Yellow Trail, Camp John Hay, Baguio: The North Face Litter Trail
I am not a runner. 8 minutes into running and I am spent. So I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I agreed to go on a 45-minute trail run / jog with Karlo and his fit sister Maria. Nevertheless, the mountain vista brought its allure, and while I dreaded the physical exertion involved in running, I was looking forward the panoramas I would see along Camp John Hay’s Yellow Trail.
When I wasn’t out of breath, I enjoyed running the trail, and being challenged to avoid “obstacles” such as rocks, fat tree roots and rickety bridges.
However, one obstacle I couldn’t help but avoid were the sports drink bottles and other litter my eyes landed on along the trail. Maria says she used to run the trail before going on a sort of hiatus in March this same year, and she was surprised to find all the litter that we did. I didn’t get a picture of the other litter, but I did get this:
I later found out that R.O.X. / The Primer Group and The North Face organized the TNF 100 through this trail 2 weeks prior to our visit to Yellow Trail. Sad that they managed to organize the entire event and bring in participants from Manila, but they failed to organize a post-run “sweeping” crew to go through the trail for any litter, or in this case, evidence of their negligence / indifference.
The moment people “discover” a new natural wonder, it’s not long before it gets defaced (warrants a post of its own). And a lot of people are so complacent about their litter, when they could very easily just hold onto their trash until they see a trash bin.
Just a candy wrapper, you say? How would you like it if repeatedly kept throwing candy wrappers in your living room just because I was too lazy to exert the painstaking effort of throwing it in the proper place?
Littering is one of my pet peeves, people. And I’ll be taking it upon myself to document these seemingly little crimes. I am one person, so not all violators will witness my wrath, but all violators will witness Mother Earth’s.
The next time you feel the urge to litter, think about the effect of cumulative litter, and remember how easy it would be to just hold on to your trash a little longer.
The next time you see a lazy, selfish turd littering, by all means, give him / her a piece of your mind (or politely tell them they dropped something, and that they pick up their litter — this is obviously more “correct”, but do whatever is more effective, really).
Doing her bit of planeteering,
Mt. Cloud, Baguio: Letting Your Mind Soar
@mtcloudbookshop was another pleasant surprise upon my visit to Casa Vallejo to bum Hill Station’s wi-fi and partake of their life-changing dark chocolate ice cream.
I had only caught a glimpse of the bookstore from the outside, and already I was in love. Mt. Cloud was teeming with personality and brimming with all the possible flights of fancy between its bookcases.
I could definitely hole up in here.
You’ll also notice all the colorful paper cranes, folding a thousand of which is said to grant the folder a wish.
Apart from Mt. Cloud’s obvious charm, I was also pleased by the bookkeeper’s (Faye, if I remember correctly) congeniality and willingness to share a bit of the Mt. Cloud / Paper Crane story to me and my companions. :)
I’m also a big sucker for independent, non-chain, homegrown businesses, so I was amused to find Mt. Cloud’s Declaration of Independence on their blog (which I found while writing this post). In their declaration, they state:
- Declaration of Independence #001: We started with a love of books, a great respect (sometimes evenawe) for writers and their craft, and a life-time of wistfulness for a unique, beautiful bookshop that would sell, well, BOOKS (and not office supplies or school supplies, which are already available in abundance elsewhere)! We envisioned a space where books and book-lovers could be at home together.
- Declaration of Independence #002: We’re the kind of bookshop where you stand at the counter waiting and you have to clear your throat because the staff have their noses buried in a book each.
Sorry about this, folks! But like we’ve said time and again: We don’t just sell books — we love them!
Thank you for putting up with our quirks.
- Declaration of Independence #003: We support local writers and publishers and actively seek out books that cover the people, land, culture, history, politics, economics, ecology, art, and stories of the mountains in which we exist. We may have our heads in the clouds but we know where we are! We have our feet planted firmly in the mountains of the Philippine Cordillera, and we have Baguio City and the Philippine Cordillera on our shelves.
