“Hatch” – What a Match!

Being a resident of the City of Pines, I am in constant search for a cafe that suits my taste — one that serves good food, unforgettable drinks, and a “hard-to-leave” ambiance. Hatch Coffee is a cafe with a pretty laid-back vibe that is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Baguio City life. If you are up for some peace and quiet, this might be your “perfect match”.

I was in Europe when I have heard of Hatch from a friend of mine. I was told that they serve some really nice cold brew and horchata that is why I was eager to try. I was planning to visit the café when I got back home, but then, covid pandemic happened forcing most (if not all) establishments to close or limit their service. So when cafes, restos and the like were allowed to operate again, I decided to finally push my long-overdue plan of trying out Hatch Coffee one Sunday afternoon.

Prior to my visit, I had to send them a message (IG account @hatchcoffeeph) to make reservations or to ask them for seat/ table availability. You have to do this because they are for everyone’s safety making sure that social distancing would be properly observed and that over-crowding will be prevented. As of the moment, they only accommodate around 10 people at a time.

It was raining when I arrived at Hatch with only 2 other people dining. I would have wanted to stay at the garden area but since it was raining, that wasn’t a good option. So I decided to stay by the bar which offers a pretty nice view of the entire place. It is a residential home converted into a café – just lovely!

Hatch offers several cold brew (black, latte, mocha), but the star of their café is the much talked about “hatchata’, Hatch’s version of horchata which is a traditional Mexican rice drink with cinnamon, and sugar. This was my outright choice since I ain’t really a fan of coffee and that for the longest time, I have been hoping we will have cafes in the city that offer more non-caffeinated drinks, in this case, horchata.

I got to try this drink for the first time in Madrid wayback 2018. The horchata they served me then was made of tiger nut instead of rice. Then, I got to taste the classic rice derived horchata in Barcelona last year. Both are actually good but the rice one tastes better at least for me. So, how did Hatch’s horchata fair? It’s pretty good – very refreshing even if it was a rainy afternoon, it didn’t bother me that I was drinking a cold horchata. It is something I don’t mind drinking all day long. Next time I come back, I will definitely try the “dirty” version of this drink.

So what food did I order to go with my horchata? A friend of mine suggested that I get their grilled cheese but being an avid fan of anything ube (purple yam), I was ready to ignore that suggestion and from the get-go, excited to taste their ube grilled cheese. So yes, I had ube grilled cheese which was truly palatine-satiating! The ube filling in between is generous. They also have longganisa and kimchi grilled cheese, something I would want to try next time.

I also ordered a piece of their calamansi tart, and calamansi muffin. The tart taste of these calamansi pastries came in as a surprise as they came off very natural. I prefer the muffin form over the tart though. They also have several cookies, and I bought a bag of their snickerdoodle cookies as a takeaway snack.

Hatch also serves burgers and sandwiches that you might want to pair up with various cold brew — which to some maybe an unlikely combination.

My tummy and my palate are happy that we have a new café in the city that is worth the moolah – from its drinks, food, and vibe… totally a match for my taste and liking.

Hatch Coffee is located along Easter Road (#135 to be exact), around 10-15 minutes away from the city center (depending on the traffic).

Update: You can also order from Hatch via FoodPanda. So in times like this, having these delicious drinks and food at the comfort of your own home, is a really good (and safe) idea.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take eat easy.

Glamping at Valleypoint (Tuba, Benguet)

Valleypoint is a camping ground and event center situated in the mountain valleys of Tuba in Benguet, Philippines.

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They offer the following services:

Prices may changed without prior notice:

A Daytour Package will cost 500php ·

What are included:

  • – Unlimited brewed coffee
  • – Free all-day breakfast
  • – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery
  • – Access to camper’s chill area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, view deck, rest rooms
  • – Free parking
  • – Up to 70% cash discount on archery & airsoft maze.

Tent Package or Glamping Experience.

