Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baguio: Blooming Odyssey of Summer

When Summer starts to fill the air, I always feel longing to travel someplace as they say Summer is the best time to travel. As the heat of weather comes with the season, some feel like going to cooler places where there is enough warm to console one’s adventurous spirit. This is just what I feel when I think of spending my first trip of Summer this year. And what could be any ideal place to spend my Summer than to spend it to the “Summer Capital” of the country – Baguio! It’s the place to be when it’s Summer as Baguio will always be not just a perfect place for a cool weather and relaxation but enough for exploring new things while enriching oneself’s thirst for adventure.

City of Pines in Tam-awan Village's viewpoint.
Arriving early in the morning in the City of Pines, the cool weather yearns for a long sleep but if you’re hungry, it’s interesting to try food and exotic cuisines at Balajadia's Kitchenette (Slaughter House Compound, Balajadia St., Barangay Sto. Nino, 2600 Baguio City) in Slaughter House Compound. Slaughter House is a cluster of restaurant that serves home-style cooked and roasted cuisines that are mostly meat. One of the exotic cuisine that I tried is Papaitan (Goat Bile Stew) but I highly recommend their Bulalo (Beef shank and bone marrow soup) which is a perfect comfort food for the cool weather of Baguio.

Baguio, here I come!
Sunrise welcoming me as I arrived at the borders of Baguio...
My summer visit to Baguio is just timely for the Panagbenga Festival period which runs from late February up to early March. This is a period of time in the city where most of the flowers are in full bloom, hence the celebration of the festival. Although, I did not arrive during the main parade event of the flowers, I enjoyed the blooming sceneries of Baguio flowers. It is no wonder that visitors and tourists flocks the city during this period. It’s not just about the cool temperature of the weather but also because the surroundings of the city are enticing to roam and stroll at with the lovely blooms of the flowers in every corner. I enjoyed walking around the streets with these beautiful sceneries of Baguio especially at morning time.

Bulalo for a cool weather.
Late but sumptuous lunch at Balajadia's Kitchenette.
Located in Pinsao Proper, is the art and cultural venue named Tam-awan Village. “Tam-awan” means vantage point in local dialect because of its location where scenic views of La Union and Baguio can be seen in its view decks.What you’ll see in the village are Ifugao huts and Kalinga houses made of original materials and lay out in the village resembling the design of a traditional Cordillera Village. Some of these houses and huts can also be rented for an overnight accommodation stay too. You can also trek inside the village trails to see its scenic view decks and other indigenous houses which I did with my travel mates. I enjoyed and amused by the sceneries of pine trees amidst at times covered by a thick haze of mist. The place is also a showcase of indigenous craftsmanship especially of Ifugao people where there are art galleries and craft shop for its appreciation. Tam-awan Village also provides art workshops for drawing, painting and solar drawing in keeping its tradition of promoting, sustain and preserve art particularly of Cordillera. My visit to Tam-awan Village made me appreciate Cordillera life, culture and history.

One of the preserve Cordillera house inside Tam-awan Village.
Trailing the view points of Tam-awan Village.
Beautiful small white flowers along the trail...
Luccong - one of the traditional Cordillera houses on exhibit at Tam-awan Village. 
Tam-awan Village - Garden in the Sky.
Art galleries on display...
Panagbenga Festival in Tam-awan Village!
By afternoon, it is an ideal time to stroll around Session Road - the main thoroughfare of Baguio City and is the main hub of what is called the Baguio Central Business District. It is located in the city center that’s why it is also the center of Panagbenga Festival activities where lots of locals and visitors flock through. It is divided into two parts - Lower and Upper Session Road.

Comfort food at Oh My Gulay! - Hot chocolate at Mango Crepe.
The art space and chic Oh My Gulay! interiors.
Along Session Road, there is an interesting cafĂ© and restaurant because of its artistic touches and designs that is worth spending an afternoon with is interestingly named Oh My Gulay! (Rooftop floor, La Azotea Building, Session Road, Baguio). The restaurant with its name mainly serves vegetarian dishes but it happens to be a big space of art galleries showcase as well! Every corner of the place has aesthetically considered art. Once you pass the cave-like entrance, you’ll be greeted with a fish pond, a theatre stage and a large wooden boat with various art pieces of sculptures and paintings. After I took a sip of their hot chocolate and munch on their sweet mango crepe with ice cream, I took time to explore the art galleries of Oh My Gulay. There’s a room space of paintings and indigenous sculptures which I try to mimic. Even their restroom amused me with its colorful laid out of crystal-like tiles designed in its walls. A visit to Oh My Gulay is not just for satisfying my tummy but also pleasing sensors for art appreciation.

Early evening I visited one of the famous park in the city, Burnham Park. Even though its evening, visitors still flocks the park for an evening stroll and tries to do paddling in its man-made lake. What made my night time visit to Burnham Park dramatic and memorable was the full lit of the surrounding lights with the full moon light on the sky reflects on the lake water. It was a perfect night time shot of Burnham Park though I still wishes to see this park in the morning. My visit to the park marks my return here after 15 years since my first visit on Burnham Park way back in 1997. Isn’t it a feat?

