Visit Baguio City this Christmas Season

Reinforcing its ‘Creative City’ status, the city of Baguio has recently unveiled the City Christmas Tree at Rose Garden, Burnham Park and the Lights and Sounds Show at Malcolm Square.

The Christmas Tree of the City was unveiled last December 1 was presented by several public officials of Baguio City. There were also tons of performances from different groups before the big reveal.

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Photo from Facebook: Mia Magdalena

Measuring 23 meters in height, the tree is adorned with red blooming flowers and woven abaca balls in different sizes. At night, it illuminates with various colors to provide a pleasing visual experience. During its unveiling, hundreds of residents and tourists flocked to get a first look of the highly anticipated Christmas Tree of the City.

During the last week of November, the city government closed down Malcolm Square to pave way for the making of a Lights and Sounds Show for the Christmas season. The show was finally under way last December 1 and it was worth the wait. Animals adorned with Christmas lights stood guard at Malcolm Square while the trees were beautifully wrapped in lights as well. A stage was made in front of Malcolm Square wherein performers would entertain the crowd with songs and dances.

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The best thing about all of this is that everything is free. The city of Baguio does not collect fees from all the performances and showcases. Visit Malcolm Square when you have a chance since the Lights and Sounds show begin during the evening.

Atop Session Road, the spot where the old concrete tree was taken down from years ago would always receive a makeover during the Christmas season. Today’s Christmas season is no different. Instead of your usual Christmas Tree Designs, a ‘Tinatik’ Christmas Tree was unveiled. Maela Liwanag Jose, the creator of the tree, uses a technique called “Tinatik”, taken from the Filipino term “tina” for ‘color’ and the Indonesian term “batik” which means ‘drop’. “Tinatik”, meaning “Color Drop”.

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Photo from Facebook: Mia Magdalena

Taken from WheretoBaguio.com’s article about Tinatik,

“The Story of Creation is the inspiration for many of Maela’s works, especially the Christmas tree. But she doesn’t just tell the story with literal images. Instead, she put a Cordilleran twist with careful research of Cordilleran patterns and symbols which are used in artifacts, fabrics, and tattoos. Which is why if you take a close look at the Christmas tree, you’ll see patterns of spirals, zigzags, curves, and lines – each having meaning, such as spirals for hills, zigzags for fish, and diamonds for day and night.”

We shall be replacing the photos from our own shots once we have the time to take pictures. For now these are samples and photos from WheretoBaguio.com and Facebook.

 

 

 

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Baguio chosen as Philippines’ First UNESCO Creative City

Baguio is Philippines’ First UNESCO Creative City

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In a  press statement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” is one of 64 cities worldwide to be included in the Creative Cities Network.

Baguio City is included in the crafts and folk art field.

The UNESCO Creative Cities has highlighted its members’ creativity within 7 fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music.

From UNESCO, “The Creative Cities will join a Network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development.”

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is one the agencies of the UN (United Nations).

Cordillera Tourism Director Maria Venus Tan, who was instrumental in Baguio’s campaign, wrote on Facebook, “I woke up today with the happiest news that Bagio has been declared as one of the new UNESCO Creative Cities in its network!”

Baguio, the gateway to the Cordilleras, was created as a hill station by the Americans more than a hundred years ago. The famous architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham set up the blueprint for the city, which was declared as the Summer Capital of the Philippines in 1909.

 

Crafts and Folk Art in Baguio

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National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera  Eric “Kidlat Tahimik” de Guia.

Benedicto Reyes Cabrera — or BenCab, as he is more popularly known is widely hailed as a master of contemporary Philippine art. The artist lives and works in Baguio City.

One of the most prominent names in the Filipino film industry, Eric “Kidlat Tahimik” de Guia has garnered various accolades locally and internationally, including a Plaridel honorarium for Independent Cinema. He is dubbed by fellow filmmakers and critics as the “Father of Philippine Independent Cinema.

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Cordilleran art of weaving has fascinated local and foreign tourists who visit the region

The local woven clothes are an instant hit among tourists, who purchase them as souvenir items. The purchase provides supplementary earnings to local weavers of the Cordilleras.

