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.

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.

Kaman-utek Hills (Sagada, PH)

Perhaps most of us Filipinos (and to a certain extent, also foreign visitors) have one thing in mind when we talk about picturesque hills and that is the ever famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Recently, the Green Hills in Quitinday, Albay are also starting to carve its niche in the Philippine tourism hub. Little would most people know that there is a unique set of mini hills in Sagada that turns to blue-green especially when moistened called Kaman-utek (also Caman-utek) Blue Soil Hills.

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Being one of the newest natural attractions being promoted by the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (or SAGGAS), these blue hued landscapes has made Sagada an ever more worthy destination. Despite the fact that the hills aren’t very accessible, a trek to this place would surely fire up the adventure-seeker in you and is definitely worth it in case you get lost. 😉

During my 8th visit to Sagada, a local friend and I went to saunter our way to these hills. And believe me, we almost got lost. Hahahaha! From the town center, we made our way to Marlboro Country (Kamanbaneng Peak) which was pretty easy as I have hiked the place 3 times already. From Marlboro, there is a trail leading to the Blue Soil Hills (that’s according to my friend who is from Sagada himself). And so we followed a trail southward of Kamanbaneng that eventually led us to a limestone cliff.

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The trail to the hills was picturesque in every corner. We even passed by a seemingly garden of limestone rocks. But when we reached the cliff, we wondered to ourselves how get down. To cut the story short, we tried our best to descend from the cliff (note, it was pretty challenging). Good thing I am physically fit to deal with the unexpected adventure. (hahahaha).

After the perilous descent, we found ourselves on an open grassy field with a small pond from which an awesome view of the limestone cliff (that looked like a dome) we passed through is seen. Later on, we were informed that this spot is called Kaipitan (a marker that would mean the blue hills are already nearby). We spent minutes to rest and marvel at the surrounding (to which I imagine is a perfect spot for camping).

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From there, we found a trail and followed it. A few more minutes and the sight of a distinct blue shade appeared our very eyes. At first, I was in disbelief and scanning my brain for some possible explanations as to why the soil is blue. The thought that these pieces of land contain certain chemicals like copper sulfate may be high, for a moment, satiated my yearning for answers. (Later on, this was proven true, according to a guide I asked). Also, it is believed that the blue color intensifies once the soil gets even more moistened.

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The area where the blue soil hills isn’t that big but is large enough to be admired. Pitcher plants and pine trees abound the area and some electric lines that are quite a sore to the eye. Nonetheless, the charm of these blue hills are really pleasing and refreshing to the eyes.

If you want to visit these unique wonders of Sagada, you may contact the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) at 09295569553 (Sir Gareth Likigan) or you could drop by their office which is situated near the Yogurt House.

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

Dagiwdiw Rice Terraces (Mountain Province, PH)

Where the land is mountainous, terraced paddy fields are built as a means of rice farming. These steep hillside wonders are made by intense physical labor. The Philippines, being an agricultural country, has established itself as the home to some of the most amazing rice terraces around the world.

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Perhaps, the most well known from among these are the Banaue Rice Terraces of the Cordillera Region (considered by some as the 8th wonder of the world), and is recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site. However, besides these famed 2,000 year-old man-made wonder, there are other equally stunning rice terraces across the region like those in the Mountain province (ie Sagada and Bontoc rice terraces).

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One that isn’t known to many is the very picturesque rice paddies in the quiet, mountainous town of Sabangan called Dagiwdiw Rice Terraces (also in the Mountain  Province). Just like the other rice terraces of the region, the terraced rice fields help to decrease erosion and work well for rice crops which need to be grown in a flooded area.

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When I had the opportunity to do some hiking in Sabangan, I was totally surprised to see a very spectacular landscape made by the locals of Sabangan. My hike to the mountains of Losad rewarded me an unforgettable vista that is way beyond picture perfect.

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Dagiwdiw Rice Terraces in the Apa area of Brgy. Losad have fluid contours that are aesthetic and voluptuous, revealing the profusion in every crevice. I guess our view from atop the mountain gave a more spectacular sight. It was an ingenious use of very limited space. Truly awe inspiring!

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

Where it is located: Here’s a screenshot of its satellite map.

