Be Benguet.

Whenever someone asks me which among the 76 Philippine provinces I have been is my favorite, I without batting an eyelash, would quip — Benguet. Bias as it may sound, but no one gets close to a place you call home.

Benguet is one of the 6 provinces that comprise the Cordillera Region. The province has 13 municipalities and 1 city. I have been to 9 of the 13 towns and it is quite a shame that I still have to set foot on 4 of them.

Anyhow, be amazed with its picturesque landscape, cool climate, and warm, friendly people — Beautiful Benguet. 🥰

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

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’.

Quatervois

When you’re lost, when you’re in a “quatervois” — where do you begin?

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Most people I know (personal or random acquaintances) perceive me as someone jolly and happy and blessed and living a “really good life”. Yes… I am blessed, beyond blessed with all these travels I never thought would happen this soon. However, that “I feel lost” thought is becoming more intense for the past weeks. It feels like I am drifting away from people, from my usual activities, from myself. It is as if I am in a “quatervois” — a crossroad, where I have to come up with critical decisions as to what to do in life. Add to that the stress and anxiety from work and my boss. It has given me innumerable sleepless nights, a lot of abrupt sleep, and the inability to concentrate with my work.

The sense of excitement towards many things has dwindled and the falling out of touch with thy self is making me frustrated and melancholic. I even deactivated my major social media apps (Facebook to Instagram) and have been very lazy and uninspired to write something in my WordPress account. But I find myself frequently ranting and throwing random thoughts on my Twitter account.

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I have been trying to evaluate myself as to why I have been feeling empty and sad from time to time. I am not actually surprise to realize that I have been like this for almost 8 years now. (Could it be that, that event be the “turning point” in my life?) I knew I wasn’t okay some 7 years and 10 months ago, but who would have thought that one heart—breaking, soul-shattering experience would linger that long and that it would lead to more disappointing events. There are things I have envisioned for myself that did not turn out the way I have wanted it to be. And there are those that I could hardly talk about. They have become more difficult to share and talk out with people, even with people I feel who are trustworthy. As I grew older, I feel that shutting my mouth, and keeping things to myself is better than explaining things to people. Even if that means carrying all those mental and emotional baggage to my very soul.

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For now, I just really want to let my universe know that I feel lost, that I am not okay. Maybe this is a good first step in finding my way.

 

Let’s Talk about ATOK

For most people traveling this side of the Cordillera region, Atok, a town in the province of Benguet, has become the usual “stop-over” for buses, and other vehicles that are plying the Halsema Highway system. But lately, this chilly municipality is slowly gaining local and foreign tourists’ attention. Looking into Benguet’s map, Atok is centrally located, and it looks like a heart, hence the moniker – “The Heart of the Highlands.”

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My first encounter with Atok was in 2008 when my friends and I went to Sagada for the first time. The 1st stop-over of our 6-hour bus ride to Sagada is actually in Sayangan, Atok. A friend of mine even said that we should not miss the “siopao” at this stop as it is really good. That was the highlight of my first encounter with Atok, buying and eating a siopao.

Well, kidding aside, the town has been famous for two other reasons. One, it is where the Philippine Pali is located. This is the “Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System,” which is a part of Halsema Highway. And second, Atok is home to the 3rd highest mountain in Luzon, Mt. Timbak or Mt Singakalsa. I was fortunate to have scaled this mountain on two different occasions (first in 2009, and then in 2011).

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After seven long years, I got the chance to re-visit Atok together with my Couchsurfing guest, Justin. So one weekend, we decided to explore Atok a little more. Here are the other places one could visit while in the heart of Benguet. Read along.

Northern Blossoms Flower (and Vegetable) Farm

This two-hectare farm has been supplying some of Metro Manila’s top society gatherings and hotel chains with their flowers. The farm boasts a wide variety of beautiful flowers and other plants like a cabbage rose, larkspur, snap dragon, alstroemeria, amaranthus, delphinium, eucalyptus leaves and many others. They are such a sight to behold! I am pretty confident that anyone visiting the farm will be smitten as to how lovely these flowers are.

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Going to Northern Blossoms is pretty easy. When one arrives in Sayangan, locate the municipal hall so that it can serve as your point of reference. From the town hall, walk your way down, and on the left side of the road, you will see signages indicating where the flower farm is. It is a short road that goes down further.

