One step at a time. And so the most arduous journey is completed
30.10.2010 - 01.11.2010
I have been in Baguio several times and it looks to me an ordinary place. Now, I want to visit Baguio once again but I want to explore more about Baguio picturesque places and even in Benguet Province. Prior to my departure to Baguio, I searched some tourist spots first over internet that I did not visit during the past climb in Baguio to be able to explore easily.
DAY - 1
My first stop was in Bell Church. This is located at along Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City near La-Trinidad border crossing. It can be reached by jeepney that plies from Baguio City to La-Trinidad, Benguet, or taxi. When I alighted from taxi, I saw the bridge which leads to the entrance of the Bell Church compound. Before I reached the entrance, I saw some residential houses on the right side. The compound is gated with high concrete steel bar; I think 10 feet high more or less, so this is a really secured area. The entrance is marked by an intricate design arch with two dragons at the top and each side of the concrete wall. I was so amazed when I spotted the exquisite landscaped garden with Chinese character written on the wall; the Pagoda; the statue of Buddha and soldier general; lotus and fish pond; and the color red that gives a true Chinese atmosphere.
My second stop for this day was in Easter Weaving Room. It is located at 2 Easter Road, Guisad, Baguio City, Philippines. It can be reached via taxi and car only because there is no jeepney that plies along this road. When I entered the store area, one of the sales staff told me that it is possible to watch the weavers at the looms to get a glimpse of the wide range of hand-woven items such as table linens; house wares, wall décor items, church vestments, fabrics, native costumes, men and ladies wear and apparels. So, I was happy because this one of the reasons why I visit Baguio and this is my first time to watch live weaving hand-woven items. It was really amusing watching those women do their work. I know that it is really easy for them weaving but for me I was totally confused how it works.
The next stop from Easter Weaving Room is in Wood Carving Village. It is along Asin Road, Tuba, Benguet , Philippines. I reached it via taxi that cost me less than a hundred but it can also be reached via jeepney. The jeepney terminal to it is near at Baguio market which plies to Asin, Tuba, Benguet. When I got there, I was not able to take photos because some of the establishments were closed. So it was truly frustrating to me then. But I was glad that the taxi driver told me that if I want to, I can visit BenCab Museum which is only 5 minutes walk from wood carving place. So I did not give up, then I found myself heading to the museum.
BenCab Museum is located at Km.6 Asin Road, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet, Philippines. It is open daily except Monday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, from 9:00am to 6:00pm. It has an admission fee at Php100.00 for general patronage and Php80.00 for students and senior citizens. There are many guidelines when you enter the museum such as no food and drinks from outside are allowed in the museum. It is only permitted only in Café Sabel and may not be carried into the galleries; smoking is not permitted anywhere in the museum; still photography for personal use is permitted but no flash or tripods allowed. Videotaping is permitted in the lobby only and no photographs or videotapes may be reproduced, distributed, or sold without permission from the museum. Sketching is permitted in the galleries (pencil only, no ink or paint) with sketchbooks no larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 cm). No easels, stools, or sketching while sitting on the floor is permitted. The Bencab Museum is committed to the promotion of the arts, and the preservation, conservation and protection of the environment, as well as the culture and traditions of the Cordilleras, as an expression of the artist’s gratitude to the country that nurtured and inspired an artistic career that continues to grow, mature and fascinate.
I was totally flabbergasted by all the paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures by our renowned Philippine Artists. I really admire them for their brilliant talents and creative minds. I also have found granary Gods; lime containers, native implements, weapons and other outstanding examples of indigenous arts and crafts of the Cordilleras. For this trip, I was absolutely blessed!
The last stop for this day was in Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. This is located at 25 North Santo Tomas Road, Campo Sioco, Baguio City. I chose taxi because I have to get there prior the closing time. It was already 3:45 in the afternoon when I arrived. But it can be reached also via jeepney that plies from Harrison Road overpass stairway to BGH-Campo Sioco. The taxi driver has alighted me at the doorstep of the Administration building of Maryknoll. When I enter, I saw a woman and greeted me instantaneously. She asked me what am I going to do there and I replied that I want to take some photos of nature. She asked me to pay Php30.00 for the entrance fee. The mission of the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, at the Maryknoll Sisters' Center for Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation is to actively learn, articulate, and teach earth-based ethics. It endeavors to articulate a "new cosmology", or understanding of the earth and its meaning gleaned through scientific data, ancient traditions, indigenous cultures, the world's religions and contemporary spirituality that move us to reconnect both with nature and the Eternal Spirit.
DAY – 2
Before I take my feet to my first trek for the second day, I took my breakfast first at Danes Café. Upon ordering, I noticed that they have toasted siopao(steamed bun). I was curious how it taste like, so I ordered one piece of toasted siopao. I was so disappointed when I took my first bite because I thought it was toasted but I was wrong. It seems like an ordinary baked bun. Anyways, after my meal, I rummaged around a taxi cab that I can hire to Mt. Sto Tomas since I am not a mountaineer and I don’t have any idea where to go. Mt. Sto Tomas is exactly situated in Tuba, Benguet Province. It is estimated 7,500 feet high. After asking a couple of taxi drivers, I got a taxi cab going to Mt. Sto Tomas and it cost me Php700.00 for one hour staying at the peak of Mt. Sto Tomas. Some parts of the road going up were so dangerous because of the landslide and there were rough roads because it was under construction at the time I went there. Because of the long agony of the taxi cab that I felt during travel, I decided to stay at Mt. Cabuyao only. From Mt. Cabuyao, it takes 4 km long all the way to the summit of Mt. Sto Tomas. At the summit of Mt. Cabuyao, I saw the dishes antenna; it is a wideband tropospheric scatter radio which link to Juzon, Mt. Taiwan and connecting US military facilities in the Philippines to other facilities in Taiwan and even beyond Japan and South Korea. Other attractions on the summit include the vegetable terraces and a view of Baguio City and Benguet Province, and the mountains on the central axis of the Cordilleras Region.
It was really rewarding to me; the cost, and fear of landslide because of the typhoon that had just landed a week before. But then, this experience is very remarkable and completely invigorating my mind and my body.
When I got back from Mt. Cabuyao, I headed directly to the jeepney terminal going to Balatoc Mines. The terminal is in Petron gasoline station near Social Security System office. I asked the jeepney driver to alight me at Balatoc Mines and I was lucky then because one of the passengers offered to guide me to my destination. It took me almost an hour to my destination and costs me Php24.00 one way. When I arrived, I told the security guard that I want to take a tour and he guided me to the tourism office right away. The tourism staff commanded me to wear boots and construction hat for safety purposes. The tour has begun.