is a stopover between Bontoc and Banaue that’s why I saw a lot of public buses making stopover in the area like what we did. It was drizzling and cold when we arrived. The place was made colder by the blow of mountain breeze. Yet the cold temperature did not stop me from going down from the shuttle to stretch my muscles after tiring and butt-pain long drive. Mount Polis is a landmark itself.  You can hike the peak the peak to get a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Around the area is a vast field of mountain sceneries from cliff view decks that is occasionally passed by thick clouds of fog. Mount Polis is also a marketplace. There were a lot vegetable vendors lining up in the area as well as small convenient stores suitable for passengers and visitors who are making a stopover from long trips. After few minutes, we continue our drive towards the town proper of Banaue.

Vegetarian treat at Mount Polis stopover.
Mount Polis marker, a sigh that we are now in Ifugao province.
My 6th travel of the year - Banaue, Ifugao!
In fifteen minutes, we arrived in Banaue proper and exactly to our main destination – the Banaue Rice Terraces viewpoint. I almost jump out of my seat once the shuttle stop at the viewpoint’s parking lot. I’m really excited to see the world-famed rice terraces of Banaue! I almost run to the viewpoint as if I don’t care that I have travel companions on the trip just to see the view. And when I arrived at the view deck, it was an “awe moment” for me. Never in my dreams, that one day I will see the magnificent rice terraces of Banaue that I only admire seeing in elementary text books, post cards, travel blogs and old 1000 peso bill to the current 20 peso bill. Banaue Rice Terraces is a sight to behold. It was stunning, splendid and magnificent.

Banaue Rice Terraces in panorama - It was stunning, splendid and magnificent!
The view deck gives an unobstructed and gorgeous panoramic view of the Banaue’s rice terraces.  It was carefully carved and engineered on the mountains sides and slopes to withstand for a long period of time.  The ancient Ifugaos are intelligent engineers since the terraces have been there since the early civilization in the Cordillera region. The saying was true that Banaue’s rice terraces are truly stairways to heaven. The topmost part of the terraces almost reaches the sky and at times touches the passing low clouds. And if you put all the rice terraces on top of each other, it will truly reach the sky. The verdant color of the rice terraces stole my eyesight as well. The greenery field of the terraces adds charm and splendor to it. I am truly marveled!

The feeling when I saw the rice terraces of Banaue was not happiness but a feeling of marvel to its wondrous beauty. I admire its beauty. And the Ifugao people who made these terraces that until now it still a world renown and dubbing it as the “8th wonder of the world”. Of course, I did not let the opportunity pass not to have a souvenir photo of Banaue Rice Terraces. I clicked and clicked. I took a panoramic shot. And I even have a shot with old 1000 and new 20 peso bills where it is printed with.

It drizzle a bit but it did not ruin this magnificent view of the rice terraces of Banaue.
You must love GREEN!
The old 1000 peso bill memento photo!
Never in my dreams, that one day I will see the magnificent rice terraces of Banaue that I only admire seeing in elementary text books, post cards, travel blogs and old 1000 peso bill to the current 20 peso bill.
Around the view point, there are also old Ifugao people in their native attires sitting and waiting for visitors to have a souvenir photo with them. There is also a souvenir shop where I bought some mementos of Banaue like magnets and keychains to complete my memorable trip to Ifugao province.  Ifugao is a landlocked province in the Cordillera Administrative Region. It is located in a mountainous region that’s why it has a rugged terrain, and forest covered areas.  Though, Banaue is a popular destination for the rice terraces, Ifugao’s capital is Lagawe. Local people here don’t want to be called Igorot but as Ifugao since Igorot is called to the people of Mountain Province. Ifugao is named after the term "i-pugo" which means "i" (from/people) and "pugo" (hill), hence it means “people of the hill”.
Banaue is mainly visited for its magnificent rice terraces, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The Banaue Rice Terraces also called Payaw, is said to be 2000-year old terraces carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the indigenous people. Though, Banaue’s rice terraces is inscribed in the 20 peso bill as UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was not really part of the lists for the presence of numerous modern structures, making it score low in the integrity criterion of UNESCO. The rice terraces of Batad and Bangaan which are both in Banaue are part of the list. However, the Banaue Rice Terraces is a National Cultural Treasure under Ifugao Rice Terraces.

