Two weeks ago my editor texted me: how about spending a romantic and passionate weekend in Baguio City with your boyfriend?
Ajay: Haruuuumph…wala nga bf eh. But I’d love to go!
Editor: Okay, I’ll book you then. Have a romantic and passionate time.
With Boyfriend or none, the reason why I wanted to go to Baguio was because I haven’t been there in close to ten years. For me, Baguio was a symbol of my carefree 20s.I stopped going there when I began to ride airplanes and realized that I could already go to Dubai or Japan with the six or seven hours that it would take me to traverse Marcos Highway.
Instead of looking for a suitable lay (and because am not looking forward to getting laid, having been celibate for the past xxxx hours or so)the best person to go with me was my son. I thought it was the best time to show him the place, never mind if we had to leave Manila at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m.
Thankfully, Paolo survived the long trip with the help of my games on the cellphone. We stayed at the Camp John Hay Manor which is, hands down, one of the finest accommodations in the City of Pines.I loved the fact that our room overlooked the tall pine trees and I could actually smell them when I opened the windows in the morning. I was also amazed that the rooms weren’t airconditioned at all, the temperature at this time being a cool 19 degrees.
All I can say is that I had a killer schedule in Baguio, squeezing in so many activities in so little time. There wasn’t even time for me to think of the meningococcemia threat, which I thought was a panic created by media anyway.What did I do in Baguio? Let me count the ways:
1. Horseback-riding on the Camp John Hay trail… definitely my most memorable experience for this trip. I have tried it before in Wright Park but it was exciting this time because the horse climbed the friggin’ mountain and I was scared stiff because he was just two inches away from the ravine. While Mom was saying “Oh no!,” Paolo was merrily singing his way like the Marlboro Man. I was thrilled with the fact that my city-bred, video-addicted son was close to nature at last.
2.Hiking. We did a two-kilometer trek and I could say that John Hay really has hiker-friendly trails.The group before us even had a fun treasure hunt game. After all that climb, you can camp out or cook your own barbecue and admire the scenery again.
Eat,eat,eat !Binge! I felt good that I was eating all the salads using those luscious Baguio greens. At the same time felt bad that all the gorging would merit me 20 consecutive gym sessions. Our hosts simply spoiled us with full-course dinners which had a choice between the fish or the steak for the main course. Hmm, I can’t forget the Chilean sea bass, the baked aubergine in filo pastry with three cheeses, the fresh broccoli soup, and all those assorted grilled items on the buffet. I was glad to talk to Chef Rannie and learn from him the recipes for balsamic gravy, special olive oil dip and green mango salad with buffalo cheese in anchovy oil dressing. Hope to try them at home soon.
4. View art exhibits.There’s no disputing the fact that Baguio is the city of top artists and almost every establishment I went to had the works of painters and such on the walls. We did get a chance to hobnob with Kidlat Tahimik and couple Allan and Ivi Cosio who had on-the-spot painting sessions in CJH that weekend.
5. Listen to music. The Manor’s in-house band, On-Cue is really good!!!
6. Explore SM Baguio.I agree with that most people say that the branch here is unlike the other SMs, mainly because airconditioning is limited to some parts of the mall and there is an open-air space where you can literally smell the breeze.
7. Ukay-ukay shopping. My journalist-friends simply couldn’t let go of this one and was using the scarves they bought on the very night of our dinner…yay! I managed to scour the warehouses given the little time and the fact that you need hours to rummage through the piles of clothing which made me sneeze, I swear. “Beware of meningo in wagwagan,” Cecille texted. In the end I settled for an Episode scarf and two gym shirts and wished I had more time.
8. Connect with long-lost friends. It was nice to see Yvonne again who now has a successful gynecology practice in the city. I fondly remember the time when Yvonne, Didi and I would party the night away even though Yvonne would have her arduous medical exams the next day. The last time I saw her more than than ten years ago, I attended her wedding and now that we’re mothers and both separated from our men, we can only laugh about the good ol’ times. The girl is simply one of the coolest I’ve known!
9. Restaurant-hop. I simply had to check out Cafe by the Ruins which is one of the more popular artist haunts in the city.It turned out to be a small ethnic-inspired resto where I had coffee and a whole loaf of camote bread with herbed cheese costing me a mere sixty bucks.Also worth visiting was Ebai’s Cakes in the Narda’s shop for its heavenly carrot cake and Salud Bistro with the healthy culinary choices whipped up by Chef Paul Poblador. Salud is also a must-see for its shabby chic interiors and its adjoining gallery featuring the works of top artists like Bencab.
10.Going to the market. I learned too late that the city market was one of the hotspots of the meningo scare. What the heck, I had a fun time shopping for the statis flowers which I gave to my women-officemates today, being V-day. Statis is a dry kind of flower which is supposed to last for one year…fascinating! Also, I just couldn’t get enough of Rico’s/Tartland lengua de gato cookies which melted in my mouth. Caffeine addicts may visit Garcia’s Coffee stall which sells the nicest-smelling freshly-ground Benguet/barako coffee this side of town.
We are now back in Manila and I am glad I have ‘reconnected’ with Baguio after all these years. Suddenly, a place which is 250 kilometers north of Manila doesn’t seem so far. Hope to be back soon!