Tuesday, February 25, 2014


My whirlwind 48 hours in Baguio was a wonderful mini-vacay away from the heat of Santiago. While I was there to support Margaret and lecture a couple of her classes, Margaret and I took the opportunity to tour around, relax and have fun!

{Me and Margaret at the top of Mines View Park}

After classes on Friday afternoon, we escaped the children to visit Bell Church. It’s an old temple consisting of ornate, pagoda-roofed temples. The priests there have one foot in Taoism and a toe in Christianity. When we arrived, I felt like I’d travelled back to Hong Kong. It’s a gorgeous, out of place center where you can climb small paths from temple to temple. The view from the top looks directly out onto the city of Baguio. There wasn’t a service happening but Margaret and I just gazed at the beautiful architecture and stunning views until we’d explored it all.

On the taxi ride there, I noticed we passed a Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop. I love Gloria Jean’s k-cups and I suggested we check it out on our way back. It was the perfect pit stop to recharge with frappes. Afterwards, we did some shopping at Easter Weaving Room located in front of Easter College. Margaret and I wanted to go to one of our favorites for dinner, Health 101. Especially me, since I never get loaded, delicious salads in Santiago. Unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes after it closed. Nevertheless, we found a scrumptious pizza place next-door and chowed down.

That weekend was the Panagbeng Festival in Baguio aka the Flower Festival. It’s the busiest weekend of the year in Baguio as Filipinos from all over come to see this celebration. Margaret and I somehow scored a great spot to watch the parade on Saturday morning. But that deserves its own post.

The parade ended around 10:30am. After finally hailing a cab in between the masses of people and road closures, we headed to Mines View Park. It’s a one-stop shop for tourists – souvenirs, knick-knacks, edibles, restaurants, prime photo spots, and gorgeous views. The place was packed which was to be expected on a busy weekend like this one. But the view was completely worth it!

After navigating through all the stands down to the park, you can sit on a colored pony for 10 pesos per photograph or dress up as a traditional Igorot for 20 pesos for unlimited photos. Once we fought our way through that crowd we climbed down onto the packed overlook. From there you get a spectacular view of the mountain range, which surrounds the city. And you can capture a great new Facebook profile picture ;)

Once we were done having our breath taken away once again by the beauty of the Philippines, we found a quiet restaurant with a view for lunch. Margaret ordered a delicious mushroom soup (and I don’t even like mushrooms) and I ordered a chicken dish with roasted vegetables. The food was fantastic! I wish I could remember the name of the place because I would recommend everyone to go there!

Next on our tourist spots to explore was Tam-awan Village. Located on the other side of town near Easter College, its slogan is “Garden in the Sky.” The village is perched on a steep mountainside where eight traditional Ifugao homes and two rare octagonal Kalinga huts were reassembled into an artists’ village. According to the village’s website, it is envisioned as a “ideal venue for art and cultural activities aimed to enhance the appreciation of Cordillera life, its culture and its history.”

The village is an artists’ oasis with bubbling brooks, views of mountain landscapes, and inspiration surrounding. Climb up skinny paths that wind through the village up to a beautiful lookout point. Wander around some small galleries with local artists work inspired by the Cordilleras. And pick up your own collectors item in the gift shop selling handicrafts and fine art.

Before leaving, Margaret and I sat down in front of one of the four artists sketching portraits. For just P100 ($2) and 20 minutes of your time, you could have a portrait sketched right in the village. While waiting, I loved watching them work capturing the essence of the stranger sitting in front of them. I was excited about the artist I ended up sitting for but in the end disappointed with my sketch. It’s a pretty image, but he didn’t capture “me.” Oh well, Margaret’s portrait is stunning, though.

For that night, we decided to find somewhere to hit in the main section of town, Session Road. We stumbled up the Bohemian Café, an open-air café with a fusion menu of Filipino and American food, live music, and cozy atmosphere. I got a small taste of home with pesto pasta and onion rings while washing it down with a margarita. All so tasty! I cherished the opportunity to relax, enjoy classic tunes from at first a guy and his guitar then a girl-guy duo. Unfortunately, we had to cut the night short so I could catch my bus back to Santiago at 9pm.

I said it was a whirlwind trip. But as they say when it rains, it pours. Diocesan Convention was February 25-28, so I had to head back for preparations. As the title of this post says, “mini-vacay” and it was a prefect, short vacation from Santiago!

Thanks for reading!

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