The Ifugao people in their native attires at the view deck.
Souvenir keychains!
The visit and experiencing the magnificent rice terraces of Banaue was a perfect way to end the Cordillera Region tour journey.
There are other rice terraces sites to visit in Banaue and Ifugao if you stay longer or you can make as a sidetrip. Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces are both in Banaue. Batad Rice Terraces is located in Baranggay Batad and popular for resemble as amphitheatre. There’s also Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Mayoyao which are visited for growing a rare type of organic rice variety called “tinawon” in its terraces.   Another notable rice terraces in Ifugao is Hapao Rice Terraces in Hungduan. The stone-walled terraces date back to 650 AD! Lastly, there’s Kiangan Rice Terraces where they grow the rice varieties of nagacadan and julungan. Kiangan’s rice terraces clusters manifest a distinct feature - the fields are in ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river. All of these rice terraces are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras which were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. All of these rice terraces are in the Ifugao province.

We left Banaue to take a long journey on the road again. This time our destination is going home. After long hours of drive to the 3 places of destination I visited in the Cordillera Region, it was an enriching and rewarding travel experience despite of the long and tiring road trip. The trip gave me an experience and a discovery of a lifetime in the northern places of the country. The visit and experiencing the magnificent rice terraces of Banaue was a perfect way to end this Cordillera trip journey. I will not forget the scenic mountains and rice terraces of the Cordillera Region. They will not last only in my souvenir pictures but will clearly stay in my heart and mind.  

Banaue's Magnificent Stairways to Heaven is part of my Cordillera Region Tour blog series where I join a road trip to visit the regions’ three main places of tourist destination - Baguio-Sagada-Banaue last October 5-8, 2012. The main destination of the tour is exploring Sagada, Mountain Province where I stayed the longest. Baguio and Banaue, Ifugao is part of the side trip of this Cordillera Region Tour.   

My Cordillera Region Tour is courtesy of Hannah Julianne Travel and Tours – 111 Fiesta Homes, San Jose, City of Dasmarinas, Cavite. For travel tour inquiries, contact 0916.6853413.
*This is not a paid article.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cool Escape to Baguio

The last time I went to Baguio, there are only two things I remembered the best about it – it’s cool weather and pine trees. I won’t forget the cool breeze of air that surrounds every sight of the city. Every minute of stay in Baguio, I breathe fresh air from the mountains. While, majority of the city’s landscape is covered with layers of layers of pine trees making every corner of it, a scenic sight with beautiful mountain or hill backdrops.  I was only 12 year-old then and it was one of my fondest memories of my first time trip to Baguio way back in Summer 1997.

Undoubtedly, the most popular sight in Baguio - Mines View Park.
Fast forward, October 2012. I embarked on a road trip to visit the Mountain Province. My back and butt is enduring the pain of sitting long inside the van service that I am riding for this long road trip. My eye is getting red from having lack of sleep as I couldn’t get one inside a moving vehicle. The road trip is taking long. Yet I still hold on my patience that this will be over. We did stopovers to stretch our muscles and freshen up. And we went up again to the road to travel to our intended destination. After a long drive up to the north, we reached the place at six in the morning.  It was just in time for a morning sunrise welcome in the place dubbed as the “Summer Capital” of the country – Baguio. As my foot sets on the ground after the long road trip, I knew it marked my return to Baguio after 15 years!

Baguio is a haven of chill spots, greenery parks and cool mountain weather that makes it as the "Summer Capital of the Philippines." Summer might be the best time to visit it because its cooler climate and mountain fresh air serves as a Shangri-La for those vacationers who are dire heat of summer temperature from the metro. But whether it is summer or rainy season, Baguio is still an ideal place to chill and relax. It has always been popular because of its weather. Baguio’s cool weather climate is its main draw that keeps vacationers coming and keeps on returning to it. I think the sights and places of interests are just secondary but nonetheless worth a visit too. So while having a long stopover in Baguio while en route to Mountain Province, I tried to explore some of its popular and traditional place of interests that some I did not explore yet during my first time visit.

