Showing posts with label Baguio City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baguio City. Show all posts

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Panagbenga Festival, Baguio City

March 02, 2014 0

I must admit, I am not fond of attending or watching any sort of festivals because I don't like being stuck in a thick crowd, I hate to squirm among the people and endure an exhausting ordeal. When I was still in Davao City, I rarely watch the float parade, even street dancing, of the Kadayawan Festival. I would just stay in the boarding house and watched the event on television.

But Panagbenga Festival is different, it is incredibly unique and famous and to become part of the crowd of this extremely popular celebration in the country is somewhat fantastic. An opportunity I should never miss and as a travel blogger, this sort of social activity is ultimately crucial for my site's updates.

The Panagbenga Festival, also known as the Flower Festival, is a month long celebration in Baguio city which traditionally kicks off on the first week of February and ends on the first week of March.

This is one of the most highly anticipated festivals in the country due to the unique atmosphere of the celebration --- the spectacular display of lovely blooms! So enchanting!! No doubt, it drew thousands of visitors annually, transforming the little city of Pines into a crowded cosmopolitan. Well, apart from the wonders of blooming flowers, people flocked to the summer capital every February to relax and enjoy the cool weather and the beautiful scenery of nature.

Panagbenga comes from the native dialect of the people in the Cordilleras which has a literal meaning of "season of blooming". And indeed, it was. All over Baguio, I saw nothing but stunning blooms of all kinds of flowers, in different shades and shapes.

I traveled to Baguio with friends, the trip was sponsored by Ms. Gemalyn Avila as her treat to her staff, we just got on as extra baggage haha!

We left Mandaluyong City on February 22, 2014, Saturday, at 5:00 in the morning. It was a beautiful feeling being able to relax after a whole week of work in a nine-hour job. We brought so many foods for this trip! So we did not worry too much on our budget. 

We also decided not to book for a hotel room and just sleep in the car instead. For a festival like Panagbenga, it's so rare to find vacant rooms in all tourist inns in Baguio, you need to make an advance booking several months ahead to get one. So the van of our friend, Aldrin Banas, became like a moving room :-P

At the Wright Park
At the Good Shepherd Convent

We had a stop over at Kennon Road to view the famous Lion's Head Monument. Despite the sunny weather, the environment was awfully cold! After 30 minutes, we're back on the road, up to the rolling hills of the Benguet province. We arrived in Baguio at 12:00 noon and we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a heavy traffic along the Brent road! The car barely moved, gosh!

One of the cart entries at the float parade on February 23, 2014

Since we arrived very late we did not witness the street dance parade so we proceeded to the Wright Park to stroll, then to the Good Shepherd convent. We wanted to go to Burnham Park to have a dry picnic for our lunch but we could not find a vacant parking space due to tons of private vehicles so we're on the road again travelling to Botanical Garden, there, we found a spacious parking area and had our lunch inside the car.

During my first travel to Baguio City in April 2008, I wasn't able to visit Botanical Garden because it was very late in the evening when my colleagues decided to go to this area and I was already tired walking around the market and Burnham Park so I just stayed in the Betania Retreat house. This time, I did not miss the opportunity of going down to the Botanical Garden, the blossoming flowers were incredibly lovely!

At the Botanical Garden

We went back to the Wright Park after our botanical garden strolling. Then crossed the street to visit The Mansion, the official summer residence of the incumbent Philippine president. Visitors were not allowed to go to the manicured lawn of the mansion so we just contented to pose for pictures in the background.

And guess who we saw upon leaving the mansion? Paolo Contis! I wasn't sure what he did in front of the camera and the crowd, the only thing I knew, he was filmed while having a scene with another actor.

Freezing night at Burnham Park!

By 7:00 in the evening, we had another round of a joy ride as we could not find a parking space in almost all areas in Baguio City. We decided to park the car in the intersection leading to Burnham park to take a rest. The night was freezing and very cold so after staying a little while at the riverside of Burnham park, we decided to go back to the car. 

In this travel, I experienced how it was like to be a backpacker, you know that weird, but exciting trip of a travel adventurer to just sleep anywhere, go to different places with no particular itinerary to follow and no hotel room to rest on?Yeah, that was exactly what we did in this trip, backpack travelers! Very exciting!

Though it was slightly uncomfortable, the experience provided me with a different taste of an adventure. We spent the whole night in the car, the environment was insanely cold so I covered myself with two layers of jackets, wore hand gloves and socks and put on my bonnet. We just used a public comfort room to wash our face and body and changed clothes. We felt like attending a jamboree but it was a very good adventure, so many funny memories!!

Around 4:00 in the morning on February 23, we're awaken by a gentle knock on the window of the car, telling us to move out from the area because it should be secured by the police in time for the preparation of the float parade later at 8:00 in the morning. Again, it was a total agony because we could not find a vacant parking space. We ended up having another joy ride all over Baguio City at the very early morning. Until we found a vacant space in front of the University of Baguio, very far from where the float parade is passing.

