Ano? Tara, Baguio! That’s my uncle’s infamous line after every Christmas. He would utter his spiel with a very challenging 1-hour deadline. He’s not actually asking for some company, he just would like to inform everyone that it is indeed an open invitation. Those who’d really wanna join would hurriedly grab their stuff and hop on in his ride. Some would express their desire to join but due to their incredibly sluggish nature they are usually left behind without them knowing it. My uncle and his joiners would spend a day or two in one of the posh hotels in the city and just chill. Nothing more. Just chill.
Almost every year we hike up there and spend a couple of days and do nothing. And then my recent trip to Baguio changed the whole routine I had for years; the Baguio City that most travelers know but me.
Me and my buddy had three full days to explore the city I took for granted. I felt like a first-timer as the beauty of the city unveiled right before me. So many surprises, happy surprises!
First stop was the BenCab Museum. I loved the garden and the gazebo. And I am so gonna come back for their café’s homegrown coffee.
Next was the Tam-Awan Village. I’ve heard this before but due to the sluggishness of the fam I didn’t even tried to persuade them in visiting it. Moving on, a jeepney ride to Pinsao Proper brought us to the famed village that was constructed in 1998. We shelled out 50 pesos (adult fee) and 30 pesos (student fee) for the entrance fees.
The said “village” is actually a huge complex of different structures that showcases Ifugao and Kalinga’s traditional dwelling place. Some of which are actually used as lodging houses for people who might wanna experience living inside it; a really cool idea. Numerous bul-uls and other articles are scattered around the whole area.
After checking out the different huts, we followed a trail that leads to an overlooking area. We hiked a few hundred meters along a path of lined pine trees. It was fun hearing the pine needles rubbing onto each other. The cool breeze kinda slowed me down. I detest any form of cold climate or conditions. It makes me immobile.
There’s also a café and art shop within the village. Overall, the village is a nice way to showcase the region’s artistry and distinct character. You’d somehow get the feel of a traditional Ifugao and Kalinga’s lifestyle once you toured around the Tam-Awan Village.
Next stop was the Wright Park; never heard of it before so I really didn’t know what to expect. My buddy was in complete disbelief upon hearing me saying it; he went on asking me if I was joking, of course I wasn’t.
It was apparently a park with some horseback riding activities around. I’m not really a fan so we skipped that and went on to this steep stairway leading to I dunno where. It was again lined with numerous pine trees. I was anxiously waiting on what’s at the top of it so I hurriedly ran my way up to the last flight; and then another park.
Some peddlers were waiting up there and I found myself grabbing on some pinipig stuff (one of my favorites) and guess what? It’s one of the best I’ve tasted ever – happiness!
I then saw another pathway going to somewhere. I was constantly asking my buddy on the next spot but didn’t get a direct answer; he just informed me to patiently wait. And so I did.
To my surprise, the endpoint of it was The Mansion. And again, it was my first time to finally set foot at the official residence of the president in Baguio. Finally!
The next surprise was the Laperal White House; that famous haunted house. Apparently, there’s a 100-peso entrance fee for a tour inside the house, that’s too steep I told him so we just settled on the garden area of the house. I carefully inspected the house and found beauty on the structure itself. Me no fan of horror stuff so it didn’t give me the chills or whatsoever. It was just a white house for me; a nice white house.
And yet another surprise.
We hopped on a cab (for the first time) and I heard him telling the cabbie to bring us to Scout Barrio - no idea on that place. A 60-peso ride and then we were dropped off at a baseball field. It was high noon and there was no one around. I was asking him on the purpose of our visit there and, again, got no direct answer. And then we crossed the field to this hilly area with pine trees scattered everywhere.
A trail that is; the Camp John Hay’s Eco Trail. I didn’t know of such trail and he told me that he just discovered it accidentally on google. He traversed it before and wanted me to experience the same.
The trail was kinda easy and very refreshing. The pine trees, the hills, some joggers, trail bikers, and us. It was very relaxing to navigate along its trail. And then we ended up inside Camp John Hay’s picnic area. I thought it would end there but no, not yet.
I just followed him and went into another trail again. This time it was very challenging. The muddy slopes surely slowed us down but let us appreciate the scenery more and more. Wooden bridges, hills, pine trees, the muddy trail and us. Totally a not-so-famous tourist spot in the city but definitely is worth our time and efforts. You didn’t know it existed right? Check out this complete guide on Baguio Camp John Hay’s EcoTrail.
And what a sweet way to end our day but to savour one of our most raved about pancit finds just right outside the Camp John Hay’s gate – the Pancit Batil Patong. Abigail’s Bulalohan and Panciteria right beside the Department of Education’s Regional Office was the panciteria I’m talking about.
For 60 pesos per order, we got to try Pancit Batil Patong Baguio City style. And just like the other ones we’ve already tried, it’s complete with carabeef meat, the soup and the side dish/condiments. The remarkable thing was the huge amount of veggie toppings on the pancit.
The taste? It was way different from the pancit batil patong in Tuguegarao but the veggie overload was a sure hit for me, it really complimented the whole dish. It was just a proof that certain regional favorites can be adapted and localized. I’ll sure be back next time.
We also tried this old and quaint-looking restaurant along Session Road in Baguio, Luisa's Cafe. Beer nights were spent at one of the bars with a solo performer who entertained his audience very well with his country and rock n roll ensemble.
And so you thought that the night would just end there. After a few bottles, Harrison Road near Burnham Park was our revelry. This is your ukay-ukay haven! Pre-loved (and sometimes unused) stuff were everywhere. Shirts, shorts, pants, hoodies, shoes and other stuff are priced at around 10 to 150 pesos. I brought home 20 items and shelled out 810 pesos! Whew.
Experiencing Baguio on a different perspective is just lovely. Everything’s a first. And the best thing is that I didn’t know what to expect and in effect it made me admire Baguio more and more. And did I tell you that I really don’t dig why people would constantly desire to visit it often? But that was before, now I understand why. I think more than the tourist spots, it’s that feeling of new discovery. That feeling of exploring around a place you thought you knew all this time.
And just because it’s Christmas time again, I would definitely urge my uncle to initiate his yearly spiel. I would show them what I saw and let them experience what I did and bring lotsa wraps and hoodies.
Merry Christmas y’all and have a meaningful one!