- Declaration of Independence #004: We proudly carry independently published, sometimes controversial books that chain bookstores will not carry for political and/or economic reasons. Our reasons for carrying them? Such books force us to question our preconceptions, they invite us to see things differently.
Books provoke new ideas. Bookshops are purveyors of ideas.
- Declaration of Independence #005: We don’t use plastic bags for packaging. We carefully wrap your purchases in Manila paper, or on very busy days, we quickly put them into paper bags. If you buy a stack of books, we tie your package together with twine. We are ever grateful when you refuse packaging of any sort, preferring instead to place your newly acquired books in your bag, or carry them in your arms, or when you simply choose to keep them unwrapped so you can begin reading immediately!
In this day and age of rampant movie and TV-series downloads and e-books, I still believe nothing can replace the nostalgic charm of flipping the pages of a dog-eared read, and I hope that shops like Mt. Cloud get continued patronage for years to come. :)
It seems that sisters Feliz and Padmapani L. Perez knew exactly what they wanted to do when they created Mt. Cloud. On their site they say, “Mt. Cloud Bookshop is our dream come true, and if you love books, then it’s yours too”.
Head in the clouds,
Nomad Managing / Wi-fi Hunting in Baguio feat. Hill Station Part 2
This entry could also very well be entitled:
THE DARKEST CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM EVER
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, my wi-fi hunt led me to the charming country doors of Hill Station. As a stingy but tired, perspired, time-pressed telecommuter, I reluctantly (because of anticipated cost, but definitely not because of comfort) decided I would spend my afternoon in Hill Station, regardless of how expensive my stay might wind up to be.
First order of business: find a spot near a working electrical outlet. Check.
Next, wi-fi. Check.
Now, I could order.
Menu with vegetarian-friendly options. Check.
Looking at the menu, you’ll notice the prices. Egad. But yeah, man up, Jen. You’ve rejoiced upon entry and settled in. Own it. So own it I did. I could have opted to go for more economical entree options, but then again, I didn’t come to Hill Station to order something I could order at Starbucks or something I felt I could replicate at home.
Unfortunately, the Spinach & Mushroom Ravioli was not available, so I went with the Linguini with Sundried Tomatoes & Pecorino (P280+), which sadly, fell below my expectations. The portion was small, and I had imagined the sundried tomatoes to be similar to ones Cyma uses on their epic Roca Salata, but no, it wasn’t.
Having remembered reading about the desserts at Hill Station, I decided to order their Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce (P95+). Again, this wasn’t as epic as I had imagined it to be. I didn’t anticipate the raisins, which I would have preferred to do without. And I just felt that a vanilla custard sauce, which most traditional bread puddings come with, versus a sparingly drizzled caramel rum sauce, might have made me happier about it. I couldn’t tell the difference between the use of a croissant versus regular bread either, but maybe I’m just not discerning enough.
Some 2-3 hours into my solitary stay, Karlo, Maria and Kitty came to join me, and we decided we ought to try their Ice Cream Palette (P150+), which was a charmingly plated sampler of 5 of their homemade ice cream flavors including: Dark Chocolate with Cayenne, Benguet Coffee with Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Cinnamon, Mango Rum, and Dulce de Leche. This order more than made up for my underwhelming orders earlier. The Benguet Coffee is rich in flavor and a must for coffee lovers. But the real winner was the Dark Chocolate. It was truly the darkest chocolate ice cream I have ever seen and tasted. A must-have on any trip to Baguio.
So while I wasn’t blown away by their other offerings, I would definitely come back for the ice cream. And I won’t be getting the sampler next time. Dark Chocolate all the way. Definitely one of my favorite Baguio discoveries during my stay. :)
Let me know what you think when you get to try it!
Loco for cocoa,
Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Rd.
