Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baguio, Amidst the Storm (The Tour, Part I

27-29 August 2011. Mountain Province.

The City of Baguio may be toured through a cab hired for the day. A rate of Php300.00/hour is charged, and the cab driver can take you to the most visited attractions in the City. Or one may avail of the hotel’s tour package. I learned from Buboy, a guide we met by chance at the Forest House, that the hotel he works at has a tour package that costs Php2,000.00. I didn’t get to ask what were the tour inclusions. Or one may freely tour Baguio on his own, which was what we did. We took cab rides, however, due to the weather. The highest amount we paid for a cab ride within the City is Php90.00.

Below are the attractions we visited, taking into consideration Typhoon Mina:

SM City Baguio

The mall has become an attraction because of its unique design – a tent-like roof, and viewing decks per floor, with a sweeping view of the City. Unlike the SM malls I’ve been accustomed to, SM City Baguio is one open space that we saw birds fleeting around the Food Court while we were having lunch. According to my limited readings, the mall was formally opened on 21 November 2003. It is the first SM mall which does not utilize an air conditioning system.

It was our first day in Baguio, the day Typhoon Mina thought it cute to have a landfall in Cagayan Valley. The rain wouldn’t stop; instead of being holed up at the hotel, however, we took a cab to SM City Baguio. With nothing else to do, and nowhere else to go for the day, we went back to the hotel.

Baguio Cathedral

baguio cathedral

Also known as the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral, the Baguio Cathedral is a walking distance from our hotel. The 28th of August being a Sunday, Jas and I heard the 10 o’clock mass, which was celebrated in the Ilocano language.

Located on top of a hill in the heart of the City, the Cathedral’s construction underwent many phases. I read that the hill where the Cathedral now stands was referred to as ‘Kampo’ by the Ibalois. In 1907, Belgian Missionaries named the site Mount Mary. Construction of the building itself began in 1920 and was finished in 1936. On that same year, the Cathedral was consecrated and dedicated to Our Lady of Atonement.

What’s unique about the Cathedral is its rose-colored exterior and twin spires. Inside are traditional stained glass windows.

Session Road

The busiest road in the City, Session Road is where most of the establishments are located. Due to Baguio’s cool weather, one can simply just walk along Session Road and consider it a pleasant experience. It is here where Baguio’s ukay-ukay may be found. Jas and I, naturally, shopped for ukay-ukay items.

I recently learned that Session Road is actually divided into two parts: the Lower Session Road, and the Upper Session Road. The Session Road I knew since childhood is the Lower Session Road. According to my readings, the Road derived its name from the fact that it was used to lead up to the old Baden-Powell Hall, where the first Philippine Commission held its sessions from 22 April to 11 June 1904, and officially initiated the use of the City as the summer capital of the country. I read that there is a marker by what is now the Baden-Powell Inn, which marker is the only visible evidence that Session Road had a historical significance. I will be sure to check this out should I visit Baguio again.

Lourdes Grotto

lourdes grotto

We climbed about two hundred steps before reaching the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, 252 steps to be exact. The grotto is located on Mirador Hill in the western part of the City. The grotto was constructed to commemorate the apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous in the town of Lourdes, France. Catholic devotees make it a point to visit the grotto when they come to Baguio.