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The owners Mr. and Mrs. Ganayan, are two humble and hospitable individuals who have been in the flower business for quite some time now. They have decided to open their farm to both local and foreign guests. They have a 2-unit lodging cottage/ homestay should visitors decide to stay longer in Atok. My friend Justin and I stayed over-night since we wanted to witness the sunrise at the farm.

For further inquiry, you may contact Mam Lany at +639081513368. Entrance fee at Northern Blossoms is now Php250.00 per person while an overnight stay is at Php350.00 per person(subject to cange without prior notice). I highly appreciate that after a tour around the farm (with a very knowledgeable guide), a visitor is treated to a hot coffee and bread. Perfect for the frigid weather in Atok. (Mind you, during our stay, the weather went as low as 4 degrees Celsius, and the range of temperature was from 5 to 9 degrees Celsius the following day). So it is a must to bring with you some warm clothes.

NOTE: The flower farm is close every Monday for maintenance.

The Benguet – Kochi Sisterhood Park

I am pretty sure a lot of us have been dreaming of seeing a sakura flower. I saw some when I went to Taiwan last year, and most people I know books a flight either to Japan or Korea to see these pretty flowers. Well, Benguet will soon have its sakura park, and it is located in Atok.

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In 2016, about 40 Japanese Sakura trees were planted at an area in Paoay, Atok, Benguet. Two varieties of these famed flowering plants were planted: these are the Sindaya (white flowers) and Yakiwari (pink flowers) Sakura varieties. I was happy to see that during our visit, the Yakiwari Sakura trees already have flowers.

The park is notably cold and seems to me a perfect place for the growing sakura. I could already imagine how lovely it would be when the time comes that all the cherry blossoms would be blossoming. The area is also surrounded by vegetable farms and mossy forest.

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Mount Cotnon and Bosleng Grotto

Around 30-45 minutes’ walk from the Sakura park, one could visit Mount Cotnon, a mountain with rocks atop and a stunning view of some vegetable terraces. A few turns from this mountain is a man-made attraction called Bosleng Grotto. It is a cave underneath big rocks with an icon of the “Lady of Lourdes.” Just like Northern Blossoms and the Sakura Park, these areas have a cold climate. Locals say that the cavern has served as a pilgrimage site for them and other visitors.

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Philippine Pali

Located along the Halsema Highway, this is considered the highest point in the country under the Philippine highway system. It has an elevation of 7,400 ft above sea level. The name Philippine Pali was coined because of its similarity with that of Pali, Hawaii. It has a view deck, and some local stores are found in the area. Aside from the greenery brought about by vegetable gardens, a commanding view of Mount Timbak also serves as a picturesque background.

Osocan Tunnel

A potential man-made attraction added to the Atok Tour Packages, Osocan Tunnel is a Spanish Trail. It was constructed as a horse trail during the Spanish Period that exists up to this time. It features three man-made tunnels carved through colossal rock formation about 10 meters long each. This though is something I have yet to see.

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Mount Timbak

As I have mentioned earlier, I have already scaled this mountain twice. During the 1st time, my friends and I camped out on top of this mountain after visiting the mummies of Kabayan. During my 2011 visit, we did a day hike. It is a pretty easy climb. My recent visit though was a surprise. One can already reach the mountain by not spending much time trekking. As a mountain enthusiast, I was somehow disappointed that the registration and guide fees are priced at Php 50.00 each (so one person will have to pay Php100.00). Moreso, the climb to the peak now has become way too short and easy.

One can avail of tour packages being offered by the Atok Tourism. They have combined these attractions into various packages that include guide and transportation fees. You may contact the following number for inquiry: 09301892757 or 09465147799.

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How to Reach Atok from Baguio:

Ride a bus or van that passes by the municipality of Atok in Halsema Highway. These include public transport going to Sagada, Bontoc, Mankayan, and Abatan/ Buguias. You can find these at the Dangwa terminal behind Center Mall in Magsaysay Avenue. There are also buses at the Slaughterhouse in Magsaysay Avenue. Earliest bus is a Sagada-bound Lizardo bus which leaves at 3am.

