When I was in Baguio Museum, I read an article written by some writer whose name I could not recall, describing Baguio as a “Melting Pot”. Based on Wikipedia’s definition, a melting pot is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements “melting together” into a harmonious whole with a common culture. To me that absolutely made sense. That’s exactly what Baguio is. An assimilation of various people with different cultures all drawn together in harmonious coalescence.
Baguio City is the kind of place which I easily fell in love with. Primarily, what separates Baguio from other cities in the Philippines is its cool weather and its pine-scented air. Aside from that, there are a whole lot of other reasons why the city is so endearing. Themed Parks are everywhere. The people are so warm. The culture is artful and lovely. It’s like an entirely different world. It’s beautiful and it’s something I couldn’t get enough with.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE CITY OF PINES
1. Burnham Park
Burnham Park is located within the heart of the city. It’s probably the city’s prime tourists spot. Here we enjoyed rowing our boat in Burnham lake, played chess with the locals, interacted with the people enjoying their early morning exercises, went biking and had our first taste of strawberry taho.
If what you seek are different kinds of plants from the flowery ones the likes of chrysanthemums, daisies, lilies and roses to herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley and cilantro to the green leafy decorative ones like peperomia, coleus, and miura sold in a very affordable prices, then this is the perfect place for you.
3. Baguio Cathedral
Built in the 1920, this great piece of architecture with its pink exterior, stained glass and massive twin spires was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary hence the name Our Lady Of Atonement Cathedral. Located adjacent to Session Road, this is one of Baguio’s major tourist spots.
Nowadays, Mines View Park is a place more famous for memorabilia and souvenir shops rather than where it was name after. This place gives a perfect view of the old gold and copper mines of the Ibaloi tribe.
5. Wright Park
Here found the much photographed Pool Of Pines, a rectangular pool of water surrounded by flowers and pine trees but it’s more famous to locals and tourists alike as the place where you can ride horses with over a hundred of them to choose from. You can also have a photo taken unlimited wearing native costumes for the price of 20 pesos per person.
6. The Mansion
Located across the Wright Park, the Mansion is the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines. It’s pretty small as compared to the Malacanang Palace, but it doesn’t seem any less elegant with its white edifice fronted by a beautiful gate which would definitely grab your attention.
Botanical Garden is one of Baguio’s scenic parks which features a wide array of plants but what we love more about it is here, we got the chance to interact with friendly natives who were also ready to playfully pose for the camera.
8. Teacher’s Camp
Declared in April 2008 as a National Heritage Site, Teachers Camp has been home during summer to teachers from all parts of the country for recreational and educational purposes. Within the camp are classrooms, dormitories dining and conference halls. It also has an athletic ovals which locals can use for a minimal cost.
Camp John Hay is what made Baguio the “Little America”. During most of the 20th century, it was used as the recreational facility for the U.S. Armed Forces. Although many parts of the camp has been changed when it was converted into a privately owned resort, it is still famous to tourists for the history the Americans left within it. Among these are the Bell House & Bell Amphitheater which are the works of art of the late Governor-General James Franklin Bell. The Secret Garden which was JF Bell’s personal space is now famous as the place perfect for wedding proposals. Here also found the well visited Butterfly Sanctuary which houses over 50 different species of butterflies. If what you look for is extreme adventure, you might wanna opt for the extreme paintball center and the treetop adventure.
10. Panagbenga Park
Panagbenga Park is a small park situated along two intersecting roads one of which is the Loakan Rd. This is just another typical park in Baguio City with potted plants, mini butterfly sanctuary and a bird cage which houses rare bird species but what I loved about it is here sold at Saleng Garden, a mini bar within the park is the delicious refillable cup of coffee and lemon grass tea which is only for 30 pesos.
11. Baguio Museum
Here displayed are artifacts and works of art of the native tribes of the Cordillera region namely the Ifugaos, Igorots, Ibalois, Kankanaeys and many others. They convey the early lifestyles of each tribe before the American colonization. It also depicts a brief history of the city displaying photos of its political leaders and replicas of Baguio during its early years up to the most recent in 2009.
Located within Fort Del Pilar, PMA serves as the training ground for future officers of the AFP.
13. Tam-awan Village
Tam-awan Village was built to restore the Ifugao and Kalinga villages in Baguio City to give those people who haven’t been to the Cordilleras the experience of living immersed through the cultures of these natives. It has become an artists village as it is host to several art exhibits for artists from all over the city and beyond. It has an art gallery which houses paintings and other art pieces.
14. Chinese Bell Church
Bell church is a beautiful place of worship. The structures of the buildings are of classic Chinese architecture. There is an intricately landscaped garden going up the hill. If you want solitude and a place where there are less crowd of people around, then you would love to pay the Bell Church a visit.
15. Lourdes Grotto
Constructed in commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this shrine is another place of meditation located in the western part of Baguio. The main altar is located at the top of the hill which can be accessed by climbing a stair consisting of 252 steps. Here you can offer flowers, light candles and lift your prayers asking for the Virgin Mother’s intercession.
After paying Lourdes Grotto a visit, this is another place you would wanna set your eyes on. Found in Dominican Hill are the Diplomat Hotel Ruins which is an old abandoned building used to be a first class hotel in the city and the World’s Largest 10 Commandments plus a panoramic view of the entire Baguio City.
17. Kennon Road
This is the shortest route to Baguio City for travelers coming from Manila. Although, it has made headlines due to many vehicular accidents, it still is a favorite route going to the city as it offers breathtaking views along the way. Also along Kennon Rd., is the famous tourist attraction, the 43-feet high limestone sculpted Lion’s Head. The viewing deck at the upper end of Kennon Rd is the one famous to tourists for its spectacular view of the entire stretch of the highway and the surrounding mountains covered in greens.
18. Strawberry Farm
Located in La Trinidad, a nearby town in the outskirts of Baguio City are the vast strawberry farms. Here you can choose the type of strawberries you want from small to big ones or from half ripened to the fully ripened ones as you are picking them yourselves. Be careful though not to be too excited to pick every strawberry you see as the cost is triple times higher than the price of strawberries sold in the market, but getting to pick your own strawberries which you can bring home to families and friends with the touch of love is priceless.
OTHER SCENIC/TOURIST SPOTS IN BAGUIO
As much as we wanted to visit all that are there in the city of pines, time was the constant hindrance. So here are those we missed visiting which you might wanna see.
- Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary
- Asin Hotspring
- BenCab Museum
- Narda’s Art Woven arts and crafts
- Mt Sto Thomas
- Good Shepherd and many others.
BAGUIO CITY continues to attract tourists from all over the Philippines and even abroad. Well they have a pretty good reason to be. We were there last January 20, 2014 when the temperature dropped a record breaking 5.1 degrees. Normally with that kind of temperature, I would see myself rolled into a ball covered in thick sheets. Instead, I was out witnessing people of the city go by their normal routines. The night life in the city is very colorful and lively which would invite you not to go on sleeping until the break of dawn. A night market fills the entire stretch of Harrison Blvd every night where fine pieces of pre-loved clothes, shoes, bags and accessories are sold in affordable prices. I would have loved to stay for another day or two but the city is too consuming I was afraid I might not wanna go back to my real world anymore…