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Posts Tagged ‘Baguio’

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Brilliant Baguio

Baguio City in northern Luzon, known as the summer capital of the Philippines is a popular destination particularly during the months of March, April, and May for both local and foreign tourists because of its cold climate. Also known as, “The Flower City of the North,” it is a great venue for various outdoor activities. Come Christmas time, Baguio is also a preferred vacation spot.

Located some 250 kilometers north of Manila, it is nestled 5,000 feet above sea level on the Cordillera Mountain Range, the highest metropolis in the Philippines. In the heart of Benguet Province, it benefits from having political autonomy, being a chartered city since 1909. With an area of 49 square kilometers enclosed in a parameter of 30.6 kilometers, it has 20 administrative districts where its 129 barangays are distributed.

Baguio, before being discovered by the Americans a century ago, was known as the “rancheria”. Cattle and horses used to flock the area during dry seasons, but most of the time it was marshland with a shallow lake where the locals hunted for duck and snipes.

The Americans saw Baguio as a place to build a future metropolis. A water source was found, pine trees were everywhere and grass covered the area. They immediately decided to make Baguio an admirable site for the future summer capital and health resort of the Philippines.

Today, Baguio is a melting pot of cultures. The diversity of indigenous ethno-cultural scene. The Ibalois are considered the original settlers and together with other Cordillera groups such as the Bontocs, Kalingas, Ifugaos and Kankanais, comprise about 10 percent of the total population.

Other ethnic groups from as far as Mindanao also settled in the area. Local visual artists also gather in the city of pines for it is a comfortable space to home their talents together with their contemporaries.

Baguio City is also popular for its vegetable and strawberry produce. It is also an ideal place for golfers and those who love to trek. Simultaneously this promotes environmental awareness and education for both the young and the young at heart. It is a mountain paradise with a surely entice any tourist to visit more than once.

Tourist Attractions in Baguio

  • Session Road – At the heart of downtown Baguio is Session Road. This incline cuts through a row of business establishments which includes restaurants, groceries, drugstores, bookstores and other specialty shops. Marvel at quaint tribal memorabilia while Igorot sidewalk vendors convince you to purchase unique love potions and herbal cures. Nightlife converge to wine and dine until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Tan-Awan Village – It is about two kilometers northwest of the town center. It is a replica of an Igorot Village that was built on the side of a hill. It is possible to stay overnight in these original Ifugao houses, the brainchild of the Chanum foundation, a group of artists who are dedicated nurturing the native culture in the Cordilleras. There are demonstrations of handicraft skills like weaving, wood carving and rice production.
  • Central Market – The life vein of Baguio courses within and throughout the central market. No trip is complete without a visit to its showcase of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, preserves, jewelry and even surplus army goods.
  • Camp John Hay – Formerly a rest and recreation station of U.S. military troops, this facility was turned over to the Philippine government on July 1, 1991. The 535-hectare haven boasts of a world class 18-hole golf course, wooded hiking area, a skating rink, bowling alleys, tennis courts and a mini-golf course. Camp John Hay also has cottages, which are now open to the public.
  • Mansion House – This imposing and majestic Baguio mansion housed a long line of Philippine presidents and American governors-general. Its ornate iron gate is often to curious visitors.
  • Easter Weaving Room – Episcopalian missionaries have played an important part in educating the native Igorot. Visit the Easter Weaving Room and admire tattoed tribesmen as they create the most ornate weaves from the indigenous backstrap looms and other more conventional looms.

How to Get There

One can travel by land or air. A local airline flies daily from Manila to Baguio in 40 minutes. Taking the bus will take around 5 to 7 hours depending on traffic and road condition. Flight arrival is at the Baguio Airport Road. if you take the bus, arrival will depend on the location of the bus terminal within the vicinity of Baguio.

There are four routes to Baguio. The Naguilian Road, which is an hour from La Union. Kennon Road, the popular zigzag road presenting a thrilling ride to the mountain city with glorious scenes along the way, is the shortest among the way, is the shortest among entry points (only five hours from Manila). Light vehicles often take this route.

Or take the Palispis-Aspiras Highway, the most famous among travelers since it is the toll road taken by Baguio-bound buses from Manila. It is a distinctly world class thoroughfare, boasting state of the rock sheds, a fly over, and anti-erosion structures. This is the same road where one can get a glimpse of the historic bust of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos who envisioned the conception of the route to improve trade relations among the Montanosa and the Ilocos Region. Also, there is the Halsema Road that leads to the hinterlands of the Cordilleras.

How to Get Around

Jeepneys and cabs are available.

Festivals in Baguio

  • Panagbenga Festival (February) – Every year, Baguio celebrates the Flower Festival or Panagbenga. It is a major tourrism event in the city, drawing more local and foreign tourists with an array of floats lavishly decorated with flowers. There are floral street choreographed dancing to the tune of the panagbenga hymn performed by the flower-clad participants. The biggest Baguio Festival likewise features garden shows, exhibits, lectures, floral arrangement competitions, market encounter, and fireworks display.
  • Baguio Ecumenical Week (March) – Focuses on Baguio as a spiritual center. The first commemoration initiated by the religious sector of the non-government organizations started in March 1991 with the theme “Baguio, a journey to )spiritual renewal.”
  • Baguio Foundation Day (September 1) – Commemorates the anniversary of Baguio’s becoming a chartered city in 1909. Art exhibits, parades, programs, cultural shows and sister-city programs are scheduled.
  • Baguio Arts Festivals (November to December) – This is an annual event started in November 1989 sponsored by the Baguio Arts Guild, the Department of Tourism and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This envisioned Baguio to be the permanent venue for the festival. The features of the event are ethnic and visual arts, which include photography film, video sculpture and art installations.
  • Impakabsat (November) – A trade and tourism fair showcasing the products and services of the Cordilleras.
  • Planting Season – The Ifugao plant rice according to the following calendar:
    In the second half of December, they begin to sow the seed. From the beginning of February to the middle of March, they transplant the first seedlings. From the middle of April until the middle of June, they weed the feilds. In July, the harvest takes place. From the beginning of August until the middle of December they work on improvemets to the rice terraces and prepare the feilds for the next seeding.