There were only few days left before the holidays when my family decided to go to Baguio. It wasn’t hard but instead impossible to get a hotel booking. So since we are a pack of ten, we opt to look for a transient house. I am the one in charge to look for a place and God knows how many sites I’ve already checked just to find one. Preference would be a budget friendly place, clean, near the town proper and it has to have the “Baguio” feel. So yes, we got one. Placed several texts and calls and then we deposited half of the payment to the bank.
The big day came and off we go! We left Manila at around 3AM and reached the zigzag at around 8AM. At 9AM, we were at Baguio’s famous landmark –the Lion’s head. Lots of travelers stopped to take a shot, Baguio vacation won’t be complete without it. We also dropped by the Kennon view deck, not much to see. But the view is worth one’s appreciation.
As we are about to enter the town proper, we noticed lots of buildings, houses and construction along the road. They were blocking our view and it was far from what I remembered! Not to overreact but I would like to conclude that mankind has taken over the mountains. And did I mention how bad the traffic has been over the years??
When we finally reached Baguio Vacation Apartments at Pines Garden Villas, we were really relieved. Our accommodation is like a row of townhouses on top of a hill. Wonderful! They have a guard-house too, so you are secured 24/7. We booked a three bedroom villa (which includes a kitchen, living room, two T&B and a terrace area). So everyone went up and unpacked their luggage. At around 3PM, the fog is already touching the foot of the hill and we were so thrilled!
Off to our 1st stop The Mansion and Wright Park. We took a lot of pictures and even asked Manong Taho to take our group shot. There are Sagada orange vendors and artists trying to sell their stuff along the man-made pond. The kids strut their horse riding skills and we wrapped the day with a hot Bulalo dinner, perfect for the cold windy night.
Second day is a tough one. We need to squeeze everything in one full day. First post, Lourdes Grotto. We aren’t really devotees, we just wanted to check out the place and brave the hundred steps of the grotto. After that we went to Tam-awan Village. Intrigued by the artificial Ifugao village on top of a hill, I ensured that this is included in our itinerary. My mom was not really thrilled about this place, but still I am happy to see it for real. There’s a lot of Bul-ol statues around and artistic stuff like paintings are in exhibit.
Next station, the Philippine Military Academy. We came before lunch and I nearly forgot that we were in Baguio. The sun was scorching hot! So, that calls for a round of ice cream in the cooperative store near the parking area. My son was really amused with the old planes and helicopter displayed around the military compound. Other sites to see includes a chapel, tree house and old fighting machines.
Following a quick nap, we went to Burnham Park. My cousins along with my husband and my son rode a boat for rent and row around the lake. The sun was about to set at that time, but it was still fun. My mom and my sister looked around the thrift stores set up in tents beside the lake. Biking is another fun activity to consider. Though utmost care should be observed especially if you are biking beneath dim lights. There’s a lot of bike rentals to choose from at a fair price of P40 per hour –solo, big, small or bicycles with sidecars.
A sumptuous dinner at Rose Bowl completed the day. Their dishes are highly attractive. Rose Bowl has gained and kept its popularity in Baguio for several decades now. When you are around the town proper, consider going to Maharlika and the public market. It is more ideal to buy there than in malls or souvenir shops found in hotels or tourist destinations. You can buy an array of stuff — from silver works, blankets, walis tambo, Baguio delicacies like peanut brittle and strawberry jam. Souvenirs like key chains, ref magnets and the legendary Baguio souvenir –the man in the barrel.
Third day is going back to Manila day. We were trapped for hours in really bad traffic! We were surprised that what caused this traffic was the newly built SM Mall at Rosales Pangasinan. There were no police officers to guide those who wanted to take a turn to the mall. Then another line of traffic awaited in Tarlac, this time caused by a small intersection. It’s a happy thing that provinces are becoming more civilized. But I hope that they will also be able to keep up with peace and order. And so to put it, our ride home was really annoying and exhausting.
To sum this up, Baguio is still a place to be. But since it is not getting any better, I have decided to put Baguio at the end of my traveling list. I might consider going back some day but not soon. Change is constant but I hope that it will be positive changes. So, till we meet again City of Pines!
Note: Condition as of Dec 2010 ~ 6/10