In Between Pines, 2015

Part of my new job entails collecting outputs of research from faculty and researchers from different campuses of the UP system for publication. Last March, I had the chance to travel up north to meet with researchers from the UP Baguio campus.

An item in my list of goals for 2015 is also to travel to Baguio. My previous travel to the famed City of Pines and Summer Capital of the Philippines was in 2009, for a science-themed camp when I was a high school junior. Sobrang tagal na! Though traveling for work kinda bums me out, I had to suppress my excitement when I was called in for a meeting about this trip.

Here are some of the photos I took with my sister’s Fujifilm X20–a superb camera, I must say! The photos featuring my new watermark that bears my name! Wow!

We left for Baguio on the afternoon of March 26. We reached the city at around 9 PM. The usual six-hour travel time was cut to four hours, thanks to SCTEX and TPLEX. We stayed at El Cielito Hotel-Baguio.

I shared the room with none other than the director of the center where I work. She didn’t seem fazed sharing a room with a 21-year-old who wears pajamas with fun-looking sharks printed on them.

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Frickin’ love these pajamas, yo.

The room was pretty nice, although you could tell that the hotel had been in business for quite a long time now. I tried to look ~professional~ with this outfit, and I am so proud of myself for pulling it off.

First thing in our itinerary was our meeting with the Chancellor of UP Baguio. We also met with some folks from the Cordillera Studies Center. During the meeting, they shared with us their ongoing projects. I don’t think I’m allowed to disclose them, but they are super rad and I can’t wait for them to finish it and have them published. You know what–y’all should pay the website of the Cordillera Studies Center a visit to see what they have worked on and what they are currently working on.

Their Oble (short for Oblation Statue) had pine trees for a backdrop, which was pretty cool.

We worked there for a bit but had to leave as the professors had other matters to attend to.

So after UP Baguio, we went to Mines View Park.

Here’s my cup of strawberry taho.

There were lots of pop-up shops of plants. Here, the famed everlasting flowers.

 

I also found a friend, i.e., a dog.

Then we got to see this.

Upon seeing this, I felt pretty pessimistic and thought that those other mountains in the background will be dotted with houses and other establishments like that mountain in the foreground.

Baguio’s usual blues and greens.

 

More plants, specifically cacti, for sale.

The business of taking photos with a St. Bernard for a fee was still up. I asked the guys if I could pet the dog, but they were pretty adamant in insisting that I take a photo with the dog. In turn, I adamantly said no. I could tell that the dog was exhausted and dehydrated. Are animal welfare groups looking at this case?

There were actually three St. Bernard’s there–one was in the photo booth, and the other two were resting.

What a big and fluffy and rather exploited baby. 😦

 

Same goes for the horses–is the dye they use to make the horses’ hair bright pink safe for them?

I couldn’t remember what the place was called exactly, but outside Mines View Park was a museum of Igorot culture that also doubles as a hub for other Baguio wares. There was no entrance fee, but it required a donation for taking pictures.

A detail from a plate, if I remember correctly.

 

This house doesn’t have nails–so what holds it together? …I can’t recall. I know I shouldn’t have written this post this late. *facepalm*

 

A statue.

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And an obligatory touristy photo of a flower!

 

Now this is the fun part–now I can’t recall where we went to next. *yet another facepalm* So I’ll skip to the part where we went to BenCab Museum.

I tried to cheapskate my way in–the museum offers a discount for students. I handed my now-invalid student ID but they were pretty quick to tell me that I couldn’t avail a discount with that ID. So I paid 100 bucks. Hehe.

I also tried to cheapskate my way to learn about the pieces by following a group of women who had a tour guide. I eavesdropped for a bit and found out that this bulol–a wooden figure made by the Igorot–is a bulol specifically made for guarding a house. The hands crossed at the chest was an indicator that it was for that purpose.

 

But I actually felt pretty bad for that tactless way of obtaining info, lol. So I ventured inside the museum.

Fair warning–there will be a lot of bulols ahead.

Some details from ancient artifacts.

This one’s from a chair.

