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Baguio Places of Interest

 


Attractions

Sightseeing is limited to only a handful of attractions, the hub of which is the rectangular-shaped Burnham Park also serving as the main venue for parades, concerts and other events due to its central location. Boat rides in the man-made lagoon are available for a fee whilst local kids favour bike rides around the park. The water level in the lagoon tends to go down during dry months. Locals also enjoy having picnics in the park grounds. Strolling can be far from leisurely as individuals toting cameras will offer to take your souvenir picture at a cost and some religious groups also tend to invite you to their small discussions. Local sports events are also held in the tennis/basketball courts and athletic oval nearby.

Wright Park is famed for its pony rides that can take one on a trip to more attractions that are important though not remarkable highlights of Baguio -- The Mansion, the presidential house with its trademark ornate gates reportedly patterned after that of London's Buckingham Palace; Botanical Garden with its array of ornamental plants and huts that are representative of the Igorot dwellings found in the Cordilleras; and the Mines View Park overlooking the non-existent, already depleted gold, silver and ore mines below.

Just past the city center along Loakan Road near the Airport is Camp John Hay, a former recreational facility for the American troops. Its par-69 18-hole golf course is its main draw for the golfing aficionados along with the parks, eco-trails, and evergreen picnic grounds. Visitors can also drop by the Cemetery of Negativism, Bell Amphitheatre, and the horse bridle path.

In the outskirts of the city before the border of neighbouring town of La Trinidad, the Bell Church is a magnificent cluster of temples sitting on top of a hill. Typical Oriental architectural motifs are seen throughoutpagoda roofs, dragon figures and a lotus pond in the centredefinitely a crowd-drawer for most local tourists who want to sample a little of China in this part of the Philippines. For those interested to have their fortunes told, this Taoist temple also offers fortune-telling sessions for a small fee. Perhaps receiving more than its fair share of devotees is the Baguio Cathedral, one of Baguio's major landmarks. Sundays see this twin-spired church packed to the brim, its parking lot recently growing into a mini-promenade with cafes and restaurants with views of the bustling Session Road, the city's main commercial artery.

For those wanting to know more about local lore, museums though not that extensive provide good insights into the city and the province. At the Baguio Convention Center, indigenous arts and crafts are on display and visitors can see a timeline of the city's past. Whilst further up the Loakan Road, the Philippine Military Academy, established in the same mold as the Westpoint in the US, houses some war memorabilia. But perhaps the Academy is more known during Parade Day as grounds take on a more jovial mood on Saturday mornings when the cadets march in their full regalia.

On a different albeit spooky note, the smallish Benguet Provincial Museum beside the capitol building of La Trinidad has a display of mummies, traditional household tools and weaponry used by the Igorots. Information in one corner makes quite a good readfrom outlining the differences between Egyptian and Benguet mummies to how an ancient mummy was returned to its original mountain abode after being stolen for decades. Though the Benguet tribes namely Kankana-ey, Ibaloi and Kalanguya are already attuned to the modern ways, their traditions and customs live on. If at all, you find yourself within the interiors of the Cordilleras, it is best to show respect to their culture so as not to offend them.

As for those who don't get the chance to explore beyond Baguio, take a 15-minute taxi ride to Tam-awan Village to have a feel of mountain living. Built in what used to be a grazing land in Pinsao Proper, the village is a replica of a traditional Cordillera community with reconstructed huts made of hand-hewn pine wood and thatched roofs. The village is a popular haunt of Baguio artists who regularly hold exhibits in the compound and an eclectic mix of workshops from painting, pottery, paper-making to performance arts. One can even see as far as the South China Sea on a cloudless day if one stands on the topmost part of the village. Hand-painted shirts, crafts and the usual postcards are available in the souvenir shop.



Wright Park

Wright Park, which is located at the eastern part of the city and fronting the main gate of the Mansion, is one of the many scenic parks in Baguio City. Its main features are a shallow Wright Parkelongated rectangular body of water known as the "Pool of Pines" and the park circle which is on one end of the park. Postcard-type photographs are usually taken at both ends of Wright Park and when going there it is best to bring along a camera.

Tall pine trees and decorative street lights line both sides of the access road beside the pool. There are times that you will find at the park some Igorots dressed in their native attire and regalia who are willing to pose for a photograph ... of course, for a fee. Native handicrafts are also sold at the Mansion end of the park by a few Igorot peddlers. From the park circle is a walkway which leads to a wide stairway made of stones that descend to an area where ponies are rented out.

Riding a pony is a favorite among children as well as adults. The place is usually crowded with people during sunny weekends and on holidays. With an accompanying guide, there are some ponies that may be rented and taken farther out along South Drive, the Mines View Park area or to Outlook Drive. For those who intend to take out a pony, it is advisable to first agree on the hourly cost to be charged.


Baguio Convention Center
Baguio Convention Center

The Baguio Convention Center is reputed to be the most modern and most spacious facility of its kind north of Metro Manila. It is often used for conventions, programs, conferences, graduations, and other types of indoor gatherings or activities requiring a large seating capacity.

