Category Archives: Benguet

Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet – Part 2

The taxi driver/guide I hired for the day, Kuya Sherwin, suggested that we go to the Philippine Military Academy first to avoid the awful traffic.

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According to Kuya Sherwin, wearing of slippers or sandals are not allowed inside the premises so he made sure I was wearing shoes. He also asked me if I brought an ID to which I said I did not (speaking of which, I lost my TIN ID so I’m now left with one almost useless ID. I need to get passport!). Luckily, the guards didn’t ask for any identification. Kuya Sherwin would have shown his if they did ask.

I was amazed with the vintage artillery and war machinery displayed around.

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A friend suggested that I watch the drill but I never saw any uniformed cadets there or maybe I just didn’t notice. I bought a PMA hoodie and a nice bag from the souvenir shop.

After PMA, we went to the Lourdes Grotto. On our way, we passed by the Baguio Airport. Kuya Sherwin said only rich people use this now. There are no more commercial flights using this. Considering the number of tourists visiting Baguio, I hope the authorities would look into creating flight routes to Baguio.

The Lourdes Grotto was just a statue of the Virgin Mary on top of a tall staircase. It was very crowded there, just like most other places in Baguio.

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Kuya Sherwin then took me Tam-awan Village. I was happy about this because I read somewhere that this was not a usual attraction, but it looked to me when I got there that many people have gotten wind of the place. Of all the places I went to, this was probably the least crowded.

There was an entrance fee of P50. The main activity was a small hike around the village. I was wearing a hoodie during the hike and it was sunny so I was sweating a lot inside. There was a view deck to see the sunset (I think) but the sun was still high up in the sky at 3pm.

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There were traditional huts scattered around the area. While I was reviewing my pictures, I noticed that one of the huts was labeled Luccong, which is very similar to the name of a village I visited in Kalinga, so both might be related.

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Kuya Sherwin then drove me to The Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, Benguet. It was after 4pm and the wind was blowing moderately, so this was a great weather to visit the farm because if we visited say at high noon, according to Kuya Sherwin, it would be really hot there.

I had never eaten fresh strawberries before this so I was a bit excited. The actual strawberries were smaller than what I imagined they were.

I wanted to taste those freshly picked strawberries which they were selling for a minimum of one kilo. I only wanted to taste them but I thought a kilo was a lot. I bought anyway. They charge P500 if I pick the strawberries myself or P300 if the farmers would pick it. Without any hesitation, I went for the P300 package. Why would I pay more to get myself worked out? I guess you’re paying for the experience but I didn’t fall for it.

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I offered to share half of what I bought to Kuya Sherwin but he didn’t want any of it. He said he had enough of strawberries being a native of Baguio. So I had strawberries for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. Maybe if I live in Baguio long enough, I might puke at the sight of a strawberry. I’m kidding. The fresh strawberries were delicious and, uhm, fresh.

 While I was munching on my fresh strawberries, Kuya Sherwin drove us back to Baguio. Our next destination was The Mansion and Wright Park which were just next to each other. It was already dark when we got there. The Mansion was already closed and I was only to take pictures from outside. Since I don’t know how to use my camera in the dark, I didn’t have any good picture of The Mansion.

We then strolled down Wright Park to the area where the horses were gathered. There were a lot of men offering a ride of their horses for a fee. It was still the early part of my 12-day long trip and I was scared to spend anything outside of my budget, so I didn’t take any offer. Besides, I only brought enough with me and left the rest of my money in my hotel room (I know, not safe!).

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The next place we went to see was The Mines View Park. As Kuya Sherwin explained, it was called such because there was a spot in the park where can see the mines of Itogo town below. Since it was already nighttime, we didn’t get to see the mines but only saw the lights of the town. Again, I didn’t know how to set my camera to take night shots so I didn’t have any good picture of the view but I got a picture of the Welcome sign…

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Supposedly, our last stop was the Botanical Garden but it was already closed by the time we reached it so I only got to take a picture of the signage outside.

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We finished the day at 7:30pm. I could have gone to more places if not for the heavy traffic in Baguio. It was a good thing Kuya Sherwin suggested we go to places farther from the downtown area first to avoid other vehicles. The traffic in major roads were really bad and it was already the day after Christmas. Kuya Sherwin said that in the past years, traffic wasn’t that bad on December 26. He was worried about what would happen during Panagbenga in February and March. If ever you have issues finding a taxi in Baguio, you may contact Kuya Sherwin at 09468138318.

