I really really loved Baguio, its scenery, its people, richness in culture and great weather. This area is known as the Cordillera Administrative Region and it is in the mountain area thus is much cooler than most of Philippines. The native tribes of this place are called Igorots which means Mountain people and includes the Ifugao, Sagada, Banguet ,Apayao and the Kalinga. One way to identify the men is that they either have long hair or have a strip of long hair at the back of their heads. Below are my highlights from Baguio City.
This place should definitely be on your to visit list. The area shares several elements of the Igorot culture from their dressing, history, occupataion as well as a beautiful garden to visit and relax.
I came to learn that some of them were farmers, hunters and gatherers as well as some of them being headhunters.
2) Baguio Cathedral:
Philippines is dominantly Catholic and thus there are beautiful Churches all over. Baguio Cathedral is the oldest and largest Catholic Church in Baguio and is painted pink and white. It is quite a beauty to behold and the whole area has a serene feel to it, say a prayer while here.
3. Conventional Center-Art Gallery
The Conventional Center is found within the town and is like taking a walk through traditional Baguio. The paintings and other artworks reveal the culture of the people at festivals and in their day to day lives. Thanks and credit to everyone whose artwork is shown here. If you do not have too much time but want to learn about the culture, this should be your first stop over.
3) Lourdes Grotto
The Lourdes Grotto is a Catholic Shrine where one has to climb 252 steps to get to the actual shrine. Once at the top, I felt like I was in the clouds literally and there we found people praying, meditating and lighting candles.
The area also has various Christian statues like Jesus with open arms as well as several stone paintings showcasing the “Way of the Cross”. These are the events showcasing Jesus carrying the cross up until he was crucified on the cross. This provided me with time to reflect on my Christian Faith and say several prayers.Truly, a reminder that Jesus is always ready to forgive us of our sins, if we only repent, ask for forgiveness and ask Him to be our Lord and Saviour.
Well, if you have heard of haunted houses and wanted a feel, start here. This hotel was previously a prestigious hotel, having 33 rooms and frequented by the who is who in the society. However, it was eventually deserted and when I visited, it had no doors or windows. The locals however claim that it is/was haunted as they could hear doors banging, windows breaking and noises from the hotel especially at night—spooky. I didn’t experience any of that but, as we walked within it and walked around the stairs-it just felt spooky.
5) The Worlds Largest Ten Commandments Tablet:
Right near the Diplomat Hotel gate is the Worlds Largest Ten Commandments Tablet. Yes, it earned this title from the Guiness World Records. It clearly and boldly states the Biblical 10 commandments that Moses was given by God.
6)Mines View Park:
If you are super serious, have no sense of humour and do not appreciate the basic things in life, keep away from this place. Ok, maybe this place may actually do you some good. I got to ride the most colourful horse in the world and hugged the largest and coolest dog I have ever seen.
Due to this place being located high in the mountains, you get to have an aerial view of Baguio city and the hill tops.
I also got to learn about their culture from their dressing to their beliefs . I thus couldn’t let the opportunity to try out their traditional wear, pass me by.
Farming is something everyone should do, you will appreciate more what you eat. It is taxing but the fruits of ones labour make it worthwhile.This place mainly grows strawberries but also grows and sells other food crops, some even for export as I heard. I got to taste one of the sweetest strawberry ice-creams ever, here.
8) Baguio Museum
The Museum was fun to visit as it not only provided lots of information on Baguio, its people and its culture, I also got to enjoy looking at most of the artefacts. They however do not allow pictures to be taken inside.
9) Visiting the homesteads
I enjoyed actually seeing and entering some of the traditional Igorot homes. Most are made of wood and their shape and design reveals which tribe the owner comes from.
10) Sample delicacies:
Baguio delicacies vary and I sampled as many as I could-at resturants, homes, streets-everywhere: Your taste buds will thank you, I assure you.
I travelled via bus from Manila to Baguio which takes about 7-8hours. In Baguio town, I mainly used the public transport but to explore beyond the town, I was privileged to get a local to take and show me around. I thus highly advise you make friends or hire a taxi if you want to go outside the town area.
I loved the exposure to the culture, history and the beauty of the scenery in Baguio. There is so much more to see and experience, so I need to return in the future. For more on my travel in Philippines, check out:
Philippines 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/philippines-101/