Easy breezy Baguio

This City of Pines is a place of retreat from the hustle-bustle of the busy city and is simply the kind of respite we crave from time to time. With an estimated 2.5 million Benguet pine trees surrounding the city and the uphill and downhill terrain and panoramic view of houses on the hills as well as foggy mountains, Baguio is definitely a wonderful escape I consider one of my happy places.

Apartments and staycation places abound with price range to choose from and for people like me who travel to places to relax and be refreshed there are lots of choices. I go for homey apartments with a view of either the pine trees or the mountains in quiet neighbourhoods and our recent trip is certainly one choice I am happy to have made especially with its tasteful interiors and thoughtful amenities and very attentive caretakers . http://freds.com.ph/baguio/page/gallery

Coffee Shops and cafes are staples in our agenda and we search for nice ones with good reviews. For our family trip this time, we were quite satisfied with our choices and the cold December weather added to the thrill.

A visit to Camp John Hay is another must. With a large concentration of pine trees in the area, one can easily fall in love with the place. Early this year (before the stricter travel measures due to the pandemic was imposed), we had the chance to participate in the Baguio Marathon which started and ended in Camp John Hay. I did half marathon and the downhill and uphill route was certainly not for the faint of heart. The route went all the way to the Lion’s Head along Kennon Road and just when the finish line is already in sight, you have to run another kilometre uphill with your legs almost giving up.

Another must-visit is the Bencab Museum. The display of contemporary artworks in this museum is wide and the museum itself with its modern and clean design is lovely. National Artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera’s (Bencab) works are beautiful. He is indeed one source of Filipino pride. Read more about his works and profile: http://www.bencabmuseum.org/national-artist/

Due to its idyllic weather, fruits are abundant and the Baguio market is a feast of various produce from the province. For coffee drinkers, Benguet coffee is synonymous to great coffee. In fact, an Atok-grown coffee emerged as the grand champion in the 3rd Philippine Coffee Competition held in March 2018. Oliver Oliem’s Arabica coffee entry won 1st place while 2 other Benguet Arabica coffee entries also won 3rd and 5th place among 700 entries. Atok coffee was described as a blend with flavour characteristics of apricot, lemongrass, pomelo, oolong Tea and the aroma of a rose. The National Barista Champion 2020 Adrian Vocalan also used coffee from Itogon, Benguet. No wonder there was a queue in the Fresh Roast shop at the Baguio marketplace where you can get Benguet premium and flavoured coffees. Read more: https://pia.gov.ph/features/articles/1019148

For sure, Baguio will always be one of my favourite places in the country and I am just so happy to note of Baguio’s Re-greening Masterplan which includes a tree-cutting moratorium. It is my hope that House Bill No. 7090 seeking for 10-year moratorium on tree cutting in the city (by Baguio Congressman Mark Go) last July 13, 2020 will be passed to reinforce the 5-year tree-cutting moratorium imposed in residential, business and public areas in the city.

With the newly opened NLEX-SLEX Connector which is expected to cut down travel time from Metro Manila and is set to be fully operational by January 14, 2020, Baguio will certainly be more attractive to people like me who just want to be away and experience easy breezy Baguio.

My happy places at home: Refreshing Tagaytay

When I want to feel refreshed, I go to Tagaytay. Just a little over an hour drive from our home in Manila and you’re in a place that’s like no other – “an island (Vulcan Point) within a lake (Crater Lake), on an island (Volcano Island) within a lake (Taal Lake) on an island (Luzon Island)~www.worldwanderings.net. Yes, it’s really that and that is why it’s a place like no other!

It’s cool breeze and amazing view; it’s beautiful hotels and quaint cafes and the wide selection of dining places with real good food make it a perfect place for a staycation. If you want to be pampered, there’s also a lot of spas that offer wonderful massage and wellness services. You won’t run out of choices and there’s always a new place to check out every time. Thus, my kind of place for these reasons and more.

Exactly 2 years ago, I brought my childhood best friend, Marylene here. She was living in Cebu and it was a perfect time for a little get-away. It was a birthday gift I gave her and her sweet daughter Mekailah, who just turned 18.

We trekked to the main crater (it was the first time for all of us) and as we walked 45 minutes (one way) with our guide, stopping here and there for group photos, sweat flowed and the scorching heat of the sun would tempt anyone to take the easy way by riding a horse but we carried on on foot and when we started feeling the sulfur steam on our feet, we know we were near. The sight of the main crater is so captivating that my 15-year old daughter requested to do the same on her birthday along with her best friends.

As I write this, I am actually here in Tagaytay having a full view of the Taal Lake and Volcano because after being “quarantined” for almost 8 months due to the pandemic, I just need to feel refreshed and so as travel between cities is now permitted, the first place I thought of is Tagaytay! The other reason I wanted to be here at this time is to commemorate Marylene’s birthday. She passed away exactly a month ago and while I know she is in a better place now, I still feel the pain of losing my childhood best friend of 50 years and coming here on her birthday is like celebrating it again with her.

“Coming here on her birthday is like celebrating it again with her.”

Whenever I come to Tagaytay for a staycation, I always stay in hotels that have a view of one of the Philippines’ wonders, the Taal Volcano and the Taal Lake. Looking at such picturesque creation brings me to a place of serenity and gives me so much peace.

It’s so ironic because this little volcano is active and when it erupted on January 12 this year, it spewed ashes and covered several towns; destroying homes, livelihood to the point of making some areas uninhabitable and desolate.~https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/timeline-taal-volcano-eruption-2020

Thanks God it is quiet again for now and it is my prayer that it will stay like this for a very long time. Waking up to the amazing view of the Taal Lake restores my soul. I gave in to its invitation to do my usual quiet time followed by an hour of yoga and as I flex my muscles and do mindful breathing with nature at its finest in front of me, I know that I have achieved my purpose of coming here – to be refreshed!