2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Monday - Sunday; 7:00 am - 11:00 pm
NM Veg Rating
Value for money
MUST ORDER: Dark Chocolate with Cayenne Ice Cream
Nomad Managing / Wi-fi Hunting in Baguio feat. Hill Station Part 1
While I got a lot of rave reviews from my temporary Baguio Satellite Office when I blogged about it and posted pictures on Facebook, my dreamy office did have its setbacks. Difficult wi-fi. And so, began the search for wi-fi in Baguio City.
I’m a bit stubborn about favoring homegrown cafes or restos (especially when I’m travelling outside Manila) vs. Starbucks (which apparently, in Baguio, provides free wi-fi to patrons - unlike in Manila), even if this means going out of my way or walking / commuting a little more.
On that fateful Friday morning, my journey began at the top of session road. It was around 8:30 a.m., so I decided to go to Zola Cafe first (which I read was open 24 hours). I remembered seeing it when we were driving around town the day before, so I was convinced I could easily spot it.
So I walked the whole stretch of Session Road and when I reached the bottom, was perplexed that I hadn’t seen it. I had gone back up, mid-Session Road, saw the building housing Oh My Gulay, went in to find it closed, asked the neighboring shop what time they opened, was told they opened at 10:00 a.m., decided to go back there for lunch (because I love the place) but work at Zola Cafe first.
So again I sojourned out to Session Road, this time asked for directions to Zola Cafe and found out it was situated practically where I got off at the top of Session Road. Nice one, Jen. And this was my workstation there:
Zola Cafe seems like an all-day drinking place, probably catering to people working at call centers, which I assume are present in all major cities in the Philippines. Zola Cafe provides free wi-fi and an ample number of outlets (very freelancer-friendly), which was especially necessary to me because I bring around not a laptop, but a portable desktop, ever since my 2nd laptop battery died on me over a month ago (?), and I did not get a replacement for it because I’m holding out for a new laptop.
I stayed there until just before 10:00 a.m. (I just found it a tad too noisy and cigarette smoke-y — so yeah, it’s a smoker-friendly lace), got my bill, and left for my much anticipated working day at Oh My Gulay!
When I get to Oh My Gulay! a little past 10:00 a.m., I find that the door leading to the resto was just open a crack, hinting that the place was not yet open. But I stealthily made my way in, like a ninja! Not. But anyway, yeah, I went in, and asked the staff if they were open already. Staff tells me they open at 11:00 a.m. Meh. Fail, neighbor!
But anyway, I asked the staff if it would be okay for me to take pictures and hang around while waiting for them to open (so I didn’t have to look for another place to stay), and he said that would be fine. YES! *fistpumps* So I take a million pictures, then after selecting a spot from all of the wonderful seating options, I finally settle in here:
*Fistpuuuuuump!* I was so excited by the prospect of working there til mid-afternoon. Not soon after I had turned on my laptop, one of the waiters comes up to me, and I think, yay! They can take my order now. Instead he goes, “Ma’am, sorry bawal po magsaksak (Ma’am, sorry, but you can’t plug in your electronics)”. Given that I had no working battery, it would be impossible for me to work without an outlet.
So again, began my journey. I whipped out my handy dandy Kindle Keyboard 3G, which serves me more as a map / guide rather than a reading device (shame on me, I know), and checked what else might be available in the area. I remember Karlo’s sister Maria telling me there was wi-fi available at Hill Station, so I headed over there.
After the walk up Session Road, I get there and the first thing I ask is: “May wi-fi ba kayo (Do you have wi-fi)?”, followed by an immediate, very moocher-sounding “Meron ba kayong outlet (Do you have an outlet)?”
When I got an affirmative on both questions, I rejoiced in the knowledge that I finally found a place to stay and park my heavy-ish bag. Huzzah!
Granted, I went through further lengths than would be recommended for looking for internet (because there were internet cafes and Starbucks)…buuuut yeah. Let’s just say it wasn’t the ideal scenario, but I discovered more! (Like which places I could NOT work) LOL.