We rested for a while then had our breakfast inside the car at 6:00. At 6:30, we started walking the narrow street, joining the throng of people to be on the road for the float parade. But the moment we arrived near SM Baguio the street was already fully occupied and we could no longer find a vacant space. 

at the PMA ground

We ended up standing at the upper part of the hill in front of Baguio Cathedral with nothing to see but branches of trees, we only saw the blossoming float carts on top of the heads of the crowds, so I felt so sleepy and tired.

The float parade was so amazing because the cart entries were decorated with different flowers and plants, my first time to see such massive display of blooms!. We saw celebrities like Marianne Rivera and Alden Richards joining the float parade. The street dance presentation was also fantastic. The only thing I regretted was our location behind the trees preventing us from getting a perfect view of the floral parade.

Around 9:30, we decided to leave the area and went back to the car. At 10:00 in the morning, we went to Camp John Hay to visit the Philippine Military Academy. Nothing has change at the PMA ground from the first time I visited the area in 2008. 

At 11:30, we left Baguio and traveled back to Manila. We had a stop over in Urdaneta, Pangasinan for our lunch. My sister and I arrived in Caloocan at 7:00 in the evening. What a two-day relaxing adventure in the city of Pines!! Thanks to Gemalyn Avila for this trip!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2008 Baguio City and Manila

April 24, 2010 0
One thing I love about working in UIC is the opportunity of traveling around the Philippines. Yeah! I've been to different tourist spots in the country because of our side trip adventure after our annual retreat.

Retreat is one of the institutional spiritual activities in the university organized every year and most of the time  it is held outside Davao City and the school administration is kind enough to allow us to have a side trip near the retreat venue.

Our retreat and side trip adventures brought us to Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, Baguio City, Cebu City and Bohol (unfortunately I was not able to join the group in Cebu and Bohol), Bukidnon, Digos City in Davao del Sur and Lirib in North Cotabato.


In April 2008 our annual retreat was held in Baguio City. It was my first time to travel via air and it happened on my birthday, April 3!So nice and memorable.

We left Davao at 7:30 in the morning via Philippine airlines and touched down at NAIA at 9:15. We were fetched at the airport by the Maynilad bus (Maynilad is a travel agency based in Manila that annually took charge of the educational trip of the engineering students of UIC). We had a stop over at Nayon Pilipino but I could not recall anything from this stop over because I was very sleepy. I took two bonamines to prevent purging while traveling on air. It felt like I overshoot the recommended dosage so I felt woozy seemed like I was floating in the air and oblivious on what happened around.

At 12:00 noon we're on our way to Baguio City but had a stop over again at Bulacan for our lunch. I was so tired that I did not enjoy the sight seeing, I was more concerned with the feeling of vomiting I slept most of the time during our seven hour travel.

When we reached the provinces of Pangasinan and Tarlac, a heavy traffic greeted us making our journey very slow, so taxing! I woke up occasionally to check what's going on then drowse to sleep again.

When we reached La Union, my appetite in sleeping was gone. I darted my stare outside. The high mountain, the rolling hills and fog and all the scallop vistas, it was beautiful!

We reached Betania retreat house at 7:00 o'clock in the evening and the cold environment made me so sleepy again! It was very frosty! I did not experience such cold temperature in my life. I went to bed early and covered my body with three layers of blanket and had to stack everything I could find in the room to keep me warm.

Oh hell! I really declared I would never come to Baguio again, I hate the cold temperature and narrow road, it triggered my nausea. I don't like a very cold environment.

with best friends and university colleagues, Rowie and Helen 
at the back of Betania Retreat House

We stayed for five days in Baguio city, despite my disdain in the cold environment, I was happy with the outcome of our retreat because our retreat master was a Jesuit priest from Ateneo de Manila University and he was so hilarious, our sessions were full of fun and laughter and we spent the whole day giggling and laughing!

During the last night of our retreat, we went to SM Baguio and amused to find out the mall has no air-con.


Our day tour started at day break on the 8th day of April, we left the retreat house at 5:00 in the morning and our first destination was at the Strawberry Farm in Trinidad, Benguet. We spent 30 minutes touring around the farm and marvelling at the majestic landscape of the Benguet province then proceeded to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

At the Strawberry Farm

You see, I am a certified Acrophobic where I have this unexplained great fear in heights. When I am in the high rising building I would never look down because it feels like I am about to fall and when I am climbing up the stairs it's a total agony because I have to intensely grip my hands in the staircase to prevent myself from swaying because it feels like somebody is pulling me down.

So this strange feeling became a concern when we reached the Grotto. It was around 250 steps and I was so worried if I could make it. I have no choice but to climb otherwise I would be left behind downstairs, the thought was more horrifying! I really pulled my strength and courage to climb up and discard my fears, thank God it worked and I was able to reach the top of the grotto successfully.

