Life Off the Mat
April 1, 2015

That Trip Called Baguio By Erin Ablaza


It’s the place where broken hearts go.

At least that’s how a road trip to Baguio was popularized by the recent local movie That Thing Called Tadhana. I would think most people would have the urge to retrace the journey of the characters by going to the exact same landmarks portrayed in the movie. While I was similarly nursing a wounded heart, I found myself on a car up the mountains of Baguio for a different reason.

It wasn’t my first time to go to Baguio. The last time I was here was when I was around 7 years old.

I took an 8-hour Victory Liner bus trip to up the long and winding Kennon Road for the weekend with nothing but a small bag of clothes and my Barbie doll. Today, Baguio is so easily accessible. The trip only took me around 5-6 hours factoring in the multiple stopovers taken for food and bathroom breaks.


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I’ve always enjoyed road trips and the suspense of finally reaching your destination.

No strict itinerary for this trip as I’ve already explored the city as a kid and didn’t expect much to change since then. I just had a “hit list” (or what I would call as a my must-see visits during the trip) and 4 days to explore and just chill (figuratively and literally).


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Enjoying the cool breeze despite the start of the summer months.

First on the list is Baguio’s finest brewery Baguio Craft Brewery, also known as The Tasting Room. I ordered their famous keywheat beer (kiwi beer). It was light, sweet, and crisp. It was a perfect beer to match the breathless night view from the bar overlooking the entire city of Baguio! There was so much on their menu that I wanted to try, but I knew I had to save it for another time or else I was at risk of not getting back home that night!

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The bar inside the brewery had very nice interiors.


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The menu offered so many different options. One beer isn’t enough!

 The next day, I braved the city traffic and the large crowds to catch a glimpse of the Panagbenga Festival, Baguio’s well-known and well-loved Flower Festival held every February. I admired some of their floats decorated and covered with all kinds and colors of flowers. It was definitely a sight to see!

Photo 3-1-15, 12 35 25 PM Lucky to have gotten a photo with the floats!

In the afternoon, I wanted to explore the pine trees of Camp John Hay. The smell of fresh pine trees as I drove by told me I was definitely in Baguio. I have no words for how beautiful the place was especially at my favorite time of the day, the golden hour or the hour just before sunset.

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It felt like a scene from a movie!

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Playing around with the afternoon light.

I capped the night with a cup of coffee in Café by the Ruins. The combined aroma of freshly brewed coffee and oven-baked pastries was a treat for the senses.

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I tried their café latte with Ernie’s kamote bread (sweet potatoes, milk and honey). The star of the show was the homemade strawberry jam. I took home a bottle before I left!

When much of the festival crowd had thinned down, it was time to drive to another place on my hitlist – La Trinidad, Benguet (a neighboring town of Baguio) to visit the Strawberry Farm.


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When you say Baguio, I say strawberries!


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The strawberries and the other crops provide a good source of livelihood for many of the locals.


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Strawberry fields were never ending!

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Now that’s what you call fresh strawberry ice cream!

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A trip to Baguio wouldn’t be complete without trying their unique version of strawberry taho!



As if I did not have enough sugar already from this visit, I took a side trip to Choco-late de Batirol to try Baguio’s version of native hot chocolate. I got slightly lost when I first tried to find it because the café was well hidden among the trees of Camp John Hay!

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I took a sip of the native hot chocolate with cinnamon. Not too rich or sweet; it was just perfect!

For my last day, I only expected to travel back to Manila since I wanted to get home early. But passing a different route allowed me to explore Wright Park and Mines View Park even for just a short while. This is where I think I experienced the heart of Baguio. I conversed with some of the locals. I dined at a local restaurant that is probably not on anyone’s list of top restaurants to visit. I learned more about the crafts and agricultural products of the city that keep the businesses flourishing aside from the tourism the place brings. Despite having visited Baguio before, I would have never thought that I would be able to experience it this way!

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Walking the streets of Baguio near Mines View Park.


It was then that it hit me. You will never experience the same place exactly the same way you did the first time if you allow yourself to open up to new and different ways. The places, the festival, the food, the farm, and everything else in between were all new to me.

There was something about this newness that provided me with so much “freshness” and restored my positive energy, something I knew I had brought with me even when I returned to my daily routine.

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Moments like this remind me how good it is to be alive.

Every day, there is something new to experience. There is also something new to offer. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck just because that’s what you are accustomed to. It is when you are open that new things and opportunities will start pouring in. As Wayne Dyer said, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”


Before finally heading home, I took a stop at Our Lady of Manaoag Church in Pangasinan. I offered a short prayer in thanksgiving for the opportunity to let this “newness” surprise me to feel whole again during That Trip Called Baguio.

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Today, I know where I am. I feel good and I feel whole.


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By Erin Ablaza

Business Analyst / Yogi

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