From Baguio to Boracay,
Happy Tummy @ Ketchup Food Community, Baguio: Yummy, affordable, veg-friendly Thai
Been meaning to try my friend RJ’s (Karlo’s Love Never Dies bandmate) family resto upon going up to Baguio, and last April, I had the chance to do so. Hooray for me!
Karlo was talking about how the area where RJ’s family resto had been developed to include other new restos (making Happy Tummy the OG of the area), so now, it has turned into the Ketchup Food Community, a relatively new must-go place for foodies on a budget.
It also houses Canto, which shows a lot of potential (saw their menu and prices), and which we wanted to try on our second visit to Ketchup Food Community, but they were closed for a function, so we did a round 2 in Happy Tummy again, which was not a sad thing at all.
It also had a few other restaurants and hang out places that I didn’t really get to check out, but hopefully will on succeeding trips to Baguio. :)
In the meantime, Happy Tummy!
Happy Tummy proved to be an affordable, veg-friendly Thai resto, three adjectives that rest well with me. I didn’t get to try their curries (as they all had meat), so I don’t have their curry to judge as a baseline for Thai food yumminess. But I did get to try their Tofu with Toge (P120), which was a mound-ful, good for 2-3 people, and super fresh-tasting.
Karlo also ordered their Fried Tilapia (Small-P150; Large-P250), which I still tried, because I’m still pescetarian. It came with a sweet tamarind sauce and cilantro (which I love), which really elevated the humble, fried fish. Sorry for the photo (both for its quality and for vegetarian readers). :P
And rice being a staple in the average Filipino diet, we also ordered their Thai Fried Rice (Small-P100; Large-P150). We got the small size, which was just right for 3 people. Though I was avoiding rice, this was just so good. Not exactly ideal for people prepping for a beach trip, but what the hell. It comes with chicken, so if you want this vegetarian, just request for them to omit the chicken.
We also ordered Phad Thai (P150), which at this point, we were too full to eat, so we just had it wrapped, but not before I poked my fork in for a try. This was just okay for me. I’m not it’s biggest fan, but I think Karlo likes it. It comes with meat.
On my second visit, I also got to try their [NM Vegetarian Food Find #5] Eggplant with Tofu (P120), also REALLY good and flavorful. I particularly loved the generous use of Thai basil here. It was on the spicy side though, activating my mucus glands, but I still kept going at it. :P
My companions (Karlo and Maria on my first visit, and Karlo and Kitty on the second) washed down the (spicy) food with a pitcher of Thai Iced Tea (Glass-P40; Pitcher-P120), which I have never been a fan of because usually find Thai iced tea (in general) too sweet. And Happy Tummy’s tasted pretty much like the other Thai iced teas I tried, so it didn’t really change my opinion on the drink. But when my glass of yummy, sweet-sour Tamarind Juice (Glass-P40; Pitcher-P120) ran out, and I was still eating the eggplant and tofu, I had to resort to the Thai iced tea, effectively relieving me of the spiciness. (I have relatively low tolerance for spicy thing, I think.)
So there you have it. My opinion, served to you on a clay platter.
Check out details on how to get there + my veg rating at the end of this post. :)
Drop by the Ketchup Food Community on your next trip to Baguio and pay Happy Tummy a visit! View their menu here. Then go back and try the others too. Or try all in one go if your stomach has the capacity of an elephant’s.
Thai and again,
Ketchup Food Community
Romulo Drive, Barangay Lualhati (Near Wright Park)
2600 Baguio City, Philippines
NM Veg Rating
n/a Freelancer-friendly — didn’t check.
Value for money
Cafe By The Ruins, Baguio: Great ambiance, breakfast food & hot chocolate
Last April 22, I headed over to the Philippines’ City of Pines for Karlo’s birthday, a brief trip to Kalinga, and a wedding at La Union, and what I had hoped would be many days of creative output.
