Laid-Back Weekend in Baguio

I had a pretty solid weekend with my work friends in Baguio. We have always toyed with the idea but never got around to setting a date until this month. I will soon leave my company for greener pastures and I didn’t want to miss this chance to hang out with the gang outside the office.

BagYOLO was the official hashtag of the trip. No itinerary to stick to and no pressure to tick off to-do lists. For a big group like ours, this is the only pace that works. It’s better to realize up front that a group of 8 people won’t be that nimble. Plus, Baguio weather = all day bed weather. You’d just want to hibernate under the sheets after a long work week.

CHAYA (BUDGET: ₱ 400 / $ 8.75)
72 Legarda Road, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 744244726

One of my friends is from Baguio so he knows where we can find good restaurants besides the usual 50’s diner and Good Taste. Japanese food is always a good idea so he took us to Chaya, located along Legarda Road. We ordered Temaki Sushi for sharing and I ordered one of their miso-based ramens.

It was fun to roll your own sushi. Plus some yummy sashimi too. Not a fan of the ramen though. It looks like a house turned restaurant so there’s a cozy feel to it. The interiors reminded me of The Shining for some reason.

We skipped the parks on our first day and just chilled at Camp John Hay. I wanted a woodland photoshoot anyway. Sorry friends, for exploiting your faces.

CHOCO-LATE DE BATIROL (BUDGET: ₱ 150 / $ 3.27)
Igorot Park, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 916 375 6510

No doubt a mug of hot chocolate drink is perfect to shake off the cold weather. This tiny garden café is conveniently inside Camp John Hay near the Igorot Park. They serve tablea chocolate drinks (both hot and cold) that you can partner with Filipino delicacies like their bestsellers bibingka (a type of Filipino rice cake) and suman sa lihiya (another type of rice cake). My favorite was their almond-flavored hot chocolate drink.

We decided to do The Phone Stack game just for the lulz. Whoever grabs their phone first pays the bill.

BENCAB MUSEUM (ENTRANCE FEE: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)
Km 6 Asin Road Tadiangan, Tuba, Baguio City, Philippines
+63 (74) 442 7165

I said we didn’t have any to-do lists for this trip, but personally, I really wanted to visit this museum. I’ve heard good things and I’m a sucker for art museums. Especially beautiful ones with a minimalist interior design and high ceilings.

The 4-storey museum houses some of the National artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera’s artworks of various media and galleries of many Filipino contemporary art pieces and indigenous art and artefacts.

The Erotica gallery is pretty interesting.

CAFÉ SABEL (BUDGET: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)

Bencab Museum’s in-house café, named after the artist’s muse. It overlooks the picturesque forest and duck pond.

MINES VIEW PARK (ENTRANCE FEE: FREE; BUDGET FOR STREET FOOD: ₱ 70 / $ 1.5)
Outlook Drive, Baguio, Philippines

What more can I say, it’s a Baguio staple. The park overlooks Benguet’s gold and copper mines, hence the name. It’s not so obvious though. All I saw was mostly greenery with sprouting houses here and there.

It’s usually overcrowded like what Baguio as a whole has become. So expect a lot of tourist traps like overpriced photo ops with big St. Bernards in shades and the pink haired horse or wearing an Ifugao costume (which I think is really depressing).

One thing I looked forward to was street food. They’ve got some really tasty grilled dried squid. If you’re not a fan, you can find grilled corn or strawberry taho.

Why not bring home some wooden keychains of strawberries and male genitals?

GOOD SHEPHERD CONVENT (BUDGET: ₱ 700 / $ 15)
Gibraltar Road, Baguio, Philippines

I cannot go back home without bringing any delicacy. I know, Pinoys and their pasalubong tradition. So, we went to Good Shepherd Convent to buy their legit products. The ones they sell in the stores outside are also legit but they sell it for a higher rate.

All these goodies for a little over ₱ 700.

PIZZA VOLANTE (BUDGET: ₱ 300 / $ 6.55)
Ayala Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

We went back to Camp John Hay to have dinner at Volante. Actually, there are branches along Session Road and near Wright Park but my friend wanted us to try a nearby café for dessert. Delicious pizza and pasta and quite affordable too. Their new flavor Feta Tomato Olives pizza is a must-try.

FOG PHOTO CAFÉ (BUDGET: ₱ 100 / $ 2.18)
Ayala Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

Affordable, yummy cakes! One slice starts as low as ₱ 60. We bought one slice each of different flavours and had a mandatory cake rigodon. The rumors are true, their strawberry shortcake is the tits.

I just realized that our Baguio trip has been a food crawl after all. Anyway, there’s nothing like getting together with a bunch of awesome friends gorging on good food all day in a great city.

Watch our travel video here.

Photo Diary of Cebu City

  1. First stop – Larsian BBQ aka barbecued intestine skewers paradise. But aside from isaws and barbecues, you can choose from a variety of grilled everything: squid, fish, chicken and even bacon-wrapped hotdogs. Be prepared for overwhelming vendors as there is a high competition among the stalls. Almost all sell the same, except some that have WiFi spots. LOL. No spoons and forks, just a plastic glove to eat the bbq with puso (rice cooked inside palm leaves).
  1. Public parks are more well-maintained here than those in Manila. This one, Fuente Osmena Circle, is one of them. It’s actually within walking distance from Larsian.
  1. Casa Escano – We stayed at this quaint B&B located at Juana Osmena Street. Large rooms, comfy beds and superb free breakfast. They held a garage sale during our stay and we scored some awesomely cheap imported goods.
  1. A trip to Cebu City is incomplete without visiting the Magellan’s Cross, or so they say. I guess you have to know the Spanish colonization history to appreciate it. Too bad it was under some renovation when we went there so there were some ugly wood supporting the cross.
  1. Basilica del Santo Nino – an old but well-maintained Roman Catholic church. You can walk from Magellan’s cross to get here. No short skirts to go inside the church so we skipped it.
  1. We actually didn’t go inside Fort San Pedro because you have to pay an entrance fee and we’re cheapskates like that.
  1. Go to Shamrock for pasalubong- from otaps to dried mangoes and all sorts of Cebuano delicacies.
  2. Cebu is considered as the lechon capital of the Philippines. So when in Cebu, you have to dine at CnT Lechon, or as the cab drivers say, Shenti.
  1. I thought Sutukil was a tagalized term for shoot to kill but it actually means sugba (grilling), tula (stewing) and kilaw (chopped raw then added with vinegar and spice). You can choose from the fresh seafoods at the mini-market located at the entrance of the restaurant. Then, you can also choose how you want them cooked.
  1. We didn’t leave the city so we were stuck with the ugly beach at Bluefins Resort at Lapu-lapu City. We just had a carefree night by the beach, drinking beer and singing old Eheads songs.