This one’s from a table.

 

 

A stylized dog bulol. I had to take a photo because it’s a dog. And I love dogs, if you haven’t noticed yet.

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Another detail from an artifact.

 

My immediate supervisor checking out the headhunting implements.

A couple.

The room that housed the bulols and other Igorot artifacts.

This was the view at the back of the museum–it looks like a garden with terraces. Work in progress, I guess.

 

A detail from a BenCab painting. Just look at the texture, man.

 

 

Another bulol.

 

 

Huhu crap I can’t recall the name of the artist who did this triptych.

 

Angry cat.

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The wall of bulol installation.

 

That painting that gets Instagrammed a lot, highly likely for the text in it: “Wag mo damdamin ang mga bagay dahil ang mga bagay ay walang damdamin…”

By this time, I’ve caught up with the group of women with the tour guide so I kind of eavesdropped again. I found out that this painting employs an illusion–the eyes will seem to follow you from wherever you view them.

 

 

A detail from a statue.

I went outside to where the terraces are. I also hung out by the pond and watched these ducks.

At the different stages of getting food. Also, duck butts.

 

Lo and behold, BenCab was actually there, tending to the plants.

Not my angle, but hell, it is me and a National Artist.

 

The view from a deck in the museum.

 

Then we headed to Cafe by the Ruins.

Look at these delicious bread, yo.

 

My boss ordered munggo and my immediate supervisor and our driver shared a bowl of pinikpikan (chicken). I, on the other hand, and being an obnoxious lit major, ordered “Ole Nick [Joaquin]’s Open Face Tuna Sandwich…

and a cup of mint chocolate made with carabao’s milk.

 

The sandwich… well, I’ll just say that I’ve tasted a better tuna sandwich. As for the hot chocolate, it was rich but not cloying, and wanting that minty tone. Still, it was a nice cup of chocolate.

This where they make the chocolate.

 

After that early dinner, we headed to Burnham Park.

Flowers, yaaas.

 

While the others walked around, I biked, hehe. I rented a bike. Sayang lang though, ’cause the bike area was small and very limited.

I was happily pedaling around, feeling the cold air in my lungs when it started to drizzle. I hurriedly returned the bike and right on time, the heavy rain poured. I caught up with my bosses and we sought shelter in one of the food stalls.

We then went to SM Baguio since my boss was curious when we told her that the only place with AC in the mall was the movie theater. It was a Friday night, so there were lots of people.

Then we headed to the night market along Burnham Park.

 

The night market reminded me of why I can’t really enjoy ukay-ukay–I always have a hard time shopping for clothes because my shoulders are super broad. And the clothes at the night market, though pretty, don’t fit me. 😦

I was also tempted to buy a backpack but I didn’t really need one.

We went back to the hotel exhausted.

We were to leave Baguio the next day but we made sure that we headed to the market first before going home so we can buy pasalubong.

The strawberries on display were frickin’ gorgeous.

And so were the vegetables–they were phresh. Okay sorry that was a lame attempt at sounding very cool.

Strings of longganisa hung in a number of stalls. Too bad I don’t eat longganisa.

I bought cans of choco flakes (Mikasan–the best brand), strawberries, lengua de gato, and ube jam.

And then we headed home. We passed by Kennon Road.

We were supposed to visit this huge lion’s head but when we started slowing down to look for a parking spot, we saw two men fighting–like really rough-housing at the mouth of the lion–so opted to go on home.

For lunch, we stopped by Shell, if I’m not mistaken, at NLEX. This is the rather huge gas station where rows of restaurants and clothing outlet stores are beside it. We had lunch at Razon’s. On one corner of the place was some sort of a miniature zoo where you can take pictures with exotic animals.

A rather large brown bird, looking fierce.

A snake!

And an iguana!

And then we went home.

A lot has changed in Baguio, and I’m not sure if it’s for the better. I’d like to go back one day though. Not for work, but for leisure. I wish I had more time to roam around the streets and more time to feel the cold breeze.

Also, I do hope tourists are doing there part in preserving Baguio’s beauty.

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