Nardas is a popular store started by Bontoc weaver Narda Capuyan, this flagship store carries a broad selection of high-quality, locally made items

Another place to visit is the Easter Weaving Room if you are interested in native fabrics and other handicraft. Here one can witness the actual process of cloth weaving as practiced by the natives of the mountain provinces for ages.

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Handicraft Souvenirs

The City of Baguio is one of the best places to buy souvenir for your families back home or souvenirs like wood carvings such as “Barrel Man”.

Notable handicraft items, which are often sold as souvenir items, include hand weaving, wood carving and metalcraft.

Souvenir shopping is one of the most awaited part of every traveler when on a trip or vacation. Everyone wants to share what they seen and experience during their travels.

Souvenirs vary from the local delicacies found only in the place that you are visiting or their specialty products such as bags, clothes, footwear and souvenir items like key chain, ref magnets, mats, bags and others.

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Ifugao Woodcarvers’ Village

The Ifugao Wood Carvers’ Village or Itogon Wood Carvers’ Village is a tourist site in Baguio where workshops of Ifugao wood carvers can be found. High quality wood carvings of various types and sizes are sold at the village, usually at considerably lower prices than elsewhere in Baguio.

A few kilometers away from in Baguio. Off the beaten path of the usual Burnham downtown crowds. The street is lined with woodcarving stores with some being carved on the spot. Wood carved products are 80% cheaper than that found in Manila or the stores in malls. It is worth the visit and shopping!

Items made from real Kamagong wood, Anahaw, or Molave.

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Igorot Culture

Igorot, or Cordillerans, is the collective name of several ethnic groups in the Philippines, who inhabit the mountains of Luzon.

Cultural elements common to the Igorot peoples as a whole include wood carving, weaving, metalworking, and rituals. The rich culture of the Igorot’s are what influences the design, materials, and practices of most arts and crafts in the city of Baguio.

The subjects of the carvings vary widely but are mostly motifs closely associated with the Cordilleras, such as bul’ul or indigenous people and animals.

5 Beaches to Explore Away from Baguio

The Philippines boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Surrounded mostly by water, going to beach is always on the top list on the itinerary of tourists and travelers who are visiting the country. On the weekend, you might want to explore the lowlands and hit one of these destinations:

San Juan

MAP SAN JUAN

Photo courtesy of Google Map

San Juan beach, also dubbed as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” is one of the destinations where Monol keeps coming back to because it is an ideal package deal for a quick getaway. It takes only two hours to go there, so a day would be enough for a round trip back to Baguio. Make the most of the day by riding through the waves and surfing lessons which costs around 400 pesos per head or by just simply sitting along the shore, talking, and pigging out.

Patar Beach

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Photo courtesy of Google Map

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Photo from outoftownblog.com

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Photo from shoestringtravelers.com

Quick Facts
Travel time from Baguio City: 4 hours
Activities: Swimming

Patar Beach is located in Bolinao, Pangasinan a four hour-travel from Baguio City. This haven boasts crystal clear water and mocha-colored sand, as well as the serene atmosphere of unadulterated nature. Patar beach’s country side vibe, traditional huts, and warm-hearted people, overall, is a haven for your laid-back precedence.

Aside from the swimming activity, you can also explore some nearby attractions such as the Enchanted Cave, Bolinao Falls, and Lighthouse.

“Pagudpud”

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Photo courtesy of Google Map

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Photo from pagudpodshore.com

The municipality of Pagudpud is located in Ilocos Norte, an eight-hour ride from Baguio City. It may sound quite a long journey on the way there, but it’s all worth it upon being greeted by white sand beach and crystal clear shores thus gaining its title as “Boracay of the North”. Aside from this, you can also enjoy the Bangui Wind farm, light house, museums, parks, and waterfalls.