Dagiwdiw Losad Sabangan

Maligcong Rice Terraces (Mountain Province, PH)

Considered as one of the emerging treasures of Bontoc, the Maligcong Rice Terraces is known for its stone walls which make the terraces more steady in withstanding erosion. Although often overshadowed by the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, a visit to this place would be an awesome experience.

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The Maligcong Rice Terraces, an upland barangay in the uplands of Bontoc, is situated 18 Kilometers away from the capital town of Mountain Province. This wonder is best viewed by scaling the Ang Tong Faw mountains (specifically Mt. Kofafei). Two of its sitios, Favarey and Fang-orao primarily make up the Maligcong Rice Terraces.

The name Maligcong was derived from the word “ligcong” which means to level land for a rice field. True to its name, and through the locals hardwork, years of labor paved way for whittling the mountains into stunning terraces.

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The best time to visit Maligcong Rice Terraces is during the month of April and May when the fields are green and have started to grow. The best vantage point to marvel at Maligcong’s beauty is at the top of Mount Kofafei. (Read Mount Kofafei entry here at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/maligcong-rice-terraces/)

How to get to Maligcong,Bontoc?

From Manila take a bus bound for Banaue. (Ohayami Bus) The terminal is located at Lacson/ Fajardo St. Sampaloc, Manila with the fare of Php 450.00 each.

From Banaue, take the jeepney bound for Bontoc.They can be found across the tourism office near the People’s Lodge, fare is Php 150.00 each. One may also opt to take the van bound for Sagada and just inform the driver to drop you in Bontoc near the Municipal Hall.

Once in Bontoc, go to  the municipal hall of Bontoc and there you will find  jumbo jeepneys bound for Maligcong. It has a specific schedule of departure until 4pm. Fare is Php 25.00 each.

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Where To Stay:

Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay:  It is located 8.5 km north of Barangay Caluttit. It is accessible through a seven km road that ends at sub-sitio Fabuyan. Any type of vehicle can travel this 30 minutes – 40 minutes. Jeepney travels from its jeepney station located at the market compound in front of Pines Kitchenette and Inn beside the municipal plaza, passing by Upper Caluttit, Sac-angan, and Tala. The jeepney fare is 20 pesos.

For your reference, jeepney schedules are as follows:

Schedule of jeepney going to Maligcong from Bontoc

8:00 am
12:00 noon
2:30 pm
4:30 pm
5:30 pm

Schedule of jeepney from Maligcong going to Bontoc
6:30 am
8:00 am
9:00 am
2:00 pm
4:00 pm

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be a wanderlust. Take it easy ebriwan. Roamulofied out…

Kamanbaneng Peak (Sagada, PH)

All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low. – John Wooden

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Sagada – a backpacking mecca in Northern Philippines.

It’s pretty interesting to note that a rolling terrain, with cows or horses freely roaming and a 360-degrees spectacular view, would often be termed as Marlboro Country. Well, at least, here in the Philippines. Cases in point, Marlboro Country in Batanes (aka Racuh a Payaman), Marlboro Country in Mount Pulag (a campsite via Akiki Trail), and Marlboro Country in Sagada (aka Lamagan or Kamanbaneng Peak). Shall we start blaming the ads of Marlboro (the cigarette)? Nuff said with this common moniker, all three Marlboro Countries are a delight to the eyesight, each of which offers a unique beauty.

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Marlboro Country or Kamanbaneng Peak is a 30-45 minute hike from a drop off point in Lamagan, Sagada. To me, it is justly an easy walk. It is like strolling along Camp John Hay in Baguio with a gradually ascending ground. The trail is pretty scenic, and you will find yourself smitten by the wild flowers (and berries), and the soaring pine trees that line the terrain. There are no signage going to the peak but you will know that you have reached the end of the trail when a complete vista unwraps with a bursting mountain views.

At the peak, it is windy, making the cool Sagada temperature drop a bit more. There are areas that are perfect for pitching your tent while you either wait for the sun to rise or the sun to set. From time to time, clouds would hover above the hills and terraces. Grazing cows in the area will keep you company as you marvel over Sagada at the west, and the towns of of Bontoc and Sabangan on the east.

