May 25, 2024

■  Text & photos: Jenfrey Y. Benafin

A family of five from Negros Occidental and a couple from Davao City were this year’s Lucky summer visitors (LSV), an annual tourism promotion project of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, Inc. in partnership with the city government of Baguio and province of Benguet.

The LSV from Negros Occidental are James S. Soriano, a seaman with his daughters Rezia, 21; Ryza Jane, 17; Sophia Marie, 10; and his son John Reuben, 12.

The first-time visitors from Davao City are Jay Mae Bee Baling and March Karene B. Ugdaman, 33, both employees of the Davao City government.

The LSVs were first welcomed at Pugo, La Union by Mayor Kurt Walter Martin along with the municipal officers.

They were also accorded a welcome treat by officials of Tuba, Benguet led by Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan and Vice Mayor Maria Carantes. In Baguio, they were also welcomed by Acting Baguio Mayor Faustino Olowan.

The visitors immersed in an adventurous, cultural, and unique touring experience around Baguio and Benguet’s featured landscapes and tourist attractions, and stayed at the Hotel Supreme.

On their second day, they strolled in various tourism sites in Baguio and learned about Cordilleran culture at the Tam-awanVillage.

On the third day, the LSVwent around La Trinidad and Tublay’s tourist spots such as the Beacon Hill Eco-Park in Tublay, taking in the English vibe experience with the United Kingdom-inspired structures and designs.

The visitors also had an educational presentation about local and foreign wild berries and shrubs at Polig’s Farm. The farm highlights its biggest tea kettle infrastructure locally known as takure.

In the afternoon, they picked fresh strawberries at the strawberry farm. They also took up a shopping challenge with each group given P1,500 to buy souvenirs in under 20 minutes.

In Tublay, they were welcomed by Mayor Armando Lauro. In La Trinidad, Mayor Romeo K. Salda, treated them with strawberry products. The visitors had their last stop at the Sky Ranch at SM City Baguio and tried their fun and thrilling amusement rides.

In the send-off party prepared by the BCBC, the visitors shared their “instant celebrity” experience in Baguio.

For the Sorianos, it was a great bonding experience with his kids after being away with his family for long periods of time.

Couple March and Jay were indeed lucky for apart from the fact that their trip to Baguio was unplanned, they were, in the beginning, apprehensive about whether to be open or discreet about their relationship. But much to their surprise, the people of Baguio were open and welcoming to them.

The LSV were grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – for being able to see Baguio and Benguet’s geography, visit eco-tourist sites, learned about the culture of Cordillerans, and for being able to experience the people’s friendliness.

Teary-eyed, they bid farewell to the working committee of the project but hopes to go back with their friends to Baguio and Benguet.

The LSV have been a six-decade project of the BCBC, with support from their institutional partners from the government and private sectors.Among this year’s primary sponsors are Sen. Imee Marcos, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, and Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr.