BLISSFULLY BAGUIO: THE TEAM ERIC ADVENTURE
Baguio is undoubtedly unique in the Philippines primarily because of its climate and its history. It is the Americans’ most tangible gift to the country, a city built on top of the mountains that served as a home away from home. Instead of engaging the local Kankana-ey and Ibaloi tribes through war as the Spanish did for hundreds of years, the Americans used diplomacy and commerce. I’m not saying all of what the Americans did for Baguio was good (consider the ongoing dispute between them and the Carino clan for Camp John Hay’s title), but the Americans nevertheless created Baguio as a model built from scratch for future urban developments in the Philippines.
And Team Eric was actually up for that challenge. It was a sleepy February 18, 2012 when we set the date to venture to Baguio City. The meeting place was at Gilmore Street in New Manila, Quezon City where most of the people were at due to the proximity of the place. We set to leave for Baguio some were crunched inside the van and some were perched inside Ate Vi-Anne’s car.
Ujin and Kaori the poodle excited for the Baguio adventure.
The long travel time is already killing the anticipation.
Our first stop was at Tropical Hut North Luzon Express Way, which was supposedly the last stop before the toll gates.
Having had the chance to live in Baguio City way back, I still remember its pine scented sleepy charm. And was also expecting the same ambiance whenever I get back there.
The Long Wait Is Over, Welcome To Baguio City!
After about 7 hours of travel including pit stop’s we reached Baguio City, craving for some hot stuff to have for a late lunch. Good Taste was our choice for our very first gastronomic experience as a team. At the back of the Baguio Center Mall is an old building which houses Good Taste. We were actually overwhelmed the first time we got in. There were so many people inside that you would think they have an ongoing garage sale. At way past lunch time one would think you’d have an easy time choosing your seats, but this joint is so popular we only got seated just before 2 pm, thanks to my great bargaining skills and a little knowledge for speaking the Ilocano dialect hehe.
After having our stomachs filled with Good Taste treats, our team decided that it was time to get some rest. The Summer Capital of the Philippines is visited by many different types of travelers: tourists, large families on vacation, convention delegates, businessmen, wedding parties, honeymooners, budget travelers, backpackers. Since we are a large group, our choice of accommodation was either a transient home or an apartel big enough for us. Good thing Teacher’s Camp still had a villa available for us.
Teachers Camp is located in a beautiful, spacious, campus-like environment close to the city center, with its main entrance along Leonard Wood Road with another entrance on posh South Drive.
Within the pine-filled camp are classrooms, cottages and dormitories, mess halls and dining areas, administrative offices, plus assembly halls and social centers where many conferences, seminars and other activities are held.
Inside the spacious villa, one can find 2 living rooms. One upstairs and another one downstairs. There’s also a small kitchen with stove and refrigerator should one decide to cook their own food.
Teachers Camp also boasts of its own athletic oval where members of the Philippine Olympic teams train. The athletic oval is also open for the use of the general public (a small fee of P35 is charged for its upkeep).
Because The Night Belongs To Us
Take me now, baby, here as I am.
Hold me close, try and understand.
Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe.
Love is a banquet on which we feed.
Feeding time can sometimes be a pain since we were a large number and need to consider a number of factors prior to choosing where we should eat. We have been planning to eat at 50’s Diner due to its popularity and price range. My excitement grew along while I’m getting dressed for the night. Five people from the group decided to walk from Teacher’s Camp to the diner and the rest of us decided to take a ride.
Upon reaching the restaurant, we were welcomed by a number of people waiting outside for their turn to dine inside the restaurant. Since the waiting period seems like forever (aside from pets not allowed in this restaurant), some members left and searched for a restaurant that would accommodate us all, pronto! Joe and Ujin trudged along Gen. Luna Road heading towards SM Baguio until they found Mamita’s Bulalohan, located just 20 steps away from 50’s Diner. When they saw the menu, they decided to stay at the place and asked the rest of us to join them. Mamita’s Bulalohan menu composed of dishes which bulalohan’s in Manila usually serve. Most of us ordered for the special bulalo with unlimited rice for only P120. But I ordered for their sizzling bangus. For a sum of P80 I was served with half of the small bangus, chopped vegetables and rice on a sizzling plate. It was a meal to help me survive from starvation for the night but the bottom line is I’m really not satisfied.
After we’re done with our meal, Irish asked me to accompany her back to 50’s Diner to buy something for to go. Good heavens our minds are somehow connected in such a fashion. Ordering food to go at 50’s Diner is not a hassle at all. I just went to the counter and ordered for chicken wings and fries (a dish that I have enjoyed since college) and burger and fries for Irish. Jenny came along with us and ordered the same thing that I had. They served our meals in a jiffy and off we went headed towards Burnham Park where we agreed to spend the rest of the night.
The night was just starting when our pack arrived at Burnham Park. But now the pine scented sleepy charm of Baguio is almost…gone. It’s just a cold, dirty city now with an exploding population. Even the once very interesting markets filled with handcrafted items from the provinces are now being encroached with cheap China goods which frankly offends me (lets keep the handicrafts native please). This season it smelt of diesel and the streets congested by vehicles. The stores and restaurants unique to Baguio must now content with national chains with their huge budgets. I fear the next generation will never know half the Baguio I loved so much. Measures must be taken by the local government to keep what is left of Baguio’s soul before it is completely gone. Then again, I’d have to deal with that fact when I went back. Might as well enjoy the company instead of the place since I have enjoyed most of it way back especially in college 🙂
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