Sunday, February 28, 2010

PANAGBENGA 2010: Baguio Roadtrip

Our roadtrip to Baguio started at 3am Friday morning. We planned on driving up there for the Panagbenga Festival. It was a party of three: Me, Tita Clar and my cousin, Cherry Mae. We will be meeting with 2 others, Gab and Melvin, who will be commuting to Baguio.

In the pictures: Panget, Gab, Melvin, Me and Auntie Clar: The Baguio Roadtrippers...

We had to pass by Aegis (People Support) in Makati to fetch my cousin (I call her Panget, though her real name is Cherry Mae.)

By 5:30am, we were at NLEX Shell Station because I wanted a cup of coffee to keep me awake because I only had 3 hours of sleep Thursday night. The trip itself was uneventful. After NLEX, we exited through the entrance of SCTEX and went through SCTEX in a breeze. I was almost going about 120kph on my Suzuki Alto.

The first breath of civilization again was in Tarlac City. This is the end of all expressways and the start of public highways.

So far, here are the expenses that we incurred

30 liters of Gas                 P1,350.00
Toll Fee                           P 177.00 (NLEX)
Toll Fee                           P 69.00 (SCTEX)

If you are driving your own car, let me give you a run down of all the towns that you will pass through just so you know if you are still on the right way towards Baguio City.
Gerona > Paniqui > Moncada > Villasis > Rosario > Urdaneta City > Sison

After Sison and prior to entering the town of Agoo, you will see a fork in the main highway and we took the right one because that would lead us to Kennon Rd. Kennon Rd. has a toll fee now of P25.00, I think for road maintenance and such.

Kennon Road’s sceneries were fantastic. It was about 9am when we went through Kennon therefore we can see the cliffs and the mountaintops that were pleasing to the eyes of a Manileno.

We met up with Gab and Melvin, who took the bus going through here at about 11am. We then proceeded to Saint Louis University – Men’s Dorm to visit my uncle, who is the headmaster of the men’s dorm, Uncle Junior. It was fortunately lunch time and the dorm had lots and lots of food so we were treated to a free lunch.

Friday lunch menu:
Fried pork chops
Baguio Beans
Pork Steak
Sinigang na Bangus

At 1pm, Uncle Junior’s daughter, my cousin Leah, took us through Mines View Park then to Good Shepherd Nunnery and lastly to Burnham Park.

Mine’s View Park is where you can buy a lot of souvenir items. It also has a great view because it is at the top of a mountain. I bought two scarves there at P50 per piece. This is also where I first tasted their Strawberry-Flavored Taho. Below is a picture of me at Mines View Park and me tasting their Taho with cousing Panget.

Left Picture: Me at Mines View Park; Right Picture: Me and Panget tasting Strawberry Flavored Taho

Beside Mine’s View Park is the Good Shepherd Nunnery. It boasts of the best Ube Jam in the entire city and I ended up buying three bottles of Ube Jam at P120.00 each.

Me @ Good Shepherd Nunnery clutching their famous Ube Jam

In the middle of the city is Burnham Park. It was converted to a landscape competition showroom where different landscaping ideas using all gardening materials were featured. It had an entrance fee of P10.00 each and the price was worth the sights.

There were several entries to the competition and I would not have volunteered to be a judge there since all landscape entry were nicely done.

From left: Melvin, Gab, Panget and Me in one of the entries of the Garden Landscaping Contest @ Burnham Park 

Gab, Melvin and I planned on going clubbing that night so Leah led us to her house in Irisan, where all of us will be staying for the night. It was 5pm and I am already exhausted.

Unfortunately, the brief rest that Gab, Melvin and I were planning prior to a Friday night of partying in Nevada Square turned out to be a complete rest because after closing my eyes at about 6pm, I suddenly woke up with the rays of sun streaming through the window. I slept the whole night. Bummer. IT’S ALREADY SATURDAY MORNING!!!

Leah’s househelp and Tita Clar cooked us breakfast of
Fried Rice
Fried Chicken
Mango Tiramisu (for dessert)

Well, no use crying over the time wasted, so we just prepared for the big Street Dancing Parade scheduled today in Session Road. We got there just in time to see some of the groups that were performing and it was amazing.

There was a concoction of colorful costumes and unique group performances and I am glad that I was here for this event.

One of the groups that particated in the Street Dancing Competition

The last group performed at about 10:30am and it culminated the Saturday’s big event. Our group of 5 headed to Camp John Hay (CJH) where the other 4 went around the camp to explore it further while I asked to be left behind at Starbucks (CJH) to compose some parts of our Baguio adventure.

Me @ Starbucks in Camp John Hay, Baguio City

We went back to my uncle’s dorm for lunch and afterwards, we drove to La Trinidad Benguet for the famous Chinese Bell Tower. Apparently, this is the main Bell Tower here in the Philippines.

Then it is off to Strawberry Farm. I have never been to this particular tourist attraction in La Trinidad and I was really surprised to see hectares of strawberries as far as the eye can see. It was the peak season for picking strawberries and it is not practical to buy your fruit here. The price of picking your own strawberries is P300/kilo. I suggest that you just buy strawberry at Baguio’s market instead where the price is just P150/kilo.

