All-day-mist. Ice-cold-wind. Postcard-worthy-sights. Such is the beauty of Baguio as I try to capture it through my words. Located 5,000 feet above sea level, Baguio is a highland paradise only 6 hours away from Metro Manila. This city lies in the Northern part of the county and is actually in the middle of the mountain. Apart from its baffling location, it also boasts of rich heritage and lush picturesque hallmarks.
A Vibrant Switch: Meeting the Valley of Colors
Before reaching the famous strawberry farm, we had a quick stop-over at the Valley of Colors along La Trinidad, Benguet. The valley is an extraordinary group of tiny houses sitting above the flowing river. It reminds me of the Favelas in Rio de Janeiro, except there’s more to these mountainside neighborhood than meets the eye. They’re not just tiny houses but tiny houses that exude stories of hope.
A long time ago, they were once lifeless houses in monochromatic shades. Today, each wall, roof and fence stands out for its multicolored artwork. Looking at it from the highway, it appears like a huge canvas of a vibrant transformation. Despite one’s size and unruly place, it can still be beautiful by finding its own cheerful hues. Together, the houses serve as an inspiring sight that anything is possible.
A Fruit Basket Bond: Visiting Strawberry Farm
If the Valley of Colors is deemed inspiring and instagrammable, the Strawberry Farm experience is nothing less. For a tourist like me, picking the perfectly ripe strawberries, inhaling its scent right inside my tiny palms, and tasting it right away – is romantic, much more unforgettable.
Arriving at the Strawberry farm in La Trinidad wouldn’t stir these emotions right away. It happens when you go inside and assume the daily life of a fruit picker. Psychologically, filling your own baskets with fruits from the orchard stimulates the brain and makes you happier. Fruit picking strengthens bond among families and friends. Even for a short period of time, strawberries can magically decrease stress, anger, and depression. When you feel overwhelmed with life, a little step back within nature is an effective therapy you should seek.
A Spectacle of Nature’s Magnificence: Mines View Park
Of all the countless parks in Baguio City, Mines View Park still has the timeless panoramic view of the city, the Itogon mining town, and the magnificent Cordillera mountains. It’s a scenic spot to catch a glimpse of the sunrise and sunset. If luck permits, a sea of clouds may even surprise you.
My Mines View Park experience fills me with gratitude and awe. They say that it’s always bustling with tourists who love to take photos and buy souvenirs. Others find it way too crowded. Instead of complaining, I’d rather appreciate the park the way it opens its gates to people. Regardless of the countless steps of numerous visitors, it’s the vibration of laughter and joy that that will matter in the end. It’s the priceless sight of a frightened child during her first horseback photo, the silent man enjoying his “taho”, the newly weds in the Cordillera clothing, or the grandmother fascinated by a wide selection of succulents. For me, Mines View isn’t just about the nature’s spectacle but a grand crossroad of all walks of life.
Other Must-Visit Parks in Baguio: Wright Park, Burnham Park, and Camp John Hay
A Collection of Culture and Art: BenCab Museum
Benedicto Cabrera is a Filipino National Artist, a painter, and a man. His museum in Baguio exhibits a four-level collection of Cordillera arts that resound life in its deepest form. There are various murals, figurines and artifacts that prove the historical prestige of Ifugao – the things in the past that we must recall even today.
The BenCab museum itself is a time-capsule. It’s a book of indigenous stories yearning to be flipped and read. Just looking at each piece makes me imagine what life was decades ago. In the museum, I saw the “Ifugao Rice Deity” or “Bulol” which, according to legends, guards the rice crops of our ancestors. While we depend on technology for successful harvest, they once prayed fervently to these spiritual gods for fertility and abundant production. Another fascinating masterpiece in the BenCab Museum celebrates the complexities and wonder of a woman – the Thirty-Two Variations of Sabel. It’s best described by the caption itself: “In her plainness, he saw beauty; in her anonymity, he saw an individual person who chose to live as she saw fit; in her weakness, he saw her native wit and strength.”
Travelling to and Getting Around in Baguio:
Baguio City can be reached by bus or private car for approximately 4-5 hours. If you’re travelling by bus, simply choose among popular bus companies such as Genesis (Joy Bus), Victory Liner and White Rabbit and pay around PHP320 (ordinary)- PHP 800 (deluxe) trip. Once you’ve arrived in Baguio, you explore the city by taking a cab or riding a jeepney.