Inform your driver to drop you off at Marosan’s Restaurant in Atok or in front of Atok’s municipal hall. The fare for the bus is Php 73.00 while van fare is at Php100.00. The travel time is 1.5 to 2.5 hours. There are on-going road works that could slow down the trip.

Also, there are vans (which leaves as early as 5am) in La Trinidad and Baguio (back of Center mall) that passes by the town of Atok, so that is another option for travellers.

Going back to Baguio, you either take a van or bus. These public vehicles only stop by Atok so the availability of seats has no guarantee. Time of transportation availability is also not fix.

If and when you miss the early morning bus (especially if you are after the sunrise at the flower farm) one can hire a taxi in Baguio City. Now depending on your haggling skills and your fate to meet a really nice taxi driver, then you can go for this option. During my second Atok visit, we didnt get to ride the 3am bus because apparently, its peak season and bus tickets should’ve been purchased on reservation. Since we didnt want to spoil our trip, we opted to try our luck and talk to a taxi driver. We met Kuya Hans who is probably one of the nicest driver I have met. He agreed with our proposed budget for transpo and he took us to Atok. He also waited for us and brought us back to Baguio. We got his number and now I am sharing it in case you want to get him and his taxi going to Atok. Here’s his number 0912 878 5098, Hans Deleña.

Also, visitors are encouraged to register at the Paoay Barangay Hall located near the municipal hall.

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

Stobosa Murals (Benguet, PH)

There are three specific places I would like to see in Brazil one day. One, the gigantic Christ, The Redeemer statue; two, to trek the Amazon, and three, to have a photo shoot at its famed favela — slum in Brazil within the urban areas turned into a giant mural.

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I am a sucker for anything artsy that is why I included the favela. While that dream of going to Brazil seem to be a far-fetch reality as of this moment, I am more than glad to learn that La Trinidad – Benguet’s capital and the closest municipality to Baguio, is slowly turning several communities into one humongous mural.

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Passing by Benguet’s capital would mean enduring the traffic especially along Kilometer 3. I used to grudge about it since you’ll get stuck without any form of entertainment (unless you are preoccupied with your phone). Now, with the multi-hued Stonehill community just above the Balili River turned into a favela-like masterpiece, getting stuck in traffic becomes more pleasing, at least to the eyesight.

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The Stonehill community is comprised of 3 sitios. These are Sitios Stonehill, Botiwtiw and Sadjao (all part of Brgy. Balili). This mural project has been called Stobosa, named after the three sitios. According to an article, I have read, there are about 180 houses in this area. With the supervision of Baguio City’s Tam-awan Art Village artists and the sponsorship from a paint company – the once dull set of houses sitting along the mountains of La Trinidad have become more delightful as they are converted into a humongous painting.
Today, La Trinidad has a new moniker because of this. Besides being known as the vegetable capital and strawberry capital of the Philippines, the town is being promoted as the “Valley of Colors.” It is worthy to mention that the residents of these sitios have actively involved themselves in this project. The project is almost into its completion. Tourists who flock Baguio, have also considered checking out the mountain of houses in various colors.

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I went to see it myself one sunny day. It could be easily spotted when you are on your way to La Trinidad town proper. While I was thrilled to see it, there are also some other things that caught my attention. I like the idea of turning the houses into this big mural – yes I do. What I didn’t like are the many electrical wires hanging. I don’t know if there is a solution to this. More so, I hate that a giant tarpaulin of the paint company that donated the paint used in this project is more distinguishable than the houses themselves. It is such an eyesore! Well, they could promote their product in a way that it wouldn’t take away the beauty of the place. Lastly, I have noticed some garbages along the road fronting Stobosa (actually a turn-off). I hope the locals and tourists alike, would do their fair share of keeping the place clean.

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Nonetheless, the project is a good start and such a good welcome treat when one is making his/her way to the strawberry farm, or would go to Atok and Sagada. Maybe, soon, they would also consider painting the opposite side so that the area will be bursting with so many colors.

Good job to the REV-BLOOM campaign of Department of Tourism (DOT) Cordillera which aims to promote a more sustainable tourism in my beloved CAR!
¬Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri”juan”.