Pine Trees everywhere. A sign we are in Baguio!
Good morning Baguio!
Welcome to the city of pines - Baguio City!
Baguio Sunrise in a scenic road...
The Mansion is one of the frequent sights to visit when in Baguio. Also known as the Mansion House, it is the official summer residence of Philippine presidents. According to information, it was built in 1908 to serve as the official summer residence of US Governor Generals during the American colonization of the country. From then on various conventions and political meetings were also held at The Mansion. The building stands out for its elegant design of Spanish colonial theme architecture on the main building. It ornate ironwork main gate is also one of its architectural wonder that’s why it is one of the most photograph part of the sight. Surrounding The Mansion were greenery landscapes of pine trees, vast grass field and blooming flowers of various types.

The Mansion - official summer residence of Philippine presidents.
Mansion House's historical marker.
The verdant grounds of The Mansion.
Just in front of The Mansion is Wright Park. This park is popular for morning joggers but it is also popular for midday walks and strolls. Its main feature is its long reflecting pool lined with pine trees known as “Pool of Pines” and the park circle which is located at one end of the park.  Tall pine trees and decorative street lights line both sides of the access road beside the pool. Wright Park is also popular for ponies that can be rented out for a ride in period of time. Children and kids will surely be delighted in this riding activity.

Wright Park marker.
Wright Park just in front of The Mansion.
I then, returned to Mines View Park for the second time. But this time, while sampling Strawberry Taho which makes my morning visit a sweeter threat. Basically Strawberry Taho is the same taho threat with strawberry syrup flavour instead of sweetened brown sugar.  Mines View Park is no doubt  the most popular sight in Baguio but not only because of its overlooking deck of mountain scenery and view but also for its numerous shops of “pasalubong” just right at the entrance of the park which you can bring home to your loved ones and friends.

Since its early morning, there were only few people roaming around. While I still enjoying my Strawberry Taho, one of the local park vendors asks me and my friend to try an Igorot costume photoshoot for a perfect Baguio souvenir. At first, I’m really hesitant to try it because I find it silly but my friend insists that it is a fun idea so I gave in. It was my first time to try wearing an Igorot costume complete with accessories of traditional wooden javelin and shield for a photo shoot. We pose and pose of all sorts like fighting, calm and wacky. In the end, it was all fun after all.
Baguio souvenirs!
Strawberry Taho in the morning!
Going wacky the Igorot way!
The scenic view deck of Mines View Park.
But the most important site not to miss in the park is the overlooking view deck of the park where a breath-taking panoramic view of Benguet’s gold and copper mines and the surrounding mountains unfold before your eyes. This view also shows the mountainous and verdant landscape surrounding Baguio and Benguet. It is best viewed while enjoying the cool weather of Baguio which I delightedly experienced. The vast green color covering the mountain slopes and sky-blue painted sky was a Baguio view that I won’t forget. I got relaxed from the view that I’m seeing in my eyes.  This spectacular mountain scenery should not be missed when visiting Mines View Park. Baguio trip experience won’t be completed without visiting the park!

Mines View Park's scenic viewing deck.
City of Pines!
More and more souvenirs at the park.
Mines View Park marker.
Good Shepherd Convent is the next stop for most visitors coming from Mines View Park. This convent has a store populary known for the different products made by the Good Shepherd nuns and workers for visitors of Baguio City. Among the most sought items are fruit preserves, strawberry and ube jams, cashew and peanut brittle, and coco jam. Most of their products are also sold by different stalls in the Baguio Public Market and at various other outlets within the city. During my visit, I tried a sample of their home-made chicken empanada and it was unexpectedly delicious. My friend and travel mate for the trip was the one who insists to me try it since I’m hesitant that it might just taste the same empanada sold in the metro. But it was tasty and its crust was crispy - just perfect to satisfy a hunger morning snack. Later I also tried their Chocolate Chips Oatmeal cookies. I say it’s a healthy snack for health and diet conscious people.

