Culture trip in Baguio

In the midst of the chaotic work week consisting of drafts for clients, pending articles to be submitted, proposals that needs to be submitted, and all other blogger slash PR related tasks, the brain that’s supposed to function got cluttered with so many unnecessary thoughts and has caused me to be inefficient somehow. Because of the intense stress, I desperately craved for a quick escape from somewhere that’s not South. At the spur of the moment, my friend Venice brought up the subject of her being invited by her brother in Baguio. I figured I haven’t been back to that place since 2016. and I kind of miss the cold weather and the chill vibe there. So just like that, I booked a place through Airbnb and stuffed my weekender backpack with only a few clothes that will last me for 3 days.

Baguio has always captivated my heart. It’s not just the weather that keeps me from going back here but also the richness in arts and culture surrounding the city. The independent artists living in villages, the relaxed attitude of most of the locals, the infectious happy vibe of the Igorots all fluent in English. And when it comes to food, fresh vegetables and fruits can easily be bought from nearby markets and the quaint coffee shops are safely hidden away from the main busy streets which makes it a perfect refuge for writers, students, yuppies and anyone who likes the idea of coffee and serene atmosphere. Another thing that makes this beautiful city interesting is it’s deep history and all the ghost stories told by many.

Without an itinerary, we rode the Genesis bus going to Baguio City (I preferred Genesis because they always have ongoing trips unlike Victory Liner where almost all trips are always sold out.) If you are in a hurry and don’t want to wait for another scheduled trip, you can ride the Genesis bus instead. Same travel route, the only difference is the bus transport name and maybe a couple of peso difference. Bus fair only costs 470 pesos.

With my friend Venice at a random bus stopover in Tarlac.

The transient home I booked is decent looking with 2 bedrooms, a living room and kitchen with complete cooking utensils. The location is pretty easy to find as it is just a few distance from the scary Diplomat hotel (located in lower Qm) The caretaker seems to be very busy and only gave us minimal interaction, gave the keys, smiled a very limited smile then left us alone.

No thick comforters so it means I should be ready for some teeth chattering.

I remembered back when my dad was still alive and I was 10 years old, Baguio looks totally different. It was less crowded and the mountains are greener back then. Now, some parts became a mountain of houses.. Too bad I wasn’t able to take a photo of it but seriously, the place looked totally congested. A lot of people from Manila, Korea and other countries migrated here because of the nice cold weather and the typical Baguio charm that captivates tourists.

Typical Baguio gloomy weather but really, I dig it.

Killing time at Burnham Park till we meet Venice’s brother and his fiance.

Coffee is a must especially after you ate steaks for lunch. It takes away that meaty thing from your mouth.

Walking along Session Road and just enjoying the scenery of Baguio are some of the things that we did upon arriving. People watching and observing the locals killed a few hours while we waited for dinnertime. My friend Venice had a very hard time looking for a smoking area but we still found one–at a small pub with hidden alley at the back. You’d see a lot of locals smoking there all looking like they were dealing drugs or something. but seriously, Baguio is super strict with it. Also, cursing is not allowed here so you’d better bite your tongue before uttering that F word. No exception. English is included. If someone heard you cursing, you’ll pay a fine.

We found this area and I had a quick flashback of when I was still studying in Manila. It is quite similar especially if you look at some of the old looking buildings and the festive and colorful jeepneys that lined the streets.

I wish we have these in Manila. Jeepneys represent the Philippines so I think we should start remodeling old rundown jeepneys and turn it into these work of art. I’m sure Philippines would be more beautiful

They should also start renovating Burnham Park. This used to be so green with a lot of Bermuda grass if I can still remember. But now some of the gardens looked barren. Farther down the area, we saw kids playing soccer and some students are doing their dance practice of some sort.

As dusk fell, we decided to eat dinner and had a few drinks with Venice’s brother and his fiance at this place somewhere in Leonard Wood road.

I still prefer the old classic San Miguel Pale Pilsen bottle

I also met Pablo, their adorable sweet dog. I got starstruck because he really looks like a celebrity dog with that adorable smile and sweet demeanor.

Follow Pablo Escobarks at IG

We were talking about mysteries and ghost stories on our way back to the transient house and Venice’s brother dared us for some ghost hunting along Loakan road and at the Laperal House. The Loakan road is famous for it’s several White Lady ghost stories told by taxi drivers and motorists. They said that this annoying White Lady would suddenly appear at the backseat, or at the passenger seat or even materialize spookily in the middle of the road blocking your path. It was a bone-chilling morning around 2 am when we passed by the street but unfortunately, no White lady appeared. Then, off we went to the Laperal House. The story behind this Filipino version Amityville haunted house is that a family was massacred there by the Japanese soldiers. We stopped in front of it but the gate was securely locked, which means we are not allowed to just go inside without any permission. They said that no one is staying in that house and the caretaker lived in a separate place within the vicinity. Since we cannot explore it, we ended up just taking a photo looking nervous and stupid


At The Coffee Library

I prefer spending my time in coffee places that has that relaxed vibe with only a few people in it. I veer away from commercialized overrated places like that brand with a mermaid logo. You see, coffee has been part of my life and in fact I wouldn’t function without it. When I visit certain places, I wanna make sure that I try their signature blend.