Arcas Art Gallery (Benguet, PH)

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. — Pablo Picasso

During my formative years, I found myself to have an inclination towards the arts. I always enjoy my art classes and would usually spend some time doing anything that requires creativity. This appreciation became more reflective to me as I grew up. Visiting art centers and museums is one thing I enjoy whenever I get to travel. I find every piece of work (whether it is a sculpture, a painting and the like) inspiring.

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My most recent visit to my favorite Baguio café, Arca’s Yard, gave me a chance to see their art gallery. It is located a few meters away from the actual café. Upon entering the gallery’s premises, I was immediately drawn into some of their creative displays. My friends and I were then greeted by the gallery’s pretty and friendly owner, Valerie, the daughter of Arcas Yard’s owner.

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After paying a very reasonable Php30 entrance fee, we were gladly ushered inside and Valerie enthusiastically shared some interesting and amazing information about the art pieces featured in their gallery, which are mostly made up of pinya (pineapple) paper.

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The gallery just opened up this December of 2015 and the owner isn’t really certain (as of yet) if they’ll fully develop the place as an established art gallery. My friends and I unanimously and encouragingly said that they should because it is very promising. She shared us essential information about Mr. Asao Shimura’s works of art which is basically pinya (pineapple) and saba (banana) paper making and the many creative outputs one can create using these materials. My friends and I also love the spectacular origami art made by Mr. Leo Natividad. 

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Every piece inside the gallery are just really amazing. I personally love the paper cranes dangling at the center of the gallery. We were even given the chance to showcase our painting skills by trying out their pinya paper and some naturally derived pigments to use. Ms. Valerie also invited us (and now, I am inviting you too my dear readers) to attend their Christmas BazArt happening on December 12 and 13. Please check the image below for details. Got the poster from http://baguiology.com/2015/12/three-kings-arcas-yard-gallery/

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I really do hope Arcas Yard management will keep this gallery for good. This would be another awesome reason to visit Baguio (even if the place is already a part of La Trinidad) over and over again! Thank you so much Valerie.

Arca’s Art Gallery is at Tiptop, Ambuklao, Bekel, La Trinidad. If you are coming from Arcas Yard Cafe, just take a few meters walk towards your right and you’ll see the gallery. 

You can also check out the blog I wrote about Arca’s Yard Cafe and its awesome menu at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/arcas-yard-baguio-city-philippines/

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’lust. Take it easy ebri’juan”…

White Rocks of Ambongdolan (Benguet, PH)

Having lived in Baguio for more than 10 years, I have been fortunate to have visited some places near the area that aren’t very touristy. One particular place I personally like is Tublay, a nearby town to both La Trinidad and Baguio. Ambongdolan is approximately 1 and ½ hours away from Baguio City via a hired jeepney.

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Ambongdolan is primarily known for their caves – Bengaongao and Paterno (which I will write about on a separate blog). This write up is about our spur-of-the-moment bouldering experience along the clean, cold river of Ambongdolan and its gigantic white rocks.

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So after exploring the two caves of Tublay, our guide asked us if we were keen on seeing their place’s little secret. They wanted to show us “white rocks” of Tublay. We felt ecstatic upon hearing this and so we had our lunch by the river and had some rest for a few minutes before we started our on the spot river trekking-slash-rock climbing.

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Bouldering is a form of rock climbing performed without the use of ropes or even harnesses. Since we were not prepared for this activity, some of my friends did not came in wearing the most appropriate attire, hence, everyone were reminded from time to time to be extra careful.

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And so we started traversing through the river, hopping from river rock to another, and at times wading across the river. Then, the sight of towering white rocks flashed before our eyes. They were beautiful. As we go on with the trek, we were now required to climb on these boulders. It was pretty challenging, but my adventurous spirit helped me enjoy the pretty strenuous activity.

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Most of us were gleefully climbing across these white rock rocks. Everyone was excited to reach the top of it and see what’s on the other side. We were able to reach one area that gives a great vantage point of the river and what is found on the other side. We got even more excited when we saw these pools of water surrounded by humongous rocks. It was really stunning. It served as an inspiration to some who were already tired clambering.

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When we reached the largest natural pool, everyone eagerly jumped in to take a swim. The water was extremely cold, nonetheless, it was so refreshing. We spent some time in the area just swimming and taking photos.

