A museum up in the mountain

Since Baguio is a popular destination for Manila folks , sometimes you end up going to the same places every time you make your way up the mountain city–Cafe By The Ruins, Camp John Hay, the public market, Session Road, Tam-awan Village, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Good Shepherd Convent.

They’re all worth a stop, but when a new place opens, and one that showcases contemporary art from the country’s masters as well as the indigenous Cordillera art and crafts, one has to set aside a morning (or afternoon) devoted to just exploring and appreciating local artwork

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Do not step into the bookstore

Have you ever walked into a bookstore, told yourself you’re just going to browse, and ended up being drawn to the cash register with a couple of books held close to your chest? I have. Too many times. I get this giddy, triumphant feeling, especially if I find the title I want under a heap of books on sale. (Particularly, because I’m not the most patient bargain hunter. In fact, I’m one of those people who’ll likely sit out one of those scavenger hunt games.)

And then I get home and look at my bookshelf, the bedside table, my desk, the boxes beside my desk, my work chair, and wonder if there’s still some space or surface besides the floor where I can put these new books. Where can they join the rest of the unread books scattered about or shoved in little corners? This is the time I tell myself I shouldn’t go inside bookstores every chance I get. Ignore the sale sign. Ignore the wonderful smell of books.

When we went up to Baguio, this note to self was completely set aside as one of the places on top of my must-see list in the city is the bookstore next to Casa Vallejo called, Mt Cloud Bookshop. A friend of mine told me about it, so after P and I put down our bags and got settled in the house, we headed to Casa Vallejo and the bookshop.

slouching somewhere

Beside Casa Vallejo

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Back at Casa Vallejo (sort of) and dessert at Hill Station

When I was recalling some of my most memorable travel lodgings, I included Casa Vallejo in Baguio because it scared the living shit out of me and my companions when we stayed there more than a decade ago, just before it closed. We never actually saw anything, we just heard creepy sounds and felt the heebie-jeebies all throughout our stay. Well, I finally made it back to Casa Vallejo on a recent trip to Baguio.

The new Casa Vallejo

A friend was providing us free accommodations, so we didn’t book rooms in the newly refurbished boutique hotel. And refurbished it truly was. It had a bright and more polished looking lobby, the hallway was no longer as dim as before, and most importantly, that eerie I-feel-like-somebody-is-watching-me-from-the-end-of-the-creepy-hallway was no longer present. (It helped that at the end of the hallway, where the old ballroom used to be, was now the lobby with a cheery staff behind the counter. And we didn’t stay for the night, so we’re not sure how it ‘feels’ then.)

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The hills are alive…and they kicked my butt

In between the deadlines last week and the looming deadlines this week (hence the blog absence), P and I got to join some old college friends of mine to go up to Baguio for a three-day break. It was much needed escape–I was looking forward to the cool weather, checking out the new Casa Vallejo and the restaurant and bookstore beside it, BenCab Museum, and looking for a road to run on.

Ever since I started running, I have made a pact with myself to look for roads or routes where I could go for a run whenever I go on vacation. I have been to Baguio several times since I was a kid (it’s one of the most accessible  mountain city retreats from Manila), but I have never run along many of its sloping streets. Baguio has simply been more of a convenient escape-from-Manila-heat kind of destination for me, where I would often just eat, stay bundled up, then go out and eat some more. Sweating it out was never in the itinerary. This time, I was determined to take advantage of the cool weather, lace up and run.

Hello, Baguio road

We stayed in a house along South Drive, which starts as far as I can tell from the rotunda in front of the Panagbenga Park (at least that was my landmark) and it snakes south to Country Club Road, where Baguio Country Club is located, all the way to the other entrance of Camp John Hay. The run started out pretty nicely–a line of trees to our left and beautiful houses up on hills to our right as P and I ran along the sidewalk. But after a few minutes, the sidewalk would end and we would find ourselves either running along the road facing oncoming traffic or crossing the street so we could run along another sidewalk (that is until it ends, and we had to cross or run on the road again). Continue reading

A Baguio breakfast

The Kamote Bread of Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio City

One of the best things to have on a cold morning is warm, freshly-baked bread. And whenever P and I would go up to the mountain city of Baguio, I would drag him to Cafe by the Ruins every morning to have breakfast in spite of his mock “But we already ate here yesterday” objections. Cafe by the Ruins makes its own Kamote Bread (sweet potato bread), which you can order with some of the cafe’s delicious spreads, pates and fruit jams.

Ruins Herb Tea

I also like to order the Ruins Herb Tea to go along with the bread and the other breakfast items we end up ordering: the longganisang hubad (local sausage without the casing) crispy tapa, the daing na bangus (butterflied milkfish marinated in vinegar and lots of garlic), and the mushroom omelet, which you can have with the cafe’s signature mountain rice. All breakfast sets are served with a small bowl of fresh fruits–something which is in abundance in Baguio.

A daing na bangus and mountain rice breakfast

Cafe by the Ruins is located at 23 Chuntug St., Baguio City