Wednesday, November 22, 2006

La Brea Inn and the Attractions of Baguio City

The last time I’ve been to Baguio was during my sister’s graduation in UB. I was 16 at that time so (while counting).. that’s like eight years ago! Since then, I never really had a chance to stay and explore Baguio. I really missed the place considering I always stroll there before when I accompany my mom to give my sister's allowance. I also stayed there for one week when my friends and I took the entrance exams in SLU (but I decided to study in PUP Sta. Mesa) that’s why you would not imagine my excitement when my boyfriend and I decided to have a break and unwind from our ordinary routines – and the chosen destination? - The City of Pines.

Nikko had me do the planning, probably because he’s not that enthusiastic about the place as I am. He thinks that Baguio is quite a boring place and just decided that Baguio is the place to go out of his love for! He must have known how I terribly missed walking on its streets, feeling the cold air brushing my skin. :D Besides being excited, I was challenged for I know this would be my chance to change the way Nikko perceive Baguio. I started working.

The first challenge for me was to look for a decent place to stay. We’re staying for two nights so I have various considerations – budget on top of it. I started browsing the net, and started calling different numbers to inquire. After some comparisons, I chose La brea Inn.

It’s located on AYK Bldg along Lower Session Rd. just accross Dunkin Donut and there's a Yellow Cab store on the ground floor.

I chose La Brea because of the reviews about them. During our stay, we paid P1,000.00/night which I think is reasonable. The room doesn't have aircon but I'd probably prefer to have a heater anyway. The room is spacious and clean. It’s located along Baguio's main road, making it very accessible but still, I slept very well,I didn't hear any noise from the outside.

We left Manila at 2:30 AM because we wanted to make it to the 3 AM trip of Victory Liner. On our way, since it’s still dark outside and we don’t have any views to see, we had some picture taking to keep ourselves entertained. We had like 16 photos but just one of them turned out ok, hahaha! Nikko seemed to be sleeping in all the pictures. Because of that, we got carried away and probably laughed that loud that we got some hard stares from other passengers, we know we had to stop. :D We had two stop overs, one in Tarlac City and the other one in Sison, Pangasinan. We have to transfer to a different bus though when we’re in Pangasinan because of flat tire. Thanks God, Victory Liner has lots of buses, it had not really been a problem at all. The travel was smooth and fast.

We arrived in Baguio at around 9 AM. It’s just a 6 hour travel. Since the check-in time is not until 1 PM, we decided to attend the mass in Baguio Cathedral first. Anyways, it’s the best to start the day with a prayer right? We took some pictures of the magnificent church afterwards. While we’re taking pictures, a photographer approached us and offered to take a picture of us together (Nikko and I) using our camera. We thanked him after but heard him say “kahit konting barya lang”. I suddenly got a little annoyed with that man’s gimmick but anyway we just gave him some change. It's actually ok to give - I just felt a bit tricked.

I always drop by the cathedral during my Baguio visits. I like the stained glass windows for it reminds me of my most memorable church. (Mt. Carmel in New Manila) I remember climbing the high stairs along Session Rd to get to the church during earlier years but on our last visit, we took the road near the post office.

To let time pass, we also walked around SM Baguio, my first time to be here. What made it unique from the rest of SM malls is the inexistence of air conditioning. (Who would need AC in Baguio by the way?) The roof was elegantly designed as well. It also has a veranda like in SM Mall of Asia for a better appreciation of the view around the place. We also had our brunch here. I bought a pair of earrings from Ibay’s, continued taking a leisurely walk, hit the videoke and dropped by on some unfamiliar stores.

It was past 1 PM when we went back to La Brea. The whole day was spent sleeping, maybe because we both lack sleep for the past four days. But we had snacks at around four, got back to sleep and woke up 9 PM. We passed by many restaurants and cafe
along Session Rd before we finally decided where to have dinner - Pizza Volante. We both love pasta and most importantly, we've never seen any Volante stores in Manila before. We thought its worth trying it out.

Pizza Volante is also along Session Rd. When you're coming from Maharlika (bldg beside the market) going to probably SM, it's in the right side beside Greenwich and accross Restaurant Solibao.

Nothing's so special here, except the strawberry shake that I really loved, but considering their prices, it's amazingly cheap. Everything is good enough though. I ordered Pasta putanesca, Nikko had spaghetti with meatballs. I liked the taste of the sauce. We had Maui and Vegetarian Pizza and both are delicious. We tried their mango shake as well but I guess, nothing will beat the strawberry shake. I also appreciate the warm and relaxed ambiance inside the store. I noticed everytime we pass the area, they were always full customers. People must really love Pizza Volante.

The following morning, we started our itinerary by going to Tam-Awan Village. Since Nikko is a nature lover like myself, I really researched on places he might really be interested about. I’ve seen Tam-awan Village over the net and I decided it might be a beautiful place. I was right co’z I really loved the setting, and I‘m so sure as I look into Nikko’s face, he’s having fun and learning as well.

Tam-awan Village can be reached by riding a jeep bound Quezon Hill - Tam-awan in Kayang St, that’s behind Abanao Square. You can just ask the driver to drop you off the place, yet you have to walk just a little further until you see the sign Tam-awan Village.

