A Christmas at the city of pines!
Baguio City, Benguet, CAR, Philippines
24-26 December 2010
December, one of the coldest months in the Philippines can drop significantly when situated in the highlands area. Baguio considered as the Summer Capital in the Philippines, as it offers cool weather refuge for those living lowland where temperature can really sizzle up, has also made its way into tourism as people continue to flock up to the mountains during the colder months to experience the chilling weather.
We arrived during the 24th of December, around 9am. It was really cold, especially at night and when situated in less populated area. Luckily we got a place to stay in, though it was not really, nice. But nonetheless we still got some place where we can rest, and just a walk or two from Session Road.
Since it is the 24th of December, people are all around the corner, especially in the Session Road, where people are busy buying last-minute preparations for the Christmas Eve’s “Noche Buena”. Restaurants are packed with orders, and the streets are starting to get jammed up.
TANAW SA TAM-AWAN
We had our breakfast in Jack’s Kitchenette, in Session area. Jack’s Rice is served with vegetables, a slice of liempo, egg, rice, and a delicious chicken, all for P75, not that bad. After eating brunch, we went to the Public Market to take a jeepney drive to Tam-awan Village located in Pinsao Proper. It was quite far from the City proper, but the fare is only the minimum. In the last pit stop of the ride, you still need to walk about a minute or two going to the Village itself. The fee is only about P50 and will be discounted if a student or senior citizen.
Different wood carvings and art can also be seen. The different kinds of Bahay Kubo is depicted, it can also be rented per night. One just needs to explore the meandering treads and paths, as it will lead you to different art forms, and flora and fauna generally. The village also offers restaurant, surrounded by the different paintings, sculpture, and art forms. Near the resto, is where the local artists are, scribbling, and doodling over a masterpiece: maybe doing a caricature or portrait of a village visitor. A fee of P100 for solo and P300 for couples are to be payed not that bad for a souvenir. Souvenirs, in form of hand-painted shirts, necklaces, rain makers, dream catchers, and other stuffs can also be purchased in the shop.
Tam-awan is a village where the artists of Baguio showcase culture, history, nature, and art all in one. One needs to explore the village with physical endurance, much appreciation, and respect.
We got back to the hotel and rested. When dusk fall, the mountain air slips through your very skin, getting you very very cold. We had our dinner at Solibao’s along Session, we had grilled stuff like liempo, pusit, and talong. We also tried their P50 worth of Shawarma, and it was really good. We also looked for restaurant which will be opened for the Noche Buena, but only Andoks will open.
We got back to our hotel, prepare for the midnight mass. We had our mass to the Baguio Cathedral, and it was packed. We weren’t able to get a seat inside, but were able to get a Monobloc Chair and positioned ourselves outside. Mind you, it was freaking cold!!!2 layers of jacket are still not enough, and my cough worsened!
THE KIKAY SISTERS AND PINK LIGHTS
After the mass last night, we didn’t have our Noche Buena, and decided to just celebrate it on the Christmas Day itself. When we got up, we went to the Pink Sisters convent, and since there is no mass during that time we only said our little prayers. Since it is quite early, there were not that many people on the church, so the church’s atmosphere during that time is solemn, and peaceful.
After sometime in the church, we walked going to the famous 50’s Diner, to have our Brunch. It’s a reminiscent of the Diners found in the States, with all those pink strips of light and vintage photos, and even music machines. And the food is very cheap considering the very big servings. Try their Clubhouse, classic burger, milkshakes, guys on the hood, pancakes…the food is endless and really good!
We went to Good Shepherd and bought some “pasalubongs”, and went back to SM Baguio to watch a MMF Movie. After that we head back to the hotel, rest for a while and went back to SM to have some Starbucks Coffee, and wander for a while.
ONE OF THE BEST RESTO IN TOWN
As the sun sets, we went to Forest House Café, located in Loakan Road. We had our reservations week before that day, since the place can really go full house. The restaurant is one of the Philippines Tatler’s best Restaurants. The setting is like a chalet type house, with logs used for wall, and wood for others. Upon entering you will be greeted with the fireplace, the Christmas tree on its side, and all the decorations. It was overall a very home-y atmosphere, due to the extensive use of wood, and warm colored lights. We situated ourselves in the balcony, where one can have a beautiful vista of the surrounding mountains, pine trees, and the sky. We ordered, Shrimp in Thai Sauce, Wine Sauced Chicken, Tuna Linguine, Pork chop with Mushroom, 3 Dip Salad, and Tiramisu for Dessert. The cost is not that bad enough for a fine dining restaurant and the food is really good.
On our last day, we had again our Brunch at 50’s Diner, galloping ourselves to the foods we know we can’t have back in Manila. After that we went to the Market, had some sightseeing, and brought some “pasalubongs” such as “kulangot” and some fruits and vegetables from Sagada for such cheap price. We headed back to the hotel, get prepared and headed out of Baguio.
My list of to try in Baguio was never completed: Vizco’s Cinnamon Roll, Volante’s Pizza Hana, Oh My Gulay’s Anak ng Puttanescca, Café by the Ruins’ Rizal Chocolate, Omai Kahn’s Calamansi Pie, and the humble Wet Market’s Burger. Well at least there is much reason to go back to Baguio, beyond its 15 degrees temperature.