Baguio City Day Trip

When we last left off, I had recovered from my culture shock, and had enjoyed a WONDERFUL party at Silverio’s Restaurant in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. If you get a chance to go there, you will enjoy the food, I am sure. Just make sure you get the pancit WITHOUT the liver!! LOL! The manager was great in setting up everything, and ensuring our guests were served promptly and courteously. Most of the food was good. What was not, was because of my extreme dislike for liver. The band was good, and even allowed other to sing on stage. I’m not sure if that’s a normal occurance, or one just for our party. Plus, others in the restaurant got into the swing of things with our party and seemed to enjoy the entertainment as well.

So, It’s the day after our big day. I’m recovering in the aircon. I don’t want to leave the house. But, for some reason our fruit is disappearing at an alarming rate. I’ve always loved fruit, but I can’t seem to keep it in the house here. It’s a good thing. I’m eating healthier. So, a trip to Dagupan is arranged through the house keepers driver. He arrives and we’re on our way to get more fruit. Had I known we could have just gone to the local market, I NEVER would have hired the driver so many times. Hey, I’m an American, but I don’t have to eat all American type fruit. I found out later that they thought I would not like their fruits, or their market. It’s a shame, I would have liked to have gone to the market to check it out, at least once. We buy other things on this trip too, as we’re preparing for a ROAD TRIP!!!! Yes, I said it. A road trip! Baguio City is calling my name! Except I think it is being pronounced “Lobster”. Stay with me here, it’ll all come together.

So, we’ve got our provisions for the trip, and then some. I don’t have much time left on the island, and I want to spend the rest of it with Joan’s family, getting to know them a little more. I’ve invited them to Baguio, and they’ve readily accepted. They’ve been there before and know what they want me to see!! I’m excited!!! It’s a long trip, I’m told, so we prepare out things and rise early. The sound of a scooter horn blares through the early morning air before the roosters have crowed. I think they might even be angry at the early awakening! We gather our things and take them downstairs to the van. They’re loaded into the back, and we head off to pick up more passengers. What I didn’t understand is that this trip is one that involved much more planning than I had thought. Food has been prepared. Bags are packed. Dishes are loaded into a picnic basket(yogi would be proud) and water has been contained into large canisters for drinking. Now comes the sound of pitter patter and flip flopping of feet coming as if in a herd. How are all of these people going to fit in this one van? It doesn’t seem possible, but I feel like I’m at the circus as all these provisions, and twelve people get into the van for the trip. And you know what? I’m not crowded!!! I told you from another article I don’t like driving this van, but it sure does hold a LOT of people and provisions!

I’ve been asked which way I want to go up to Baguio. Seeing that I have never been there, and haven’t a clue which ways there are, I simply say… “Whatever way you normally go”. I think that was a mistake. I don’t know yet for sure, and won’t know until I go there again when I get there, but this road was horrible. There was a lot of construction, it was narrow, and the cliffs were right by the roadside. Now, for any of you Americans that are reading this that have traveled the back country roads of Kentucky or Tennessee and know about narrow roads and cliffs, this is worse. Much worse! Part of this may be because I prefer to be behind the wheel of a vehicle when in this situation. I will honestly say I have a trust issue when it comes to my life inside a motor vehicle. Too many accidents when I was a passenger is the cause. My cure, I drive everywhere! So, I’m at the mercy of our faithful driver. The same driver that picked me up from Manila. The same driver that turned the sidewalk into a express lane. But, he is doing pretty good. Thank God for traffic, or I’m sure he would have passed someone on a blind curve on a road with no guard rails! We stop to use the CR(comfort room). That’s Filipino for bathroom. I’ve learned that one by now. I mean, I have had to use the CR at least once in the last 8 days. I’m fine and don’t need to use it. I’m told it costs money. Seriously? Ok. I shell out money for the CR, only to find that they’re taking in their own t.p. anyway. Wait a second, I have to pay to use the bathroom, but then I have to bring my own toilet paper? What am I paying for? Ok, culture shock just set in again.