This imposing Center is located in the southern part of the city and is within short walking distance from the Baguio Tourism complex and the Baguio campus of the University of the Philippines which is just across the street. The Center, which was designed with an Igorot motif, initially gained international prominence when it became the venue of the 1978 World Chess Championship series between two Russian grandmasters - Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi. It was inaugurated by President Ferdinand E. Marcos during the opening of this championship match on July 17, 1978.

At one time the facility was used by The Philippine Military Academy for their graduation ceremonies as well as for the 100th Nite Show of the dialectic society of the Cadet Corps. There are other schools, colleges and universities in Baguio that hold their graduation at the convention center. It is likewise a choiced site of different groups and organizations who come up to Baguio City for their annual conventions and general assemblies. The rear of the convention center houses a museum where various old photographs of Baguio, dioramas, and an assortment of native artifacts and handicrafts are on display.


Tam-Awan Village

The Tam-Awan Village is found in the northwestern part of the city. To find the village, proceed to Bokawkan Road which is behind Camp Allen, turn left at Ferguzon Road which leads to the Easter Weaving Room, and then right to Tacay Road which is an uphill climb. Upon reaching the top of the hill, take a right turn and this road will bring you to Tam-Awan Village. If you proceed further on, the road will take you to the town of La Trinidad.Tam-Awan Village

As a former resident of Baguio, I didn't know about the Tam-Awan Village 'till my visit sometime in 1999. A friend of mine was kind enough to show me the place which I really appreciated. Seeing the Igorot huts reminded me a lot of a trip I took to Bontoc Province some decades back where I saw a number of Igorot homes in the different villages I visited.

There are a number of Igorot huts within the village which will allow you to see how the homes of the mountain people really look like. You do get a chance to climb up the wooden ladder and see what is inside each hut. This will give you a chance to feel what it is like to be living in one of these huts. Since these huts were set up on different locations on a hillside, visitors have to climb up the steep pathways to go from one hut to another. For a lowlander who is not accustomed to Baguio's high elevation, it does get to be quite an exhilarating experience to visit the Tam-Awan village. One will surely find a need to rest at each hut just to catch a breathe before climbing further up.

If you do manage to climb up to the hut located at the highest point in the village, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the low-lying areas of La Union Province and also the Gulf of Lingayen which lie due west of Baguio. To be able to do this, be sure to time your ascent before the afternoon fog comes in, otherwise the scenic view will not be visible and all that you will see is the thick fog and the nearby pine tress.

The village has a main hut which serves as a store and an information office for visitors. There are a few native handicraft items that are sold aside from some books and publications about the Igorot people, their culture and traditions. You can also order a hot cup of native coffee which gets to be a welcome treat after completing a tour of the entire village, especially on a cold and rainy day.



Camp John Hay

Camp John Hay used to be the rest and recreational facility for employees of the military and Department of Defense of the United States. This 690-hectare property was turned over to the Philippine government in July 1, 1991 and was initially administered by the Philippine Tourism Authority and then turned over to the Bases Conversion Development.Camp John Hay

The facility, which was named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of war, was used by the Japanese as a concentration camp for American and British soldiers during the war. Its name was changed to Club John Hay after it was turned over to the Philippine government. For the first time in its history the facility was open to the public in 1991 and converted into a recreational complex. It used to be off-limits to Filipinos, except for the privileged few who could get entry passes from its former American administrators.

Prior to its turnover to the Philippine government, there were 290 fully-furnished rooms in the different cottages, duplexes, apartments, and lodges which are distributed in different locations around the complex. It even had a "Honeymoon Cottage" which was rented out to newlyweds who come up to Baguio for their honeymoon. Some of these billeting units were equipped with color television sets, refrigerators, and cooking facilities. Each unit has a fireplace to keep you warm during the months of December, January and February when the weather in Baguio is quite chilly and cold.

For those interested in playing golf, Camp John Hay has a 5,330-yard, 18-hole, par-68 golf course which is one of the best in the country. There is a new golf clubhouse which has a restaurant and function rooms that cater to golfers, visitors, and also the local residents of Baguio. Around the complex there are beautiful gardens, picnic areas, parks, an ampitheater, and hiking trails that wind through the rolling hills and pine trees within the former military reservation.


Session Road

Session Road is the main thoroughfare of the city and the center of Baguio's commercial establishment. This is where you will find department stores, banks, movie houses, and bazaars. There are also some hotels, bakeries, restaurants, newspaper stands, bookstores, boutiques, cafes, and studios along Session Road.Session Road

Local residents, students in the different schools and universities in the city and visitors alike spend most of their free time just going up and down Session Road. It is a place to go window shopping, looking at people, or just taking a leisurely walk during a cool and quite afternoon or evening. Visitors should take note that residents of Baguio City are predominantly Catholics and when the Angelus (a Catholic devotion in honor of Annunciation and Incarnation) is supposed to be recited in the evening at 6:00 o'clock, a loud continuous siren is heard all over the city to remind everyone about it.

At Angelus time, all vehicles come to a full stop, even in the middle of the road. Similarly, pedestrians also stop and bow their heads in prayer and then greet each other "good evening" at the end of the siren. This custom is probably only unique in Baguio City and not similarly observed in other parts of the country.



Baguio Cathedral
Baguio Cathedral
Burnham Park
Burnham Park
Baguio Convention Center
Pony rides near Pacdal Circle.
Pony rides near Pacdal Circle.
The Mansion
The Mansion
 

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