The rate varies depending on the number of people. Rates are as follow: Solo – 1,350 php 2 pax – 1,250 php/head 3 pax – 1,000 php/head 4 pax – 850 php/head

  • Inclusions:
    – Waterproof, dual layer, all-weather tent
    – Uratex foam/s
    – Blanket/s
    – Pillow/s
    – Bed sheet/s
    – Flat sheet
    – Shoe box
    – Unlimited brewed coffee
    – Free breakfast
    – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery
    – Access to camper’s chill area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, hot and cold shower, view deck
    – Free parking

The Backpackers Package with an overnight stay that costs Php750 per head · Check in – 2:00 PM | Check out -12:00 NN

  • Inclusions:
    – Bed bunk, blanket, pillow, curtain divider
    – Personal lighting – Personal locker
    – Unlimited brewed coffee
    – Free breakfast
    – Airsoft coupon: 150 rounds rifle; or Archery – Access to camper’s area, board games, card games, darts, books, campsite, restaurant and bar, hot and cold shower, view deck
    – Free parking

NOTE: They have 3 types of rooms available for backpackers with capacities of 4 pax, 6 pax and 10 pax. The room may be shared with others if a group is unable to fill the maximum capacity of the room.

How to Get to Valleypoint:
If you’re driving, you can search Valleypoint Campsite on Google Maps or Waze.
Campers coming from MANILA by BUS:
  1. Tell the driver that your drop off point would be at GREEN VALLEY, PETRON STATION. No need to go to the bus terminal station.
  2. Once you reach GREEN VALLEY PETRON, take a TAXI and tell the cab driver SANTO TOMAS CHECKPOINT.
  3. Once you reach the SANTO TOMAS CHECKPOINT, tell them you have a booking at VALLEYPOINT. VALLEYPOINT is 10 to 15 meters after the CHECKPOINT.
Campers coming from BAGUIO CITY (Town)
  • by TAXI – tell the driver GREEN VALLEY, SANTO TOMAS. Fare is around 120 – 150 Php.
  • by JEEP – take any jeep from BAYANIHAN (Green Valley, Dontogan, Santo Tomas.)
  • by CAR – search VALLEYPOINT CAMPSITE on Google Maps or Waze
***Note: Upon arrival at the Santo Tomas Checkpoint, tell the guards that you’re heading to Valleypoint Campsite and they will let you through.

OTHER AMENITIES:

A Camper’s Area

This is located on the level directly above the restaurant. It is considered as the visitors’/camper’s chill areas, a common space where everyone can socialize, read a book or play games. There are available board games, card games, and books. Some guests would come here primarily for photo ops, then go (which isn’t surprising because of the large bean bags in the area). However, no food is allowed here.

In-house Restaurant

While the choices of food are quite limited, the servings are generous (maybe good for 2-3 persons). The brewed coffee though is unlimited. AND the view is AMAZING!

They also have their own Art Gallery, by the way.

Take it easy. Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Mount Kalugong (Benguet, PH)

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.” — Mark Obmascik, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

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Having lived in Baguio for over 15 years, I was able to see and experience places near the city not many people knew about. Being a self-confessed mountain-enthusiast, my weekends then were spent either pigging out in various Baguio City restaurant or sauntering my way to several mountains in Benguet. Now, if you are interested in marveling at a 360 degrees vista of the La Trinidad Valley, a chill and quick climb (less than an hour) to Mt. Kalugong Eco-Park is a place you might want to check out. It’s an eco-park, I know, however it is still a mountain top of sorts.

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Going through my write-ups about Benguet (and Cordillera) mountains I have scaled, I am surprised that only now am I making one for Mount Kalugong (considering that this is actually one of the first few mountains I have climbed in the area). Moreover, this mountain that boasts a beautiful rocky promontory in La Trinidad, is one of the well-known peaks in the capital town.

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By the way, the name Kalugong is a local term for “hat” as the rocky peak looks like a hat from afar. The climb actually is pretty easy as the road going to the park itself is established (at least at this point in time, unlike my first trek wayback 2009 when trail was not as good as what is now). The problem one might encounter now is when you start your walk while sun is already up or when it rains in the area (as the pine needles and rocks can be slippery).

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During the heyday, the main points of entry were a road in Barangay Tawang, and or via Sitio Tabangaoen in Barangay Balili (requiring someone to enter the premises of Benguet State University/ BSU). My friends and I would often use the latter as our point of entry and the former as our point of exit. Now a private property, the eco-park has undergone some developments that included a new entrance point which is via Barangay Cruz.

