Baguio – A City at the Top of Mountainous Region

For as long as I remember it was my fourth time that I went to Baguio City. First was a long time ago during my senior year in high school, next was during college, then with my deceased sister in year 2007 and the most recent and up to date was last May 2010 together with my mother and my youngest sister. It’s been more than 5 years that the trip happened and I wanted to remember everything as much as I can about the place and the photos that I  still have really helped me a lot to write this post. Some part of the writings supported by photos and some were from the memories that I still remember. Some stories added influenced by reminiscing the visit during my high school and college year.

At that time, I was still working in Singapore and I rendered two weeks vacation back to my country. In those two weeks, we spent three days including our travel time to and from the Summer Capital of the Philippines which is Baguio City. I did not have a solid plan on what we were going to do in Baguio, what I only prepared was the hotel where we stayed during the visit.

We stayed for two nights in Hotel Veniz which located at the heart of its Central Business District near in Burhham Park. I preferred the hotel in CBD as we do not have our own car and I don’t even know how to drive, accommodation near in public transportation was the best option for us.

We left Manila at early morning and we slept inside the bus as I targeted that in the morning we were already in Baguio. As budget traveler, I wanted to maximize the hotel and the days that we were in the city. Around 7am or 8am in the morning we arrived at the Victory Liner Terminal in Baguio. We took a jeep to our hotel to leave our luggage before we started our self-guided adventure in the city.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Baguio Central Business District – Session Road

We left the hotel, though it’s been a while since my last visit in the city, I just followed the road from the hotel. The hotel location was at Shanum Street corner Harrison Road. We crossed Harrison Road and we reached Magsaysay Avenue where we started our stroll in the famous road in the city which is Session Road.

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Hotel Veniz

Shanum Street and corner of Harrison Road

As we walked in the same road I just reminisced the first time I saw the road. As I understand that time that the road represents the center location of the central business district of Baguio where commercial business can be found such as banks, restaurants, shops, boutiques and others. The part of the road started in Magsaysay Avenue is inclined road up to the part that it split into two. For me, the road is very appealing as it maintain its neat ambiance even though it is location of major businesses where most people comes and go.

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Session Road

After we reached the top of Session Road before it split into two, there is famous catholic church in the area called Cathedral Baguio. We stroll in the area and the three of us had some photos in one of the nipa hut displayed in the garden near the mentioned church.

While I was thinking out of nowhere which places that I can bring my mother and my youngest sister with consideration that it’s their first time visiting Baguio.  I remembered all the places that I had been before. And then, we took a cab. I made a deal with the driver to rent his cab for the day for a minimal amount, the trip started around 10AM, we ended the trip in the afternoon before 4PM as we had appointment before evening of that day.

The Mansion

The Mansion is the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines. At the time that we visited Baguio, we only able to see the residence outside the gate. For many visits that I did in the city, I haven’t got a chance to see what’s inside the President’s house.

Philippine Military Academy (PMA)

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Camp John Hay

After visiting Philippine Military Academy, we went to Camp John Hay. The camp became United State military base station at the time that US started controlling the country from Spain around 1900. Since it is located in mountains with a cool and mild climate, it was chosen as their station. Aside from being US camp, it also became Japanese post when Japanese controlled the country and they forwarded up north while fighting with Filipino and American soldiers until their regime ended, few years after World War II.

The major part of Camp John Hay that we spent time were Cemetery of Negativism which is a unique garden that showcases different negative thoughts that we should not be thinking at all and the Bell House Museum which named after General Franklin Bell, a general during Spanish-American War. The general also managed the constructions of the amphitheater (photos not available) near the museum.

Cemetery of Negativism

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Bell House Museum

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Inside Bell House Museum

Botanical Garden

One of the famous garden not only in Baguio but all over the country is Baguio Botanical Garden. This garden is near from Teachers Camp (the first accommodation I had during my high school trip). And because my mother loves flowers and gardens, she enjoyed our short visit in the place.

Mines View Park

I remembered that we visited Mines View Park too, another famous tourist destination in the city. At that time, my mother and my sister tried to ride a horse and post their selves for photos. The park is one of the best and most accessible lookout area at the mountainous region around or within Baguio. The lookout in observation deck was a great location for photos as it reveals scenic background. Because it’s popular, it is expected that a lot of people coming with the same reason to take photos with a picturesque background. We did enjoy the place as there are lots of local shops in the area to enjoy our eyes and to buy souvenirs too.

During college time, I remembered that Mines View Park was one of the places that we used to take photos with my college mates, the thoughts made me smile because everyone wanted to be in the photo under the Observation Deck of the lookout area.

Day 2 (Monday)

Baguio Central Business District – Burnham Park

It was our second and last day to spend for touring around the city, we concentrated enjoying Burnham Park in the morning. We walked in the gardens and played around in Burnham Lake.

