First stop was La Trinidad, which was outside Baguio. I suck at geography but Rins was kind enough to explain to me that Baguio, although a part of the province of Benguet, is a chartered city. Meaning, it is independent of the provincial government. La Trinidad, on one hand, is a town of Benguet right next to Baguio.
After a little while, I had an idea why thanks to all the “Bawal magdate dito” signs strategically placed all over especially on semi-hidden places. Maybe some couples just don’t know the difference between a sacred area for worship and a park for lovers. And that is my “wala namang ka-date” pose. ktnxbye.
This place reminds me of Muntik na Kitang Minahal, a movie starring Claudine Barretto and Isko Moreno. From what I remember, they played young lovers who eloped to Baguio after their parents disapproved of their affair. They rented a room and pretended to be siblings. At first they were blindly in love but after a while, when reality began to burst their bubble especially in the financial department forcing them to work as strawberry harvesters in the said farm, they realized that there’s so much more to love. I think it’s not that love isn’t enough, you just cannot eat it. I love that movie! notetoself: WATCH IT AGAIN.
Overpriced strawberry taho. Plus the berries looked saggy. I’m not sure but I think this particular fruit can only thrive in cooler climates, hence, the availability in Benguet and other places with lower temperatures but I think the quality is diminishing thanks to Global Warming. At 10AM the temperature even in La Trinidad is too high to be comfortable.
And if one needs proof of the place being too touristy, you just need to look at the dozens of locals selling strawberry ice cream and taho in the area. You can’t walk more than 10 steps without someone asking you to try their “best” version of the ice cream. They’re so used to tourists you don’t even have to ask them to take your picture. They’re the ones who initiate that they take yours. Plus, they even suggest a better background/pose as well as a hashtag to use.
Lunch was at Volante, famous for their pizzas. Don’t order the pumpkin soup, it sucks. Instead of the pureed consistency I was expecting, the one they had was watery. The pizzas, on one hand, were decent.
One of the things that comes to mind when the word “Baguio” is mentioned is the number of artists that lives in the area. I think that Baguio is populated by a lot of free spirits who spend their waking hours contemplating the meaning in everything and then putting those ideas in their art. Anyway, Tam-awan Village showcases such “ahrt”. A map comes with the entrance fee and it will guide you through the different installations and such. Frankly speaking, I don’t know anything about this subject except that my favorite painting is “Starry Night” by Van Gogh. My appreciation is limited to it’s pretty/nice/interesting/cool unlike some people I know who know strokes and mediums etc. Rest assured, one can still enjoy the place despite being ignorant like me.
Lourdes Grotto. When I was younger and we didn’t have the luxury of digital cameras, there was a rumor that no matter how many times you try taking a picture of the grotto, once the film is developed, there will always be something wrong with Mary’s Head. I took a picture using my phone and it appeared fine.
Now, from Lourdes Grotto, we could’ve ridden a jeepney up to Diplomat Hotel but Skay said she remembered it not being too far so we decided to just walk. Sometimes though, our sense of direction gets pretty messed up. We ended up walking a really long way (not to mention it was uphill). We needed to refuel.
Aside from being famous for pine trees and strawberries, Baguio is also notorious for its supposedly haunted places (thanks to the colder climate so I guess it’s a double edged sword). One such place is the Diplomat Hotel on top of Dominican Hill. It has a long history. From being a vacation house for The Dominican Order of the Philippines, a school, a place for refugees feeling from the Japanese during World War II, and finally, a hotel.
I suggest you buy Ube Jam at Good Shepherds Convent because it’s cheaper by ten pesos. Best brand for Lengua de gato and Choco flakes are Tartland and Mikasa respectively. Also, haggle, haggle, haggle.
Baguio wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the ukay-ukay at night but it doesn’t start till 8 PM so we decided to kill some time at SM City Baguio. And I am amazed to know that this mall doesn’t have or rather, doesn’t need (at least during night time) air conditioning.
If Manila has Banchetto where food stalls occupy the streets at night, Baguio has, uhm, ukay nights (?). You just have to be patient in searching for a treasure amid all these items. Also, by law of supply and demand, the jackets and other cold-weather clothing are definitely more expensive here than let’s say, second-hand stores in Manila.
I don’t mind using second hand things (except for underwear) as long as they’ve been soaked in boiling water and washed thoroughly. You know, part of it is the thrill of the bargain! That night I was able to snag three blazer jackets which didn’t look pre-owned at all at the very affordable price of no more than 50 pesos each. Now, if that’s not a steal, I don’t know what it is.