I am not inherently a food blogger, but I AM fond of food, and I find that I am developing more discipline / EQ to take pictures of my food before I begin ruining the plating in favor of my eager taste buds.
Among the first of my Baguio resto discoveries is Cafe By The Ruins.
“Ruins” are the remains of a building, city, etc., that has been destroyed or that is in disrepair or a state of decay.
The inviting cafe was initially built on the ruins left behind by World War II (or so Karlo claims); now, you can see it’s also built around eyesores that lead to the uglification of Baguio, beginning with the glaring Eurotel right beside the cafe. But that’s a totally different story.
I’m a sucker for well-decorated places with great ambiance.
I am more likely to hang out in a place with below average food and great ambiance vs. great food with below average ambiance (I might eat quickly in those places but not necessarily hang out). Luckily, Cafe By The Ruins offers great ambiance, rustic and Baguio-y, AND great breakfast food options.
Choose from a selection of seating areas:
Tables arranged around a dap-ay, which is like a circular gathering around a bonfire.
More seating areas:
Being a lover of breakfast no matter what time of day, Karlo and I shared some breakfast fare for a late merienda. :D
We started with a piece on Onion Bread (P80) with some jam / spread. This was not worth ordering. ‘Nuff said.
Karlo, being on a “see-food” diet, wanted to order a rice meal AND champorado with dilis, which at around 5pm, was way too heavy considering we’d be having dinner in a few hours. So, he decided to get just the Fisherman’s Breakfast (P245) instead, which was still heavy, of course. It consisted of dried fish, scrambled eggs, grilled tomato and some red mountain rice. It was on the pricey side, but Karlo thoroughly enjoyed his order. :)
He also got a pot of Ceylon Tea (P120), which contained enough tea to last two people the entire meal, served with a lime and honey. Good stuff. You’ll also be amazed with how heavy the pot itself is. Kettle bell level.
I got myself the Indios Bravos (P200), which were almost like little bibingkas, or rice pancakes with salted egg (and possibly some kesong puti, if I remember correctly) and dried coconut. Best eaten with lots of muscovado sugar! Yum.
Now, given the size of these baby pancakes, a price of P200 is way expensive for me BUT it comes with this huge and AWESOME cup of really excellent hot cacao. I’m a self-declared cacao connoisseur, and this passes with flying colors.
I hate when I get hot chocolate that is either watered down, thickened with cornstarch or “flavored” with sugar vs. chocolate. This cup was not too sweet, not too thick, not diluted / extended, rich in cacao flavor, very tablea-y. Just how I like it.
We went back to Cafe By The Ruins later in our stay, but I found my Lemon Ricotta pasta rather underwhelming, so I didn’t bother taking a photo. But if you have a little extra cash to spare, drop by Cafe By The Ruins for their breakfast fare any time of day. You won’t regret it!
Okay. Nabusog ako sa blog post ko.
Will be featuring more of Baguio (more food than anything else) in the coming days. In the meantime, Manila work beckons. :P
Back to simpler food,
Cafe By The Ruins
23 Chuntug Street
Baguio City, Philippines 2600
+63 74 442 4010
NM Veg Rating
n/a Freelancer-friendly — didn’t check.
Value for money
Spending a few days in Baguio before heading up to Kalinga on Wednesday.
Hopefully, this environment will be conducive to the brain work / creative thinking I need to get done for Punchdrunk Panda.
Somehow I don’t doubt that it will be. :D
Getting out of the city to commune with nature has been known to yield positive effects for the mind and spirit, so yeah. It’s good for people to explore new environments when they can. Which is more often than most care to admit.
Here’s the view from my office window:
This view, combined with the music Karlo is making / playing in the background equals the best workplace so far! View more pictures here. :)
[Note: I wound up staying in Baguio for over 2 weeks. Yay!]
No cabin fever here,