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Dakak adds posh suites, facilities in exclusive zone

Huge high-ceilinged rooms that open out to a lanai and wide vista of sea and sky from their perch atop a cliff, the luxury suites of Dakak Park and Beach…

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Huge high-ceilinged rooms that open out to a lanai and wide vista of sea and sky from their perch atop a cliff, the luxury suites of Dakak Park and Beach Resort deliver on their promise of opulent accommodations.

Dakak luxury suites

The entrance to the luxury suites of Villa Angelina, a super exclusive zone on the clifftop of Dakak Park and Beach Resort.

The resort adds another exclusive zone to Villa Angelina, this time on the clifftop, for guests who desire a getaway that’s far from the crush of holiday goers but without relinquishing ultimate luxuries.

A typical Villa Angelina cliffside casita is enormous and leaves more than enough breathing space even with the king-size bed in the middle plus the day bed and plush recliners by one side and mini work area on the other.

Dakak sunset

View from the almost finished sunset bar at Dakak’s exclusive clifftop zone.

Cliffside casitas

One whole wall facing the sea is made of glass to allow guests an uninterrupted view of the panorama of deep blue and lush greens that make up the Dapitan City coast.

Villa Angelina private veranda

Each cliffside casita comes with its own private veranda that overlooks Dapitan City’s coastline.

Each luxury suite, also called a cliffside casita, has its own private veranda with a jacuzzi for those times when you just want to take it easy and relax in your very own hot tub while you take in the view.

The well-appointed room is complemented by a spacious and lavish en suite.

Villa Angelina infinity pool

The cliffside zone of Dakak Park and Beach Resort has its own infinity pool that is exclusive for Villa Angelina overnight guests. Soon, the area will have its restaurant and bar that makes the most of the spectacular views from the top.

Dakak infinity pool

Only guests staying at the Villa Angelina luxury suites have access to the infinity pool built atop the cliff.

Dakak’s luxury zone is serviced regularly by resort vans.

A cliffside casita is just a brief ride away from the resort’s stretch of fine white sand and warm sea. It is also only a short walk down to the beach.

Cliffside casita jacuzzi

Each Villa Angelina cliffside casita also comes with its own jacuzzi.

Dakak accommodations

Outside of Villa Angelina, Dakak Park and Beach Resort has affordable deluxe, family, and big group rooms. It also has overnight packages that come bundled with city tours and complimentary entrance to Gloria de Dapitan’s Fantasyland.

Cliffside casita interior

A cliffside casita has more than enough space for a king-size bed, enormous closet, couch and recliners, and mini work area.

Check out the Dakak website for the updated room rates and offers.

Dakak Park and Beach Resort is also currently building a world-class golf course of Greg Norman design that is scheduled to partly open in July.

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Taiwan Guide: Places, food, experiences in the ‘beautiful island’

Taiwan wasn’t high in my list of must-visit places, but two trips later and it had become one of my favorite destinations. The capital Taipei was bustling without being chaotic,…

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Taiwan wasn’t high in my list of must-visit places, but two trips later and it had become one of my favorite destinations.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL. This octagon-shaped building was built as a memorial to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

The capital Taipei was bustling without being chaotic, food was plentiful and inexpensive, it was so clean we had no qualms eating along alleyways and in markets, and efficient public transport allowed us to move around with ease.

When it comes to tourist attractions, Taiwan has mountains and woodland trails, parks and gardens, grand structures and temples, old-world places and modern cities.

The sun sets in a sea of clouds at the Alishan National Scenic Area.

The island nation is so close to the Philippines that tribes in Taiwan’s Lanyu Island share similarities in language and culture with the Ivatans of Batanes.

Taiwan attractions

Whether it’s a lengthy stay or brief getaway, any trip to a new place should always include time for the busy capital and Taipei hosts more than enough interesting places of cultural, historical, and natural value to keep one occupied.

If your trip is only for two nights and limited to Taiwan’s metropolis, don’t despair. You can still tally up quite a list of spectacular experiences without having to go far.