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Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet – Part 1

I haven’t been to anywhere north of Metro Manila ever since so my trip to Baguio and other places in northern Luzon was a first for me.

After not being able to go to Antique on December 13, I immediately planned for my Christmas trip. One person suggested on my Facebook page to go to Sagada and another suggested Baguio. I decided to not only go to both but also to other provinces in the north.

When I started looking for hotels, everything was fully booked. Fortunately, after four hours of searching, something came up in Agoda – Manhattan Suites. Without second thoughts, I immediately booked a room. It was quite pricey so I wouldn’t recommend this. After I finished this trip, my view about traveling has changed. On my next trips, I would really take extra effort to find the cheapest accommodation.

I expected a few hiccups along the way but I didn’t expect it to come too soon. While I was booking my flight, I made an error in my return date. I was going home on January 5 but I instead entered January 11, so I paid extra rebook. I would rebook this again to be on an earlier flight.

As for the bus to Baguio, I found out that one can book a seat on a Victory Liner bus online, but later read that they require the booking to be made at least eight business days in advance. It was already December 18 at that time and I was heading to Baguio on December 25. With the weekend and two holidays in between, I was worried but I took a chance anyway.

I booked an afternoon first-class trip from the Pasay terminal but they came back to me the next day saying that trip was fully booked but they could put me on an aircon (not first-class) trip instead. I took it and paid the P445 fare plus the P100 handling fee plus the Paypal fee for a total of P557. They mailed the ticket to me promptly and I received it on December 22. When I got the ticket, I found out they placed me on a bus coming from the Cubao terminal.

So I left Sagay early on December 25. My flight to Manila was scheduled at 8:45am but the plane was only able to leave at 9:55am. I guess this was just the beginning of the Cebu Pacific holiday nightmare I heard on the news.

The taxi I took when I arrived in Manila sped away from the NAIA Terminal 3 to the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao. Tip: Victory Liner has two terminals in Cubao – the buses going to Baguio are stationed on the terminal at the left (when coming from the airport). I got there at 11:35am and I was scheduled on a 1pm bus, so I realized that all my fears about the EDSA traffic plus the flight delay earlier were unwarranted.

The bus trip was uneventful. We arrived in Baguio around 7pm. I imagined that there were a lot of taxis in Baguio (I read it somewhere) but I was so wrong. I had to elbow my way to get a taxi (there was no line at the terminal) after 30 minutes of waiting. When I finally got into a taxi, the driver was a little snarky bordering on rude (I read again from somewhere that Baguio taxi drivers are the nicest in the country), so I did not have a good first impression of Baguio. In addition, Manhattan Suites was not easy to find. The driver knew where Sepic Road was but was not familiar with the hotel. We got lost and had to ask for directions from other taxi drivers.

When I got to my hotel room, I ate the sandwich I brought from home for dinner and slept the night off. I was expecting to shiver from the cold but it was surprisingly comfortable.

The next day, I got ready to roam around Baguio. I left the hotel at 11am. I waited and waited and waited for a taxi but not a single one was available. After almost an hour of waiting, I started walking with the aim of going to SM. I felt embarrassed to ask other people – I was scared they’d look at me as crazy if they find out I was walking my way to SM – so I largely depended on Google Maps on my phone.

After a few wrong turns, I got to Burnham Park. I didn’t see anything special in there. To me, it was just another park. When I saw the lagoon with people on the boats, which I thought was a highlight in Burnham Park, I felt it was a little underwhelming.

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After a few minutes, I decided I had enough of Burnham Park so I continued my way to SM. I made a few wrong turns but I was able to find the crowd of people on their way to the mall. When I got to SM, I looked for a place to eat. After seeing that almost all restaurants were in full capacity, I resigned to the fact that I might not be able to have lunch. Until I found Sbarro! Yeah, I went all the way to Baguio just to eat in Sbarro.

After lunch, I decided to line up for the taxi. This was way better than to wait for a taxi on the side of the road. The line was moving along fast. When I was in front of the line, the first taxi driver that came up refused me because of the heavy traffic outside Mines View Park which I was planning to go to first. But then the next taxi driver was a friendly one who toured me around the tourist spots in Baguio for P300 an hour. His name was Sherwin.