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Today, noticeable improvements were made that include traditional Cordilleran huts/houses, and some picnic tables. The highlight of going to Mount Kalugong is of course, making your way to the peak which is made up of amazing rock formations. Though it can be quite challenging to some (especially to those who have fear of heights), standing atop the sharp, naturally carved rocks is an adventure itself. The view from there is more than picturesque as it gives an outstanding vista of Baguio City and the La Trinidad Valley.

Another must experience is to have a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the Kape-an, the cafe atop this mountain. Besides the great selection of hot and cold drinks, sumptuous cakes – the view of the entire La Trinidad valley is just impossible to ignore.

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How to Get to Mount Kalugong (the easiest way):

From Baguio City, take a jeep going to La Trinidad. Make sure that the jeepney passes by Barangay Upper Cruz and inform the driver that you are getting down at the Baguio Memorial Services in Barangay Cruz (upper). You will see a post that indicating which road leads to Mount Kalugong. Walk your way up through the road until you arrive at a fenced area, proceed inside and continue walking til the end of the road where you can see a welcome sign that indicates you have reached the eco-park.

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Don’t be a watsed soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Agara Ramen: Fills the Tummy, Warms the Soul

If there is one thing I have been wishing to grow in number here in Baguio, that is for more ramen houses to open. Why? Well, hello! With Baguio’s perfect cold weather, having a bowl of hot ramen is what we need! Don’t you agree?

I am a self-confessed ramen person. I am fastidious with my ramen choices. I get easily disappointed if I learn that the ramen served looks and tastes like an instant noodle. My love for ramen is rooted in the fact that it is a culinary art – from the richness of its flavors, its aesthetics and the seemingly delicate techniques used on how they are prepared. A bowl of ramen holds a distinctive place in my tummy. When I slurp its soup and noodles, I feel the warmth filling my stomach, radiating happiness to my soul.I have always thought that Baguio’s weather is perfect for cafes and ramen bars/ restos. Unfortunately, we only have a few that serves really good ramen. I was delighted when Ramen Nagi opened but in the long run, one will feel burdened by the pricey cost of their ramen despite serving really good food. There are other Japanese restos here BUT the ramen they offer doesn’t come across authentic – taste most importantly.

So when I have heard of a new ramen bar (yes, it is a bar and not the usual resto) opening in my lovely city, Baguio, I got excited to try what they have to offer, hence I literally stormed my way one cold, foggy night. The place is called Agara Ramen, a 14-seater, industrial accented bar with a striking brick mural and tiled wall. Some people may have an impression that the place is a tad small in space but I think that is exactly what the owners have envisioned it to be (just like what most Japanese ramen bars are – small, intimate space for people eating ramen together).The menu of Agara Ramen is very straightforward. They offer 6 ramen styles. This includes the following:

  • Chuka Soba (a pork, chicken, fish, and vegetable broth noodles)
  • Tsukemen (a dipping ramen made with livestock, vegetable broth with soy sauce)

***These two are Agara Ramen’s menu flagship.

  • Tonkotsu Shio (sea salt base and pork broth) – if you like something light then this is for you.
  • Tonkotsu Shoyu (soy sauce and pork broth) – This I personally like.
  • Miso Ramen (strong pork miso soup) – My favorite. Because it is miso. I love anything miso.
  • Tantanmen (spicy pork broth soup in sesame seed paste) – Not my cup of tea, just because it is spicy.

Just like other ramen restaurants, you can also add tamago (Japanese soy sauce egg), chashu (braised pork belly), and/ or nori (seaweed). They also serve gyoza (dumplings) and karaage (fried chicken skin). All of these can be perfectly matched with a glass of Japanese barley tea (mugicha) or maybe a can of soda.My Agara Ramen experience was made more special because I got the chance to see how some of these ramen are prepared (and even eaten). The owner, Sir Ray Costa, gamely showed how it’s prepared. Please allow the photographs I took to further do the talking.As the weather here in Baguio becomes colder (and stormy), having a bowl (or two) of ramen is good way to quickly warm us up. I may just switch between ramen and some local noodles my brother makes (Ilocos miki). So if you are up for something “ramen-tic” belly-filling, and smile-inducing — a bowl of ramen goodness at Agara Ramen is what you probably need.

