Agyamanak la unay, Baguio!

Also known as: The weekend in Baguio City
Translation (from Ilocano, a Filipino dialect): Thank you very much, Baguio!
Note: Photo dump coming up.

My weekend was spent in the City of Pines, a trip that I had proposed to my friends at the start of the year when we were playing picnic.  I’ve been to Baguio City thrice, four counting the trip last weekend, but the only time I was really able to appreciate Baguio as a tourist was once when I was about seven and the last weekend. The other two times were for a Kids for Christ conference when I was 12, and last year for a strategic planning for work. Both times I didn’t go around Baguio at all, and all I could remember of it was being homesick and enjoying the cold weather.

So last weekend is a trip that made me a tourist in Baguio again. I wanted to go because I really just want to make the most out of the cold weather, and I wanted to get out of the city. It came to a point that I was so stressed at work and with other real life stuff that I just needed a break — a mental health day if you may. So it was done. With my friends who achieve, and a foreign “delegate”, we trekked up last weekend to the City of Pines for a well-deserved cold weekend.

Where I try to act tourist-y. Not my best picture, but the sign behind me is really more important. :P

And now in bullets!

  • Baguio is easy to get to if you’re coming from Manila…but it is wise to get bus tickets in advance especially if you want to reach Baguio early. We got to Victory Liner station thinking it would be easy to get a bus, but the next bus available is at 5:00am. :O We decided to buy tickets and then line up as chance passengers.The 3:00am bus was our lucky bus, and as soon as the bus started moving, we were all knocked out asleep. 6 hours later, hello Baguio!

    Waiting for the bus
  • We stayed in PNKY Home, a quaint little Bed & Breakfast along Leonard Wood Road. Toni discovered this place but he didn’t have a chance to stay here the last time he was in Baguio, so we decided to book the place.
    They’re doing a bit of renovating so there’s the steel bars behind Cookie. Oh, and Cookie’s the official mascot of the trip, at least until the animal hats came into the picture. :D

    PNKY’s Gallery room is at the first floor of the bed & breakfast and can comfortably fit up to 8 people.

    If you must know, all the furniture in PNKY is for sale, and they’re very nice furniture too. I say “nice” because I know I’m not a judge for it, but it’s a very cool idea.

    We didn’t get a chance to sample their goodies, though. But oh well. They have free WIFI, too. ALWAYS a plus. :D

    It’s funny that there are too few reviews for this place. Most of what I’ve seen were for the cafe, but not for the rooms. So, consider this a review: PNKY was one of the nicest, coziest places I’ve stayed in so far. The rooms on the website is a tad smaller than what it seems in person, but it’s very, very nice. Comfortable beds, hot showers, rooms with personalities and very hospitable staff — it made staying in Baguio even nicer than expected. I definitely recommend this place. :)

  • PNKY Cafe is also a quaint little coffee shop. We didn’t get to spend too much time there since we’re almost always out but the travel decor is inspiring. All postcards and travel-related decorations there are authentic, meaning the owners really got them from their travels. It makes the place seem very cultured and international and just inspiring. I wish I had the opportunity and means to have a gap year and travel all around, too.
    This is the Cafe’s menu cover
    Actual suitcases that the owners used in their travels
    I’m not sure what’s really travel-related with these vases, but they’re very pretty. :)
    Our French guest saw his home town on one of the postcards.

    This is the spread on Barcelona, Spain, in the menu. It’s not Madrid, but it’s close enough. Since I’m dreaming of Spain this year, of course I had to take a photo. :D
  • Our first destination after breakfast and freshening up is the Tam-awan Village. In my best friend’s words, it’s a replica of what an actual Igorot village looks like. It’s a nice place to visit, and my “manang” tendencies are aghast at how…blatant the images was. I’m not sure if I used the right word, so forgive me. I’m not making fun of the images, of course…it’s just shocking, I guess. It’s a very tourist-y place to visit, and I hear people can actually stay there overnight. There’s a lot of hiking, too. Oh, and their strawberry taho isn’t that good. :/ I suggest you go to strawberry farm to get the better one.
    Noel the Igorot
    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ;)

  • After the Tam-awan Village, we set off for the Bell Church, a Taoist temple in Baguio. It was another hiking experience, but us tired and hungry Filipinos decided to stay low and let the French visitor experience going up the tower with his host. We decided to photo-op instead:
    Tired Happy and Tina

    There was an interesting signage at the top of the bell tower, though:

    No Dating Here. LOL Whut.
  • We had lunch at Oh My Gulay! (OMG!) located at Session Road. And oh my gulay indeed, it’s a vegetarian restaurant! Awesome. I loved the salad (Cesar Asar) and the pasta (Pasta Mestizo). It’s a cute place too, shaped like an ark, and filled with Igorot images. If you’ve been to Tam-awan, you’ll know what I mean. :) A better review of OMG! here.

  • After OMG!, we headed to Burnham Park to stroll for a while. I remember going to Burnham Park on my first visit to Baguio, but I can hardly remember what I saw there before. It’s different now, though. We decided to go ride bikes, but it was cut short because biking down one road over and over again, avoiding the other people biking, can be very boring.