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I have visited Sagada 10 times for the past 7 years, and have sauntered my way to its Marlboro Country 4 times. I was hoping I would see the wild horses roaming the area. Unfortunately, the first three hikes I did weren’t lucky enough for me to have a sight of those animals once featured by Howie Severino in his documentary show.  Unexpectedly during my 9th Sagada visit (and 4th Marlboro visit), I was so thrilled to see that elusive wild horse.

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Marlboro Country is definitely a relaxing spot for those who want to reflect and commune with nature. It is also a great place for photography. And yes, an awesome alternative to the now crowded Kiltepan Peak.

If you are quite hesitant to make your way to this place on your own, you may hire a guide from the tourism office for 600 pesos to take you to Marlboro Country. This is the rate if you’re travelling as a group of ten or less.

How To Reach Sagada:

From Manila to Baguio City to Sagada: There are ample buses bound for Baguio City like Victory Liner, Genesis and Dagupan Bus. Most of these buses are found in Cubao, Quezon City. Bus ride from Manila to Baguio is between 5 – 7 hours. Upon arrival in Baguio, go to Dangwa Bus Terminal where buses bound for Sgada are.

There are hourly bus trips leaving Baguio from 6:00 a.m. with the last one leaving at 1:00 p.m. everyday.The non-airconditioned bus trips cost less than Php300 per person and it takes about 5-6 hours to get to Sagada, with two short stops for meals and personal necessities. As of the moment, there is now 1 air-conditioned bus traveling to Sagada.
From Manila to Banaue to Sagada:

There are daily bus trips from Manila to Banaue that leave at 10:00 p.m., with tickets costing about Php600 per person. The transit companies plying this route are Autobus and Dangwa Tranco, and both have terminals in Sampaloc, Manila. The trip from Manila to Banaue lasts nine (9) hours with regular stops along the way for meals and personal necessities. Once in Banaue, there are jeepneys, and sometimes mini-buses or vans,  waiting to take passengers to Sagada. The jeepney ride costs about Php250 per person, and it takes another 3 to 4 hours to get to Sagada.

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More of Sagada here at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/sagada-mountain-province-philippines/

Batad Rice Terraces (Ifugao, PH)

Batad, a village positioned amid the Ifugao rice terraces, is perhaps the best place to view the UNESCO-inscribed heritage site. There are no roads that directly lead to this peaceful community of about 1,500 people. Hence, trekking is the only form of reaching it.

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Painstakingly sauntering the rice terraces of Batad is something praiseworthy to any travel-enthusiast. These 2,000-year-old uniquely carved paddies entail watchful routing. With trails ample enough for just one person to pass through, a good sense of balance is necessary. Nonetheless, reaching the viewpoint, and standing in the middle of these wonders would recompense those risks. The landscape is beyond spectacular.

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How To Reach Batad:

Manila to Banaue: Take a 9-hr overnight Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue. It leaves at 10PM from the Ohayami station near UST (Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street). The fare each way is around 500php and it gets you into Banaue at 7AM the next day

Sagada to Banaue: From Sagada town, take a 40-min public jeepney ride to Bontoc for 50php. It leaves every half hour from 6:30AM until 9AM, then every hour from 9AM until 1PM. From Bontoc, ride in a van bound for Bananue for 150php. The van leaves from the tourism office three times a day at 8:30AM, 10AM, and 1PM. Travel time is around 2 hours.

Banaue to batad: Upon arrival in Banaue town, visitors are requested to register at the tourism office and pay the the environmental. You can then take a jeepney or tricycle to an area called the Saddle — the closest point to Batad village that a vehicle can go.

A friend of mine at the welcome post of Batad.
A friend of mine at the welcome post of Batad.

Some Essential Information One Needs To Know When Going to Batad: (from WikiTravel):

A jeepney from Banaue (P150 for tourists) will bring you to the Saddle, from which it is a roughly 40-minute trek to the village. Or you may get lucky and if you jump on a jeepney that is just about to leave for the Saddle you may pay only P50. The afternoon jeepny leaves around 2pm.The road to the Saddle is mostly unpaved and perhaps treacherous at places, but the views of the Cordillera Mountains are impressive. Also, be advised that not all jeepneys stop at the Saddle; some stop about three kilometers short of it, at the Batad junction. From here, it’s a 30-minute walk up to reach the Saddle (or if you are lucky, try to stop a nice 4WD). There are two jeepneys in the morning and one at about 3 pm at Banaue.

