Proudly touted as the City of Pines and one of the must-see tourist spots in the Philippines, Baguio has a lot to offer. For the longest time, Baguio has been a refreshing nature site with an abundant supply of flowers, strawberries, ube jams, and fresh air. And so a brief Baguio get-away allows a break from the city pollution and urban sprawl. I was assigned to do some fieldwork which includes going to Baguio. To make the most of the trip, I’ve decided to tour the city with my mom. Here are the details of our happy adventure:
1. Breakfast in Manor Le Chef at the Manor
Location: Camp John Hay, Loakan Rd, 2600, Baguio City
Phone:0922 519 6454
Operating Hours: Open daily, 6am to 11pm
Shivering is an understatement when referring to my state when we arrived in Baguio City, around 5:30am. I was close to freezing and we needed somewhere to stay. We weren’t going to check in at some inn since it was just a side trip for my work task so we decided to just have breakfast at a nearest restaurant. We hopped in the cab and the driver suggested the Le Chef in Manor hotel located at Camp John Hay since the closest place to eat that is open at that time is a convenience store. As expected in a fine-dining restaurant, it was quite pricy but the entrée meal and service were satisfactory. I’d say, 3.5 out of 5 stars. 🙂
2. Strawberry Fields Forever
Location: La Trinidad, Benguet
Big, sweet, and juicy strawberries are certainly a delightful treat. And if you want them the freshest, go strawberry picking at the strawberry farm! The strawberry farm is located in La Trinidad, Benguet, which is all the way up north from the commercial district of Session Road. It is best to go there early in the morning when there are more fruit available for harvesting. Strawberry picking costs 100 pesos if you’re going to do it yourself, and 150 pesos per basket of freshly picked strawberries.
However, strawberries aren’t the only surprise that can be found there. There’s a whole lettuce plantation, a sunflower field, and yes, a beautiful bed of colorful flowers! Just outside, boxes and baskets of strawberries can be bought, too, including strawberry products such as jams, ice cream, and taho (sweetened tofu). A row of stalls selling assorted souvenirs is also present; one of my favorites are those fancy colorful brooms!
3. BenCab Museum
Address: Km. 6 Asin Road, Barangay Tadiangan, Baguio City
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am – 6pm
BenCab Museum is just down south straight from the strawberry farm. It displays Ben Cabrera’s personal collection of rice gods, known in the vernacular as bul-ol, and other items of indigenous art and crafts of the northern Philippine highlands such as lime containers, tribal weapons and native implements which channel the rich culture and traditions of the Cordillera region. A selection of other artists’ works are also on display. Just outside the multistory museum is a mesmerizing landscape surrounding a small body of water.
4. Butterfly Sanctuary
Location: Camp John Hay, Baguio City
Like bubbles, ferris wheels, and hot air balloons, butterflies are pretty things to capture on cam. I guess the whole point of going to a butterfly house is to take photographs of these painted wings. So the fact that the Butterfly Sanctuary in Camp John Hay is actually just a small enclosure housing a little less than fifteen butterflies is quite justifiable as long as it serves this purpose.
This monarch haven opens at nine o’clock and the entrance fee is 40 pesos per person. Around 10 o’clock, parents along with their kids are already lined up outside. It is best to go there during summer since butterflies tend to wither away during the cold season. (Yes, sob.) If you and your children want a more adventurous activity, you could try the zip line just next to the entrance going to theButterfly Sanctuary.
5. Café by the Ruins
Location: 23 Chuntug Street, in front of the City Hall
Baguio has never ran out of good places to dine. Café by the Ruins is one of them. If asked what is special about this place, I’d say the healthy menu and cozy ambiance. According to their website, their menu is “designed to feature natural and local ingredients of the region, to purvey vegetables and fruits in their best season and to provide vegetarian options.” True enough, fresh cow’s milk, muscovado sugar, mountain rice (or red rice), fresh greens, strawberries, honey, kesong puti (white cheese), and brown bread are just some of their staple food items.
Food and service are the primary factors to consider in a restaurant, but ambiance isn’t far behind. Café by the Ruins provides a nature-themed setting with a homey touch for an authentic Baguio dining experience.
6. Tea House Restaurant and Bakeshop
Location: 87 Session Road, Baguio City, Benguet
Contact number: 63 74 442 8757
Our final stop before heading back home is Tea House along Session Road. Tea House can pass as a typical eatery with Chinese-styled sign above the roof. However, their best suit can be found right inside their refrigerator–their delectable cakes. It is literally a dessert heaven: strawberry short cake, blueberry cheesecake, black forest cake, snow cake, streamline, their unique specialty, Carlo’s Delight, (a yema cake) and my personal favorite, the moist chocolate cake called Chona’s Delight. One plastic container of Chona’s Delight costs 130 pesos, which is relatively affordable.
In the late afternoon, we arrived at the bus terminal and the queue for the tickets (for Manila) was extending by the minute. According to the guard, the buses weren’t enough to accommodate the swell of passengers, and the next one will be at 11pm. I started panicking, but mom went down to where the buses are parked and talked to a bus conductor: she requested for two chance passenger seats in the bus that was about to leave. Fortunately, there were two vacant adjacent seats! Needless to say, we were able to arrive home safely—just in time to be greeted by my nephew, all eager to taste the strawberries (or the cake?). Thank God for this day, and well, for mom! 🙂
Other must-do activities in Baguio: One can have the ultimate souvenir photo in native Igorot costume at Minesview Park, try horseback riding at Wright Park, boat riding at Burnham Park, or visit the Philippine Military Academy and The Mansion’s museum. Other destinations include the Camp John Hay, Good Shepherd Convent, Baguio Botanical Garden, Bridal Veil Falls, Balatoc Mines, and the Teacher’s Camp.