We’re back on the road. It’s winding, it’s curving, it’s slow. It’s bumpy. It’s an adventure! I honestly don’t mind it. It’s different, and that’s what I wanted!! I know it may sound like I’m complaining on this article, but I’m really having a good time!

Flowers from WowPhilippines

We stop again!! This time, I get out of the van and I’m staring at the largest Lion’s International lion’s head I’ve ever seen! I don’t know if this thing is carved from rock, or simply a LOT of concrete, but it is a major tourist attraction spot for Baguio. We’re only about half way up the mountain, but everyone seems to stop and get their photo taken here. It’s a pretty steep drop off below, as this mountain is steep. Vendors are here too, hocking their wares. I buy two hats. One my wife liked with the many striped colors, and a black one that simply says Baguio on it. My brother liked the one I had chosen, so I let him have it. My wife still has hers, and wears it occasionally to this day.

Our trip continues, and we stop at a place called Wright Park. Everyone gets out of the van, and they tell me, “you might not want to get out”. When I ask why, they say because it smells like animals. I have to tell them, I live in the country in the U.S. I smell cow and horse poop every day. No smell out there can offend me. So, I get out of the van and we start to walk towards the sites. And oh, what sites they are. Pink, Purple, brown and white horses as far as the eye can see. But these aren’t real horses. Ok, they’re real, but they are tiny. A friend of mine had a dog as big as one of these things once! Ponies! It’s not horse rides, it’s pony rides!! I’m dying laughing at the site of it all. “Horse ride sir?”, I hear from behind me? I turn to see a Filipino worker asking ME if I want to ride a horse. Seriously? I could pick this horse up and take it for a ride!!! “I’m to big for that thing” I tell him. “Oh no, sir, we have big horses too”, as he points to a real sized horse. What he doesn’t know, is that horses and I don’t get along. I’ve been bitten too many times, or charged by some that just barely got away with their lives, shortly after I got away with mine! I kindly deny his request, and thank him for the offer. My wife poses with the horse of her choice. A beautiful white horse with a pink mane. It’s a “My Little Pony” pony!!! I pose next to the horse with her, and feel once again like a giant on display. After I buy my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law some plants, we load into the van and continue our trip. The trip is as much as the adventure as the destination, remember!
We arrive in Baguio City! We park our van along the sidewalks of Burnham Park. We unload our van and take everything to the grassy area surrounding the large pond dyed green. If it’s not dyed green, they have a serious algae problem which should be contained. But, since the top was pristine, I guessed it was dyed that color. As soon as we make our way to the green grass, we are bombarded by vendors. An old woman selling mats for a picnic was first. That was fine as far as I was concerned because I didn’t see any picnic tables here. The price asked by the woman brought anger from my new family. Apparently, she was trying to rip me off. They yelled at her repeatedly, and finally settled on a price. I bought two. They came in handy that day, as the grass where we picnicked was still covered in dew.

We also had a lumpia vendor come by at just the right time. We were, after all, about to eat. And we didn’t have lumpia! So, I bought a LOT of veggie lumpia and we ate until we were content. The food was good, the company was better! After our meal, and a rest, we walked around the pond, catching the stares of many. While I was not the only white guy there, I was the biggest, whitest, and I will add, most handsome! Just kidding. We took lots of pictures of everything around. In fact, my youngest brother-in-law had the camera most of the time, so the pictures we have from there, were ones he took. I do have to thank him for that! Thanks Ruel!

After Burnham park, we went to Minesview. More photo opportunities simply MUST be obtained by the Filipinos! As a guy with a VERY bad knee, that walk up those steps with awkward stone steps was a KILLER on me!! I have to say, I will probably NEVER go back there again! No thanks. And the view wasn’t that great. I could see that if I climbed the nearest trash dump near my house. I wasn’t impressed, and found it to be more of a tourist attraction to hawk souvenirs than anything special. If it had meaning to the Igorot people, it didn’t any seem to have the same meaning any longer. Did I mention photo opportunities here?