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If you can’t get a public jeepney get a tricycle to the junction from Banaue. You will be quoted P400 to 600. Try not to settle for this fare but ask around. There are often tricycles headed to the junction to pick up returning travellers, especially after 10 am when there are no more jeepneys out from Batad. They may agree to fares as low as P50, although P100 to 200 is more likely. Walking in from the junction will take one to one and a half hours.

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Since no road leads to Batad, there are no motorized vehicles to be found anywhere in the village. This means, of course, that one must get around on foot. (It also means that one can enjoy a delightful respite from the ubiquitous din of tricycles and jeepneys.)

You will find a lot of local people wanting to guide you through the various interesting places of the village for a negotiable prize depending on the itinerary you choose P500-P1200.

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Where To Stay in Batad:

There are a few lodges overlooking the village proper, providing basic rooms with shared bathroom for around 300-400 pesos per person.

Batad Pension and Restaurant
Contact Person: Gina or Florence
Mobile: +63 921 737 1745
Hillside Inn and Restaurant
Contact Person: Maya Addug
Mobile Number: +63 919-379 9599
Mobile Number: +63 905-769-9796
Samson’s Homestay.
Inside the Batad Village.Reserve via Batad Tourist Info
Mobile Number: +63 905 397 2317
Cristina Inn
Contact Person: John Amehna +63 906 977 3771
Ramon’s Homestay
Contact Number: +63 927 678 3932
Contact Number: +63 918 243 9827
Simon’s Inn
Contact Person: Simon Illag
Mobile Number: +63 919 261-9566
Foreigner’s Inn
Contact Person: David ChuccarReserve via Batad Tourist Info
Mobile Number: +63 905 397 2317
Rita’s Mount View Inn and Restaurant
with Special Pizza and Chapati BreadMr. and Mrs. Romeo Nabannal
Mobile Number: +63 910 842 3076
Waterfall Side Inn
Contact: Charlie Ognayon
via Batad Tourist Info
Mobile Number: +63 905 926 5423

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Contact Persons/Numbers:

BANAUE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER
Poblacion, Banaue, Ifugao
Tel. Nos. (074) 386-40-10
(074) 386-40-11

MR. RIO DALE T. HUMIWAT
Banaue Tourism Operations Officer
Banaue Municipal Hall
Banaue, Ifugao
Mobile Phone No. 0921-808-26-67
Telefax: (074) 386-40-52

MS. MARIETTA H. HANGDAAN
Ifugao Provincial Tourism Officer
Tourism Information & Assistance Center
Ibulao, Baguinge, Kiangan, Ifugao
Mobile Phone No. 0906-774-83-10
Telefax No. (074) 382-21-08
E-Mail Address: ifugaotourism@yahoo.com

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM – CAR
Gov. Pack Road, Baguio City
Tel. No. – (074) 442-70-14
Tel. Fax No. (074) 442 – 88 – 48
E-Mail Address: dotcar@pldtdsl.net

The 4 Lakes of Kabayan (Benguet, Philippines)

Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.

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Lake Tabeo

Kabayan is a fourth class municipality in the province of benguet, Northern Philippines. It is said to be the home of  the Kabayan mummies, mystical 4 lakes and Luzon’s highest peak – Mount Pulag.  Long before it was known or named, this quaint town was a thickly forested and mountainous settlement. The whole place was completely covered with pine trees, virgin oaks, and much higher, by the grassy height of Mount Pulag.

A river along the way to Kabayan.
A river along the way to Kabayan.

Kabayan is located along the Agno River, most easternly of Benguet Province and within the towering presence of Mount Pulag. It is approximately 335 kilometers north of Manila. From Baguio City, Kabayan is 85 kilometers northeast travelling through the Baguio-Ambuclao-Bokod-Kabayan Road. Taking the Halsema Highway, then following the Abatan-Buguias-Kabayan Road, the town can be reached after covering a distance of 118 kilometers.