Night time at Burnham Park.
Hungry for dinner? Then, it’s not a problem when you’re looking big dinner servings at Glenn 50’s Diner (92 Upper General Luna Road, Corner Brent Road, Baguio City). I had their Guys on the Hood servings which compose of spaghetti pasta, fried chicken, pizza, slice pork chop with fries and garlic bread. What a meal! I highly recommend it! The meal has big servings that satisfied my hungry stomach. All other meals too in Glenn 50’s Diner had big servings too like The Famous 50’s Burger which my friend tried. No wonder it’s always crowded with patrons and visitors especially at dinner time. We had a hard time finding seat space before we finally settled for our dinner. Inside the restaurant, it has a 50’s look – it has jukebox, posters of celebrities who dominated the decade, and of course, 50s music all day and night.

Guys on the Hood serving at Glenn 50's dinner and Penetration Point at Concoctions Bar and Resto.
Night life is definitely one of the hit activities that shouldn’t be miss when in Baguio. So right after dinner we went to Concoctions Bar and Resto (Upper General Luna Road Extension, Baguio) to sample Baguio’s night life, bar lounging and have a good drink, of course! What I like about in Concoctions Bar and Resto is that they small stage for live music performances of their bands where guests with singings talents can also perform if they want to. The music that night was relaxing bossa nova tunes from two female singer of the band who did stir the crowd with their beautiful and sultry voices.  Our drinks started with a glass pail of hard liquor called Penetration Point – true to its name, it seems to have penetrating effect! My musically gifted colleagues then volunteered to perform on stage when the band invited anyone in the audience to sing. Singing Howie Day’s Collide, my colleagues delighted the whole crowd. I enjoyed our night in Baguio and finished off with a few more beer until we get drunk but still manage to get home to Hotel 45 (Bagong Bayan St., Brgy. Salud Mitra, Baguio City).

A trip to the “City of Pines” is not complete without visiting Baguio’s fame Mines View Park. The park has always been 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 viewing deck of the park. The park is also popular for shopping souvenir items from Baguio as there are numerous stalls of souvenir shop in and out around the park. One of the best activities in Mines View Park is to snack on the uniquely sweet Strawberry Taho – a strawberry syrup flavoured soybean curd pudding. You can also have souvenir photographs with a pink-haired horse or with a big Saint Bernard breed dog but the best Baguio souvenir photograph activity is dressing on the native Igorot costumes while doing sorts of funny poses for the camera.  

A panoramic shot of the view in front of Mines View Park viewing deck.
Flowers at Session Road.
It was afternoon already when the rain spoiled last day in Baguio. It made me realize that during summertime, we should visit places in the city starting early in the morning for us not to have spoiled rainy afternoon visits. Yet, me and my travel mates pursue on visiting Camp John Hay to discover other activities we can have while in Baguio. Since it was raining, we settled first in the camp’s Mile-Hi Center to eat at Mile-Hi Diner, a retro inspired restaurant serving American food fares like burgers, steaks and ribs. It occupies a 90 square meter space with al fresco dining area at Mile Hi Center of Camp John Hay. Mile-Hi Diner serves American/Mexican cuisine like Burger Steak, Tacos, Chili with Beans, Mexican Pizza, Buritos, Quesadillas, and Sizzling Fajitas. I tried their big serving of traditional American burger.  

Pine Trees at Camp John Hay grounds.
The first trip of Summer 2013 is no better than spend of the summer capital - Baguio!
I wish to explore more of Camp John Hay’s attraction and pine forest trails that afternoon but it was still raining that I ended up exploring the The Manor with my travel mates. The Manor is a luxury hotel located inside Camp John Hay with its famed Le Chef restaurant that serves good food by renowned chef Billy King. Though I’m disappointed for the bad weather as it was still raining, the Panagbenga Festival flower float on display at Le Monet Hotel quite makes up for the disappointing weather where lots of Camp John Hay’s visitors are flocking for souvenir photos. Well, I was fascinated by the beautifully designed flower float used in the festival as it was really attractive. And we also took souvenir shots as well to have at least we feel the spirit of Panagbenga Festival. 

The weather in Baguio is so good that we extend our stay from a few more hours to almost a day instead of leaving after an overnight stay. That’s how enthralling is Baguio for a summer vacation! My last few hours in Baguio are spend on watching a DVD movie marathon of local movies that I enjoyed with my travel mates. It was just perfect for enough relaxation and rest as we will embark on a long road trip again after. And when I was at the bus and it started moving, I went on pondering thoughts on how my first summer trip of the year was – lovely cool weather, ultimate adventure and superb bonding with best buddies! I think I need go back here again after this trip. My summertime visit here made me endear to Baguio once again.


  1. My first trip of 2013 and my first series of trips last Summer 2013.

  2. Love the shots, it makes me crave going Baguio too! Yung tipong pasyal lang tapos kill the time... hayysss....

    1. Actually after this post, I'm craving to return to Baguio again. Hindi sya nakakasawa kahit alam mong same places lang ang makikita mo.

  3. Id love love love to visit baguio. uggh why am i too far from luzon plus Im scared of flying >.<

    1. You have to try it! Summer is best spend in Baguio.

  4. namiss ko ang Baguio bigla.dibale malapit nang mag december,sarap na namang magpalamig don.hehe

    1. Nako magandang timing yan kung December ka papalamig dun. Damang dama mo ang Pasko!

  5. na miss ko ulit ang baguio pero ayaw ko na balikan ang mines view dahil sa bad exp ko jan hehehe, ang pinaka gusto ko ay ang tam-awan village,

    1. share mo naman experience mo? I agree gaganda ng mga views sa Tam-awan. Thanks sa pag-visit lagi!

  6. tulad ng karamihan, namiss ko n nman ang baguio, di bale next year jan na kami..salamat sa article na ito at kahit malayo kami parang nasa baguio pa rin :)


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