A TRIP TO THE CITY OF PINES – BAGIUO CITY


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Asia » Philippines » Baguio
December 1st 2012
Published: December 1st 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

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@ SM Bagiuo
After I got married, I planned to take my wife to Bagiuo for a short vacation. However, due to our work, the trip was postponed. It took almost a year for the planned vacation to transpire. This made possible when I have transferred to a new company wherein employees are given the chance to have a break during Christmas season. We had then more than a week of vacation as the plant shuts down during the yuletide season. Work to start 1stweek of the New Year. When I was with my previous employer, there’s no similar break like this. We only have no works on the day before and during the day of Christmas and New Year itself.

Our vacation to Baguio becomes special as I consider this trip part of our celebration of our 1st year as a couple. This is the 2nd trip for me going to Baguio while this will be the 1st time for my wife.

It was on Christmas day itself that we travelled. It was a seven hour bus ride and we arrived at Bagiuo Victory Bus terminal around 3pm in the afternoon. As my wife and I were coming down from the
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Baguio Cathedral
bus, there are so many Tour guide giving each and every tourist a brouchure showing some of the nicest places to visit here in Bagiuo. I inquired to some of them and even try to haggle for a day trip. Finally, we got one; the offer was 2K all in for a day tour of the city. Not bad I told myself considering the offer of others whom we found a bit higher. Our Tour guide offer is a bit lower and this I guess due to the fact that we will use a Toyota Corolla of older model. Compare to others which offers a service using Innova and other SUV type. When our Tour guide and us have come to an agreement, he was kind enough to help us look for a place to stay. He even volunteered himself to give us a ride to the place that we will be staying.

After unloading our bags in the Transient house that we will be staying, we immediately went to SM to eat and at the same time stroll the place. The SM is situated along the upper session road where all the city life happens. It is the
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@ Lourdes Grotto
major destination for shopping, dining, banking and even bar hopping. From one of the verandas of SM you can see the famous Baguio Cathedral, UP Baguio and the University of Cordillera. SM Baguio as far as I know is the only SM establishment that did not have a full air condition system on their facilities; with Bagiuo’s crisp and cool climate who needs it anyway. Bagiuo City according to my research has only two seasons of about equal duration throughout the year – the wet and dry seasons. The dry season begins in November and ends in April and the wet season extends from May to October.

After taking that much needed dinner, we decided to return to the place that we will be staying which is just a distance away from SM. As we went out, we notice huge crowd outside. We look around and checked what’s going on. We found out that there will be a show and firework display in a little while. We stayed to see not really much because of the show but more on the fireworks display. I remembered when my wife and I were not yet married we used to go to Glorieta 4 every Saturdays of December just to watch the free firework display. We will buy foods and bring it with us at Glorieta 4 Park and ate it there while waiting for fireworks which usually start 9pm.

The fireworks just like the one at Glorieta did not disappoint. My wife and I have fun watching it specially the different color combos and types that lit the night sky. Parade and Christmas carol by the Band immediately followed the fireworks display to the delight of the people. The Christmas carolling by the Band lasted for an hour which I did not notice. The Band knows how to perform in front of the crowd as almost no one left the show till it ends. The people after the show gave the Performers a warm of applause.

The next day, I woke up early to buy food outside our Transient house for our breakfast. I noticed that the streets are almost clear with almost no people around yet. I went to a convenient store to buy instant noodles and water just to fill our stomach. I told myself that we will eat heavy later on when we are on a
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Inside Weaving Eastern
tour already. After a fast breakfast, we checked the shower room and noticed that there is no heater. The water is so cold that we don’t want to take a bath. I can’t complaint though since it only cost me Php800 for a night stay here. We are on a tight budget that checking in at the Hotels is not an option. But, we both are not used to going out without taking a bath. With this, we decided to take a shower very fast. I think we both took shower in more or less 5 minutes. Haha..

A couple of minutes after, I received a text message from our Tour guide informing us that he is already outside the Transient house. We immediately dressed up and went out to start our day tour.

Bagiuo Cathedral is our first stop. This famous landmark here in Bagiuo is located atop Mount Mary Hill. We arrived here early and since there’s really nothing else to see here except the Church itself, we just drop by to take some pictures. One thing I’ve noticed though is the uniqueness of the Church color. The church is beautifully pink rose in color and
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Inside Bell Church
according to our Tour Guide, this church is one of the most visited tourist spot here in Bagiuo.

