I’ve started to become obsessed with hill stations recently and would like to visit a few. So it’s only apt that I write about the only hill station in the Philippines, Baguio City. What was only 20 Ibaloi houses at the the turn of the 20th century is now a big, sprawling metropolis.
I began my Baguio adventure by visiting Mt. Cloud Bookstore in Casa Vallejo on Upper Session Road. It seems that this is the current ground zero of the Baguio art scene. Mt. Cloud is well-stocked with the books of Filipino authors and has the potential to become an important bookstore as our literary scene begins to grow. It also has a restaurant beside it called Hill Station.
Another art scene favorite is Oh My Gulay! on top of the Azotea Bldg. also on Session Road. The owner of this place, Baguio legend Kidlat Tahimik, actually transferred parts of a huge boat to the top of his building and incorporated it into a vegetarian restaurant cum bar.
And if you still can’t get enough art, you can head out to Km. 6 of Asin Road and find the museum of BenCab. BenCab is short for Benedicto Cabrera, probably one of the most premiere artists of the country. He has funneled his money into this personal project which exhibits the best of Philippine modern and indigenous art. And if you want to buy some indigenous art for yourself, the museum is located in the heart of the Baguio woodcarving district, where you can get the real stuff for yourself, and you can even bargain.
Baguio has also another scene that is also taking a hold in the Philippines, and that’s the organic movement. Master’s Garden at the edge of Baguio, in neighboring La Trinidad serves vegetables from their very own gardens. Pat, the farmer/owner, also gives a short tour after, answering all your questions about organics vs. the evil chemical empire.
There is also the Bliss Cafe in Hotel Elizabeth, a vegetarian restaurant with smacking good food.
And what would a hill station be without awesome coffeeshops. A long time ago, I went to Kafee Klastch on City Camp Road, which I liked. This time around, we went to nearby Cafe Will’s on M.H. del Pilar. What makes Cafe Will totally awesome is that it has really excellent, free wi-fi connection (w/ no password necessary!) and even better, on Friday and Saturday nights, it is open for 24 hours! The time I was there, I had really excellent hot chocolate, and I was even able to nap on a couch! Lol. But that was a Sunday night, so maybe I got away with it because it wasn’t so full.
One last thing, the reason I got obsessed with Baguio is because I read a book about Baguio, who’s name escapes me right now. But now I’m reading The Great Hill Stations of Asia by Barbara Crossette which is just as inspiring.
Update: I forgot also to write about Pizza Volante on Session Road. Cheap and tasty, this place will appeal to students and hungry backpackers alike. I’ve also gone back to Mt. Cloud Bookstore and picked up a copy of A Sagada Reader. It is an awesome book that chronicles the minutiae of Sagada life.