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Well, you know what was next. We had to go through those rocks again as we have to go back to where we started. But since the entire site of spectacular off-white and sand-colored boulders gave us a wonderful experience, I didn’t mind climbing again.

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

Strawberry Farm (La Trinidad, Benguet, PH)

Quick Facts: Strawberry: Fragaria ananassa of the Family Rosaceae. Strawberry is an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese and essential unsaturated fatty acids.

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Located about three kilometers from Baguio City proper is the La Trinidad Valley – the home of the famous strawberry farms in the Philippines. Hence, the moniker “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines” was given.

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Visitors who flock their way to Baguio City would most of the time have strawberry picking in their list of “must-do”. This distinctive experience is done alongside the Ibaloi farmers of Benguet, and is indeed a fun activity to do and share with loved ones and friends.

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So when you go to La Trinidad (its best to come during the months of December to April), keep the following things in mind. Every visitor must register first in the logbook for tracking purposes. Note that the cost of strawberry picking may be a bit pricier than those that are bought in the market. It is usually twice the cost of just buying from the marketplace. Why? This is a way of compensating for the possible damages that some pickers incur during the act of selecting their strawberries.

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Walking through the strawberry fields and being able to choose the freshest fruits is certainly an experience to be happy about. Moreover, it gives us a viewpoint on how real farming is. Totally different whenever one plays Farmville! Hahaha…

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How to Get to Strawberry Farm:

From Manila, take a bus that is bound for Baguio City. Once in Baguio, you may opt to take a taxi (the easiest way) and just tell the driver to take you to Strawberry Farm. It will cost you around a hundred or more depending on the traffic. If you opt to take the jeepney, make you way to the terminal of jeepneys with a “Buyagan” signage. The terminal is located at the foot of Baguio City. Tell the driver to let you off at the Strawberry Farm (you’ll see a signboard along the road) , cross the road and walk the rest of the way as it’s not that far from the main road.

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The Strawberry Farm of La Trinidad is under the management of Benguet State University.

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

Mount Jambo (La Trinidad, Benguet, PH)

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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La Trinidad – the capital town of Benguet province in the Cordillera Administrative Region – is known to be the Salad Bowl of the Philippines because of the abundant supply of vegetables it produces. Being a few kilometres away from Baguio City, this municipality nestled in a valley has become a frequented place to visit from among tourists since it is also the home of the Strawberry Farm. Little would visitors (and even locals) know that there is more to La Trinidad than the strawberries and vegetables it boasts off.

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If trekking and communing with nature is your thing, then a relaxing hike to La Trinidad’s mountains should be something you might want to do the next time you visit this part of the Cordilleras.

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Mount Jambo (also known as Mount Jumbo, Mount Yangbaw, Mount Tawang, Mount Jumbaw) is in fact a series of high-rolling and serrated hills located in Barangay Tawang. It is not a developed area where all you can see are cows grazing on grasses, some unique rock formations and a 360 degrees view of the La Trinidad valley and Baguio City.

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*** Trivia alert: “Jambo”or “Jumbo”used to be a place for scout Scout Jamborees during the time of the Americans in Benguet, hence the name but locals enunciated it as Yangbo/Yangbaw.

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The climb to the top is pretty easy. It is best to start your hike early in the morning, since the sunrise view from atop is inspiring and rewarding. However, if waking up early doesn’t appeal you, then a walk to these hills in the afternoon in time for the sunset is as equally stunning and rewarding as the sunrise view. The drawback though is that the setting sun’s view may be covered by clouds (at times fog) in the afternoon.

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When the sun is out, the place turns into a golden field of grass during the summer or brilliant green during the rainy season. The air in the area is unsullied and the view it offers is just picturesque. You can even bring your bicycle and bike around the area. Or maybe pitch your tent and just laze around – reading your favourite book or even bring something to eat. (Just don’t leave your garbage, okay?)

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I have sauntered my way to this place 5 times already, bringing with me friends who share the same interest as mine. So, if you are looking for a quick, but relaxing getaway during the weekend, make your way to Mount Jumbo and feel nature’s faultless bliss.

