Baguio Series: The City of Pines

January 20, 2016

After several blog posts about our family's recent trip to Ilocandia, here I am again trying to start a new series about another travel adventure we took during our vacation in the Philippines last November 2015.  I know, my personal blog is beginning to look like a travel blog already.  I do not intend it to be like one, but I feel the need to document those rare moments that we actually get the opportunity to be with my parents and siblings.  Being thousands of miles away from them just make times like this indeed priceless.  So yeah.. I believe this travel series deserve a space on this website.  After all, the very reason why I decided to put up this blog is to keep a documentation of all the happy memories I have with my loved ones!

I decided to make this travel post into a series because I didn't want to overwhelm a single blog entry with too much photos.  (Believe me, you wouldn't want to wait forever either for all the photos to finish loading.) And you know, my OCness couldn't just take disorganization, even in a form of a blog post.  I NEED everything to be in order.  So please bear with me for wanting to write this travel post on an installment basis.

This new series of our family's Baguio adventure will be composed of seven entries, namely:

Just a little trivia:  Did you know that this was the very first time I had ever set foot in Baguio?  Yup, you read that right!  No matter how embarrassing that may sound, I must admit that after my 29 years of existence, I finally got the chance to experience how it feels to be in "The Summer Capital of the Philippines."

Actually, we didn't plan to include Baguio on the itinerary of our 2014 Pinas vacation.  However, my dearest husband knew I had never been to this place, so he thought it was probably the best time for me to see "The City of Pines" in person (since Rafa was old enough already to endure a long drive). 

Baguio City is approximately 4 hours drive from Manila and offers a lot of attractions where tourists could relax and enjoy a cool weather.  No wonder it has become a favorite place for a weekend getaway!  Anyway, here are some of the most popular destinations that we got to visit while we were in the city:


BURNHAM PARK

Burnham Park, Baguio City
Burnham Park, Baguio City
Burnham Park, Baguio City

Our first stop was spent in the highly urbanized park located at the heart of Baguio City -- the Burnham Park.  My husband and I went for a boat ride which made me realize that I didn't even know how to properly paddle a boat.  At first, I thought such activity was so simple and easy, but I was wrong!  My goodness, it took me ages to maneuver our boat towards the right direction!  Good thing my husband was there to help me or else I would have not made it to the platform and hop off.

While we were busy working on our arm muscles through paddling, my siblings, together with Rafa, went for a bike ride.  The park was a little bit crowded since it was a weekend when we went here, but the city's cool breeze was more than enough for us to enjoy the place.

If you're not interested in renting a bicycle or a boat, then I guess, taking a walk around the park would be the next best thing to do.  I mean, get yourself some exercise and keep that body moving!  Afterwards, don't forget to treat yourself to a special strawberry 'taho,' which by the way tastes incredibly delicious!


THE MANSION

The Mansion, Baguio City

The Mansion is known as the Philippine President's official summer residence located right across the touristy Wright Park.  Although this attraction is open to the public for free, guests are only allowed to view the main building from the driveway, just a few steps away from the entrance gate.  In short, you won't have the chance to explore and see the interior of the President's elegantly designed mansion.  

There's really nothing much to do here but to view the building and its expansive lawn from afar, hence it won't take you more than five minutes to visit the place.  It's basically more like a stop over where you get off from the car, pose for a photo with The Mansion on the background, and then leave for your next destination.  


BAGUIO CATHEDRAL

Baguio Cathedral
Baguio Cathedral

I was probably less than 10 years old only when I first saw this Cathedral in my mother's photo album.  I didn't even have any idea back then where Baguio was.  All I can remember was how engaging the pictures of my mama in this place looked like, which eventually gave me that unconscious desire to see it in person.  

Unfortunately, I had an over-protective father (he used to be, but not anymore) who never allowed us to a sleepover or spend the night somewhere else other than our home.  Hence, I didn't really get the opportunity to see Baguio, until late last year.  So just imagine my excitement when I finally saw in person the Cathedral I used to stare at in my mama's photo album twenty years ago!  It felt like a dream come true, lol!

Kidding aside, Baguio Cathedral is also known as Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral.  Situated in Cathedral Loop near Session Road.  This Roman Catholic Church with a pastel exterior, twin spires and stained glass windows, had become a popular tourist attraction in the city.

You may wish to hear the Holy Mass, just like what we did, when you pay a visit but be sure to check the Cathedral's schedule of masses, so you get to attend an English or Tagalog mass. Otherwise, you might end up having epistaxis (nosebleed) trying to understand an Ilokano dialect, just like what happened to my parents and siblings two years ago when they first heard mass in this church.  Spell -- EPIC FAIL!


BELL CHURCH

Bell Church, Baguio
Bell Church, Baguio
Bell Church, Baguio

Bell Church is one of the most photogenic tourist attractions I've seen in Baguio.  Contrary to its name, this place is not a church but a Taoist temple that provides every visitor a visual feast of a beautiful and well maintained landscape with vibrant pagodas, arches, and sculptures.  Not to mention, it has also become an ideal destination for tourists who wish to find a peaceful place to relax and unwind.

Being a place of worship that it is, guests are therefore expected to pay respect by observing silence and displaying appropriate behavior.  In addition, please be advised that photography inside the temple is strictly prohibited.

Frankly, I was not interested in Taoism that's why I didn't bother to enter their temple anymore.  Instead, I found comfort savoring the cool breeze of the wind as my husband and I climbed the flight of stairs leading to the Bell tower.  (We didn't reach the top, though!) Anyway, admission and parking space is free of charge, so better come and visit the place to experience a more serene kind of environment when in Baguio!


TAM-AWAN VILLAGE

Tam Awan Village, Baguio City

This was the place my papa had warned me about.  Obviously, he didn't have a pleasant experience here that's why he was really trying to convince me not to look into the place anymore.  However, I was both stubborn and curious of what the attraction has to offer (because it seemed like everyone I knew who had been to The City of Pines never missed the chance to visit this place), so my husband and I still went off to discover the village.

The entry fee of PHP 50 per head would give you access to explore the  village grounds where several Ifugao huts, an art gallery, a few view decks, a restaurant, and a souvenir shop can be found.  The place looked like a replica of a native village in the vast Cordillera region, which would give you a glimpse of how their ancient tribes used to live.  

After an exhausting 30-minute trek of the entire village, I have come to realize the reason why my father didn't like the place -- the muddy and uneven trail made his arthritis worse!  Thus, this attraction is certainly not advisable for the elderly, pregnant, persons with disability, and even toddlers, since the pathway can become truly hazardous especially during the rainy season.  Nonetheless, I must say that Tam Awan Village is indeed a great site if you want to experience and immerse yourself in the unique culture of the Cordillera region.



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