Taipei, after all, is home to:

Taipei 101

This engineering feat has a high-speed elevator that takes guests from the fifth floor to the Observatory in the 89th floor at a record breaking time of 37 seconds.

Taipei 101

View of the Taipei skyline from nearby Elephant Mountain.

The change in air pressure for such a swift ascent can be a little bit unpleasant but they distract you by dimming the elevator lights and showing a replica of the night sky complete with constellations and shooting stars on the ceiling. Fortunately, the ride takes less than a minute.

One floor down from the indoor observatory is the engineering marvel that is the wind damper so don’t miss it. The outdoor observatory in the 91st floor may be off limits depending on weather conditions.

National Palace Museum

The local guide in my first trip to Taipei, Jane Fan, shared an interesting fact about the National Palace Museum. Majority of the museum’s treasures are Chinese cultural relics and artifacts passed down by the imperial courts. These were shipped to Taiwan due to fears they would be destroyed following the rise of communism in China.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of Taiwan, was largely credited with its economic development.

Archway entrance

Archway entrance of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

In honor of his contributions, the Taiwanese built the two-level Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall within a large complex that also features Liberty Square with its manicured gardens as well as the National Concert Hall and National Theatre.

Presidential Office Building

Taiwan’s current president holds office in a sprawling Baroque structure designed by a Japanese architect and built during the Japanese occupation.

Visitors are allowed in some parts of the Presidential Office Building at specific times. Visits are allowed from 9 a.m.-12 noon on weekdays and up to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Check the facility’s website for the visitor schedules and guidelines.

Longshan Temple of Manka

The Longshan or Lungshan Temple of Manka is a Buddhist temple founded in Taipei in 1738.

Taiwan is generally tolerant when it comes to worship practices, and there are minority religions like Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism as well as native sects aside from the three main ones of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The Longshan Temple of Manka in Taipei dates back to 1738 and is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Taiwan. This religious structure was built in honor of Guanyin or Goddess of Mercy and is used by Tao and Buddhism followers.

Elephant Mountain

While the Taipei 101 Observatory allows visitors a bird’s eye view of the metropolitan, Elephant Mountain gives them a panorama of the skyline with Taiwan’s tallest building as main feature.

Elephant Mountain

These steps lead all the way to the top of the Elephant Mountain in Xiangshan District.

The best time to climb up through is late in the afternoon leading up to nighttime. The trail is made of stone steps and really goes all the way up to the top of Elephant Mountain. Some measure of fitness is required in the climb. Wear good footwear and bear in mind that the top of the mountain is several degrees colder than the downtown area.

Ximending District

For shopping in Taipei, no place beats the neighborhood of Ximending when it comes to quality and value for money. There might be cheaper clothes, shirts, bags, souvenirs and other goods sold in the night markets but the Ximending retail shops carry the quality local and global brands.

Din Tai Fung

The capital Taipei hosts the first Din Tai Fung, the original xiao long bao house that spawned a chain of restaurants.

There is a long line of locals and tourists eager to dine at Din Tai Fung so make sure you set aside 40 minutes to an hour for the wait to get a table.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

If there’s one thing that the Shilin Night Market is known for, it’s authentic and scrumptious Taiwan dishes.

One of the biggest night markets in Taiwan, the Shilin Night Market combines cheap, delicious eats with inexpensive retail goods like shirts, bags, shoes, and souvenirs like ref magnets or key chains. A whole floor (basement area) is devoted to food and features many of Taiwan’s must-try treats.

Other places

If your schedule allows it still, a few more nearby attractions are absolutely worth your time.

Shifen

A walk along the train tracks of Shifen Old Street is like a trip down a bygone world. Shifen evokes memories of olden times with its nostalgic ambiance and people going about their everyday chores along the railway of the Pingxi line.

Tourists fly lanterns in Shifen Old Street, a community by the railroad tracks in Pingxi District of New Taipei City.

These houses sell souvenirs, other knick knacks, and the sky lanterns that tourists release into the sky with their hopes and wishes.