Agara Ramen is located at the Ground Floor of Rancho Guillermo Bldg. (beside Maybank), North Drive (where NBI’s entrance gate is), Engineers Hill, Baguio City. They are on their soft opening (grand opening will be on the 8th of September 2019). They are open from 11AM to 12MN (Monday to Thursday); and 11AM to 02AM (Friday to Sunday). You can also check out their social media accounts: fb.com/AgaraRamen (FB page), @AgaraRamen (both in Instagram and Twitter).So what are you waiting for? Fill your tummy, satiate your buds’ taste – “eats” a wonderful world after all. Take “eat” easy!

Sweets to Try in Baguio City

Sometimes, we do not need to stay too healthy nor focus on eating what is right to keep the body fit and functioning. Our sweet tooth is a part of this wonderful machine, so we have to honor it and spoil it from time to time… to time.

If you have a sweet tooth like me, then, you might want to try these palatine-satiating, delightful sweets once you are in Baguio. They are some of the perfect matches to your hot coffee or tea while reading a book, watching a movie or just lazing around while the weather gets all cool and cozy.

1. Vizcos’ Strawberry Shortcake. An all-time favorite from among locals and tourists alike. This dessert makes use of fresh strawberries and imparts a creamy sensation that seem to melt in your mouth.

2. This avocado-flavored dirty ice cream at the Slaughter house. (well they also have strawberry and mango, but this is my ultimate favorite). If you happen to be in the area for their “bulalo and ihaw-ihaw” look for a local vendor of this ice cream who happens to be just hanging out in the area. Dirty has never been this delicious!

3. The egg tarts of Glycosweet. A small, hole-in-the-wall cafe near the Victory bus terminal (Manila-bound) bakes these small but mouth-watering sweets. So far, they are the best egg tarts I have tasted (besides the ones I have tried in Lisbon, Portugal).

4. Taro Ice Cream of Aura One Hotel. This surprisingly good ice cream topped with a taro chip, is not all smooth and creamy since a gritty feeling will be felt by your mouth. It comes from the bits of taro incorporated in this sumptuous dessert.

5. Ube Champorado of Lihim ni Maria. Another hole-in-wall cafe/resto in Baguio that offers dleiciously unusual desserts and drinks is Lihim ni Maria. I personally like their version of champorado that makes use of a local red rice from Kalinga infused with ube. You’ll end up saying “what a beautiful gastronomic experience” when you taste this.

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6. Sweet Stop’s Apple Brownie & Cassava Cake. This delicious duo are my favorite at this pretty cafe along Session Road. They never fail to compliment any of the flavored hot tea I drink whenever I come by to satiate my sweet tooth cravings. And, you get to buy these sweets at a very affordable price!

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7. Arcas Yard’s Kamote Pie. This signature dessert from the uberly cozy and relaxing cafe-restaurant along Ambuclao Road will never disappoint your taste. I like how soft and not so saccharine it is. It’s a perfect pair for my artichoke tea (an Arca’s Yard fave drink).

8. Mugwort Bread of Le Vain Cafe/Bakeshop. This is an interesting bread at least to me. It’s called a mugwort bread with walnuts, chestnut and red bean. i have learned wayback my Pharmacognosy days that mugwort is a natural anti-malarial but I never knew it is edible. So i did a little research and to my surprise, mugwort is indeed a famous bread from among Koreans and Japanese. Fascinating and delicious too!

9. Ube Taho. Well Baguio is famous for its strawberry taho for sure. But do you know that recently, a new flavor has been abuzz from among visitors? I have just tried the ube counterpart and I personally like it better than the much sweeter strawberry taho. I never thought ube would blend well with this soya product.

So whether you just want to cheat on your diet or maybe just wanting to give in to that outright urge to eat something saccharine, then give these lovely sweets a try. And I am pretty sure you’ll end up with a grin. 😁😁😁

Take it easy.

The Art and Sci of Bonsai

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As a kid, I have always been fascinated with plants, animals, and nature in general. Whenever I get to reminisce my childhood days, I smile recalling those weekends I get to do some gardening with my grandmother. My love and appreciation of greenery were major influences by my lola. How I enjoyed seeing a flower bloom or when one of our fruit-bearing trees start to produce lots of fruits.

