Baguio, home of the strawberries, pine trees and cool breeze. People from all over the country flee to the summer capital to experience the wonder that has captured thousands of travelers. In the growing number of tourists, Baguio increases the need for transportation, thus the abundance of taxi cabs, jeeps and buses. Although this predicament has been solved, traffic jams are still a problem for the city. In light of this, it is better to see the city in a more traditional way – walking.
A Little Out of the Ordinary
At the topmost portion of the city proper is SM City Baguio where most of the folks, young or old gather for a more modern take of mingling and shopping. Everyone knows the shops, restaurants and recreational areas that SM has but this particular Baguio branch has some differences. In terms of ventilation, SM Baguio has no air-conditioning except inside the department store. The cold breeze of the mountain is enough to keep the open area of the mall cool enough for its customers. Structure is also somewhat different. Big extended verandas surround the mall for the sole purpose of flaunting the Baguio beauty so that visitors can have their pictures taken with the city backdrop. In case of a sudden downpour of rain, glass doors automatically cover the open areas. On the top floor, there are huge tents for roofs to let more light in during the day and to keep the ceiling far above the ground for more cold breeze to go around. If most of you get tired of the typical mall aura, there’s plenty room for shopping outside the premises of SM City Baguio.
The Double Sided Speculation
Session road has its many passages that lead you to different venues such as schools, hotels, mini malls, groceries and the Baguio Cathedral. From SM City Baguio, there is a passage way going straight down to Session road. For a quick overview, the left side of the road leads you to the La Azotea Building, Prime Hotel, a shortcut to Burnham park and shops along the way. The right side of the road leads you to passages to the Cathedral, St. Louis School Center, more shops and all the way down to an intersection point going to the market.
A common trend is to go to the Cathedral to offer a short prayer and then you will see a mall entrance to “Porta Vaga Mall”. If you continue on to exit the mall, cross the street and make your way to the “La Azotea” building. A restaurant and gallery growing in popularity among vegetarians called “Oh My Gulay” is located at the top floor. The place gives you an ambiance you will never forget. It’s covered in leaves, a fishpond, flooring, walls and furniture are all made out of pure art. It is home of the VOCAS or the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space. The menu is of course purely vegetarian – Sariwang Salad, Pestong Kamatis, Pancit Gulay, Mushroom Onion Crepe and many more.
Once the palate has been satisfied, the walk on Session road continues as there are more shops you might want to explore. However, if one seeks to get a huge cut off on prices of vegetables, fruits and souvenirs, the infamous Baguio black market is the place to be!
The Souvenir Central
At the black market where the old folks usually stay for exercise or pure conversational leisure are the extremely lowered price of vegetables, fruits and a wide variety of goods to bring home as souvenirs. This makes the black market popular and well-known.
Vegetables can go as low as five pesos for a bundle of Kangkong or ten pesos for a plastic full of tomatoes. But the sought after vegetables from Baguio are the cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and cherry tomatoes (cherry-sized tomatoes used for salad). The biggest find in the market is still the renowned Baguio strawberries. Typically ranging from 150 pesos per kilo, depending on the season. The sought after deep fried crispy pork “bagnet” is also found inside the market, usually costing 150 pesos per bundle.
The souvenir shops inside the market are countless as the shops in Session roads. Some good buys for souvenirs include key chains, necklaces, phone charms, handmade wallets (all typically having a 4 for 100 bargain), shirts, bags, the Ilocano blanket and of course, wood carvings.
By this time of the day, you would probably feel quite exhausted. One more stop to calm the nerves from shopping and market bargaining.
Last Stop: Baguio’s Recreational Core
The last stop for the tour on foot is the Baguio Burnham park. To go there from the black market, find the overpass called the “Maharlika overpass” and walk down the side of the Igorot Garden. From there, it’s pretty easy to spot the Melvin Jones Grand stand, the wide soccer field and of course, the boat ride area.
It’s the usual place to stay and rest your feet after a long walk. If you’d choose to take a boat ride, the cost is 150 pesos for a 30-minute ride. The price depends on the season of course, during summer prices soar up by 30 or 50 pesos. The boat ride area is always closed during heavy rain or a windy day. A good rest and breath of fresh Baguio air are usually a perfect way to end an afternoon filled with walking and sightseeing.
Though the abundance of modern transportation is continuously chosen over the manual task of walking, there is value added to the effort of moving your feet back and forth towards a destination or simply a sight to behold. Baguio is a place to walk through and a place to see when you’re game to get on your feet for a scenic stroll over refreshing mountain air.