Sightseeing in Baguio

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Things to do


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January, 2018

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The City of Baguio, on the island of North Luzon, is a mountain resort known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines owing to its altitude, cool climate and fragrant pine forests. The city also has many universities and boasts a huge student population.

Our sight-seeing started at the Mansion House, the official summer palace of the President of the Philippines, but we were could only peek through the gates and take photos. Across the road was Wright Park, complete with Christmas decorations despite it being mid-January, where we walked along a flower-lined long pool to a wooden bandstand.

We had a pit-stop at Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral which served as an evacuation centre during World War 2 and saved thousands of lives during the carpet bombing of Baguio in 1945. Next was the BenCab museum: Benedicto Cabrera is a living Philippine National Artist and we joined the free 9.30am guided tour with Franz. There was only us and another young couple who were more interested in their selfies. Although Franz wasn’t the most entertaining guide, his 45-minute tour took us around the numerous galleries and their collections. It was a beautifully light, airy museum, well laid out over four floors with easy to read signs including one warning of erotic art. It would have been easy to spend much longer there. We had excellent coffee in Café Sabel, named after his muse, which overlooked huge grounds. Before leaving, we visited the gift shop where I spotted a book on Filipino superstitions called ‘Why you should never take a bath on a Friday’.

Back in the car, we headed for Dominican Hill Retreat House, passing the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto on route. The building had been a 33-bedroomed hotel run by a faith healer famous for psychic surgery until 1987. Since then it had been abandoned, looted and damaged in the 1990 Luzon earthquake. In the car park was the largest 10 commandments in the world.

The daily covered market had wide walkways and was organised into sections with souvenirs, flowers, household goods, fish, meat, various types of longanissa (sausages), clothing flowers, tobacco etc. There was a set of scales, where you could check you’d been given the correct weight of good and an area where women stallholders congregate for morning Zumba. We were also surprised to see that shoppers were encouraged to use their own bags or buy a ‘bag for life’.

At Burnham Park you could play chess, ride a white swan on the lake, have an al fresco henna tattoo, massage or pedicure, ride a huge variety of bikes on a race course or visit the Orchidarium, a disappointing collection of flower stalls. I was persuaded to try taho, a revolting warm, thick set yoghurt said to be fresh, soft, silken tofu.

Although there are two museums, we chose to visit La Trinidad Valley, three km from the city to see the vast strawberry fields: it’s known as the strawberry capital of the Philippines. After wandering through the long rows of strawberries where you could PYO, we mooched around the market stalls with all things strawberry related and enjoyed a strawberry ice-cream.

We rounded off our day at the Harrison Road night market which doesn’t start until 9pm where we were not tempted by the cheap second-hand clothes, fakes, souvenirs, shoes.

Helen Jackson

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