Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Baguio beckons

The City of Pines. The Philippines' Summer Capital.

It's been called many names but after celebrating Christmas with the family there this year, I'd like to call it our default Christmas haunt. If we're not traveling somewhere else, that is.

Baguio City is located in northern Luzon, about 250 kilometers from Manila with an altitude of approximately 1500 meters (5100 ft). The city was established by Americans in the 1900's, which is why even today, major roads, parks and camps are named after Americans.

Despite a surge in population and modernization, parts of Baguio have remained rustic and yet, breathtaking. If I were planning my wedding and decided to have it in Baguio during the Christmas season, I would probably encourage my guests to do as much as they can in this bucolic but still beautiful city.

For example, have a filling breakfast with herbal tea and fresh fruits at Cafe by the Ruins:

Above, an old stove.
Below, Cafe by the Ruins' display of cakes, bread, coffee and tea.
Breakfast here is bliss. :-)

Above, bacon and eggs with plain rice.
Below, cubed longanisa with mountain rice.
Both definitely delish!

Visit the quaint Tam-awan village to see authentic Ifugao homes and have their portraits drawn by local artists:

Or test their faith and endurance as they climb more than 250 steps to the Lourdes Grotto:

Check out the wood furniture and decor at PNKY home and enjoy a cup of coffee at PNKY Cafe:

A counter filled with lomography photos.

Forget their names after a steaming bowl of arroz caldo, warm bibingka or a hot cup of chocolate at Chocolate de Batirol at Camp John Hay:

Then have a tummy-satisfying dinner at Pizza Volante, Session Road:

If I were getting married, I'd probably choose St. Joseph's Church for my ceremony...

...and celebrate with a chilly Christmas-sy dinner like the one we had during Christmas Eve at The Manor in Camp John Hay.

The salad and appetizer station.

The dessert station complete with a Christmas-sy croquembouche.

The crepe station.

Above, tents at the garden area to accommodate more Christmas eve diners.
Below, the steak and grill station.

What would my wedding souvenirs be for my guests? Baguio's famous ube jam, Cashew/Peanut Brittle and Strawberry Jam from the Good Shepherd Convent, of course!

Happy Holidays everyone!

*Other photos by Andrea Alvarez and Gian Batac