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How To Go To Mount Jumbo:

The easiest way is to take a cab and tell the driver to bring you to the turning point of jeepneys at Lower Tomay. If you are going for a public transportation, there’s a jeepney station located near the bridge in Pines Park (Km 4). Tell the driver that you will get off at Sitio Banig in Tawang. Or from Magsaysay in Baguio City, take a Tomay jeepney then tell the driver to drop you off at the junction road leading to Tawang or you can start your trek from the turning point of the jeepneys. To your right side, there are flights of stairs that you will have to take until you reach a semi-cemented road leading to the hills of Jumbo.

Other mountains you might want to visit in La Trinidad that is relatively easy to trek are Mount Kalugong and Cachup Mountain.

Check out the following links:

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/mount-kalugong/

https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/cachup-mountain/

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

Ben Cab: Cloud-Kissed Museum (Tuba, Benguet PH)

Are you in search of a culturally-inspiring experience? Or you just want to satiate the art junkie in you? Or maybe, you just want to feel at one with nature and breathe in unsullied, pine-scented air… All of these you can achieve, with a visit at the cloud-kissed Ben Cab Museum.

DSC_1227Located close to the Philippines’ summer capital and city of pines, (Baguio), in the nearby town of Tuba (Benguet), BenCab Museum shows off national artist Benedicto Cabrera’s widespread art collection.

This magnanimous art hub has been recognized by TripAdvisor as a 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awardee and it now ranks among the best art and cultural centers and is part of Asia’s top 25 museums list. (http://www.balitangtrending.com/bencab-museum-top-25-asias-best-museums/)

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The museum, just like most buildings in Baguio and nearby areas, starts at street-level then goes down. Ben Cab is a 4-level building housing Cabrera’s anthology of indigenous objects from the Cordilleras, art pieces from the maestros of Philippine art, and his personal works.

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The main features of the museum include the following:

A wide display of Ben Cab’s contemporary Philippine art pieces. Ben Cab is called as a master of contemporary Philippine art and was conferred the Order of National Artist for Visual Arts in Malacañang. Moreover, he is also regarded as the best-selling painter of his generation of Filipino artists.

DSC09349Tribal Cordilleran art. The museum also houses an extensive show of  home-made objects from the Cordilleras like his bul-ul (rice gods) installations. (Bul’uls are believed to be powerful guardians of the crops responsible for a plentiful harvest).

DSC09407There is a Maestro Gallery that serves as quarters for the works of other recognized Filipino artists like Araceli Lincaco Dans , Victorio Edades , Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, Cesar Legaspi, Arturo Luz, and Juvenal Sanso.

PicMonkey CollageInterestingly, there is an Erotica Gallery which houses art pieces (paintings, drawings, sculptures) by BenCab and other artists that undertake the erotic subject. Make sure to keep an eye on your child.

aThere is also a Print Gallery which showcases vintage prints, photographs and postcards of the Philippines. An  Gallery Indigo and Sepia Gallery that may serves as venues for changing exhibitions.

bGoing down the museum is “Sabel,” – a café where guests can take time to dine and marvel at the garden of the museum before exploring the garden and the eco-trail. The cafe serves good and healthy food and drinks.

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My favourite part is the garden with a man-made duck pond that also features a wooden bridge connected to a gazebo where one can take pleasure in the cool weather and even be hugged by mists hovering the area.

DSC_1225Tips & Reminders:

The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Last entry is at 5:30 PM. It is closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

General admission fee is ₱100. Students and senior citizens with valid ID is at ₱80. Special rates for student groups can also be arranged.

If it is your first time, it would be good to have a guide who can explain the art pieces as you go along with the tour.

Flash photography and tripods are not allowed. Video recording is limited only at the lobby area. No photographs or videos may be reproduced, distributed, or sold without permission from the museum.

Food and drinks are not allowed.

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Posing with some of my favorite art pieces.

How to Get There:

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This colorful wall will greet you upon arriving and say goodbye when you leave Ben Cab. This is near the entrance.

Bencab Museum is located 6 kilometers away from the center of Baguio City. From Baguio City, go to Hilltop and take a jeepney bound for Asin Road. Jeepneys will stop right in front of the museum. The travel time is around 30 minutes by public jeepney. You may also take a taxi for less than ₱100 from Baguio City. Travel time is about 15-20 minutes.

Contact #: +63 74 442-7165 | +63 920 530-1954

Website: http://www.bencabmuseum.org/