Jiufen

Whenever I think of the former gold mining town of Jiufen in the mountain area of Ruifang District in New Taipei City, I think of food. It’s hard not too since this once prosperous and booming town nicknamed “Little Hongkong” during its heyday is packed full to the edge of narrow lanes and alleyways with restaurants, teahouses, and cafes. During the two times that I’ve been, I never missed having some of the ice cream and peanut roll served to perfection in Jiufen.

Peanut ice cream roll

Peanut ice cream roll is popular fare in Taiwan and they make it exceptionally well in Jiufen.

Yangmingshan

Yangmingshan National Park is a nature spot that’s very accessible from downtown Taipei. It covers a hundred square meters of gardens, woodland, wildlife, hiking trails, and hot springs.

Formosa

While a brief visit is already fulfilling, a longer trip is even better because it gives you more time to check out this place that the Portuguese once called Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Alishan National Scenic Area

Alishan walking trails

The Alishan National Scenic Area has scenic trails that lead to ancient trees, temples, ponds, and spectacular views.

One side trip we highly recommend is to the Alishan National Scenic Area. The most popular attractions in this mountain preserve is the sunrise and sunset. Alishan sunrise and sunset viewing, however, requires staying overnight. Getting to Alishan from Taipei requires spending at least half of your day on the road.

Staying two or more nights is even better as you get to fully enjoy all that Alishan has to offer, which include hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill hiking trails, ponds, waterfalls and temples.

Taroko National Park

Another attraction that’s worth a visit is Taroko National Park. It is so big, it traverses three areas in Taiwan: Taichung Municipality and the counties of Nantou and Hualien.

Taroko features spectacular views: ravines and rivers, foot bridges, tribal settlements, temples, hiking trails through rocky and forested landscapes.

More photos of Taiwan destinations:

strawberry glaze

Strawberry and cherry tomatoes glazed with syrup and served on sticks  are popular treats at Shilin Night Market.

Ximending shopping

The Ximending District is one of the top shopping areas in Taipei.

Jiufen alley

An alley in Jiufen brims on both sides with food and souvenir shops.

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Marco Polo Davao celebrates indigenous cuisine, fashion in Kadayawan

Marco Polo Davao makes the Kadayawan Festival even more festive as it highlights the 11 tribes of Davao through a culinary and fashion exploration into Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. Mindanao’s first…

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Marco Polo Davao makes the Kadayawan Festival even more festive as it highlights the 11 tribes of Davao through a culinary and fashion exploration into Mindanao’s indigenous peoples.

Mindanao’s first and only premier hotel launched its Kadayawan Festival menu at Cafe Marco last Friday, August 12, in time for the major festival events.

Dishes inspired by the local cuisine of the different tribes are available on top of the regular Cafe Marco buffet spread, while at the hotel lobby are nine couture creations that serve to interpret their diverse culinary flavors.

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan Menu

KADAYAWAN FESTIVAL MENU. Marco Polo Davao makes the Kadayawan Festival even more festive as it highlights the 11 tribes of Davao through a culinary and fashion exploration into Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan menu

Some of the Kadayawan dishes in the buffet include the agal-agal (seaweed salad) of the Sama Tribe, piarena seda a barilis or spicy tuna of the Maranaw tribe, linuod to baboy (pork cooked in bamboo) of the Matigasug tribe.

Agal-agal is seaweed salad.

Agal-agal or seaweed salad. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

The Tausug tribe is represented by daral, small servings of sweet coconut meat strips wrapped in crepe, and pakikambing, while the Jangan tribe has linotlot na manok or chicken cooked in bamboo. Chef Alex Destriza said they did a lot of research on indigenous cuisine before being able to recreate the dishes at the Cafe Marco kitchen.

The dessert station carries local delicacies as well with the durian panna cotta being the centerpiece attraction.

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan Festival

Puto and daral. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

Fashion creations

With the Cafe Marco Davao tribal dishes serving as inspiration, designers from Davao Fashion and Design Council created fashion interpretations using different fabrics and styles.

Edgar Buyan came up with couture that served to interpret Tribe Matigsalug’s linuod to baboy or pork cooked in bamboo, while Dodjie Batu crafted his output based on the tinadrad na bakbak or frogs cooked in bamboo of Tribu Ubo Manuvu. The dishes that designers based their creations on are the same ones made available in the Cafe Marco buffet.