The trip went on! We arrived at The Mansion. I saw it. We didn’t go in. I don’t even know if you can get in. We simply stopped to take pictures at a gazebo type structure, and to be attacked by a vendor selling paintings. We haggled and came to an agreement on price, and I bought two. He took them off the frames, rolled them, and put them into a tube that he said would be fine for the airport. (They were) They are now reframed and hanging on the walls in our home.

We move on! We stop at a place called Lourdes Grotto. I’m told there are 252 steps to get to the top. Wow! Have fun walking those steps! This knee isn’t bending one more time, unless it is to get back into the van! They look at me like I’m joking, but they quickly realize, I am not. I tell them they can go to the top and I will wait for them, but they decide to take photos at the bottom of the steps, and we can move on.

SWEET!!! I’m happy as a pig in shit right about now! (Sorry if you need to edit that one out Bob) LOL! I did manage to walk back to the van, and buy some peanut brittle to take back to the house with us. My family bought some quail eggs which I had never eaten before. The kids were eating them like candy! So, I tried it. It’s definitely an acquired taste. I might try them again, but not by themselves. Maybe they need a dip of vinegar or something. They were very dry.

Will this trip EVER end? So, earlier I mentioned someone calling my name and it sounded like “lobster” It is at this point on the ride home that I realize, I did not wear a hat all day. Previously, I was in the shade, in front of a fan, trying not to melt. But, in Baguio, the weather was beautiful and it was awesome to be able to enjoy the weather. As you will notice from my photo, I have a short hair cut. When I was in the Philippines, I had it shaved to the skin. I realize, I’m sunburned.

And not just ANY sunburn, I’m talking sun sickness, blistering sunburn!! We arrive home and unload the van at my in-laws home. We travel back to the house belonging to the aunt of my wife, and get everything inside. This is where I tell her that being white isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Everyone in the Philippines spends a lot of money on soaps, bleaches, and other things to whiten themselves. Well, that night my wife found out being white, as white as me, is a horrible thing. The blistering began. Sun sickness kicked into high gear. I was overheated, and in serious need of the CR and t.p.! I was sick most of the night. When I awoke, most of the blisters had broken, and was oozing clear fluids. She quickly changed her mind on wanting to be as white as me! I laugh because this has been an ongoing event in my life. I’ve experienced it before. Usually, on a day when I am having too much fun to realize I am a lechon baboy, slowly cooking until I’m crisp and tender.

Our trip, was a success. We all had a good time, and I got to spend some quality time with my new family.
Until next time, paalam, ingat and God bless!

Post Author: Scott Fortune (62 Posts)

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.


Comments

  1. says

    Nice write up. Yeah I have to usee at least sunblock 50 or I’ll cook. Blistering and to the degree I cant walk for a day. Luckily several bouts back in my teen days taught me, and now if I’m even driving to the grocery store –even on a cloudy day– unless it’s winter–on goes sunscreen !

    • ScottF says

      Everywhere we drive now, I carry a couple of hats. I just wasn’t thinking because it was the ONE DAY I didn’t feel like the sun was cooking me. :)

  2. Tom Ramberg says

    Nice story Scott. I will recommend that you travel around a little here in the Philippines before you choose a place to live. Some have more pluses than negatives and the reverse.

    • ScottF says

      Tom, we will be traveling around quite a bit, and renting before we decide to live permanently. Thanks for the suggestion. And thanks for reading.

  3. Gary Wigle says

    I am happy to see you had a good time Scott… Hair works well on top of the head to prevent sunburn… At least that is what my Michigan doctor told me… So I tried it and guess what??? It works!!! :-P

    • ScottF says

      Gary, hair does work really well on the top of your head. unfortunately, I am unable to grow it in thick enough to do much, so I keep it short. :) Hats are a good substitute though. I didn’t even take one with me. Bought one while I was there, but my brother-in-law wore it most of the time. It’s all good. It was toward the end of my trip, and I recovered at home. With a lot of Aloe Vera gel. :)