As I grew older, I find myself enjoying even more when I have encounter with nature through mountain hikes, and strolling in parks and gardens. Later on, I have been particularly interested in bonsai, miniature trees I often see in Japanese parks in television or as indoor displays in some household.

Baguio City happens to hold a yearly exhibit of bonsai plants during the Panagbenga (Flower Festival) season. So when a good friend of mine invited me to see this year’s bonsai exhibit, I didn’t second guess myself in visiting it.

A bit of history: Bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in small containers. People who are into it also believe that besides being an art, growing bonsai involves science. The term bonsai comes from two words – “bon” meaning tray or low-sided pot and “sai” meaning plantings. I have read that while bonsai is emblematically Japanese, the art was said to have originally developed in China, other books claim it is from India, which was only adopted later on by the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan.

They say that the main aim of bonsai cultivation is the creation of miniature trees with a look of age in their overall appearance that includes its shapes, proportions, and details. The typical bonsai is a single, dwarfed tree in a small container. However, it has the appearance of a mature tree, but not of an entirely regular one. A bonsai artist or designer has worked on the tree’s shape and surfaces in order to improve the tree’s apparent age, and also to give it a distinct “facade” from which it is meant to be seen and noticed.

My visit to the Bonsai Exhibit gave me a broader perspective on bonsai, and a bigger love and appreciation not only to the miniature trees but also to the artists behind these aesthetically pleasing plants. It sure isn’t easy to come up with such artistry since by the looks of it, growing bonsai seems to require some rigorous horticultural practices and techniques.

I still have a lot of things to learn about bonsai. I am sure there is more to a bonsai than a fruitful fusion of art and science. While I was looking at the bonsai plants on display at the exhibit, it came to my senses that each one is unique; some of them even invites individual thinking – allowing you to interpret beyond the physical design itself. It is like listening to a poem, only that you are staring at it.

 

If you are interested in bonsai, you could visit the Baguio Bonsai Exhibit located at the Rose Garden, Burnham Park, Baguio City. There is a Php20.00 entrance fee that serves as a help to the bonsai artists whose masterpieces are displayed in the said exhibit. This exhibit will run until the 3rd of March 2019. In case you have any questions about these miniature trees, and the exhibit is over, you can contact the following from the Baguio – Benguet Bonsai Club. Ghaile Defensor – 0945 892 1375; Earl Candelario – 0917 395 4148; or Kim Fabro – 0917 985 2373.

The exhibit also showcases the following, should you be interested: Suiseki, the Japanese art of stone appreciation, which are small naturally occurring or shaped rocks that are traditionally appreciated; some artificial bonsai using bonsai wires; and some aquascapes too.

These are photos of some artificial bonsai and suiseki.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy.

Baguio’s Local Folks

“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.” – Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

What does a community mean to you? Your university class, or your theatre family, or maybe your neighborhood? Is it a place you go to whenever you need some breather? Or, a particular individual you seek advice when confusion and problems arise? Or in a nutshell, a community could be any space where thoughts (or opinions), talents, and passions are made communal, acknowledged, and shared in an encouraging and fruitful manner. A community, therefore, evokes a sense of support to people and their creatives.

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I have always taken pride that Baguio, my city, is a creative community where locals (and visitors alike) can freely express their ingenuity in any form that is inspiring. Last June 20, I finally got the chance to attend one of The Local Folke’s monthly gathering. THE LOCAL FOLKE is an inventive outlet for various kinds of creative individuals from travelers to writers to photographers to artists of different kind. As I see it, it hopes to become a peer-led community for connection, inspiration, inclusion and of course, creative expression. Moreover, I sense that The Local Folke can eventually become a space to feel at home, to spend time with others, to be to be one’s self, to be accepted, and to learn and grow.

During this recent gathering, a very timely topic was discussed. It was about financial management and the troubles that go with spending and saving one’s money. I usually say no to any invitation about financial advocacy talks. For one, I feel that such talk usually leads to networking. I am just glad that the sharing made through this get-together was enlightening. It has dawned on me that the problem is not the lack of money, but the lack of financial literacy. I won’t put into details the things we talked about, but I must say that I have learned a thing or two. (Thanks to Sir Galang of Insular Life).