Manong Ronnie served as our guide, discussing facts about the different huts in Tam-awan. I learned that Ifugao Huts are normally higher than huts from Kalinga. Lizard sculptures are also found in Ifugao Huts. There's also a hut which they call the fertility hut because according to Manong Ronnie, it was practiced before that when a wife and his husband can't have a child, a priest together with the couple make rituals inside the hut and after that, couples are left inside the hut. (well you know what's gonna happen next right? haha!)

The oldest hut we've seen is the Anaba Hut which was built in 1898. The most unique hut according to Manong Ronnie is the Batad Hut because it already has an influence of Chinese culture. Natives from Batad were dealing with Chinese traders so the hut has a dragon sculpture in it plus it has decorations like beads and carpets. By the way, if you would want to experience how it is like to sleep inside the huts or to experience living in this huts, you can rent one hut for P900.00/night.

I also enjoyed the hilly terrain of Tam-awan. It's a good thing that it's a sunny day when we went there otherwise, it's gonna be hard to walk up the trail if it's slippery. When it's not yet foggy, once on the top, one can have a chance to view the province of La Union including South China Sea. Unfortunately we went there after lunch and the fog started to set in.

Tam-awan also has an art gallery and cafe. You can see numerous paintings and artworks. They are all for sale. The prices range from like Php5000-34000. Several artists are also there who can make visitors caricature/portrait for free. If you'd be kind enough, maybe you can just donate any amount for Chanum Foundation.

My most favorite part on our visit here is crossing the bamboo bridge. I did cross a hanging bridge before on our hike to Mt. Pulag but I guess, I'll never tire of crossing bridges.

Our next stop is in Bell Church. We rode a cab from Tam-awan to this place but if you're going to take a jeep from the town proper, you would need to ride a jeep going to La Trinidad. According to the person I asked, the jeepneys are parked beside the Baguio City hall. When we got there, we did not have the chance to climb to the top of the garden as the gate going to the top is only open weekends and Holidays. But their main temple is open for visitors throughout the week.

After Bell Church, we went to Camp del Pilar more commonly known as Philippine Military Academy.

The jeeps going to PMA are parked in Harrison near Burnham. Jeeps are bound Plaza - Kias - PMA.

We had a very funny experience in PMA because most of the cadets walking would salute or greet us the moment they pass by us. We don't really know how to react so we just gave an acknowledging smile everytime. There was this one instance where Nikko made a salute as well.. gee it was really awkward and funny.. can't help but laugh. Is it really their SOP to greet guests? I'm not really sure about that.

Our visit to PMA made us admire the cadets/cadettes. We realized how rigid their training is, I know how disciplined they should be to make it through. I really have high respect and admiration for everyone who graduated from PMA.

Before going back to the Inn, we also dropped by the Butterfly Haven in Club John Hay. It was already late and we thought it might already be closed but we took our chances and whala, we were still entertained.

We had one whole day of fun! It's tiring but discovering new places and experiencing new things especially together is something euphoric. We had dinner and decided to go to Burnham just to relax a bit. Anyways, it's just a short walk from where we're staying. We just spent the time sitting in one of the benches surrounding the pond, making small talks and unending asarans, cheesy jokes (haha!)jeez..I miss moments like this. I think we should do this more often. At 1 AM, we decided to pamper ourselves with the foods in Volante once again before we call the night a quits.

We woke up late the following morning and the plan to go to La Trinidad to pick strawberries and see the flower farm did not push through. Instead, we went to Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary.

Maryknoll can be reached by riding a jeep bound BGH - Campo Sioco in Harrison. It's just a five-minute travel. They do have a sign in the left side. Be sure to pay the entrance first before proceeding to the sanctuary. There might be no person who would entertain you at the gate but be sure to ask the people inside the bldg. They will be providing you tickets.

For me, this is the best place that I've been to in Baguio. The place has a calming effect. I feel like in this place, I can think of solutions to all the things that I've been pondering about.

The terrain is hilly, like when we're hiking. I suggest if you go to Baguio, don't miss out on going to this place, it's really a wonderful experience. The Ecological Sanctuary to my own understanding is the interpration of the creation of the universe and all the living things in it. When Nikko and I sat for a while on the garden of what seems to be a ruin of a bldg, I know that we're thinking thesame thing.. I feel like we had some magical moments in this place.

When we reached the high hut at the far end of the sanctuary, we both mentioned that this is indeed a beautiful world.. and we hope we would really start taking care of our home. We suddenly dreamed of having a rest house in Baguio with a garden like this.. haha! See how this moment changed Nikko's perspective about Baguio? He nearly don't wanna go home. :) I'm so glad that he appreciated the place, I know the way that I do now.

Those were all the places that we've been to during our three day stay in Baguio.
As we came home, I have a happy heart not just because I've been to this place that I missed so much but because my efforts have been paid off. I know Nikko really enjoyed with the discoveries of these places. I know a part of his heart is also left in Baguio. I'm thankful of all our bonding moments, the wonderful places we've come to experience and I'm really thankful to God because he made a very beautiful world...


  1. Hi! I find your site very helpful. We will be going to Baguio this July and I am looking for a place for us to stay. I wanna know how much is the right for the La Brea Inn. Your reply would be of much help! Thank you!

    1. Hi Yaney. I included the rate we paid on the blog, you might just have missed it. But please check with La Brea too, their rates might have already been changed. If it helps, these are their contact numbers, +639175087800 and +639232800395. Thanks and have an enjoyable trip. :)



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