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan Festival

Spicy tuna. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

As Davao gets more colorful and the atmosphere gets more jubilant in anticipation of the Kadayawan Festival, Marco Polo Davao encapsulates the spirit of the celebration with a highlight on indigenous culture and scrumptious cuisine.

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan Festival

Linotlot na Manok. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

Marco Polo Davao Kadayawan Festival

Durian pannacotta. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

Marco-Polo-Davao-continental-room

Continental room in Marco Polo Davao. (Photo | Marlen Limpag)

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Free tourism app released to guide Bohol visitors

Tourists visiting Bohol, including those travelling for the annual Sandugo festival, now have a handy guide to the province, with the free Bohol Guide app. The release of Bohol Guide…

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Tourists visiting Bohol, including those travelling for the annual Sandugo festival, now have a handy guide to the province, with the free Bohol Guide app.

The release of Bohol Guide is part of a nationwide Digital Tourism campaign by wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and new media startup InnoPub Media that harnesses mobile technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. In Bohol, the program is implemented in partnership with the Bohol Provincial Government. Continue Reading

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Albay launches digital tourism program with Smart, InnoPub Media

Travel to the many attractions of Albay, from Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to Spanish period churches and other centuries-old structures, has been made easier with the launch…

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Travel to the many attractions of Albay, from Mayon Volcano with its near perfect cone to Spanish period churches and other centuries-old structures, has been made easier with the launch of a mobile app that serves as a handy guide to the province.

The Albay Guide, made possible through a collaboration among the Albay Provincial Government, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), journalism startup InnoPub Media, and other tourism stakeholders, is a comprehensive travel app that can be downloaded on iOS, Android, and Windows phones and other mobile devices.

Albay Digital Tourism

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda leads the unveiling of the Daraga marker to mark the launch of the Digital Tourism initiative in the province. The project is a  collaboration among the Provincial Government, Smart Communications, Inc., and Cebu-based startup InnoPub Media.

“Albay is one of the most beautiful provinces in the Philippines. It has been cited by international tour organizations as the best destination in Southeast Asia,” said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

The app lists such Albay destinations as the Cagsawa Ruins, Lidong National Park, Mayon Skyline and Mayon Resthouse, Misibis Bay Resort, Lignon Hill Nature Park, Vera Falls, Kawa-Kawa Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, and Danao Lake and provides information useful to visitors, such as detailed instructions on getting to the sites and the many activities they can do when they arrive.

Albay Guide

Intrigued by Mayon Volcano’s perfect cone? The Albay Guide gives you the many ways you can enjoy Mayon.

Whether it is just to know the best spots to view or take a photo of Mayon or get up close and personal through an ATV Ride along the volcano’s lava trail, the Albay Guide is your best bet for information on these activities.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring our digital tourism program to Albay in collaboration with our partners. The province has been a long time partner for various initiatives like disaster preparedness. Aside from enriching people’s travel experiences, digital tourism also opens up opportunities for local communities and businesses,” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.

Albay’s beauty, according to Salceda, is not limited to its natural assets. He said the province is also rich in arts and cultural heritage, citing its man-made citadels and monuments, a culinarian that showcases the best in food and thrilling innovations in fine dining, and ladies who have been winning beauty pageants around the world.

“With Albay’s 7.1 percent share in foreign tourists and expanding number of domestic visitors, Smart’s Digital Tourism program will further fortify the province’s position in a highly competitive tourism industry,” said the governor.

Digital tourism

The free Albay Guide app and digital markers on top destinations will lead to greater customer satisfaction through easily accessible tourism information and result in more repeat visitors, he added.

Albay Digital Tourism

Blessing of Digital Tourism markers, represented by the one that will be placed on Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church in Daraga, Albay.

“Digital Tourism will boost our product positioning and brand franchising of unique iconic features like Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins and such unforgettable engagements as the Mayon ATV. It will also fortify our positioning as ecotourism, cultural, and culinary destinations,” Salceda also said.

