Back in Baguio, my family’s happy place

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Back in Baguio, my family�s happy place
The cozy interiors of Mt. Cloud bookstore that only sells books by Filipino authors.

What do Cebu City and Baguio City have in common? T-R-A-F-F-I-C!!! When I was in Cebu two weeks ago, it took me an hour to travel just a few kilometers to Conching’s from the airport. And just last week, in Baguio City, I spent another hour going from Baguio Country Club to Session Road and back. The trip normally takes around 10 minutes but we turned around when we saw that Session was closed to cars. Apparently, that was the weekend the Mountain Province was celebrating Indigenous People’s Day, so there were more local tourists than usual. But however busy and crowded Baguio is, it firmly remains as my family’s happy place, with its endless offerings of sights, sounds, scents, tastes and feelings to experience.

Our second home in the City of Pines is the unequalled Baguio Country Club (BCC). During a weekend trip earlier this month, we were pleasantly surprised when BCC upgraded our room reservation to a newly refurbished and well-appointed penthouse, which is a two-bedroom unit with loft, kitchen, and living and dining area. Perfect for mom, three siblings and I, and my daughter Gabbie.

Fun and interesting toys and knick knacks from the Toy Convention.

Gabbie and I arrived Friday, Oct. 6 in Baguio City at 12 noon and went straight to Craft 1945 restaurant located along Outlook drive to meet mom and siblings Paul and Penny (they arrived the day before) for lunch. According to its website, Craft 1945 was a former heritage house turned heritage restaurant offering a merry collaboration of Spanish food from Casa Marcos and craft beer from Baguio Craft Brewery. But since it was only lunch time, none of us wanted to try the craft beer even though it has been getting good reviews. And since we were familiar with the menu of Casa Marcos in Manila, we ordered the sopa de mariscos, gambas, chorizo, lengua salpicao, Spanish sisig and paella Valenciana. Everything was spot-on and familiar. The delicious paella, especially reminded me of my lola Angeles Daza, who used to cook this staple for us when we were children.

The newly renovated Master bedroom in the Penthouse unit of BCC.

After lunch, we went to BCC to enjoy our room, which overlooked the golf course. The weather was nice and cool and later in the afternoon, I went to my cousin Dondi Baltazar’s home. He was in Baguio with his siblings Risa, Maya, Milen, Yappi and Bindoy to celebrate the 85th birthday of their mom, Tessie Baltazar, who is my late father’s sister. It was nice to spend even just two hours with the Baltazars because it gave me a chance to catch up with Maya, who lives in Sydney, and Milen, who is based in Amsterdam. Like us, my cousins and Tita Tessie also consider Baguio their happy place.

There was a short cultural presentation in BCC to celebrate the Indigenous People’s Day last Oct. 8.

Later that afternoon, my brother Pete and his kids arrived in Baguio. We decided to have dinner in the Verandah restaurant of BCC, and to order from their Chinese menu. Our tasty meal consisted of hot and sour soup, sweet and sour pork, Chinese fried rice, chopsuey, and Chinese-style beef tenderloin, all of which perfectly complemented the chilly mountain air.

Colorful healthy drinks served for breakfast in BCC: calamansi juice, carrot juice and beets juice.

After dinner, mom insisted that we play mahjong, and we were only too happy to oblige. Mahjong is a favorite bonding activity of our family’s, a fun opportunity to exchange stories, reminisce, and to tease one another. By 11 p.m., we called it a night but promised to resume the next day.

One of the things I look forward to whenever I’m in Baguio is breakfast at the BCC. The breakfast buffet is simply one of the best, if not THE best for me. The spread is so long, and it’s quite difficult to make up your mind with all the tasty offerings available. For an added wake-me-up, I started with the aromatic Benguet brewed coffee, then continued with the garlic longganisa, tinapa, fried rice, a cheese omelet and a fresh watercress salad on the side. I also had fresh melon and papaya together with mini pancakes. I was also happy to see a taho server, who served my hot taho straight from his stainless-steel container!

After breakfast, we took mom to Mt. Cloud bookshop along Brent Road. Gabbie introduced me to the shop last year and I made a mental note then to take my mom when the opportunity presented itself. An old house that has been converted to a bookshop with a garden, Mt. Cloud only sells books authored by Filipinos and even has a room dedicated to children’s books. Since my mom and Gabbie love reading, we spent over an hour browsing. Gabbie bought a book Of Love and Other Lemons while Penny bought a hardbound book of Filipino Children’s Stories written in English for her little boy, Miggy. If you love books, I highly recommend a visit to Mt. Cloud the next time you are in Baguio. Do drop by and support our local authors.

From there, we headed to Lemon and Olives, our favorite Mediterranean restaurant in Baguio, for a late lunch. With our worked-up appetites, we ordered the Lemon and Olives salad, hummus, minestra soup, Mediterranean pasta and our family’s favorite, lambchops! Of course, I left room for my favorite dessert, which is L&O’s baklava cheesecake.

After lunch, I was tempted to go back to BCC for a siesta but my brother Paul invited me to go with him to the Hobby Expo & Toy Convention in BCC’s Cordillera Convention Hall. I had never been to a toycon before, and was amazed by the sheer number of toys and pop culture merchandise on sale. In addition to the usual Funko pops, Star Wars, and superhero items, I noticed an abundance of anime-related toys, which suited Paul just fine as he was on the hunt for merch from his latest obsession, the One Piece animated series and its live action Netflix remake. As he went around looking for figurines, shirts and graphic novels, I just took it all in, delighted by the colorful cosplayers walking around and manning the booths.

I was also surprised to learn that some of the sellers were talented students from the University of the Philippines Baguio, who made extra money by sketching portraits or creating artwork for bookmarks, stickers, and posters.  When I met up with Paul again, he said that Baguio Toy Con was easily the most atmospheric and “scenic” convention he had ever been to. How could it not be, with that lovely and spectacular vista of pine trees greeting those who were snacking or chatting with friends at the entrance to the hall, as they breathed in the fresh mountain air?    

After 90 minutes in the hobby and toy con, we headed back to our room. At 5 p.m., Gabbie and I had an appointment at Sansage, the spa located inside the club where we booked ourselves for their signature massage. For an hour, my body was kneaded to rid it of the knots and “lamig” caused by stress and fatigue. It was just what I needed to unwind. By the time we were done, the rest of the family was waiting for us in Hamada, the Japanese restaurant in BCC. Luckily, my siblings were able to get a teppanyaki table with our “suki” chef Rey, who never fails to amaze us with his sensational stunt-cooking skills, which is a show in itself of acrobatic precision! He prepared steak, fried rice and vegetables, as the ingredients of our meal flew in the air and were used to form words and images on the grill.

After dinner, we were eager to go back to our room to resume our mahjong game. When it ended, the big winner was once again our bunso Penny, who emptied our wallets!

On our last day, Sunday, mom and I had a hearty breakfast in BCC, after which we heard Mass in St. Joseph Pacdal Church at 9 a.m. We then went back to BCC to check out and head back to Manila. Though I was in Baguio for only 48 hours, a weekend there always produces a priceless treasure trove of experiences both new and familiar, especially when I’m with my dearest family. Till next, Baguio. I’m already dreaming of our next visit. 

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with