Rose Garden

Rizal Park (Baguio)

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At Rizal Park Looking Towards Shanum Street and  Rose Garden (Burnham Park)

At the park we started walking at Rose Garden and we went up to Rizal Park crossing Shanum Street. We took photos at the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal my country’s National Hero. Next we walked back to the Rose Garden until we reached Burhham Lake where people used to paddle duck boat with their feet. The three of us tried it as well and spent our time paddling around the lake. Because of this, I was able to take snapshots of the lake in many angles as much as I can.

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Burnham Lake (Part 1)

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Burnham Lake (Part 2)

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Burnham Lake (Part 3)

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Burnham Lake (Part 4)

Walking Area (around Burnham Park)

Burnham Biking Area

The open ground of Burnham Park reminded me that this was the place we used to play games during high school trip and I will never forget that this was the same place we had our team building during college.

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Burnham Park (Open Ground)

Harrison Road (near Burnham Park)

Baguio City Public Market

La Trinidad

The last place that we visited which is outside the city of Baguio was La Trinidad, a municipality which famous for its strawberry farm  and vegetable plantation where you can pick strawberry and pay for it. We had a great time in the farm.

While writing this article, I just recently learned that the municipality earns the Guinness World Record for baking the Worlds Largest Strawberry Shortcake last 2004 (Wikipedia). That’s good to know.

Note:
For the places that no photos available, not sure if all of them were lost when my hard drives got failed. I will just update this if I still found available pictures related to this travel post.

Philippine Military Academy – A Military Institute with Touch of Tourism

When we roamed around Baguio City, one of the places we spent our time was Philippine Military Academy which happened last May 2010. As we took our way to the said academy, I remembered the first time that I visited the academy when I was in high school, we visited the academy during Rizal Day which is a national holiday in the country that pays respect to the country’s national hero – Dr. Jose Rizal. Every 30th of December, the date that Dr. Jose Rizal died, the academy conducts military parade and we were able to witnessed it. I was reminded again with some amusing activity we did as we were young and playful that time, we saw some soldiers standing seriously on their post after the parade and we tried to make funny faces to test how focused and disciplined the soldiers in their duty. We tried some tricks and the soldiers we tested passed our expectations because we felt that we are not existing in front of them, as if they did not saw what we did, doing some crazy stuff in their front but they never smiled nor moved and never wavered on their post. Since then, even if I saw soldiers that seriously standing in some statue or similar to what we saw, I understand how serious they are in their post.

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Main Gate

At the road inside PMA

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Relics Point

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Relics Point

Our cab took the road after we passed the main gate. The first thing we saw inside the academy was the Relics Point. This area is in the middle between roads not too far from the main gate and displaying historical equipment and weapons used during World War II.

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Korean War Memorial

At Relics Point, we also found a Korean War Memorial which built to commemorate the Filipino soldiers who were members of Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (Peftok) which was contingent of the United Nations forces that fought in the Korean War  happened between 1950–1953. After Korean War Memorial, the next thing we saw was Cavaliers Park and Cadet Circle.

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Cavaliers Park

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Cadet Circle

Our walk continues until we reached Quezon Avenue, the road where most of the academy’s building can be found.  We saw one of the main building which is Melchor Hall. At the opposite of the building are Sundial and Lim Hall (PMA Headquarters). At the side of the Lim Hall, we found helicopters, planes and jets displayed in open Air Force Museum.

Quezon Avenue (Inside the academy)

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Lim Hall (Headquaters)

Sundial

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Looking towards Lim Hall with Sundial

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Air Force Museum

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Tree House

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PMA Grand Stand

Lopez Hall and Magilas Visitors Center

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PMA Souvernir Shop

There is a Tree House just beside Air Force Museum where everyone can enjoy the view around the academy from the top. There is an open ground where they call it as PMA Grand Stand which it is like a sunken garden with Bermuda grass. Other buildings that we saw were Lopez Hall and Magilas Visitors Center. We found the PMA Museum as well and here we saw related artifacts about Philippine Military and its history which. And it was our last destination in the camp as we ended our tour inside the academy.

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PMA Museum (Part 1)

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PMA Museum (Part 2)

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PMA Museum (Part 3)

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PMA Museum (Part 4)

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PMA Museum (Part 5)

Discovering Hiroshima Castle aka Carp Castle or Rijo Castle

From the brochure of the castle, I got to learned that the castle is also know with a different name. Hirsohima Castle is also famous as Carp Castle or Rijo Castle in Japanese. The area where the castle was built known to be Koi-no-ura (Koi Sea Shore) and “Koi” means Carp in Japanese. Good to know the origin of the castle name.