Hundred Islands

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Photo courtesy of Google Map

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Hundred Islands National Park is considered as one of the National Geological Monuments of the Philippines consisting of whooping 123 islands or 124 islands during low-tide where you can do lots of activities such as paragliding, banana boating, snorkeling, and canoe plus picnic and lots of photo-opts. It takes three hours and thirty minutes from Baguio.

Lingayen Beach

MAP LING

Photo courtesy of Google Map

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Photo by shoestringstraveller.com

Lingayen beach is one of the nearest beaches from Baguio City. It would only take you two hours and a half to reach this serene and breezy place. Lingayen gulf is known as a military base during the World War II. Not far from the beach is the provincial capitol where you could drop by to have a background of its history. In between the beach and the capitol is a display of the actual military equipment used during the era. If you wish to spend your time at the shore, there are free cottages where you can chill, a pavement where you can stroll, and some food stalls or nearby hotel restaurants to grab a bite. Either way is a delightful experience to just sit around and unwind.

If you wish to explore some of these destinations, Monol conducts weekend trip every two weeks where you can enjoy doing outdoor activities with other students.

 

 

In Case You Need to Take a Break: Prologue to PUGAD

Writing assignments, tests, presentations, classes, home works – we know you’re busy. With all these jam packed tasks and the limited time in the academy, it’s almost improbable to take a break and replace these with activity filled breather outside Baguio, add to that the hassle of long hours of traveling and the curfew.

But what if we tell you that there is a haven, not so far away, where you can do bunch of activities all in one day?

Located at the Municipality of Pugo, La Union, Pugo Adventure or also known as PUGAD, is the combo meal version of rest, relaxation and adventures.

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Photo courtesy of Google Map

Within an hour of travel from Baguio City, this adventure hub would be a great escapade from the city life especially when you tag your friends along. For the adrenaline junkie, feel free to choose your cup of tea from several activities such as ziplining, ATV, wall climbing, rappelling, and water adventures such as kayaking, jet skiing, and others.

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If you are the slightly active type of person who finds pleasure through reading books, dipping into the water, or simply observing  nature, you can stay at one of the huts or kubo overlooking the swimming pool. Either way, the lush greenery would never fail to give you the break you deserve.

For more information regarding fees, refer to the image below:

PUGAD ADVENTURE PRICE LIST

Photo from https://www.facebook.com/Pugo-adventure

 

 

Jeepney 101

Jeepney is considered as one of the Philippines’ national symbols. Each said vehicle is usually air brush-painted with colorful designs and decorations, outwardly reflecting the diverse socio-cultural system of the country.

However, the first jeepneys weren’t all festive. Its history could be traced back in the 1940’s during the World War II where the original version was initially used as a military car accommodating a number of people. The remains of these vehicles were left by the Americans as the war subsided and was modified by the locals for public transportation.

The Jeepney Culture

The Philippine culture could not only be seen on the surface of these then military transportation. What happens inside the jeepney would tell you a lot more about the custom of bayanihan where people give each other a hand when needed.

One observable example is, as soon as you hand the fare, passengers would pass it on until it reaches the driver’s coin chest. If you have a change, passengers would receive it from the driver then pass it on until it reaches you back. At times when the driver forgets about the change, other passengers, even if you don’t know them, would remind the driver about it. These people seem to have a given understanding about how this custom works.

Accessible and cheap

Among the vehicles in the Philippines, jeepney, unlike taxi and tricycle, are accessible both in rural and urban areas. Here in Baguio, some jeepneys have cut-off until 9 pm whereas others rove until 12 midnight or even 24-hours straight.

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Monol students riding a jeepney on their way to an outdoor activity

Monol is located along Tacay Road, Pinsao Proper, a 10-15 minutes ride from town. Both jeepneys and taxis traverse just in front of the academy. The practical thing about jeepney is being able to arrive in town for only 8.50 pesos, around four times cheaper than the flag down rate of taxi. However, unlike taxi, the jeepney has certain routes so if you opt to ride one, knowing the destinations where jeepneys would travel would help a lot (and save you bucks!).

**featured image from http://www.anistransport.com

 

A Taste of Filipino Food

“What food do you recommend?”