Next stop is the Lourdes Grotto. I have visited this also the first time I am here and one thing I remembered about this catholic shrine was the more than 100 steps you need to climb to get to the top of the Grotto. I was told that the Lady of Lourdes Grotto is a favourite pilgrimage site during holy week most specially during Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Most of the devotees will climb to reach the top then will pray and meditate. Same as what we have done on our first stop, we also did not stay here long. We just took some pictures then left the place to go to the next stop which is the Eastern Weaving Room.

If you are interested in native fabrics and other handicraft then this place is the right one for you. You will see here actual processing of cloth weaving, wood carvings, baskets, fashion accessories and a lot more. Our Tour guide told us that this place is almost open all year long except on Christmas day and during New Years day. Good for us because if we had come here in Baguio City a day earlier then it means that our day tour will fall on Christmas day. We will probably skip this place as this is close every December 25th. By the way, entering the work area is allowed here. You will have the chance to have a glimpse on how they weave and work on a wide range of hand-woven articles such as table cloth, decorations, bed linen and other clothing accessories. The workers here are very accommodating. They will answers any queries from their visitors. After watching how the weavers work we proceeded to their store to see the different products that they are selling. Aside from textile products, they also sell baskets, wood carvings and other home accessories.

The next stop is the Bell Church which is located north of Bagiuo along the road leading to the town of La Trinidad. It is just outside the welcome arc sign of La Trinidad. The Bell Church is actually a Taoist Chinese temple. Within the compound you will see arches, bells, dragons and many others. The place is good way to appreciate Chinese culture as it
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@ Burham Park
has a pagoda and landscape gardens similar to what we are familiar with in terms of their structures. There are also some Buddhism artifacts to be found there, as well as some literature about history of China. Fronting the Bell Church is a mountain with full of houses. This indicates that Baguio is now too crowded. Another tourist spot near the Bell Church is the Strawberry farm. However, as suggested by our Tour guide, we skip this one as it is pretty obvious that the strawberries weren’t in season. All we will see if we went there is a muddy field, thus we return back to the city proper.

One of the favorite place in Baguio both for local residents and tourists alike are the Burnham Park. The Park is famous for its man-made lake. You can row a boat here and aside from it, you can also do a lot of activities such as biking, strolling, or have picnic with your friends or family. My wife and I rented a boat for 30 minutes ride. While we are on sailing, we took a lot of pictures together. Picture taking didn’t stop even after our boat ride. We also
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At Wright Park
took pictures while strolling around the park. The Park can be considered big that we did not notice that were strolling the park for almost 30minutes and yet we have not yet reach the other end of the Park. It’s almost past 12noon and were both hungry. It’s time to take lunch and we ask our Tour guide to bring us to the place where we can eat. Since our next destination is the Mines View, our Tour guide suggested that we eat there. He said that there are a lot of cheap restaurant there but the quality of food is good.

After satisfying our tummy on sumptuous lunch, we bought pasalubong food to our love ones back home. Peanut and cashiew brittles, purple yam jam (ube), strawberry jams and lengua de gato were some of what we bought to our family. We also bought souvenirs such as the mini jar and carabao that are made of clay. We also bought key chains as well. For us buying souvenirs are very important as this will not only give beauty to our home by means of displaying them but more importantly this will remind us that we have set foot on this place. There are a lot of stuffs that you can buy here as Mines view becomes known for its commercial activities. All your needs for a pasalubong and souvenirs are practically all here. Because we’ve become busy buying things we forgot to check what the Mines View Park is really famous for. We forgot to have a glimpse of the spectacular view of the mountain ridges such as that of Benguet’s gold and copper mines and the Cordillera mountains. You can view this behind those commercial establishments.

Almost all tourists that visited The Mansion will know that it is the official residence of the President of the Philippines here in Bagiuo City. The visitors are allowed to enter the Mansion but only in front of the grasses near the gate for picture taking purposes only. But, during our visit we were not allowed to enter as the Officials said that the President of the Philippines back then – Former President Arroyo is set to visit for her family’s annual vacation. So, my wife and I just contented to take pictures from outside the gate. We take photos of the gate of the Mansion which is
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With Igorots at Botanical Garden
said to be a replica of that of the Buckingham Palace in London. We also took pictures of the beautiful gardens and also the Belen with the Mansion itself as the background.