After strolling around Peace Memorial Park, we targeted other parts of the downtown but because most of the places to see are museums which require more time, we ended ourselves exploring the Hiroshima Castle. Before reaching the castle we passed Hiroshima Museum of Art. Then we crossed the underground walkway to the castle.

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And not far from the street where we emerge from the underground walkway, we saw the Second Compound or Ninomaru of the castle where the Main Gate and surrounded Turrets are located. We walked towards the said gate. Before we crossed the Gate Bridge to the Main Gate, we stopped for few photo shots moment.

Ninomaru (Second Compound)

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Bridge Gate, Main Gate and Turrets (Yagura)

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Moats that surrounds the castle from the Gate Bridge

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Omotegomon (Main Gate)

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Hira-Yagura (One-Layer Turret)

We crossed the bridge and entered the Main Gate. We walked a bit towards the middle of the compound and I looked around and observed. I saw a door located at the corner, part of Hall Turret (Tamon-Yagura) and I walked and climbed towards it. My family followed me and we took off our shoes then put it on the shoe cabinet available near the door. Next, we stroll the Hall Turret and there we saw different exhibits. At the end of Hall Turret is Taiko-Yagura (Two-layer Turret) where the drum at the second part and used before for Samurai sally out.

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Main Entrance and Hira-Yagura (One Story Turret) captured from inside of Ninomaru

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One of the drums at Taiko-Yagura (Two-Layer Turret) used for signals

After looking around at Taiko-Yagura and Tamon-Yagura, we walked back and reached inside the Hira-Yagura and the top of the main gate.

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Inside the Ninomaru Omote Gate  (the top layer of Main Gate)

 

Inside Hira-Yagura (One-layer Turret)

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Ruins of Ninomaru (basepoint to defend the gateway of the castle)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery after crossing the walkway towards Main Compound (Honmaru)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery while leaving the castle ground

Honmaru (Main Compound)

When we reached the Main Compound of the castle, the first thing we saw was Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja Shrine where we saw another stone gate similar to what we saw in Miyajima Island. The original shrine has already built in two locations, the shrine was also destroyed by atomic bomb. When the decided to rebuild it, it was rebuilt after the war within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. As per history, the purpose of building the shrine is to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims during the Boshin War (Japanese Civil War).

 

 

Photos of Hiroshima Gokoku Jina Shrine

We moved forward nearing the castle tower, but before we reach the tower itself, we have other stuff that we saw within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. We found the location of ruins of Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters. After reading the brochures in my hand, I’ve got to understand, why Hiroshima was possibly the main target of atomic bomb attack, its because of the castle ground was a military base. And I also learned that the base was also use to infiltrate the plan of Allied forces during World War II, in a war like that, a military base can be a main target for attack.

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Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters Ruins

At the ground, we also  found a castle ground map that looks like inscribe in a metal piece and put in a stone.

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Hiroshima Castle ground map

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The original foundation stones where the Castle Tower was built

As we walked towards the castle, I got more excited, I knew it was not the original tower, because like other buildings in Hiroshima City, it was also destroyed during the atomic bomb attack. The castle location is in the corner most of the ground and in an upper layer that we need to climb few steps of the stairs. The restored castle tower shows what its look before the second world war, thus we enjoyed the photos outside before we decided to enter the tower. The castle tower now served as museum before the war. We paid the entrance fee and ready to explore the building. At first, I never realized how many floors the castle has and when we were strolling around it, I just learned that it has 5 floors. All floors has exhibits and I cannot really take photos because there’s portion of the exhibit not allowed to take shots. But as far as I remembered, I still sneaked some shots inside the museum thought it was not too many unlike other museums where photography is allowed.

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Castle Tower (now a museum)

Each floor showcases different exhibits that portrays Hiroshima. At the first floor, there’s displays about Ancient Hiroshima, Castle History, its government, life inside the castle, its defense and even different castles in the world can be seen. At the second floor, the exhibits are more of castle town life and culture where it includes samurai versus townsfolk lifestyle. In the third floor, we saw different weapons and armors displays. The fourth floor currently displayed that time has a theme of life and progress of  Hiroshima Castle Town.

 

Some Exhibits displayed inside Hiroshima Castle Tower

We reached the final floor or fifth floor which called as Observation Platform. We stayed a bit in the floor because it offers a scenic views that surround the castle in many ways. Because the castle ground surrounded by trees and green plants and moats, I can sense how Japanese has great pride in their castle. Aside from having yagura or turrets that protects the castle grounds, there is moats that prevents the invaders to reach the castle  easily. If you are a strategist, it is a great place as well for military bases. And that’s what happened to Hiroshima Castle.

 

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Scenic snapshots that surrounds the castle ground and the moats from Castle Tower Observation Deck