Also provided in the mobile app are details on travel to Abay’s ancient churches and other heritage monuments, the best places to sample local fares like Bicol Express, pinangat, and sili ice cream, the best pasalubong and where to buy them, hotels and accommodations, as well the top things to do in the province.

The Albay Guide is one component of Smart’s digital tourism program that was launched last Friday, April 10, in the historic and majestic Our Lady of the Gate Church in Daraga, Albay.

“It is a unique launching place: it is on top of Santa Maria Hill, in front of the centuries-old baroque church, overlooking the center of Albay, and under the shadows of the Majestic Mayon Volcano. How nice it would be to unveil a technological wonder so close to the clouds yet firmly grounded on the natural wonders of Albay,” said Salceda.

Mobile travel

“Mobile plays a key role in travel. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed phones are used throughout the travel process – from getting travel inspiration to planning, booking, experiencing and even post traveling – with 67% of leisure travelers and 78% of business travelers using smartphones,” said InnoPub co-founder Marlen Limpag, “Our phones do not just keep us connected during our trips, they are our cameras, boarding passes, portable media players and, in our Digital Tourism program, travel guides.”

Interactive markers will also be deployed on special sites like churches, plazas, and monuments to provide visitors more information on Albay’s rich historical heritage.

The markers contain quick response or QR codes and near-field communications or NFC stickers that, when scanned or tapped with a compatible device, trigger the download of more information about a site or structure.

Smart’s digital tourism program is a nationwide initiative that harnesses technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. Through the collaboration with InnoPub Media, the project has been rolled out in Cebu, Iloilo, and Baguio City. It was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2014.

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SMART, InnoPub hold Panagbenga 2015 photo contest

Are you celebrating the Panagbenga Festival 2015 in Baguio City? Join the SMART-Innopub social media photo contest and get the chance to win one of three LTE pocket Wi-Fi devices….

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Are you celebrating the Panagbenga Festival 2015 in Baguio City? Join the SMART-Innopub social media photo contest and get the chance to win one of three LTE pocket Wi-Fi devices.

All you need to do is like the official Facebook pages of Smart Travel PH and Smart Communications, Inc., download the free Baguio Guide app to your Android or Windows phone devices, and tag the Panagbenga 2015-related photos you upload to your social media accounts with #smartpanagbenga.

Baguio Guide mobile app

Baguio Guide mobile app

InnoPub Media, in coordination with wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc., is holding an online photo contest covering Panagbenga 2015-related activities.

The Panagbenga 2015 photo contest will run from February 25 to March 2. To join, all you need to do is post your Panagbenga 2015 photos in your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts and tag them with #smartpanagbenga and notify us of your entry by leaving a link to your photo as a comment in the Smart Travel PH FB page.

The Best Panagbenga 2015 Photo, Best Panagbenga Selfie, and Best Media/Blogger Entry will each win a SMART LTE pocket wifi device. Aside from #smartpanagbenga, photos by media and bloggers must carry either the #baguiomedia or #baguioblogger tags.

Smart and InnoPub will be selecting 10 finalists and posting their photos on the Smart Travel FB page on March 5. Read the full mechanics of the SMART-InnoPub Social Media Photo Contest in the Baguio Guide app.

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Fantasyland attracts visitors to Dapitan

Dapitan is a relatively small city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte but its amusement park Fantasyland can rival any of the big ones in the Philippines. Fantasyland is…

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Dapitan is a relatively small city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte but its amusement park Fantasyland can rival any of the big ones in the Philippines. Fantasyland is inside a three-hectare commercial complex named Gloria de Dapitan and located within the Dapitan City center, particularly along Sunset Boulevard.

Gloria de Dapitan Fantasyland

The entrance to the Gloria de Dapitan Fantasyland is like that of a castle, with its high walls, towers, and cone spires.

Its version of the roller coaster called Zimmerman is an open carriage ride on a track that rises, plunges, hurtles sideways, and goes upside down.

Although the ride ticket entitles guests to two circuits, I managed to handle only one round.

