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Friday, May 25, 2012


They say that a worthwhile Baguio sojourn is not without dropping by the Good Shepherd Convent along Gibraltar Road (near Mines View Park) for pasalubong (homecoming gifts) shopping. And so, as our way of subscribing to this pitch, we made sure to have a stop at this place on our second and last day in Baguio.

The Good Shepherd Convent, established here in the Philippines in 1912, is being run by the Religious of the Good Shepherd nuns. In deference to their vision of “helping the most neglected and marginalized,” they founded the Mountain Maid Training Center. Chosen youth of the Mountain Province receive educational and livelihood assistance through the profits generated from the sale of Mountain Maid products, most famous of which are strawberry jam, ube jam, peanut brittle, and lengua de gato.
The store is said to be always brimming with buyers, and the time of our visit was no exception. To my recollection, there were others who even bought in quantities that they would leave Good Shepherd carrying two or more boxes of Mountain Maid products. I’m sure that meant more aid for the Cordillera youth.approve photo 1-good.gif

 (photo credits: manilamarketdotcom)
Our next stopover was at 50s Diner along Gen. Luna Road. To say that this joint is a favorite among diners -- tourists and locals alike -- is an understatement. To me, it seemed to be swollen with people any time of the day. We didn't even need to go inside for me to say that. Having waited for our turn to have a table for five for at least 20 minutes or so was a proof. And that’s not to mention the scores of other diners who were trailing behind us in the queue.

As its name suggests, 50s Diner has the ‘50s theme in its interiors. Posters of movies and photos of some well-loved people of the entertainment industry during the ‘50s and ‘70s adorn its walls. The music is likewise from those eras. But what really draws people into the place must be its food -- surprisingly inexpensive yet extremely satisfying and generously served. Definitely the kind that is worth the wait.yumyum photo 1-nyam.gif

It was good that we had stuffed ourselves before venturing into our next destination, the Chanum Foundation's Tam-Awan Village. Requiring P50 as entrance fee for adults and P30 for students/ senior citizens, Tam-Awan Village is a "model village" set on the slopes of a mountain that gives trekkers the chance to have a glimpse of the culture and heritage of the Cordillera people.
Ifugao huts and Kalinga houses can be found as one makes their way to the top. Guests can even rent a house if they're in for village life immersion. The place is also a venue for some local artists to put up their works for sale, that's why paintings and drawings abound everywhere. And if one gets tired of climbing up steep pathways, there's a coffee shop as well.

As for our Tam-Awan Village adventure, sadly we were unable to reach its top, where they say awe-inspiring sights of the South China Sea and the nearby lowlands can be seen. Well I guess I just have to be thankful that at least I was able to unleash the highlander in me. photo 1-gigglez.gif

It is said that the best time to go to Baguio -- although I believe its charm never wanes all year round  photo gdaydream_zps078d5378.gif -- is during the Panagbenga Festival. Our visit didn't fall on the dates when the celebration for this year was at its peak. But luckily we were there just in time before the hustle and bustle ended -- the last week of the month-long Panagbenga festivity, during which the Session Road in Bloom is customarily observed.

Stalls of different kinds of products and food outlets were set up along Session Road, which was closed to vehicles. I remember feeling like a kid in a candy store then, overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities of things to discover. photo ikot15_zpsb8092a5a.gif

We spent long hours walking up and down the busiest road in Baguio that day, stopping occasionally whenever we chanced upon something interesting and worth buying. And then the time came that we had to call it a day.

As we were having our self-prepared delightful dinner at our rented transient house, the grand fireworks display began to light up the night sky, signalling the end of 2012's Panagbenga celebration, and our own Baguio adventure.

But maybe, it was just the beginning.