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Philip says

    Great Article Scott,
    your wife looks very maganda on the horse, I love horses and ridden them for years. I don’t think the you would win the Melbourne Cup on that little fella that your wife was riding but she looked very happy. Here we have sun in our country that you cook your bacon and eggs on the cement during summer and it always to pays to drink plenty of fluids sometimes amber ones but mostly water. A hat and sunscreen is very important as well as a lot of people end up going to the Doctors later in life and get a few stitches from skin cancer. I have a haircut like yours and have to be careful whilst swimming etc but it is cheaper and cooler to shave your head don’t you think Scott? that is my excuse anyway, good to see you writing still take care there
    Philip

    • ScottF says

      Thanks Philip for the nice comments. As for the hair, I woudl gladly go back to paying $11usd plus tip for a haircut every 10 days if it meant I had hair again! :) But, as it is, it’s not bad. I just wear hats. I’ve got a few nice ones I’ve been breaking in for the Philippines. One is my old fishing hat. never brought me any luck fishing, but it sure kept the sun off my head. I also use it when I go swimming in the pool. Well, before I got rid of the pool. used it for cutting grass, and also for yard sales. I’m sure it’ll be getting a LOT of beach time once I am there.

      • Philip says

        Hi Scott good to here I to have given up on the thick hair business years ago
        just a crew cut advanced to shaving the old boof head. I hear what you are saying about the hats I have worn many different ones for different purposes like law enforcement, Cattle, Sheep, Fishing,Golf,Walking,Drinking and Partying Barbeques, Surfing and jus for the sake of wearing one, hey Scott you could probably right a book on people and diffenent hats I guess. Take Care there
        Kind Regards
        Philip

  5. says

    I love to read your storys Scott, you hit right on the spot with your observations. I can totally agree in those things. You have such a open and positive attitude.

  6. Mark G. says

    Hi Scott. I have a very similar picture of me and the wife with the pink haired pony, lol. Baguio is a nice town but at 70’f the wife needed a sweater because she was cold! It’s on my short list of retirement destinations.

  7. Robert says

    what an enjoyable article Scott, thanks for writing it, sorry to hear about the
    severe sunburn and hope you recover very quickly. Reading your article briefly
    brought me back to Baguio, a place I really like and plan on visiting again in a few weeks. Anyway glad to see you are enjoying your stay in the Philippines, you
    and your wife make a very nice looking couple and very happy for both of you.
    take care and again hope you get better soon and take care of that knee –
    you are far too young to be having those issues !

    • ScottF says

      Robert, the article is new, but it is about my experience when I went to the Philippines in 2009. I’ve recovered since, and have had a couple more burns on my head since. Nowhere near as bad though. Just some small ones from going from the mall to the car, etc. Or an occasional yard sale sun burn. :)

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. I have more on here, and will be writing each week, so stop by to read more. Although I am almost out of material from my trip, I’ll soon be getting into the hassles of the U.S Government making her a resident, and citizen.

      We plan on moving there next year once everything is finalized.

      • Robert says

        Hi Scott,
        oops on my part ! Thought for sure the article was very recent, Oh well it was
        still a great write up and that’s what counts. looking forward to reading more
        about your adventures in the P.I. and good luck dealing with the gov’t and let’s
        hope everything goes smoothly and that she becomes a U.S. citizen soon enough.
        take care !

  8. Bob New York says

    Hi Scott,
    Thanks for another very enjoyable read in this article. On the singing at parties, yes, I think it is quite common and one of these days you might be the one singing ! Prior to my first visit to The Philippines I read in a travel guide that Filipinos like it when foreign visitors at least learn a few words of their language. The place where I visit, Iligan City in Northern Mindanao it is Bisaya ( also known as Cebuano which is the same or very similar ) which is the common language. I tried to find a book on it but the closest I could come to it was Tagalog. I got nowhere fast with that book . I began to think, if I can remember word for word many of the Hit Songs from a few decades ago or more that played on Top 40 Radio stations 15 times a day, maybe I could find some kind of easy to remember song or jingle, record it onto a CD and learn to just mimick the words plus get a translation to English. I wouldn’t want to say or sing something not knowing what it is.

