61st Courier Anniversary Issue
Beautiful Baguio: Relax, enjoy, and have fun
Being a minority across time
Exotic and mystical Abra
Home of the Isnag Tribe
Benguet has it all
Ifugao, home to bountiful heritage
The Pride of Kalinga
The land called Mountain Province
Benguet farmers'
woes over vegetable prices
Festivals for peace and progress
in Mountain Province
Kalinga: A roadmap to progress
A Napulawan experience
Displaced binga folks:
Pesky footnote in Napoco's legacy?
A peek into Cordillera’s last nature frontier
A taste of Abra
Atty. Federico Muñoz Mandapat Sr.:
A story of a war and sports hero
61st Anniversary Cartoon
Beautiful Baguio:
Relax, enjoy, and have fun
by: James Caswang

Endearing panoramic scenes, invigorating pine-scented fresh air, commodious and peaceful environment. Come and enjoy this exhilarating experience as you explore the City of Pines as it offers complete comfort and relaxation for those who seek this one of a kind feeling especially this summer. 

Baguio City is home to multifarious tourist spots that offer different breathtaking experiences of fun and excitement, which any tourist or visitor will never forget as he visits the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Here are the top tourist destinations you should not miss when you visit the City of Baguio:

The parks or leisure landmarks in the city offer a unique experience to anyone who loves to have fun. These parks also serve as a place to relax and enjoy the alluring beauty of the environment.

1. Burnham Park – “Heart of the City,” a valuable piece of Baguio real estate. It is a perfect place of enjoyment free for residents and visitors alike. It was designed by American architect and urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham. This park also offers different activity areas where families can enjoy biking, boating, camping, or holding picnics. That’s why to this day, it remains to be the most well-known and beloved park in the Philippines.

2. Mines View Park – Located in the northeast part of the city. It boasts of a spectacular view of Benguet’s gold and copper mines. There are also souvenirs and silverwork stores by the park where one may enjoy shopping for their loved ones. Especially worth visiting is Rimando’s on the Gibraltar side.

3. Wright Park – Features the most photographed landmark in the city, the “Pool of Pines.” One may also see a gazebo and a long flight of stairs down the hill leading to the riding circle, where there are ponies for hire. Surely, anyone would love to try horseback riding when they come and visit this park.

4. Mansion House – Official summer residence of the President of the Philippines, located along C. P. Romulo Drive and just across Wright Park. Built in 1908 for the US governor-general and destroyed during the Battle of Liberation for the Philippines in 1945, it was rebuilt and improved in 1947. The elaborate gate is said to be a replica of the one at Buckingham Palace in London.

Baguio City is not only blessed with wonderful landmarks but it is also home to many cultural heritages that offer a vast array of wonderful presentations of Cordilleran customs and traditions. Such places are really worth a look when visiting the city.

1. Botanical Garden – “Igorot Village,” it showcases the native houses of different Cordillera tribes. Tourists can take pictures with the Igorot tribesmen dressed in their traditional costume. It is also the house of the Baguio Arts Guild and a haven of many fascinating artworks and craftworks made by local artists and natives of the Cordillera. Botanical Garden is such named because it is tasked with growing pine seedlings and other flora and fauna for the constant “greening” of the city.

2. Tam-awan Village – It is a reconstructed Cordilleran village which houses an art gallery and attracts many indi-genous artists, most noteworthy of whom is Ben Cabrera. Across the village is sculptor Ben Hur Villanueva’s gallery. Like Botanical Garden, Tam-awan Village gives importance to the culture and traditions of Cordillera and visiting these places will make you understand the typical life of a Cordilleran more.

The culture and traditions of the Cordillerans are still practiced until now. Though modernization and technology changed the way we live, it is still very important for the Cordillerans to preserve these unique customs and pass it on to the next generations. Three of the famous customs/traditions still practiced nowadays are as follows:

1. The cañao – An Igorot ritual that features a traditional dance accompanied by music played by a group of tribesmen with a set of gongs that produce a unique rhythmic sound and tempo. Different tribes have their own unique dance and distinct sound of instruments.

