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BAGUIO: Awesome Baguio Experience Series

Here's the summary of the Awesome Baguio Experience 10-part Blog Series...

1. Baguio's Panagbenga

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PANAGBENGA is a local Kankana-ey term in Cordillera, which means “a season for blossoming; a time for blooming", coined by Ike Picpican, curator of the Saint Louis University Museum in 1997.

It is a month-long celebration in February/March during the business-lean months to attract tourists to the City of Baguio after the holidays and before the peak Summer Season.

It culminates with a Grand Flower Float Parade, held usually on the last Sunday of February.

The Flower festival symbolizes the rise of Baguio from the city's devastating earthquake disaster on July 16, 1990.

To kick off the BEST of Baguio series, here's my first-timer's take on the Panagbenga experience...

Read More: BAGUIO's Panagbenga Flower Festival

Awesome Baguio Series Part 2:

BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

2. Hill Station & Mt. Cloud Bookshop

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Hill Station Tapas Bar & Restaurant is one of the hottest restaurants in Baguio. It was voted as one of Asia's finest restaurants in The Miele Guide 2011/2012.

Mitos, the owner (and also the secret behind the success of Mario's in Baguio), decided to set up her own restaurant in the old Casa Vallejo hotel. It serves the best of Asian and Continental cuisines from other Hill Stations around the world.

I met Mitos in an Artist Mafia gathering in Baguio. The people there are the ones who are campaigning and giving life to the authentic Baguio (vs. the commercialized Baguio) experience.

Mitos is a close friend of the owners of Cafe by the Ruins, so it's no surprise then that a visit to Baguio is not complete without dropping by Cafe by the Ruins and Hill Station.

Here is a glimpse of our trip to Hill Station...

Read More: Hill Station & Mt. Cloud Bookshop

 

3. Cafe by the Ruins Breakfast

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I can still remember the story when Cafe by the Ruins was about to close down: They announced the last day of operations, and then a lot of Manileños decided to go up to Baguio and pay tribute to the restaurant.

Ever since that time, they were touched by how much foodies love Cafe by the Ruins, and the next generation decided to continue it. As a thank you gift, they released their first cookbook entitled, "Café by the Ruins: Memories and Recipes".

This is one of the few remaining restaurant institutions in Baguio and the only reason we would brave the traffic of the commercialized area of Session Road.

I'm glad that the boys were able to experience it, and I do hope more Filipino generations can visit it for years to come.

Here is our breakfast experience in Cafe by the Ruins...

Read More: Cafe by the Ruins Breakfast!

 

4. Strawberry Fields

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Picking fresh strawberries is one of the most awesome experiences on the outskirts of Baguio. It is a fun activity for your family, especially for the kids. :) They also get to appreciate and learn where strawberries come from.

I'd like to share with you our Strawberry Farm experience in La Trinidad, Benguet. :)

Read More: Strawberry Fields Forever...

 

5. Wright Park & Happy Tummy 

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Happy Tummy is a Thai resto hidden just across the horseback riding area in Wright Park.

The first time we went to Wright Park, we did not even notice that there was a good place to eat nearby. (Thanks to JP Alipio for the tip about Happy Tummy!)

I loved this combined experience of horseback riding + eating home-cooked Thai food. It is one of our best experiences in Baguio. :)

Read More: Happy Tummy & Wright Park

 

6. Eve's Garden Lunch

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Story has it that Eve (or Tita Eve, as most people would call her) migrated to Baguio and built an organic garden to nourish her cancer-stricken husband with organic food everyday. She opened her home for lunch (by reservation only) to share the delicious and healthy food with others.

It was our final day in Baguio and we decided to have our lunch there. It was a last-minute late lunch reservation but I'm glad she accepted it. We were able to try Eve's Garden (which is like Sonya's Garden but in Baguio, and more focused on healthy, organic food), but we did not have the pleasure of meeting Tita Eve herself.

Here is our Eve's Garden experience...

Read More: Eve's Garden Lunch

 

7. Ben Cab Museum

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The BenCab Museum is one of the most awesome museums in our country today.

It houses our National Artist Ben Cabrera's art collection in a four-level building. This is also where BenCab lives and where his actual workshop is located. Exhibits of exciting contemporary artists in Manila can be found here, too.

What I love about this place is that it showcases the authentic old Baguio experience.

We were able to go to the museum as it celebrated its third year anniversary with three simultaneous exhibits. I would like to share with you our BenCab Museum visit...

Read More: The BenCab Museum Experience

 

8. Cafe Sabel Merienda

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Cafe Sabel is the in-house restaurant of the BenCab Museum, named after BenCab's famous muse in his paintings.

Here you can enjoy recipes by BenCab, farm fresh ingredients, and home-cooked dishes by the chef.

You can also buy the jams, marmalades, native chocolate, and homemade atchara that they sell.

Here is our experience of Cafe Sabel...

Read More: Cafe Sabel @ BenCab Museum

 

9. Mama's Table Dinner

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I've heard yummy stories about Chef Vicky's private dining in Baguio from foodies raving about the experience. We met Chef Vicky in Mercato Centrale, with her stall selling her yummy goodies from Baguio, when we first opened in 2010.

She offers an 8-course, French-inspired, strictly-by-reservation private dining in her lovely home in Baguio. She only accepts strictly one group at a time, with a minimum of 6 persons.

There is no menu, so just be prepared to be surprised with the 3-hour, 8-course Degustation Meal.

Read More: Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente's Mama's Table Private Dining

 

10. Hotel Elizabeth & Bliss Cafe

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It's nice to know there still are places in Baguio that have not succumbed to the temptation of over-commercialization and the greed of cutting down all the trees to give way to "development and progress".

There are three places that you should absolutely avoid in Baguio:
1). the overcommercialized Session Road;
2). the allegedly corrupt Camp John Hay operation; and
3). SM Baguio (to stop them from cutting trees to build parking lots).

We decided to stay in Hotel Elizabeth, which is located in a quiet side of Baguio where there are still plenty of trees and cool fresh air. That became our jump-off point in exploring the authentic old Baguio experience. :)

Read More: Hotel Elizabeth and Bliss Cafe in Baguio

Awesome Baguio Map
Click here for the Awesome Baguio Map bigger version. You can download hi-res file map here.

Here is a map to give you an idea of the locations of the different destinations featured in the Awesome Baguio Experience Blog series. There are shortcuts to avoid passing through Session Road.

  1. Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente's Mama's Table Private Dining
  2. Strawberry Fields Forever...
  3. BenCab Museum Experience & Cafe Sabel @ BenCab Museum
  4. Hill Station & Mt. Cloud Bookshop
  5. Happy Tummy & Wright Park
  6. Cafe by the Ruins Breakfast!
  7. Eve's Garden Lunch
  8. Hotel Elizabeth and Bliss Cafe

Related Blog Posts on Baguio:

BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

Flavors of Baguio: Discover Baguio, One Bite at a Time!

Awesome Baguio Experience Series:

Awesome Baguio Experience Series II:

 

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Full Disclosure: Our Baguio Hotel stay was courtesy of our friend Jean Fernando of Trips or Treats, whose family owns the Fersal Hotel Group, which include Hotel Elizabeth in Baguio and Cebu. We paid for our meals in all the restaurants featured in this series. We are not connected with the establishments and any organization promoting them.

P.S. I'm doing a part 2 of the Awesome Baguio Series focusing on hole-in-the-wall and lesser known awesome destinations in Baguio. Please email me [email protected] for any tip about Baguio :)

 

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Bago yata ang Bencab. Hindi ko pa iyan napuntahan.

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