    A look on Youtube found just the thing for me and about one of my favorite Philippine things, ” Jollibee ” ! As a bonus, it is a mix of Tagalog and some English words.

    I was out to dinner with a University Chancellor, his wife and some of the faculty at a nice restaurant. After our meal on our way out The Chancellor sees a friend of his who just happens to be having a catered affir in another part of the resturant. We were all invited to attend, share the festivities along with the food and drink. The chancellor gets up to sing with the band and then much to my surprise introduces me to the crowd and tells them I am going to sing ” The Jollibee Song ” acapella ! Good thing I had enjoyed a few San Migs prior to that. There was no way to back out of this one ! The crowd gave a great applause and I guess they appreciated a Kano took the time to learn something of a Filipino language.

    Several years and several visits later I am in one of the biggest Amphetheaters in Mindanao singing to none other than the Jollibee Mascott himself in front of a crowd of city employees and dignataries. Just goes to show you how learning to say or better yet sing something familiar to Filipinos in at least one of their own languages brings on the smiles. This is one off my ” best of ” Philippines Adventures.

    Singing to the Jollibee Mascott at Anahaw Amphetheater, Iligan City

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B7_39bTH3k&feature=plcp

    The original youtube video that I learned this song from. Of course I learned it so I could perform it without the music and back-up vocals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHw1P0OO6OY

    It is my impression that singing at parties and social gatherings by not only the band or hired entertainers, but by those invited to such gatherings is a part of Philippine Culture. At least I have something to sing.

    Now that I think about it, the second night of my very first visit to The Philippines I was at a party and I sang. I don’t consider myself to be any kind of a singer but you do it enough at some of the parties and gatherings you will be invited to there, you can greatly enhance your fun and enjoyment for yourself and the audience as well.

    • ScottF says

      BobNY, whata great story! I tried learning from my wife, but as most Americans married to Filipinas know, they speak many dialects in one sentence, so it’s difficult to follow sometimes. So, I decided to learn the National Language of Tagolog first. Once that is done, I will try to learn her dialect. Then maybe move on to her Mom’s dialect. I’ve got a long life ahead of me, and will have a lot of free time on my hands. :) Not that it relates to Life int he Philippines, but I love languages. I would like to learn others too, even if they prove to be useless to me in the Philippines.

      • Bob New York says

        What really amazes me is when my Filipino friends at times use English and their local language ( Bisaya ) sometimes in the same sentence ! It’s the same voice, the same mouth but the changing back and forth between the two languages makes me awestruck. Good luck on learning some of the languages Scott. Fortunately I get by just fine in English there although I usually am with Filipino friends that can translate for me if and when needed. I think Bob Martin has made Bisaya Language lessons available. For me, well, maybe someday LOL !

  9. Papa Duck says

    Scott,
    Another great article. We will be visiting Baguio in my upcoming visit. We will be taking a Victory Liner instead hiring a driver. Should be an enjoyable time. Have a nice day.

    • ScottF says

      I’ve heard of those there. I think that’s a great way to travel too. But, I am very particular(eccentric) and don’t like to be restricted by another persons requirement to drive me around. I plan on getting my license there and buying a vehicle to drive myself all over the country… or at least Luzon. :)

    • Ricardo Sumilang says

      Papa Duck – If you’re taking the Victory Liner from Olongapo to Baguio, you will be travelling the entire length of the province of Zambales, passing through almost all the towns all the way to Sta. Cruz, the northernmost municipality of Zambales before you cross over into the province of Pangasinan, thence to Baguio. You will pass through my barrio of Salaza. It is located between the towns of Iba and Masinloc. You’ll get to see where I’m from. LOL I’m excited for you, Papa Duck. Have fun!

      • Papa Duck says

        Ricardo,
        Really getting excited to go. Everything is all set, just have to wait for the time to get here. Will look out for your barrio on our way there. Just want to relax and enjoy the scenery. Hopefully one day soon you will be able to make a another visit there. Take care and have a nice day.

