Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

So here’s a recap -- I started my Luzon backpacking trip in Laoag crawling to Vigan and some nearby small towns in Ilocos, and now the so-called summer capital of the Philippines - Baguio.
I had a really good time in Ilocos, yeah I always have a good time albeit traveling alone, I think I prefer it that way and I’m very much comfortable moving freely on my own time.  It’s a personal choice.

I took the bus from Partas bus terminal in Vigan right before noon, Partas is running to Baguio by the hour during the day and every 2 hours I think past midnight.  I like Partas, it’s freezing cold.  I arrived Baguio city before 5:00pm, travel time is approximately 5.5 hours with scenic views approaching Baguio.  I found this guesthouse online costs P400/night with own bathroom and flat panel TV with cable channels, located along Magsaysay Ave., where I’ll be staying for the next couple of days.

It’s a bit far from Burnham Park area but a long distance walk of about 15 minutes, easy though as jeepneys to the centrum are passing by along the road in front of the guesthouse for 8.50 pesos and 5 – 15 minutes travel time, depends on the traffic.

My room at a transient house in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio.

Baguio isn’t the way I imagined it to be, or maybe it isn’t the same as the first time I’ve seen it some 3 decades ago.  It instantly gave me this feeling of gloom, somewhat gray, I’m having a cold solitude late afternoon.  It’s disappointing when I’m expecting  crisp fresh air, green trees around, misty grasses.  Nothing of those.  

The air is polluted in the city center that I got a persistent cough that got stuck with me til Banaue.  Old jeepneys emiting dark fumes, bare park grounds, can’t even find grasses to sit on, trees are somewhat grayish green.  I’m not sure really if it’s just me, I felt like I want to get out of there and get back to Vigan where I’m sipping my hot McDo brewed coffee while sitting in one of the steel benches in Plaza Salcedo.

But anyhow, I gave it a chance, I said, maybe tomorrow I’ll wander around Burnham Park, probably a day or two before I’ll find my groove and get accustomed to it.  Well, it did not sink in to me, a bit maybe because I like the cold weather.  I stayed for 4 days but I don’t have that authentic enthusiasm to discover the city’s attractions except for a couple of places – Burnham Park, the cathedral and Mines View. 
Burnham Park looked bleak to me.  No green grasses to sit on, just brown dried remains of grasses, so people have to bring mats to sit on on.  Nonetheless, the park still gets crowded especially during the weekend for picnics.  People come to the park to do some hours of boating (P150 boat rent) in the man-made lake or lagoon.

Boating at Burnham Park.

I headed to the Baguio Cathedral via the long stairs along Session Road, when it’s indeed easier via the Fr. Carlu Street, few steps there.

Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral (commonly known as Baguio Cathedral)

I’m taking this trip really leisurely, I went to Mines View Park on my third day in Baguio.  I took one of the jeepney at Lucnab terminal at Lower Mabini Street corner Harrison near Tiong San Supermarket.  I paid P10 for the 15 minutes ride.  The jeep terminates exactly at the entrance to Mines View Park.  The park is a nice respite from the congested city center.

There’s an observation deck to enjoy the panoramic view of Benguet's gold and copper mines, a huge St. Bernand is sitting on a chair beside the souvenir shops wearing sunglasses, if you want to take a photo with the huge dog.  Lots of shops here selling souvenir items such as woodcarvings, the ever popular dust brooms, keychains, magnets, blankets, live flowering plants, jars of jams, fresh strawberries, souvenir shirts are cheaper here at P150 for 2 pieces.

Mine's View Park.

After 4 nights in Baguio, I headed up to Banaue. 

Warning:  Baguio central area is a non-smoking area, particularly the areas in and around Burnham Park. 

Brief Info:
Baguio City was established by the Americans as a hill station in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. It was the United States' only hill station in Asia.[4] The name of the city is derived from the Ibaloi word bagiw meaning 'moss.' The Ibaloi is the indigenous language in the Benguet Region,. The city is situated at an altitude of approximately 1,540 meters (5,050 feet) in the Luzon tropical pine forests eco-region conducive for the growth of mossy plants and orchids.
Because of its cool climate, Baguio City was designated by the Philippine Commission as the "Summer Capital" of the Philippines on June 1, 1903 wherein the government was transferred to city to escape the lowland heat during summer. [Wikipedia]

Partas bus fare from Vigan to Baguio
Taxi fare from Partas bus terminal near Burnham Park
Jeepney fare from Burnham Park to Mines View Park
Jeepney fare around town
Taxi fare matrix in Baguio - 35 flagdown, 2 pesos succeeding.
Transient house
Address:  Magsaysay Ave., Baguio City

How to get there:
Victory Liner with their terminals in Pasay, Cubao and Caloocan runs every hour 24/7 to and from Baguio.  Genesis Bus also runs several times a day.  Fare is about P500. Travel time is 5 – 6 hours.
I came from Vigan and I took the Partas bus which runs every runs every hour at their terminal in Vigan market. 

Next destination - 8th wonder of the natural world - Banaue Rice Terraces.


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