Also, I was doubly surprised to see garden plots of lettuce, in different varieties, just next to some of the strawberry farms. They were so fresh-looking that I was tempted to whip up a salad right there and then. If I had just brought salad dressings (I prefer vinaigrette), it would have been a salad feast.
Me @ La Trinidad Benguet's Strawberry Farm with Strawberry Ice Cream on hand

The trip had some surprising twist because after seeing the Strawberry farms, we planned on driving back to Baguio and visit the Botanical Garden. My cousin Panget was looking for her mom and we didn’t notice that she was still looking when her mom finally showed up and everyone, thinking we were already complete, left the La Trinidad for Baguio.

It was just when Panget texted me to ask where we were when we realized that she was not on the other car and was left behind. So I had to drive back and fetch her with my car. Now I have something to tease her with. Haha.

I’ve already been to Botanical Garden so it was not much of a surprise. I just bought some trinkets there to bring home to my team mates at work. I bought 13 pieces of strawberry-shaped keychains for the low, low price of P100 (for all 13 pieces). I had it customized with the names of my team mates.

Right Photo: Gab and my nephew, Spencer Lance. Left Photo: Me @ Botanical Garden

In front of Botanical Garden is the Pilak Silver Shoppe where you can buy cheap silver jewelries. I ended up buying a ring that costs P220.

It was our second night in Baguio and we were determined to experience the night life in the city so after dinner at the dorm, we went back to Irisan to prepare and by 10:30pm, we were back in Session Road. It was still early to go bar-hopping so we visited Pizza Volante because I have been craving for their ChocoVanilla Affair. The desert was heated chocolate moist cake topped with Vanilla Ice Cream that is very, very yummy. You should try visiting the place when you are in Baguio.

Nevada Square was full-packed that Saturday night and there was a line before you reach the gates. Nevada Square is shaped exactly as its name projects. Several bars are lined up and Melvin, Gab and I just sat down in one bar and ordered two pitchers of Blue Margarita. Gab gave up after sharing 1 pitcher with us and Melvin and I just finished the second one by ourselves.

We ended drinking at 3am and just headed back home because we wanted to have a little rest since we wanted to be early for the Float Parade to start at 8am Sunday morning.

We arrived at about 6:30 am in front of SM Baguio and positioned ourselves at the starting point of the parade. Because we were early, we got the opportunity to take some pictures of the flower-decorated floats up close. REALLY CLOSE. We were jumping from one float to another to take pictures like butterflies thirsty for honey.

Twenty-four floats paraded by and I am just amazed at how creative the floats were as well as the people inside the floats with their individual production numbers to highlight their float’s message. I am sure glad that the initial plan of the City Council to include politicians in the float parade did not materialize as these kinds of events are representation of the city’s culture and tradition and for me, including politicians in these events will just divert the attention of the audience to the beauty of the floats.

The reason why we visited Botanical Garden was because I was looking for a small nipa hut shop selling authentic Batirol. Two years ago, my team mates and I visited Baguio and we came upon this really quaint place. It is called Chocolate De Batirol. Sad to say, it was not located in the Botanical Garden. But wonder of wonders, we saw a teaser of the place when we bought our silver works at Pilak Silver Shoppe.

So Gab, Melvin and I drove back to Camp John Hay and finally found the place (near Gate 2). The place was really amazing. You can tell that the owners did not scrimp in the decorations of the place. It was like the place was carved up, naturally, by nature itself to give way to the place to be built.

Me Gab and Mevin @ Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay

It even had some authentic decorations like a tribal room with spear and trappings of a champion warrior.

We three bought our own mugs of Chocolate de Batirol and the only disappointment that I had was that they were not serving the choco drink in clay mugs like they used to before to add to the feel of antiquity. Even so, the chocolate drink was still as good as I first tasted it 2 years ago.

To accompany our drink, I ordered freshly cooked bibingka while Gab paired her drink with a Biscocho and Melvin with Banana Turon with Langka. It was worth the visit I tell you.

Sunday lunch was in the dorm again and I took a nap after because I was feeling the effects of just a few hours of sleep Saturday night. By 3pm, Gab and Melvin went their own way while Me, cousin Panget and Tita Clar wound our way to the City Market to buy our pasalubongs.

After dinner, at about 11pm Sunday night, Melvin, Gab and I took a last stroll along Session Road while the week-long night market stands were being setup. We did not get to enjoy this anymore because we were bound back to Manila early Monday morning but I guess the whole trip was already enough for me.

At 1am Monday morning, we started our trip back to Manila and had to say our goodbye to Panagbenga 2010. It was a nice roadtrip and I hope to see it again soon in the coming years to come still.


  1. Nice blog and pics. We are planning to bring the Alto to Baguio next month. How was the drive up Kennon? Kaya naman ba? :)

  2. Yup. Kayang-kaya.

    Plus mura pa kasi kung apat kayo, hati-hati na lang sa full tank na gas. Balikan na yun. Additional gas for the trips within Baguio.

    Di ka mahihirapan sa parking dun.. :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing your panagbinga trip, nice photos you captured, really enjoyed looking at it. I grew up in Baguio-Benguet n I'm hungry of every happenings there. They say it is not like before but no matter what Baguio is still there for everyone who appreciates what it can offer...More Power to your blogg brother!!!!!!!Have a nice day n many more luck to come.....