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After this basic discussion about financial management, every attendee got the chance to know each other better by sharing something about themselves. It was such a diverse group wherein there were musicians, photographers, travel enthusiasts, and more. The best part (and the one I enjoyed the most) was when each of us were asked random questions that allow sharing of thoughts/ opinions and be an inspiration to others. It was such a delight to listen and learn from different people’s viewpoints and sentiments. Such simple meeting provided a humbling opportunity to mingle and gain confidence in a situation where we are all appreciated.

It definitely won’t be the last time I am attending such get-together. I am beyond ecstatic that I was able to meet like-minded individuals over good talks and laughs. Special shout-out to Micah and Mikka for organizing this wonderful event. Thanks too, to Lance Oneil for the photographs.

Take it easy everyJuan.

Baguio is Home

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right. — Maya Angelou

Sometimes I feel there’s a love-hate kind of relationship that exists between me and Baguio, the city I call my home. Occasionally I think it is too small and limited regarding opportunities and expanding my horizon. I once left the city for three years thinking it would be a real escape from forgetting the bad memories of a failed relationship. I thought leaving Baguio was a good excuse to explore the things outside my comfort zone. It made me believe that leaving my home will help me find where I want to be, and who I want to become.

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After ten weeks of backpacking around Europe, I was reminded that there is no better place like home… that there is no better feeling than being in the city that I love so much. So here are the main reasons why I will always be happy to stay in the City of Pine, Baguio.

The Weather: Baguio has the best weather from among the Philippine cities. Well, it may have gone a little warmer over the years, yet the weather here is incomparable. Moreover, the smell of the cold air is so comforting to my body and soul. You’ll feel it the moment you arrive in the city. It is distinct from anywhere else. I think this is the prime reason why a lot of people come to visit Baguio.

The Good Food: I want to believe that Baguio offers an array of excellent food. I am a self-confessed foodie and so exploring food possibilities with my palate is one thing I love doing. I go out and try new gastronomies whenever a new café or restaurant opens. I want to think that Baguio is one big food hub ideal for a food crawl. Home-grown eateries like 50s Diner, Vizcos, Arcas Yard, and Canto are some of my favorite. Just like Baguio’s unruffled weather, the food here is soothing to the soul.

The People: Baguio may have become a melting pot already, but Baguio people remains to be some of the most hospitable and genuinely kind individuals and families. Aside from having the best taxi drivers in the entire country, on a personal note, the people I have met here in Baguio are incomparable. These people I call friends and family, these people whom I have made a lot of memories, these people who have contributed much to my growth as a person – are the main reasons why I love Baguio to the core. Not all of them may no longer be here with me (as they are already living their own lives), but the moments we have shared together are here to stay no matter what.

Lastly, I love Baguio because this is where I get to enjoy my time and my space. I love that reassuring feeling that I will be fine whatever the circumstances are because I am in Baguio… because I am home.

Of Rain & Of Tears

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.” — William Shakespeare

So today, I decided to post something different from my usual musings (triggered perhaps by the moody weather the past days). It was yet another rainy afternoon. It’s raining as far as I can see. It’s coming down unbreakable now.

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It is amusing how the rain is reminiscent of the times I wanted to cry. In some way, as we mature into adulthood, we stop thinking about the hush-hush of crying. We were taught that crying is for babies and that it is imperative to keep our sentiments inside. I was told that boys don’t cry. So, instead of learning to let go of my hurts through crying, I have mastered to numb it through self-anguish and unvoiced misery for several years now.

This is what I have done astray as a grown-up. I am too troubled to cry, and even when I am at the edge of breaking down, and actually shed some tears, I am over-shadowed with unease. I can’t seem to cry. But the downpours takes me back that one of the most prevailing coping skills has been stolen from me.

 

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It is okay to cry…

I have been a lot of painful experiences and many times too, did I attempt to cry it out… But the thought of it as a sign of weakness surmounts the thought that I am hurting.

I have to admit it. It doesn’t feel good… It does not feel good at all…

I gaze out of our window, the rain stopped. The clouds seem to have brought an end to its resentment… But suddenly smoke gets in my eyes, and I started to cry. I lost bottling up my emotions. And it started to feel a little better.