What I also like in Good Shepherd Convent is its surrounding garden. The garden is named after Ste. Marie Euphrasie Pelletier, the foundress of the Good Shepherd Sisters. This garden has a very relaxing view of the trees and flowering plants that were carefully planted and trimmed together to delight visitors who are looking for quietness and reflective thought. There are also secluded benches and nooks where you can sit, relax and admire the beauty of the garden flowers and trees – just ideal for reflective thought and pondering.

Products sold at Good Shepherd Convent.
Morning threats sold at Good Shepherd Convent.
The garden's marker.
Right at the entrance of the garden.
Lovely blooms.
The garden of Ste. Marie Euphrasie Pelletier.
 Our last musing in Baguio before we en-route to Sagada was to have a coffee at Starbucks inside Camp John Hay. Camp John Hay is a recreational resort and historical sight in Baguio City which visitors can take trails to explore it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fully explore the place since we are just on a sidetrip and we are heading for a long road trip again. So we just drop by to Starbucks which I think probably the most popular coffee shop in Baguio. Starbucks is uniquely located inside an old American house-style building. No wonder about it since Camp John Hay is made with a purpose to be a resort and leisure place of American soldiers. What makes this Starbucks branch in the country unique is that it has a fireplace and chimney which still can be used if you want to feel warm from the cold weather! Now, that’s American style of living trademark! Inside Starbucks, I wasn’t only able to sip their famous blend of coffee but also experience the old American ambiance of 19oos with its very historical and antique shop location.

Camp John Hay is a major attraction in Baguio City. The camp covers almost 250 acres. It is complete with sporting activities like golf course and treetop climbing, shops, restaurants, hotel (Camp John Hay Manor) and eco-tourists trail for visitors to try and enjoy the camp.

Starbucks Camp John Hay branch.
More coffee please!
Cozy frappe.
Nice ambiance of Starbucks outdoor facade.
 The next 7 hours was a long road trip to Mountain Province where we had to pass through the province of Benguet. While on the road in Benguet, I had a chance to view Mount Pulag from a distance. This mountain is Luzon’s highest peak and mountain. As pointed by the tour guide, I saw the peak of Mount Pulag covered with fog-like stream of clouds and surrounded by verdant trees while shadowed by a blue hue. The mountain is popular for hiking trail explorations for those who want to explore Benguet. After viewing Mount Pulag, we had a stopover to the Highest Point of Philippine Highway System landmark. Located in Atok, Benguet at 7,400 feet above sea level, the landmark site was on the edge of a view deck cliff where I chance upon to see the beautiful mountainous landscape of Benguet and its surrounding valleys. It’s a popular stopover too when visiting Benguet and while en route to Mountain Province since the landmark’s view deck provides a space to stretch muscles from the long drive and has a restroom nearby aside from enjoying the view of Cordillera mountains.

Mount Pulag - Luzon's highest peak.
Highest Point of Philippine Highway System marker.
Gorgeous mountain and valley scenery at the view deck of Highest Point of Philippine Highway System marker.
The beauty of Benguet.
Indeed, it was a worthy return after 15 years to Baguio. Yet I have to fully explore the city of pines. There is still so much more to explore and experience in the “Summer Capital” for me. I know the saga of Kafagway* continues.  But until that day comes, I have sit back again in the van, relax and enjoy the stunning views of Cordillera Mountains that we are passing through as we take a 7 hour long drive journey to Mountain Province while I still have a lingering memory of my cool escape return to Baguio. 

*Kafagway is Baguio's ancient name that means "a large open space". 

Cool Escape to Baguio is part of my Cordillera Region Tour blog series where I join a road trip to visit the regions’ three main places of tourist destination - Baguio-Sagada-Banaue last October 5-8, 2012. The main destination of the tour is exploring Sagada, Mountain Province where I stayed the longest. Baguio and Banaue, Ifugao is part of the side trip of this Cordillera Region Tour.  

My Cordillera Region Tour is courtesy of Hannah Julianne Travel and Tours – 111 Fiesta Homes, San Jose, City of Dasmarinas, Cavite. For travel tour inquiries, contact 0916.6853413.
*This is not a paid article.
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