By the Tabeo Lake
By the Tabeo Lake

I had the opportunity to visit this town wayback 2012 when an invitation came about. The highlight of the trip is a trek to the 4 lakes of Kabayan. Having a leaning interest in lakes, I easily gave in and the next thing I knew, i was already making my way to the serrated beauty of eastern Benguet.

Trail in Tawangan
Trail in Tawangan

Upon arriving at Brgy. Tawangan (a trail that is also used to trek Mount Pulag), we were already greeted by the 1st of the 4 lakes – Lake Tabeo. It was really cold when we arrived, and the lake was being hidden by the fog. But you can sense the beauty of the place. It drizzled for a moment, and then a few more minutes and Tabeo’s beauty was revealed. It was indescribably beautiful. It didn’t feel like I was in the Philippines.

A different angle of Tabeo.
A different angle of Tabeo.

Being the most accessible from among the 4 lakes, Lake Tabeo is surrounded by vegetable plantations and some residential houses. Mount Tabayoc, the 5th highest mountain in the Philippines, serves as a backdrop with its pine and mossy forest.

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We pitched our tents near the lake before continuing on with our trekking to the 3 other mountain lakes.

Next stop was the breathtakingly beautiful and clean and clear Lake Bulalacao.

Lake Bulalacao
Lake Bulalacao

From among the lakes, I am most acquainted with this one since during my previous climbs to Mount Pulag, a video shown to climbers at the registration center includes a clip of Lake Bulalacao. This is considered to be the most beautiful among the four and the cleanest. It has been recognized as a “three time winner” under the Cleanest Lake for the Cordillera under the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran. The lake is most of the time shrouded in very dense mist, and I am very fortunate to have seen its beauty.

So clear and clean. Bulalacao.
So clear and clean. Bulalacao.

***Trivia: The term ‘Bulalakaw’ means ‘shooting star’ in Filipino. According to folkstories, in ancient times, old men would spend their time stargazing on the banks of this lake, hence the name Bulalacao.

Our third stop is to me the most magical/mystical of the 4 lakes – Lake Letepngepos. It was like a scene from the movie Avatar. Going to this lake requires hiking through dense pine and mossy forest, with thick underbrush. The trail is muddy and at times loose thats why you have to have a good grip on tree branches and even their roots.

Lake Letepngepos
Lake Letepngepos

Lake Letepngepos to me also, is the most photogenic. There is this picture-perfect area for taking photos wherein a tree-bark-slash-root immersed over the water adds up some creepy-mysterious like effect. Just lovely!

More of Lake Letepngepos
More of Lake Letepngepos

Finally, off we went to see the 4th and last lake. We were walking over a marshy area when our guide said we were already at the 4th lake – Lake Incolos. We were all surprised because we didn’t see any body of water. He went on to explain that we were actually standing on top of the lake. (Now, that explains that feeling where my legs seem to be sinking, and my footwear getting wet). It was so cool that it felt like I was walking on water (only that its covered with colourful grasses and some thin layer of land).

Foggy Lake Incolos
Foggy Lake Incolos

We passed by the lake without some monster emerging from it (haha! wild imagination) and continued trekking until we reach a relatively higher ground they call Junior Pulag. It was understandable to call the place as such because it looks like Mount Pulag with its grassy terrain and peak. Finally, we were back at our campsite and this time, Lake Tabeo is much even more a delight to behold. I spent the rest of the day staring at its beauty while sipping a cup of warm coffee and reading some books.

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How To Get There:

Go to Dangwa Terminal (located at Baguio city proper) or at the Slaughterhouse bus terminal along Magsaysay Avenue. Dangwa Terminal is more accessible though. Then, take the bus bound to Kabayan and alight the bus when you reach Ballay. Ballay is the last stop of Kabayan buses.

Buses bound to Kabayan leave Baguio City at 10 AM; last trip leaves at 12NN. It is a 5-6 hour trip. From Poblacion, it’s about 30 to 45 minutes’ ride to Barangay Ballay, the jump-off point for various attractions, including the 4 lakes.

Truly magical, mystical lake of Kabayan.
Truly magical, mystical lake of Kabayan.