Fantasyland rides

There are tamer rides for the children and the faint-hearted like the merry-go-round, bumper cars, go karts, water adventure, and ferris wheel.

Fantasyland rides

A space shuttle, roller coaster, and ferris wheel are among Fantasyland’s amusement rides.

We were able to avail ourselves of a promo during our visit in April 2014 and our P500 ticket came bundled with entrances to five Fantasy Land attractions plus a zipline ride at the Dakak Park and Beach Resort.

The Dapitan City amusement park also has 5D theater where you get to experience the thrill of harrowing rides while sitting on comfortable seats, tummy churning swing called Spanish Galleon, 100-meter Sky Drop, twisting and turning Python Coaster, and a Horror House.

Nessi Coaster

The Nessi Coaster is a tamer version of Fantasyland’s Zimmerman.

There are also fantasy characters like dwarves, elves, storybook prince and princess, among others.

Horror house

The horror house is a scary tour of a dark narrow twisting labyrinth decorated with coffins, gravestones, cobwebs, evil-looking dolls, bloodied furniture, hanging bodies complete with actors playing classic horror roles of ghosts, vampires, zombies, and other monsters.

Horror House

Fantasyland’s horror house is not for the faint of heart.

There is a storyline to the tour. One of the characters guides guests by acting as someone asking for help in looking for her sister who is lost inside the house.

Shortly before park closing time, local dancers perform acrobatic feats on stage to entertain visitors.

Other tourist sites nearby: Don’t miss the Punto del Embarcado de Rizal, which is where Jose Rizal first set foot in Dapitan when he was brought there to serve his four-year exile, the public plaza he helped design and the relief map of Mindanao he created as teaching aid, and the Spanish period St. James the Greater Church.

Other Dapitan attractions:

* Rizal Shrine, a 16-hectare estate that used to belong to national hero Jose Rizal
* Dapitan River Cruise
* Dakak Park and Beach Resort

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16 places you should visit in Baguio

Its mountainous terrain and strategic location within the Cordillera mountain range give Baguio City the advantages of a cool temperature and scenic views. The city has an abundance of forest…

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Its mountainous terrain and strategic location within the Cordillera mountain range give Baguio City the advantages of a cool temperature and scenic views.

The city has an abundance of forest reserves, parks, and pine trees, and the high elevation provides many places – from the city center to the outskirts – with sweeping vistas.

Aside from its unique mix of natural and historical attractions, a combination of cultures that incorporates Spanish, American, and native Ibaloi and Cordilleran tribal influences gives the city a unique socio-cultural flavor.

As a retail and urban hub, Baguio boasts of an economic zone and a technology enclave as well as a number of stores carrying imported and top brands.

Co-existing with these establishments are souvenir and other shops selling goods distinctly Baguio such as strawberry products, knitted wear, woodcraft, and silver jewelries.

Baguio center attractions

Within the Baguio central business district are several spots identified as tourist draws by the City Government. They are of walking distance from many Baguio accommodation establishments and include parks, shopping areas, and historical monuments.

1. City Hall building

Baguio City Hall

The Baguio City Hall building was built in 1949-1950.

Your tour within the city center should start at City Hall. This current building, constructed in 1949-1950, replaced the one built in 1910 during the term of E.W. Reynolds, first city mayor, hat was destroyed during World War II in 1945.

To get more details about this building, such as how to get there or its GPS coordinates, and the other sites in the list, download the Baguio Guide from the Google Play Store.

2. Burnham Park

Burnham Park

Man-made lake at Burnham Park.

One of the interesting nature spots in Baguio is an urban park named after the American architect, Daniel H. Burnham, who laid plans for the city in the 1900’s. The park is a sprawling green space encompassing 32 hectares right in the city center. It is just a few minutes walk from City Hall.

The Baguio Guide app provides a list of the different activities you can do in Burnham Park.

3. Baguio Cathedral

Baguio Cathedral

The Baguio Cathedral is one of the most photographed buildings in the city.

Standing on a hill originally referred to as “Kampo” by the native Ibalois, the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral depicts Gothic architectural influences in its twin spires, stained glass, and rose windows.