Fronting the Mansion is the Wright Park. We walk straight to this Park and at the end of the mini lake is the gazebo which we found a favourite for picture taking for all the tourists visiting this park. My wife and I of course did not let this pass as we also took our turn to take pictures here. Aside from the horseback ride which we are not interested there’s nothing more else to do here. We left for Botanical Garden but before we proceed we decided to buy t-shirts for both of us. We also add t-shirts as part of the souvenirs that we are going to start collecting for all the places that we will be visiting.

Botanical Garden is also known as the Igorots Village. Upon arrival here you will be welcomed by the real live Igorots who are willing to pose for pictures for a small fee. Botanical Garden is filled with towering pine trees which is very astonishing. This is
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Inside Botanical Garden
what Bagiuo is very known for aside from being the coolest city in the country. Inside Botanical Garden are different huts of a typical Igorot design. Around the parks are trees and flowers that you can enjoy walking thru stone-paved pathways. According to our Tour Guide this Park is a favourite venue for tribal gatherings and rituals although during our visit there are no meetings or ceremonials by the tribesmen. In fact the place at that time is very peaceful and quite that tourists just come and go.

It was already past 3pm when we left Botanical Garden to go to the famous American recreation – the Camp John Hay. As we are on our way to the Camp John Hay, you will be amazed and charmed by its pine tree-lined roads. The place is very popular destination for tourist who wishes to see pine forests within the city. This place has also a lot of trendy restaurants, beautiful hotels, shopping center and convention center among other attractions. As much as we want to try to dine in one of the restaurants here, our budget can’t afford it. Instead, we just went to some of the famous attractions here
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@ Camp John Hay
like the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty and the lost cemetery where there are gravestones for animals and rodents. We also took pictures along the famous pine trees.

Next stop is the PMA which is located in Fort Gregorio Del Pilar in Loakan road. The PMA is the training ground of the Philippine Military Cadets. I was wishing then to see Cadets drill and parade. The last time I visited PMA, I missed the parade by just a minute. I was hoping this time that I will have the opportunity to see them. Our tour guide told us that Cadets are on a vacation and only few were left to stay. I feel a bit sad but that’s ok I told myself. There will be a lot of opportunity next time. So, what my wife and I just did is to stop to a number of locations within PMA compound to take photo ops. We stop by the Sun Dial and the relief map of the Philippines, this was located in front of the Headquarters building. We also made stop to some of the old aircrafts which are displayed here and to the Tree House which is near the parade ground.

Our last stop is the Kenon Zigsag view point. I asked our Tour Guide to also dropped us at the Lions Head after we are done on our last stop since it was still early. I also told him that our trip would not be complete if we did not see it. Our Tour Guide is kind enough and said no problem with our request. The Kenon Zigsag View point is a perfect place to see the most scenic road hi-way going to Baguio. This road is considered the most hazardous road in the country as most road accident occurs here especially during rainy season. The view from here is spectacular as you will also see background of the mountains of Baguio City. You will also see from the view deck the famous Lions Head. And to go down there, we need to pass by the steep portion of the zigzag road. I noticed when we are on our way down to Lions Head, all vehicles were running in slow pace. Drivers knew that because of the design of the road they will have a hard time driving because of numerous switchbacks along the section
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The PMA Headquarters as background
of the roads. Lucky us we reached our destination safe and sound. And this means picture taking time again. We did not wait a single minute and we start queuing to take our turns at the base of the Lions head to take pictures. Almost all tourists whether it is local or foreign would like to have their pictures taken where the Lions head serve as the backdrop. By the way, just beside the Lions head are few small stalls that sell souvenir items. We found out that items here are more pricey compare to Mines view. We just look around but did not buy any since we already did the shopping of souvenirs when we were in Mines view.

The trip to the city of pines was all worth it despite having to stay for only 2D 1N because of tight budget. Honestly, we had fun. We went here because of the parks, the greenery and of course the very good weather. We will definitely return here. And when we does, we will ensure that we have enough budget that will allow us to stay longer and go to a decent accommodation at that. Baguio is truly a
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@ Tree House inside PMA Compound
wonderful place; no wonder why it is one of the most visited tourist spot in the country.


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@ Base of Lions Head


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