The usual route: Ballay visitors’ welcome/reception area, then take a ride to Lake Tabeo, ride to hiking start point to Lake Bulalacao, Lake Letepngepos, and Lake Incolos, then Junior Pulag, then back to Tabeo. (A climb to Mount Tabayoc may also be done).

If you want to go and visit these spectacular lakes, it is best to coordinate with the Tourism Office of the local government unit of Kabayan. Sir Berry Sangao and Ma’am Ghislyn Marave will definitely welcome and entertain all your questions. You may also contact Arlan Bugtong (Park Ranger) – 0946-592-8483 / 0999-389-8711

Let’s Eat: Arca’s Yard (Baguio City, Philippines)

And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.– J K Rowling

I had a first glimpse of this café’s beautiful interior when I saw an Instagram post (late 2013) from a friend. And when I’ve learned it is in Baguio, I immediately prepped up and check it out myself. To date, I have visited this café 5 times! So what is captivating about this place? Read on…

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If you are eyeing for a relaxing place where you can read comfortably while delimited by books, cultural artifacts, and nature, then Arca’s Yard has to be that impeccable place for you. The moment I stepped in to this café-slash-mini museum-slash-residential house, it instantaneously seized my heart. (You know, I have a soft spot for well-illuminated, artsy kind of cafes).  It’s more than perfect to devote a quiet time doing paper works, studying or maybe just contemplating on random thoughts while sipping a cup of coffee or tea.

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Not only is Arca’s Yard known for its serene ambiance, but also being raved for its unique and healthy food offerings. My personal favorite is their kamote pie. I like how soft and not so saccharine in terms of its taste. It’s a perfect pair for my artichoke tea! On several occasions that I have been to this place, I yet have to be more perfect with my timing so I can taste their rhubarb ice cream.

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As of this writing (I am updating this blg today, June 15, 2015), I have returned and have tried their pasta and a chicken dish called Crispy Lemon – Orange Chicken which are both oooooh soooo heavenly!

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They also have an attic where a mini library is set-up which could be heaven for book-enthusiasts. An art aficionado will surely be delighted as well to see a wide array of antique collection of wooden spoons from different Cordillera indigenous groups plus walls decorated with paintings and artworks of Baguio-based artists. And my favorite part? The balcony on the first floor –a perfect spot for you to enjoy the cool, fresh and pine-scented Baguio air.

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I consider Arca’s Yard my favorite Baguio café.  And if only I am not working here in the Greater manila area, I would spend my weekends at this lovely cozy nook.

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How to get there: Take a cab to Tiptop Road. Fare from the town is less than P100. If you want to dine here, make a reservation a day or two days before. They also have rooms for rent too. You may reach them at 0922-8251880.

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Arca’s Yard Menu (as of June 16, 2015)

Pasta (with Bread)

Pesto Carbonara Pasta – Php220

Tomato Basil Pasta – Php195

Chicken (with Rice)

Crispy Lemon – Orange Chicken – Php240

Fried Chicken – Php230

Fish (with Rice)

Daing na Bangus – Php195

Buttered Tiger Prawns – Php395

Meat (with Rice)

Pork Steak – Php295

Lechon Kawali – Php240

Longganisa – Php150

Pork Burger Patty – Php195

Beef Burger Patty – Php195

Arca’s Cheeseburger with Fries – Php240

Arroz ala Cubana – Php240

Salad

Oriental Salad Platter – Php200

Insalata Caprese – Php150

***Prices are subject to change without prior notice

Others

Tortilla de Patata – Php45/slice

French Fries – Php120

REFRESHMENT

Benguet Coffee – Php45

Frothy Coffee – Php50

Tarragon Tea – Php50

Arca’s Cloud Tea – Php60

Lemon Grass Tea – Php45

Cacao Hot Choco – Php75

Softdrinks – Php25

Bottled Water – Php25

Smoothies – Php90

*Flavors available include: Cucumber, Pineapple, Banana, Mango, Strawberry and Watermelon)

DESSERTS

Arca’s Sweet Potato ala Mode – Php95

Bread with Special Dip – Php85

French Toast – Php85

Carrot Pie ala Mode – Php95

Rhubarb Pie (seasonal) – Php140

Yoghurt with Wild Honey – Php85

With my new found friends Paul and Pam!
With my new found friends Paul and Pam!
With the lovely owner of Arca's Yard.
With the lovely owner of Arca’s Yard.