During the ritual, an animal is butchered and offered to the god they
call Kabunyan. This ritual is done to thank the gods for a bountiful harvest season. It is also done during special occasions such as weddings, christenings, graduations, and even birthdays; there is a particular type of music devoted for a certain occasion.

2. Pinikpikan preparation – It is a ritual in the Cordillera tribes for them to determine their fate and what appropriate course of action they shall take. It takes hours of careful work to prepare it. The process of light beating or pikpik is where pinikpikan got its name. This traditional meal is composed of a chicken that is lightly beaten; sayote or papaya; and other ingredients. They say that when you are a true Cordilleran, you have to eat pinikpikan.

3. Moma – This is composed of three main ingredients: the betel nut or buwa, a spice whose leaves have medicinal properties, the hard nut comes from the areca palm (Areca catechu); the green leaf, also called gawed in the dialect, that is used to wrap it comes from the piper betel vine; the third ingredient is lime, known as apog here, it is locally prepared by burning river or sea shells on glowing charcoal until it turns powdery and white. Cordillerans believe that when you chew moma, it makes your teeth stronger. It also makes your lips really red.
Following is a song of Igorot kids “Joy to Mama” adapted from a famous Christmas song (“Joy to the World”) which shows how widespread the use of moma is: Joy to mama/ Gawed ken buwa/ Ada pay apog na./ Ngalngalem ket ngalngalem (2x)/ Sa mun tu itupra (2x)/ Kitaem, kitaem nalabbaga!//

This is basically an instructional song on what composes a moma, how you properly chew a moma, and how to spit it after it turns really red. It’s not red paint you see on the ground, it’s moma. 

Baguio City is not only rich with these very unique and exciting customs and traditions and spectacular tourist landmarks, it is also a business center and a “Metropolis of the North.” Baguio is one of the cities that is developing and is well-governed. It is a place where one can experience a modern and traditional way of living at the same time.

Two of the most vi-sited business centers in the city are as follows:

1. Session Road – The main avenue of Baguio City and its commercial center with quaint shops lining each side of the road. It is so named because it was the site of the Second Philippine Commission. This very popular road serves as a commercial place where anyone can enjoy strolling around in various shops and well-known restaurants and food chains.

2. SM City Baguio – The 16th Shoe Mart supermall in the country. It opened on Nov. 21, 2003. It is located where the former Pines Hotel stood. The location is a stroll away from some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. It has four levels of great shopping experience, fun entertainment, and leisure.

One may have the "real Baguio experience" if he takes part in the Panagbenga or the Flower Festival. Indeed, you’ve never been to Baguio unless you’ve been to the Panagbenga.

Panagbenga, which started in 1995, is one of the most successful festivals in the Philippines. It is celebrated during the month of February, when the City of Flowers is in full bloom with activities highlighted by a street dancing competition and float parade. It also includes landscape competitions, art exhibits, golf tournaments, flea markets, the Session in Bloom, and lots of other activities.

Baguio City is also a tourist magnet during the Holy Week because of its calm and peaceful environment. The Baguio Cathedral is one of the most visited places of worship, it is located on top of a hill in the heart of the city. The Lourdes Grotto is also another Catholic shrine, place of meditation, and a favorite pilgrimage site during the Holy Week.

Other places like Camp John Hay and Teachers Camp, which are favorite venues for seminars and conferences, are worth visiting, too.

Baguio City is the Summer Capital of the Philippines and it remains a
quintessential tourist destination in the North Luzon area. It is also known to attract people all over the nation and tourists all over the globe. Its refreshing cool climate and green and calm surroundings are just the right flavors to relieve the excessive heat and noise of the busy streets experienced by lowlanders. Come and visit the Summer Capital of the Philippines and experience the promise of fun, relaxation, and comfort as you enjoy through the stunning views that the city offers.

The author is the youngest of the six offspring of Mr. Marcos and Anastacia Caswang who hail from Kalinga. He recently graduated as the salutatorian of Pines City National High School and was one of the students chosen to be part of the American Field Service – Youth Exchange Study Program, which gave him the chance to study in the USA in 2006. He loves sports, listening to music, and hanging out with his friends.
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