Cold fresh air. Pine trees. Strawberries. Those are the top three things that come to mind when I think of Baguio. At least, that’s what’s left of a childhood memory of my last visit to the Summer Capital of the Philippines. My last few visits, for work, were too fleeting and confined mostly in the four walls of the “office”. This time, though, was with the family and was spent exploring more of what Baguio has to offer aside from pink colored horses, strawberry farms, and ukay-ukay. This is what our holiday weekend in Baguio looked like:
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Coming from a Catholic family, it is normal to start the vacation with a visit to a religious place. And since I don’t remember coming here when I was little, I decided to include this popular grotto in the list.
A favorite site during the Holy Week, there are two ways to reach the shrine up the hill. Either you climb the 252 steps or drive through the winding road. I chose the former but lost count of the steps around the 50th. I was too distracted with all my huffing and puffing. Quite an exercise, indeed. I suggest you take the winding road when going down just so you can experience both.
It is customary to light a candle after saying your prayers near the foot of Our Lady of Lourdes.
How to get here: Ride the jeepney with Dominican Hill signage
Appalled that my foreigner friend saw this before me, Tam-awan Village instantly ranked high in the itinerary. Designed to make Cordillera history and culture more accessible to people, this reconstructed village showcases seven Ifugao huts and two Kalinga houses that visitors can see and experience. These houses differ from normal huts in that they are made without nails and are elevated from the ground using hardwood posts.
After paying the 50 Php entrance fee, you can choose from the two routes going up the village, the one with the colorful salamander and the concrete stairs. Be prepared for a bit more hiking to reach the highest hut where you will be rewarded with a panoramic view. The trail is relatively easy and clear cut but it could get tricky when the ground is wet.
Created only in 1998, Tam-awan (meaning “vantage point”) also exhibits assortment of art made by local artists that symbolizes what Cordillera heritage is about. There is also a coffee shop and craft shop inside where you can sample native coffee.
How to get here: ride the Quezon Hill- Tam-awan jeep or Long-long jeep via Tam-awan (from Kayang Street)
Indeed, National Artist Benedicto Cabrera’s four-level private museum is one of the best I’ve seen in the country. Showcasing some of his works, his extensive bulol (Ifugao rice god) collection, the famed erotica collection and various works of contemporary and local artists, visitors will also be enthralled by the cafe downstairs and the adjoining garden and farm. The museum requires an entrance fee of 100 Php for adults and 80 Php for students and senior citizens.
Camp John Hay’s Historical Core
Although Camp John Hay has been around since 1903, this former United States Air Forces R&R (rest and recreation) spot is definitely worth a revisit not just because of the hotels, golf course and shopping centers, but because of the Historical Core, where you can find The Lost Cemetery (Cemetery of Negativism), The Bell House, Bell Amphitheater, Statue of Liberty replica, and History Trail.
Walk along memory lane as you explore the Bell House and its adjoining library museum, and the History Trail, which gives you a glimpse of the Camp’s more than 100 years’ past. There’s also a Secret Garden near the Bel House but since it was getting dark, we didn’t get a chance to see it. Recently featured in a popular primetime local soap opera, my family had a blast going around the Lost Cemetery. We didn’t had a chance to go down the Bell Amphitheater as it was currently occupied by a just finished wedding.
Extremely touristy, this one almost didn’t make the cut. But since my youngest brother hasn’t been here yet, well what can I do? Haha.
One doesn’t think of Baguio and not think of Burnham Park especially the quintessential lake filled with colorful swan boats. For this quick visit, we tried the bikes for rent at the side of the park.
Known as Baguio’s famous haunted house, Laperal Mansion looks just like any other unassuming Victorian-styled house. Built on 1920 by one of Baguio’s oldest clans, the White House is said to be a witness to the gruesome demise of the family during the Japanese occupation. This led to the house becoming a hotbed of paranormal activity since then. last 2013, it was opened to the public as a gallery where bamboo and wood art by Filipino artists are exhibited. If you’re a fan of art or dark tourism, this is worth a visit. Honestly, even with all the artwork and people inside, the house still gave me the creeps.
The trip won’t be complete without a visit to this famous church, known to many as the Baguio Cathedral. Accessible via Session Road, Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral is known for its twin spires and is also the biggest church in the city so don’t be surprised that it is almost always packed. Be sure to check out the stained glass windows.
Baguio is one city that has evolved throughout the years and has managed to adapt to the changing times. There are definitely lots more of places worthy to visit with your family. With its accessibility and close proximity to the metro, this will remain to be a favorite place for many to come back to.
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How to get to Baguio from Manila? Check out bus schedules and fares here:
How about you? What places have you visited with your family when you revisited Baguio?