There were lots of souvenir's shop around the grotto but I did not buy anything because we would still go to other places and I might find more interesting items there :-)

We went back to Betania retreat house for our breakfast then went out again at 8:00 in the morning and  proceeded to Wright Park and the Mansion, the official summer residence of an incumbent Philippine president. I got a chance to straddle a white horse just for picture taking! Then we posed around the neatly-trimmed lawn of the Mansion.

Straddling horse at the Wright Park :-)
At the Mansion. The official summer residence of the incumbent
Philippine president

Then up to Camp John Hay to visit the PMA school and training camp. At that time, the entrance was free not sure if it is still free today. I detested the road going to Camp John Hay, my stomach swirled terribly and my nausea worsened, it was hell and I threw up when we're on our way to Burnham Park.

At the beautiful ground of PMA

We reached Burnham Park at 12:30 noon and we spent lunch there but I was not in good condition  to eat my lunch because of the wooziness I felt. I just seated at the park bench and ate Corn in a cob. I could not remember anymore what are other activities we did here. The only recollection I had was when we went to the market and bought a linen blanket and T-Shirts.

We went also to Mine's View Park and bought some delicacies like peanut brittle, biscuits and Strawberry jam. I bought a beautiful netted blouse for my mother worth P250.00.

At the Mine's View Park

We got back to Betania house at 5:30 in the afternoon and did not join the group when they went to Botanical garden.

If you gonna ask me on the expenses touring Baguio City, I could not provide an exact costing because our tour was free, it was part of our side trip.

On the following morning we left Baguio and stayed in Manila for another two days.


If there's one area in the Philippines I did not want to live, it's NCR (national capital region composed of Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Caloocan, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Taguig etcetera), aside from the worst traffic scenes, the pollution and the fast-paced life, NCR is nothing but an unwanted region in my mind due to mess and stress.

Mall of Asia leisure with my sister
Against the backdrop of Ice Rink in Mall of Asia

Everyday you have to race with time, endure the awful weather, high expenses on travelling and the distance it takes to reach your destination. I hate this kind of life, I don't want to race with time I want to enjoy my journey, live in a place where I could experience serenity and calmness of the environment, in a place where I don't have to worry if I could reach home before midnight, that's why I stayed in Davao City because of its quiet surroundings, peace and order and less than expensive cost of living. It won't take eternity also to travel from your house to the workplace. Davao city is just so ideal in many aspects.

I thought I could never visit NCR in my lifetime because I never had any plan to go there! But in 2008 I was given a chance only because of our Baguio city retreat. The moment I arrived in Quezon city my worries started to pick up.

My sister fetched me and my three colleagues at the general house of RVM sisters in Cubao where we dropped by upon our arrival. I was so shocked upon learning that we had to commute three times before we arrived at Caloocan City gosh!!

I was shocked even more when I learned that there was no minimum pay when we rode PUJ because of the long distance travel, argggh! That moment I wanted to return to Davao right away.

After resting a while, we went to Mall of Asia. Aside from its sprawling ground and spacious tenant's areas, there's nothing extraordinary at MOA, so after taking our dinner at Jerry's Grill, we went outside and walked around. We'd gone home at 12:00 midnight.

I was forced to stay for another two days even though I really wanted to go home because our scheduled flight back to Davao was on the 12th, so I endured few more days absorbing dust, disgust and torment.

My sister brought me to ABS-CBN compound the next day and had a picture taking outside the Pinoy Big Brother house then we went to Makati visiting Greenbelt, Rockwell and Trinoma in Quezon City. I was stunned with the beautiful design of Trinoma's hanging garden. It was amazing!

I was able to meet my college friend, Armila Balonon, who was working at the time in Makati, she stayed with us overnight in Caloocan. On the following day, they accompanied me to the airport for my 5:30 pm flight back to Davao. I took a very deep breath because at last I can go back to a quiet place hehe.

Our flight back to Davao was really terrifying because it was raining and Jesus!The plane felt like swaying up,  for the next one a half hour I did not move and kept glancing behind the window, I prayed hardly and felt my body trembled intensely. I kept looking at my friend beside me then darted my eyes to the monitor in front of us which did not display anything other than those creepy "turbulence" signal. We're advised to keep our belt fastened and should not leave our seat, goshhh!So scary!! I didn't close my eyes in case of whatever event that might unfold, kept looking on the emergency instruction how to wear a life vest or something like that hehe! I was only relieved when I saw the Samal island far below indicating that we're in Davao finally!

Wohhhhh what an experience!!

(update: Fast forward 2013 July: I ate all my words of not coming to Manila again, much more live haha! Right now, I am living and working here and had to endure the long hours of commuting from the house to the work place)


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