    I still know how to ride a bike!
  • An interesting story while we were in Burnham. I needed to pee, so I headed for the CLEAN COMFORT ROOM (and I mean that — that’s the sign for the public rest rooms there). I paid for the rest room use, then headed for the stalls. Imagine my shock when I saw that it’s a squatting toilet — as in a toilet on the floor. :o I would have gone and used that if I had to…but I saw normal toilet by the next door. Heh.
  • It seems like Burnham Park was also preparing for the Panagbenga Festival, the month-long flower festival happening very soon in the city.

    Pretty flowers. :)
  • After Burnham Park, we headed for Mines View Park, this high point in Baguio City where you can go and see the mines surrounding Baguio City. When I went there on my first visit, I know it wasn’t very crowded. This time around, there were just too many people! More stalls, too, and photo opportunities. The only reason I asked everyone to go there was so I could meet this dog:
    Bernard the St. Bernard ♥

    OMG HUGE DOGGIE! I was in love! The dog looked very tired from all the posing, though :(

    Cookie Monster enjoyed the view, too:

  • A visit to Mines View meant a visit to Good Shepherd, of course. Got the requisite ube and strawberry jam. :) It’s not really cheap, but ube! How can I resist?!
  • We went back to PNKY after that to rest, and got ready to have dinner at Cafe by the Ruins. This is a very nice restaurant built over the ruins of the home of the first civil Governor of Benguet, Phelps Whitmarsh. It was more of a romantic restaurant at night, really. The food is good, desserts a bit so-so. Order Tita Susie’s Crispy Tapa and wait for Tita Susie to show up. Or not. :P Sorry, inside joke. ;)
  • We tried to go to Ayuyang as per Toni’s request, but there was an event with an entrance fee to the bar. Since we all spent a bit too much on dinner, we decided to skip on it. Ayuyang, apparently, is the bar where Piolo performed a song in his movie with Judy Ann, Don’t Give Up On Us. ;)
  • As we made our way back from Ayuyang to Session Road and looked for a 7-11 to get our drinks for the night’s “house party”, we chanced upon some vendors selling the crazy animal hats. Noel said he wanted a Sponge Bob Hat, so we decided to look for one. We thought the hats were just some crazy fashion statement in Baguio, but we were wrong. It actually served a purpose! They kept our ears warm from the Baguio cold! :) Amazing. We all ended up buying our own hats as a “sign of our friendship”. :D
    We wore it all night. If you saw a group of people wearing crazy animal hats without shame along Session Road in Baguio on Saturday night, that’s us. :P And this is us (well, four of us, anyway) trying to hail a cab back to the hotel.

    Lost animals in the city – thanks, Toni!
  • Saturday night was spent in the hotel, partying. You don’t want to see the party pics.No really. You don’t. (Besides, my friends would kill me if I blog them :P)
  • Sunday woke us up bright and early (and maybe a bit hungover), and after having breakfast, we headed to Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay for some photo ops. Camp John Hay was still as pretty as I remember, and it’s very nice and pine-y there. :D
    Manor Hotel
    Cookie and his girls at Manor
    A very magazine-like shot that Toni had to beg half of us to do while he lay on the grass. :P

    Why is it that whenever anyone says Manor, though, I think of alcohol, music and teenagers partying the night away? Oh yeah, because there’s Eastwood Manor. Heh. Carry on.

  • After Manor, we went to have lunch at Mile Hi Center (not without almost getting lost again — peace, Toni!). We had a huge lunch at Carlo’s Pizza, had a bit of a scare with the Jeremy the French guy’s momentary black out (tsk, too much alcohol? :P) before setting out to our next destination…
  • …which is all the way to Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad. I must say, the cab fare from Camp John Hay to Strawberry Farm was only Php 10o (a little more than USD 2). That same fare is just from my office to my house. How is that possible. :|
  • We didn’t pick any strawberries in the farm, really. We just took that moment to have another photo op:

    Buy some already-picked strawberries:
    And squee over OMG GIANT SUNFLOWERS (well, that was just me really):


    I mean, look at that. Look at how big that is! It’s as tall as I am, and the flower is as big as my face. It’s mind-boggling. It’s almost like an animal. And it’s so, so, pretty. ♥ I want one. (Okay, the smaller version would still do) OMG GIANT SUNFLOWER I WILL SQUEE A LITTLE BIT MORE. Goes to show how awesome God is to make flowers THIS big and beautiful. :)

  • We did some vegetable and treat shopping at the farm too. P30/kilo for broccoli? Sold. :) I love the vegetables in Baguio. :)
  • We went back to PNKY after that to rest one last time before heading to mass at the Cathedral. After the mass, we headed for the bus station to wait for our 6:00pm bus trip back to Manila. Ah vacation, it’s over. Too bad.

    Noel, Cookie and Tina say goodbye to Baguio.

It was a surprisingly relaxing weekend even if we did a lot of walking and jumping from one place to another. I guess the cold weather helped? It was kind of sad to be back in Manila and not shiver while having a shower, or feel the need to turn on the electric fan because it’s not too cold, or be hesitant to ride a cab because it’s too expensive and giving them tips feel like an obligation. But we all have to go back to reality sooner or later.

Nevertheless, that weekend was just what I need to clear my head. Mental health restored, indeed.

Till we meet again, Baguio! I still have to revisit the grotto and eat at all the other places I haven’t eaten there yet. And I will miss the weather so, so much. Agyamanak la unay!

Photo credits: my camera, Toni’s camera and Happy’s camera. :)

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