Lester out…

 

WN Hilltop BnB (Baguio City)

I want my home to be that kind of place–a place of sustenance, a place of invitation, a place of welcome. Mary DeMuth, Live Uncaged: Find the Freedom You’ve Always Wanted

An Airbnb is defined as an online marketplace and hospitality service. This allows people to rent short-term lodging. This may include apartment rentals, bed and breakfast places, homestays, or even hostel beds. I first tried this when I went to Auckland, New Zealand last year. Having a pretty high cost of living, a hotel stay for 2 weeks seems not a good and practical idea. So I opted for the way cheaper alternative – that is to try Airbnb. Fast-forward, a few weeks ago, I told myself that I should try an Airbnb in Baguio City, and at an instant, I was accommodated by a nice Airbnb host named Lex.

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Perched on top a private property, in a seemingly unobtrusive wood-carving neighborhood along Asin Road in Baguio City, is a home-turned-BnB. It is simply called WN Hilltop BnB. Asin Road is a major thoroughfare in the City of Pines that isn’t exactly at the center. It’s the main road that goes to nearby Tuba’s hot springs and the famed Ben Cab Museum. With that in mind, it may not instantly be a top choice for a place to stay in Baguio, especially if what you want is something very near the major Baguio tourist attractions.

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I, myself was a bit worried that transportation or travel time be a problem if I’d stay in such BnB. BUT, why don’t you check the place for yourself? Because I was pretty surprised (in a very good way) as to how lovely, QUIET, and relaxing this home is. Lex, the owner of the BnB is such an amazing host. He is very accommodating and is readily available to everything his guest’s needs.

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The room I had is beyond exquisite! I love how tastefully decorated the walls are with beautiful art pieces. I also adore the fact that I have a comforting view of mountains, a golf course, and if you are lucky with the weather, a stunning sunset too! When I saw my home for 2 days and 2 nights, I suddenly had a change of plans. Instead of checking nearby places like Ben Cab, Tam-awan, and Lourdes Grotto, my mind and body instantly wanted to just enjoy my stay at WN Hilltop BnB. It was a perfect place to spend your time watching your favorite Koreanovela or do a movie marathon. I myself spent most of the time eating, drinking tea and coffee while reading a book.

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Since it is a BnB, a simple breakfast of bread and pressed coffee (which is so good) comes with your stay. There is also a welcome tea drink and cookies. Oh, how I love these simple things. Lex also gladly showed me the other rooms of his home, and I must say they are all lovely. I also like that each room has a terrace. Some units have their own toilet and bath while others have to share a bathroom.

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Things guests might want to take note of are the following:

Lex and his partner have 2 dogs – Bali and Coco. Wifi is available but it isn’t very fast. But that is okay as disconnecting from your social media could further make your stay at WN Hilltop more relaxing and stress-free.

A golf, spa, and restaurant are within walking distance. The Pinewoods Golf Course and Clubhouse is actually the one you get to gaze at from your window and is approximately a 15-20 minute walk or if you have your own car, it’ll be around 5-minute drive. As mentioned earlier, the Ben Cab Museum is near the area. So you can just wait for a jeepney or taxi that pass by the area and go visit the museum.

I have to agree when Lex said that the location of his BnB is best for those who want to capture a snapshot of living in Baguio City and of course, those who’ll like a pretty quiet place to stay especially at night. Those who choose to go for the extra mile will surely be rewarded!

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How to Get to WN Hilltop BnB: So here are the various options for getting around.

If your point of origin is SM Baguio, take a taxi. It would usually cost around PHP 70-120 depending on the traffic. If you opt to take the public transport, the jeepneys going to KM4 in Asin Road is at the Baguio City Market (locate Panadero Bakeshop). The Asin Road jeepneys are found in here. The fare is less than Php 10.00. Get off at Pamela Store or if you see the orange colored bridge (Asin Bridge Number 2), then you are on the right track. You will see an uphill to your right, walk your way and you will see a big gate on your left, go walk straight until you see WN Hilltop BnB.

WN Hilltop BnB
Address: 0976 KM 4 Asin Road, Baguio City
Phone Number: 0956 407 6649
Facebook: WN Hilltop FB Page

More of WN Hilltop (especially reservations), please do check Lex’s Airbnb profile for the price and other essential details HERE.

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My stay at Lex’s place was marked by comfort and serenity. Thank you, Lex kabsat for the asikaso ken istorya nga addu!

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.