Fog and fireplaces: 10 reasons to go to Baguio now

Photo by Mau Victa

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – During the American occupation, many Americans considered Baguio their creation, which is why they made it the 2nd oldest chartered city next to Manila. They particularly cherished Baguio  because of "The Season" which only ran from March to April.

During "The Season," droves of Americans and selected Filipinos come up to Baguio to escape the tropical heat. They transferred their government to Baguio, which is why it became the "Summer Capital of the Philippines."

This title was no tourism gimmick, it was legally binding, which is why it is useless for Tagaytay City to claim that title.

Up to now, we have Teacher's Camp, Mansion House, and summer cottages of national secretaries. Even Casa Vallejo used to be a dormitory of foreign workers. Many of these structures were destroyed during the firebombing of the city after World War II.

The exodus of lowlanders to Baguio continued even after the Americans. Coincidentally, Holy Week often falls on "The Season," so Baguio became the respite from the Lenten fervor.

Now, many lowlanders would ask: what happens to life after The Season? The official tourist season of Baguio is from end of November till May. The holding of Panagbenga in February created another tourist spike.     

June to October is usually the "dead season" of Baguio. Or as some would call it, the nepnep season (Nepnep is a Cordillera term for seemingly eternal drizzling).

Remember that Baguio is the wettest city in the country. It rains hippopotamus and rhinoceros here. Because it is mountainous, it is the lowland neighbors that get flooded. Benguet is the most landslide prone province in the country because of these incessant rains though, which caused roads coming here a hassle.  

But to many (mostly Baguio residents), this is the magic season when they have the city to themselves.

You, too, can join in into this secret. We give you ten reasons why:

1. Hotels give huge discounts during these times, with most giving 50 percent discount.

You would say, but there's nowhere to go. We give you the benefit of the doubt now. We knew many Manila friends who come to Baguio at this time to sleep, just sleep. No artificial coldness. Just open the window (ok, just a bit open) and sleep to your heart's content then drive back to Manila recharged.

2. Fog. In some moments, fog is so thick you wouldn't see the person you are talking to a few meters in front of you. Sometimes buses would stop moving because they wouldn't know the road from the cliff.

There's a dreamy (that's why you sleep)  feel to the city, an ethereal look. It's like walking on clouds.

COOL WEATHER. Locals bundle up when it's colder than usual. Photo by Dave Leprozo Jr/Rappler

COOL WEATHER. Locals bundle up when it's colder than usual.

Photo by Dave Leprozo Jr/Rappler

3. The weather. Baguio people would mock Manilenos who would wear their jackets during a brief rain shower there. But where then would you flaunt the leather jackets and winter clothes you got in the U.S. and Europe? In Baguio, of course.

4. Cozy fireplace conversation. Ever wonder what those tall columns are in many fine Baguio houses? They are smokestacks for their fireplaces. Only cooks would go near a fire in Manila but in Baguio, it is the place to exchange stories and sing songs.

5. Fog, rain, winter clothes and fireplace. What next? Booze, of course. Baguio people love to drink during the dead season. If not alcohol, there's always Benguet or Sagada coffee.  

6. Baguio residents also catch up on their reading at this time. Many Baguio residents love to read books. Their local Booksale is one of the top grossing branches in the country.

Also try the charming mountain cloud bookshop in Casa Vallejo where you can get coffee and beer from Hillstation Restaurant to go with your treasured books. Another bookshop to try is Bookends at Harrison and Easter School.

7. There's also music. Baguio is where folk and country music come naturally. There was a bar named Firehouse where the best folksingers converge. 

There are a number of bars here like Kikan, Amarillo, Azotea, 18 BC and Cafe Yagam where you can listen to folk music and sing along. For a bigger venue, go to BCS (Baguio Country Sounds) and Batawa.

8. Which brings us to food. Baguio has best restaurants and cafes in this side of the country.

Post by Cafe By The Ruins.

Among the homegrown places are Hillstation, Cafe by the Ruins (they usually close during the dead season but recent renovations made them open all year round), Mandarin, Luisa's, Rose Bowl, O Mai Khan, Volante Pizza, Mario's, Chaya, Good Taste, Sizzling Plate, Le Monet, Traveler's Restaurant and a lot more.

9.  Ukay-ukay (thrift shops). Of course, but now with less competition.

10. The romanticism of feeling like you have the city to yourself. Remember that love scene in Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising? That can only happen with the Baguio rain, pine trees, beer, coffee and Baguio hospitality.

Didn't we tell you that Baguio is also the Honeymoon Capital of the Country? Now, you know. – Rappler.com