Rain I can handle, but not the threat of mudslides or climbing Baguio after an onslaught (a storm just left the country when we visited back in August). Still, it was the weekend, and people were game for an adventure, so rains be damned!
We made a house call to the Kitmas in their ancestral home around lunch Sunday (many thanks to Shads and his extended family for the gracious welcome!). We then visited the BenCab Museum, which houses the works of National Artist for painting Benedicto Cabrera, local artists, and regional pieces of art and other crafts. Entrance fee is Php100 for adults.
Around dinnertime, we walked the length of the famous Session Road. We planned to dine in Oh My Gulay!, a vegan restaurant-slash-art gallery owned by Kidlat Tahimik, but the restaurant was closed when we got there. We opted instead for the quasi-fine dining joint Sulibao. Serving size is small but the food is delicious.
That was it for our first day, thanks to good weather! Most of the time we were dodging flooded canals and huddling under sheds and the few umbrellas we brought. Monday made up for lost time though. I bathed in sunshine the first thing we saw the sun come out. From the balcony of the compound where we rented our lodging, we had a full view of this:
Baguio is a stunning tragedy if you consider the implications of overcrowding.
Anyway, we tried our best to leave early to visit as much as we can before our trip back to Manila. We started with the furthest point from where we were: Mines View Park. There are plenty of souvenir stores around the area, but if you ask me, I think a trip to the local market will fetch a better bargain for pasalubong hunters.
Afterwards, we rode a jeep downhill and got off at The Mansion. Across this is Wright Park, where visitors can also go horseback riding.
To cap off our Baguio trip, we had lunch at the famous 50’s Diner. It’s a small, American diner-themed joint, complete with a jukebox, bar stools and walls filled with black and white movie posters from lost decades. Their menu and the names of the meals are fun to read too. Price range is around Php200, but the serving size is huge. It took me an hour to finish one of the house specialties.
Here are details of our Baguio adventure:
We rode an ordinary Victory Liner bus in Cubao. A ticket is worth Php450. VL – Cubao has hourly trips to Baguio, and you can secure seats without a reservation.
Baguio is chock full of transient houses. If you visit outside of peak season (April-May or around summer), it won’t be difficult to find a room you can rent. We stayed here, which was good for 8. We paid Php180 for an overnight stay, plus an additional Php30 for WiFi (rate is per 3 hours of use and connection for one device is fast). The house we rented had 2 separate rooms, one bathroom, and a common area with TV, sofa, kitchen and a dining table.
We took cabs to go around the city for most of our first day. They were unnecessary expenses, but were convenient given the downpour. Baguio is a walkable city as far as I can tell, and there are jeepneys enough to get anyone to the farthest point like Mines View. Fares are same price as in Manila.
I’m ending this piece with a poem by Ruel S. Aguilar. There was a point during the trip when we had almost zero visibility because of the fog. A few notes on Kennon Road: we weren’t sure where the road started, we just knew it was supposed to upset our stomachs before reaching Baguio. There were also huge letter-signs of a certain fast food chain and a certain condiment à la The Hollywood Sign. Was that supposed to impress? I think it was done in bad taste.
And by the way, all photos here aren’t mine and are reproduced with permission from the owners :)
Storm Front Descent: Kennon Road
There is a certain urgency
in the way the fog
hugs this twisting road
sentried by boulders.
tracks our advance
as we try to outrun
rivers as fragile as tomorrow’s sun.
from this desolate altitude,
we clutch rosaries and close our eyes,
wishing we were rain.