  10. Justin Thorn says

    Next time you take a trip to Baguio, take the Marcos Highway because it is less steep than the other routes. You must also know that they do have an auto coding ban enforced in Baguio for 24 hours, meaning no time window (10AM to 3PM) when you can drive your car on the day you are not supposed to. When we went there our car was stopped for coding violation which we didn’t know about. So make sure not to go there on the day when your car is on coding ban. If you have more time the next time you go to Baguio, I would suggest going to Alaminos, Pangasinan or Bolinao, Pangasinan also. Why Alaminos? Because of the Hundred Islands…and why Bolinao? Because they have a lot of very nice beaches and resorts there (I heard there is even one owned by an American…don’t know if it’s true) and one of them is Puerto del Sol. If you are on budget, you can go to Patar Beach not too far from Puerto del Sol. We saw a few Americans when we went to Puerto del Sol. I have a blog written about Hundred Islands here:
    http://phinoyesque.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/hundred-islands-alaminos-pangasinan/

  11. Justin Thorn says

    I also like to add, the veggies is one of the many reasons why we go to Baguio. They are dirt cheap there! When you go to the main market, don’t buy them inside the market. The cheap ones are sold OUTSIDE the market by vendors who sell their stuff around the market. Only when you bought all your veggie requirements should you go shopping inside the market. The veggies outside the market are sold for only ten pesos a pile…like a pile of grape tomatoes cost only that much. Same goes for a pile of broccoli heads (about 5 of them), a pile of cauliflower, a pile of cucumber, a pile of radish, a pile of zucchinis, etc

    • ScottF says

      I am definitely planning on taking the Marcos Hwy next time. I want to try both ways and see which one I prefer. I think Marcos goes along the beach a ways, which is something I want to see too.

      Thanks for the tip on the veggies! I’ll be sure to do that when we go there next time!!

  12. Larry Saum says

    I’ve visited Baguio at least 4 or 5 times. I think the last time was in 2008-2009 for New Years. That is still part of the Christmas celebration time in the PI, and is very enjoyable with lots of decorations still up. We stayed a couple of days with some relatives of my wife in a rented apartment, and just about froze to death. They don’t have central heat there either. I was glad I had a coat from the US with me.

    We have been to the PI a couple of times for the Christmas season; because I could put together the vacation times from one year’s work with those from the next years work, plus the holiday to get a full 5 weeks off. It makes a real great break from the winters in Indiana.

    • ScottF says

      I’m really looking forward to the Holidays there! I’m excited to see the differences from there from the U.S. Ours has become down played a little too much and turned into an economic holiday rather than a religious one. So, that’ll be a nice change as far as I’m concerned.

      I was planning on doing the vacation thing as you do this Christmas, but since I retired unexpectedly this year, we’re skipping the holiday in exchange for a permanent move next year. I pray everything goes as well as I hope and we stay there until I go up to meet my relatives that beat me to to heaven.

  13. Davao Dave. says

    Hi Scott,
    Very enjoyable read once again. A lot of your experiences are ones that i can identify with. The van made me laugh. it’s a mystery to me too how so many people can get in to one vehicle,there always seems to be room for one more! I think it works along the same principles as Doctor Who’s Tardis.
    You really seem to be enjoying yourself on your trips. That comes through in your writing.I have always wanted to go to Baguio but to date have not made it yet,maybe one day.
    Just like your self i suffered a dose of over exposure to the sun,not a pleasant experience. I was playing Golf in Davao and was on the course for around 5 hours with no drink,food,sun screen or hat. NOT WISE! When my Dad came to meet me off the 18th green,i introduced him to a guy i had just met and was talking to.
    My Dad told me to get inside double quick and take some liquids on board. I was talking to no-one.My friend was an hallucination!!How does the saying go? ”Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”
    I like the part when the family came to the rescue when the mat seller was trying to rip you off and charge you the White mans price. Well done them.
    I’m looking forward to reading your articles on present day Philippine life.
    Take care.
    Dave & Family.

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