If we are gonna talk about cheap brands with quality taste of beans, I prefer Dunkin Donuts coffee and UCC coffee from Family Mart. So really, don’t waste your money on overpriced coffee and dont buy them just because everyone drinks them.

The likes of those who carry commercialized overrated coffee flaunting them just makes me wanna vomit.

Anyways , the Vietnamese Caphe Sua here at the Coffee Library has that neutral sweetness and the perfect bitter taste that I always look for. My hapoy hormones now activated and ready to start the day.

I fancy this coffee French drip that makes the coffee darker, bitter but sweet at the same time because of the milk that goes with it. For less than a hundred peso, you get to taste an authentic Vietnamese coffee that really gives you that energy boost.

The rustic interior gave the place a more inviting feel that attracts coffee and book lovers. The place isn’t that big but cozy enough to spend time either working, catching up with colleagues or friends or just enjoying a hot brew with a book to read. I’m sure you are familiar with Rex Bookstore given that most of our books back when we were students are published and printed by Rex. This coffee place is located at the ground floor of Rex Hall student Residences which explains why most of the people who hang out here are college students from the universities in Baguio.

Their menu is very affordable. I ordered this grilled tuna pasta that costs less than 200 hundred pesos.

At the Tam Awan Village

The amazing thing about nature is that it feeds you with this unexplained happiness and a state of calm. I get sad once in a while because of dark past that keeps flashing my subconscious giving me brief glimpses about all the trials I surpassed. You know this wave of feelings that envelopes your whole being and makes you want to question your existence in this universe. The scary thing is that sometimes, if it’s too strong it suffocates you. When it does that, you desperately cling to something that will help you keep that remaining sanity from escaping.

One yogi told me that if you are feeling like all the gods turned their backs at you, connect with nature. Allow your eyes to drink in the beauty of God’s wonderful creation. Appreciate His creativity. Shout silently to the Universe and make a wish. Pray like you’ve never prayed in your life.

And for sure. after a day, a week, or maybe a month, something wonderful will happen to your life and it will put a smile on your face once more.

Like these purple flowers. It called my attention and they begged at me silently to notice them.

The Tam Awan Village is a haven for artists of the Cordilleras that showcased their indigenous craftsmanship. You’d see their collection of paintings that each tells a story behind them, some of which marked by a mood of realism. Each artists has their own unique individuality that is evident in their masterpieces.

Dream catchers are believed to ward off bad spirits during sleeping
Seeing her current situation in the eyes of her glasses.
You can’t obviously make a mistake here.

This Ifugao hut is used for lovemaking by the newly wed couple from the Ifugao tribe. It is securely locked for privacy. There’s a sign here that we need to hush so as not to disturb the newly weds making love inside the hut.

This small space perfect for contemplation.

Bul-ul or rice gods are placed inside the alang (rice granary) to guard the harvest
View from the top deck at Tam Awan

You’ll have to prepare for some endurance climbing several steps to explore the whole area. The Tam Awan has several viewing decks overlooking the mountains of Baguio. You can explore each deck and enjoy the cool fresh air coming from the forest surrounding the area.

Tam Awan Cafe

It’s no surprise how each place in Baguio has a cafe. It’s a must because of the cold weather. The Tam Awan cafe serves so many interesting things in their menu, They have rice wine, coffee wine and some unique flavored teas like the Dayap Iced tea–a combination of fresh lime, brewed mountain tea and honey. It’s a perfect pair with their bestselling Cordilleran club sandwich that consists of a locally made smoked meat called kiniing, mixed with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.

Igorot patterned menu

If you fancy some tribal designed merchandise, artistic crafts and accessories, you can also purchase them at the souvenir shop.

We watched an Igorot dance performed by the new generation of millennial Igorots. It’s so fascinating and whimsical.

Filipino culture is vast and pretty symbolic. Some of it has a bit of bohemian similarities especially the tribes from the Cordilleras. Their way of living associated with rituals, esoteric beliefs, and the eccentric lifestyle makes up for the charm of Baguio City.

Check out Tam Awan Village:

366-C Pinsao Proper
2600 Baguio City

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