You can also check out their facebook page here —–>

https://www.facebook.com/arcasyard.baguio?fref=ts

You can also check out my write-up on their newly opened art gallery at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/arcas-art-gallery-benguet-ph/

 

 

Mount Timbak (Benguet, Philippines)

“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” – Edmund Hillary

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MOUNT TIMBAK

Major Jump-Off: Km. 55, Atok, Benguet
Elevation: 2717 MASL (8914.04  feet)
Days Required / Hours to Summit: 1 day / 1.5-2.5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9
Features: cabbage terraces (sometimes carrots), mummies, village life, and views of major Cordillera peaks (like Mount Pulag)

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Mount Timbak – also called Mount Singakalsa is the 9th highest mountain in the Philippines and the 3rd in Luzon. It is one of the prominent peaks of the Cordillera Mountains range. If you happen to pass by the Halsema Hi-way, one would take notice of this mountain’s imposing beauty that serves as a backdrop of the highest point in Atok, Benguet.
It maybe the third highest mountain in Luzon, next to Pulag and Tabayoc, however, the hike is pretty much easy. Most people who scale the mountain not for its height but for the mummies and vegetable and flower terraces along the way.

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At the summit of Mt. Timbak are three crosses and some other religious figures. It is a great vantage point to see Mounts Tabayoc, Pulag, Purgatory, and Ugo on a clear day. One would be too glad to see also a sea of clouds, and if the weather is good – both sunrise and sunset viewing would be youre reward.

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While one can do just a day hike to Mount Timbak, it would also be good to spend a night at the peak and experience a Pulag like weather. Find a flat area to pitch your tents on. Take note that the nightly winds (and even rain) can bring a very cold temperature.

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How To Go To Mount Timbak:
Most mountain-enthusiasts go to Mt. Timbak from Manila or from Baguio City. Going from Manila first you must get to Baguio City. The easiest way is to get a bus from Metro Manila, from the Victory Liner Bus Terminal in Cubao, EDSA. Buses to Baguio leave every hour.
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From Baguio, take a bus going to the direction to Bontoc, via the Halsema Higway. Buses going in this direction depart from the Slaughterhouse Road or the terminal of buses going to Sagada at the back of Center Mall. It takes about 2 hours to the jump-off point at the 55 km of the Halsema Highway.

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From the Halsema highway you have to turn right to a very steep cement-paved side road. If you stray away from the main path, all the other roads terminate at one of the houses of the locals who would then direct you back to the main road. The main road is actually the same road that traverses Timbak down to Kabayan Barrio. Then, one will pass by an elementary school. One may ask the locals for the trail to the peak. Following the main road farther would lead you to the Timbak mummies.

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SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 0 – If one is coming from Manila
22:00 – Assembly
23:00 – Departure Manila to Baguio City

Day 1 

05:00 – Arrive at Baguio City / Breakfast / Buy supplies
07:30 – Proceed to bus terminal
08:00 – Depart Baguio City to Jump-off
10:00 – Arrival at jump-off (final preparation)
10:30 – Start trek (road trek)
11:00 – ETA Mongoto Elementary School / Lunch / Refill water
13:00 – Resume trek to camp or go and visit the Timbak mummies
14:00 – End of road
15:00 – ETA Mount Timbak summit/ Set-up camp / Free time / Socials/ Wait for sunset

Day 2 

05:00 – Wake-up call / Sunrise viewing / Breakfast / Pack-up
08:30 – Start descend
10:00 – ETA KM 55
10:30 – Ride back to Baguio City
13:00 – ETA Baguio City / Free time
21:00 – Depart Baguio City to Manila (time may vary)

Day 3 – September 8, Monday

03:00 – Arrival in Manila

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“Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.” – William Blake)

***To date, I have scaled this mountain on 2 occasions, and it was really great to have influenced friends to come with me and enjoy the beauty of nature.

You can also check out (and hit the like button) my FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/roamulofied

Instagram: roamulofied