This is one of the most common questions teachers receive from new students during the first day of classes.

This is not bizarre because majority of people love food and if you are someone who is visiting a place for the first time, you would probably ask the same thing. The spectacular thing about food is, it doesn’t only help us survive and accomplish our daily tasks. When you think about it, certain types of food could tell us more about the culture, the people who prepared the food, as well as the geography the locale has based on the resources used.

Having Monol weekend trip twice a month and being able to go out of the academy after 5 pm are opportune moments to try out Filipino foods at some local restaurants. The following are some delectable cuisines for starters:

  1. Longanisa
Filipino Food - Longganisa (photo from the internet)

Longanisa with egg. ramar foods international. 2 March 2017. Web. 15 May 2017. <ramarfoods.com>.

Longanisa resembles sausage. It has variety of flavors ranging from sweet, sour, and sometimes with garlic and black pepper. This food is usually served during breakfast with egg and fried rice. If you happen to visit Hundred Islands, or Vigan, you could try their local-made longanisa.

Where to: Volante, Rufo’s Tapa

  1. Halo halo
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Halo halo. pawnhero.ph. 22 May 2015. Web. 18 May 2017. <blogpawnhero.ph>.

Halo halo is a literal translation of Filipino word to English. ‘Halo’ means ‘mix’ and as the name suggests, it is a mixture of different fruits, nata, sago, beans, crisped rice, topped with crushed ice, milk and custard or sometimes with ice cream. Perfect for summer!

Where to: Mang Inasal, Chowking, Kubong Sawali

3. Adobo

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Chicken Adobo. pepper.. 22 July 2013. Web. 18 May 2017. <www.pepper.ph>.

Adobo is one of Pinoy favorites. This meal consists of pork, chicken, sometimes string beans, together with vinegar, salt (or soy), black pepper, garlic. Some modifications may involve adding liver spread, pineapple, boiled egg and potato.

Where to: F.O.T.D., Rufo’s Tapa

4. Turon

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Turon. Wok with Ray. 11 December 2011. Web. 18 May 2017. <wokwithray.net>.

A perfect combination of crispy and soft, turon is made with banana and caramelized sugar, sometimes with jackfruit or sticky rice, rolled in spring roll wrappers, and deep fried to achieve crispness.

Where to: SM Supermarket, Mang Inasal, Dencio’s Bar and Grill (SM)

5. Lechon

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Lechon. General’s Lechon. Web. 18 May 2017. <generals-lechon.com>.

Lechon almost all the time signifies festivity and celebration. This is often served during festivals and special occasions like weddings. For most people, the skin is the most sought-after part of lechon as it becomes so crispy and tasty, infused with smoky aroma that will surely boost your appetite.

Where to: Baliwag Lechon, Andok’s, Good Taste, Kubong Sawali

6. Sinigang

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Pork Sinigang. Panlasang Pinoy. Web. 18 May 2017. <panlasangpinoy.com>

Sinigang is one of the dishes perfect for any weather be it rainy or summer. Fish, pork, or shrimp is boiled together with tamarind or kamias (tree cucumber) making the soup taste sour. Leafy vegetables are added few minutes after the meat has been cooked and voila, sinigang is ready to be served.

Where to: Kubong Sawali, Dencio’s Bar and Grill (SM), Point and Grill

Indulge!

**featured image Lechon. mucking around manila. 2 September 2017. Web. 18 May 2017. <www.muckingaroundmanila.com>

BAGUIO IN A DAY

Can you explore Baguio City’s main tourist spots in a day? Of course, you can!

Despite being tagged as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio is rather a small city with an area of 49 square kilometers. It was first built for a capacity of 25,000 people but the population in Baguio City had skyrocketed to more than 300,000. Despite that, Baguio City still remains to be the top escape of Filipinos and tourists from the southern part of the country.

Among the places that tourists flock to in Baguio, the famous ones are Mines View Park, the Mansion House, Wright Park, Botanical Garden and Burnham Park. These are quite a few, right? But you can actually visit all these in one day.

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