Baguio for One

Rainy Baguio is perfect for someone who came not to see the sights but to savor the cool weather, good coffee, and solitude.

I went there three weeks ago and got to stay at a beautiful, very homely place. It was my first time at the OMF guesthouse but it felt like coming home someplace I’ve been going to every year.

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my favorite corner of the house
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a wall filled with books from floor to ceiling
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and another shelf beside it

So now you’ve seen what endeared the place to me.

Attending a writers’ workshop was not a bad excuse either. But seriously, I learned much from the speakers and my fellow participants.

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this is where i did most of my writing and reflecting

Writing is lonely work and from time to time one needs to be reminded that there are others out there who understand, who are doing the same thing. And by the end of the workshop on Sunday noon, I came away inspired, encouraged, refreshed.

After that I had the whole afternoon and evening to myself. Eight hours and a half before my trip back to Manila and all I had planned were hunting rare finds at Mt. Cloud Bookshop and buying ube jam at the Good Shepherd Convent as requested by a friend. Everything else had been serendipitous.

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Baguio and her gorgeous sidewalks.. on the way to Mt. Cloud Bookshop

I don’t know how long I stayed at Mt. Cloud. I always feel like time freezes and I enter another world every time I go there.

I wanted to buy that one (On Being Blue) but didn’t get to because it was a bit pricey. Happy with my acquisitions though. Two novels and two poetry collections. All by Filipino authors and hard to find in mainstream bookstores.

It was raining when I finally left. Didn’t bring an umbrella so I decided to stay in the area for a bit. Then suddenly remembered there’s a nearby cafe I wanted to try.

And I got the first surprise of my wanderings. From outside, the cafe looked just like another cozy corner in Baguio. But further inside…

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Hill Station

…a spacious, quiet (at least that time) restaurant that spells out simple elegance.

Enjoyed a good couple hours savoring Cordillera heirloom coffee and organic hibiscus tea while getting introduced to Marne L. Kilates’ poetry. I’m not exaggerating when I say Mostly in Monsoon Weather is a gem.

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brownie Lenotre and Cordillera heirloom coffee

Meanwhile the rain kept pouring.

Halfway through the slim volume of poetry, I decided it was time to go to the convent where every traveler in Baguio buys pasalubong. There was still a slight shower when I went out of Hill Station but decided to walk anyway.

Since (lower) Session Road was just a few steps away, I took a detour to the thrift shops. Saw a really nice black Steve Madden sandals which I would have bought had there been room left in my bag.

There’s something about Session Road that just pulls you and makes you think your visit in Baguio’s never really complete without getting lost in its sea of people, tourists and residents alike, walking up or down the road headed to restaurants, cafes, shops, etc., etc.

Emerging from the tumult, I hailed a taxi and headed to Good Shepherd Convent. Must get coffee and ube jam. But by the time I got there, signs scattered everywhere said, “Shop closes at 5:00 pm.” Good thing there was a small store nearby that also sold Good Shepherd products.

While looking for a ride back to the city proper, I saw a side road that seemed to lead to an area with more shops and perhaps taxis because there appeared to be more people there. Well, voila! Turned out to be the famous Mines View Park. Didn’t know it was just a few meters away. “Might as well do some sightseeing before it gets dark,” I thought.

And while there, sitting amidst a crowd of people coming and going, two poems seemed to write themselves out while I was taking in the view.

The air was getting colder as evening descended when I got up from where I sat. One last look and then it was time to go. Time for dinner. And what better way to end a trip filled with discoveries (read: newness) than having some comfort food (read: something familiar), a nice hot bowl of noodle soup?

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feast for one: pho bo and fresh spring roll

I saw Yes Pho on the first day of my trip and decided to have my last meal there before going back to… well, reality. The food was as good as I thought it would be. Authentic Vietnamese cuisine indeed.

Took a first class bus home and by the time I opened my eyes at the terminal in Cubao, the whole trip back felt like a five-minute shuteye. The warm, humid air of Metro Manila welcomed me back as I stepped out of the bus.

 

 

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