Frigorific weather and pleasant locals aside, one thing worth appreciating in Baguio is the slew of enchanting yet frugal places to explore and their proximity to one another. They are practically in walking distance from any given point, and cabs aren’t necessary if you like the scent of pines and traversing cold streets. In the city center alone, you’ll find an SM branch to fill your gastronomic and visual desires, a historic church by a small hill, and so many more practical finds (like two handfuls of brain-draining hot chili for 10 pesos!).
|Would you have guessed this cathedral was bombed?
After my seminar, I walked from UB to Casa Vallejo with the group of MassCom juniors who invited me for the workshop. They insisted that we take the cab, but they are students. I hate for them to spend on unnecessary cab fare when we can opt for a short stroll. That and I wanted to pass by Baguio Cathedral.
The streets are strewn with people and vehicles, you wouldn’t even notice you’re treading up a small hill to the Church. The two pointy spires command from afar, the walls a shade of pale rose. It is a lovely installment in the middle of very busy intersections and even busier townsfolk, some in prayer and some just passing by like us.
By dusk, we were ready for Baguio’s sunset. But while SM practically fronts our hotel room, the dark paced faster than our feet could get on SM’s Skyline Terrace. A sunset vista would’ve been marvelous from up there, as many city dwellers will surely agree, but well, nature happens.
|View from the Skyline Terrace
Still, Baguio’s city skyline at night is a treat for us who live in the flatlands. Orbits of tiny city lights in a canopy of dark magenta fog, a faint shadow of the Cordilleran mountains looming over. There is of course, the loud thumping bass sound and throngs of students whiling time away with booze in several bars on the terrace, but nothing a near middle-aged woman like me can’t handle.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by this small eatery a few steps to the left of Casa Vallejo. Its main dish is bulalo, which is superb for the Baguio weather. The husband has had his merienda there (merienda being rice and a bowl of bulalo) and encouraged me to try it out for dinner.
The place is your typical neighborhood carinderia. Monoblock chairs, dos por dos tables covered in faux wood vinyl, home-cooked meals in aluminum food displays, plastic plates and bowls. Much of its patrons are students and residents within the area. I’m guessing the bulalo is actually carabao meat, not bovine, but for P30 a bowl, man, was it a steal. Such comfort in the cold night. We had afritada (P25 per order) as well, and it wasn’t exactly sterling, but it’s not bad either.
By this last installment of our Baguio trip series, I may have probably conveyed how Baguio now holds a special spot in my mushy heart. Baguio, despite the obvious influence of commercialization, is a city that’s a pleasure to experience a second time around. Even a third or fourth. For cheap bulalo or chili, charming locals, nooks and crannies, there’s always something to keep you from saying goodbye. Just a see you again.
Baguio’s Charm and A First Teaching Engagement
Review: Casa Vallejo Hotel, Baguio City
Mt. Cloud Bookshop, North Haven Spa and Cinematheque at Casa Vallejo, Baguio City
Baguio’s Famous Haunts: The Diplomat Hotel, Laperal House and Casa Vallejo Hotel
Baguio’s Tam-Awan Village: Nature and Art Haven