Fine Ones in the City of Pines (Part 1)

I still remember how jealous I was of my childhood friend a couple of decades ago. I was always his audience when he told stories about their annual family vacation in the City of Pines.  He used to boast of the mountains he saw while sitting near the shuttle window, of how enchanting it was to see the moon following them while riding the bus at night. He told me about the weather and why sweater was a requirement to survive the cold mists. He showed me pictures of his family posing in front of the giant lion statue, and how happy they were picking ripe strawberries. I was silent while he told his stories. In my mind, I was comparing my boring summer to the adventures of this lucky son of a… rich couple. I promised myself that when I’m old enough, I will try picking strawberries too while wearing layers of sweatshirts.

And now, I believe I am adult enough. Not wealthy, but can sustain a living. And I have met fellow dreamers who I believe were like me: deprived of the privilege to travel when they were young. Motivated by the stories of my childhood friend, Baguio City had been my first goal to visit.

I’ve been to Baguio twice in this quarter life of mine. However, I want to bury the memories of my first trip somewhere deep in my brain. Let’s just focus on the second. I was vouched by my best friend Romeo, and his company mates were our companion.

We rode the bus in Victory Liner Cubao. We were chance passengers. We left at around 11pm and reached the terminal in Baguio by around 3am.

We were lucky because one in our group, Adrian, has a grandmother who lives in Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet. Accommodation was taken care of. We just had to provide food for ourselves.

In our first day, our first stop was Burnham Park. We tried riding the swans in the lake. I and Romeo were partners in one swan. It was tiring! I can’t control its direction! We were stuck in a corner for about 5 minutes! Hahaha. The boys’ swan also seemed out of control. But after minutes of adjustment, everything eventually went better. We actually raced to the ends of the lake.

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Swan race at Burnham Lake

It was lunch time when we finished strolling around Burnham. Following Adrian’s advice, we ate at Good Taste Restaurant. And it was worth it. Their servings are big and the food tastes real good, thus Good Taste. Haha. I think each of us just contributed about P300 for the heavy lunch. Not bad at all.

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Food tastes good at Good Taste Restaurant

We then went to SM Baguio. Air conditioning was not needed in the mall. I was chilling for real! The view from the top floor was so pleasant to the eye. Buildings, churches, houses, schools, and even the lake at the Burnham Park can be seen.

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Panagbenga theme at SM Baguio

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The controversial expansion of SM Baguio

The sun had set while we’re on the road. We decided to check on the famous night market along Harrison Road. A lot of items are sold here. Shirts, shoes, perfumes, gadgets, and souvenir items are just along the road. Romeo bought three jackets, I thought the cold really bothered him anyway. In all fairness, the prices were lower as compared to malls in Manila. And the vendors can lower their prices depending on how good you are with bargaining. I wasn’t able to take pictures here. I was afraid of snatchers. Haha.

We decided to go back to Adrian’s place at around 10pm. Transportation is kind of hard in Baguio, especially when you are out of jeepneys’ routes, so FX and taxis are your saviors. However, the demand of cabbies is high so you must be quick and charming when transacting with drivers.

We slept early so as to prepare our legs for the next walkathon around the City of Pines. Watch out for the next entry on this Baguio adventure where we explored the Philippine Military Academy, Diplomat Hotel, Mines View Park and more.

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From left: Jonathan, Richie, Mark, Ian, Laurence, Romeo and Adrian chilling around Burnham Park

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