The structure also has a distinctive pink color. It was built in phases starting in 1920 not by the Spaniards by a Catholic Mission established by missionaries of the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) from Belgium in 1907.

4. Baguio City Public Market

Baguio public market

Strawberries are sold cheaply and in abundance at the Abanao Market, also known as the Baguio City Public Market.

Baguio is known for its strawberries and in no other area in the city is this fruit sold cheaply and in abundance than in the public market.

Also called Abanao Market, it is located at the foot of Session Road along Magsaysay Avenue.

Other tourist draws

Trips to other attractions take more time because they’re located some distance from the city’s nucleus. Such trips need to be planned and the route plotted ahead of time especially since Baguio has a lot of one way streets.

5. Baguio Botanical Garden

Baguio Botanical Garden

The Baguio Botanical Garden features a wide variety of plants.

Take a stroll along the winding trails and stone steps of the Baguio Botanical Garden. It has a wide range of flowering, herbal, and decorative plants interspersed with pine trees. Some plants are even for sale.

The garden’s main entrance is along Leonard Wood Road, between the Teacher’s Camp and Pacdal Circle. It had been in the past been called Igorot Village, Imelda Park, and Centennial Park. Within the huge park are relics from its Igorot Village days, such as tribal huts and sculptures.

There are pocket gardens within the park dedicated to Baguio’s sister cities. There is a network of Japanese tunnels as well. The Baguio Botanical Garden is just a kilometer away from the city center.

6. Mines View Park

Mines View Park

Mines View Park is a top tourist attraction in Baguio,

No other spot encapsulates the city’s breathtaking scenery better than Mines View Park.

The park, located in the outskirts of Baguio, offers a wide and clear view of Benguet’s mountain ranges where gold, silver, and other ores were once mined, hence its name.

Souvenir items and other Baguio products are sold in the area. Silver jewelry, which the city is known for, is sold at the Ibay’s and Pilak branches in Mines View.

7. Camp John Hay

camp john hay

The world-class golf course at Camp John Hay.

Camp John Hay has often been referred to as the “little Baguio” with Baguio City. The urban design for Baguio created by American architect Daniel H. Burnham in the 1900’s was for a community with a population expected to reach but not breach 25,000.

Some 100 years later, the city’s population has grown to over 10 times more. There are more people, houses, and cars on the road.

Camp John Hay offers a picture of Baguio City as it used to be. More information about Camp John Hay and the things you shouldn’t miss in the mountain resort can be found at the Baguio Guide mobile app that’s offered for free download in the Google Play Store.

8. Wright Park

Visitors may ride any  of the horses at Wright Park.

Visitors may ride any of the horses at Wright Park.

A favorite of kids and adults alike in Baguio is Wright Park where an organization of pony boys offers horseback rides. It is located northeast of the city center.

From the horseback riding area, a stone stairway leads to the “Pool of the Pines,” a quiet stretch with a 100-meter long shallow and narrow pool lined on both sides by Baguio’s towering pines.

The park is named after Luke Edward Wright, American governor-general of the Philippines (1904-1906).

9. The Mansion

Built in 1908, The Mansion on Leonard Wood Road housed a succession of American governor-generals. It is located just across Wright Park.

It is now utilized as the official residence of the Philippine President in the summer capital. The Baguio Guide app contains more information about this Baguio attraction such as where they got the inspiration for its wrought iron gates.

10. Philippine Military Academy

PMA Baguio

War relics and memorabilia displayed at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) grounds.

This premier military institution has its beginnings in Spanish colonial times. Established in the 19th century, it became the venue for the training for sons of soldiers and those aspiring for higher military positions.

Don’t forget to check out the Philippine Military Academy museum, which displays memorabilia related to the development of the academy. PMA allows visitors a peek into a typical cadet room at the museum.

11. Tam-Awan Village

Tam-awan Village

Tam-awan Village features Tribal icons and dwelling huts.

Set on a rolling slope along Lt. G. Tacay Road, Tam-Awan Village promotes and preserves tribal and indigenous cultures and practices.

It offers accommodations in authentic dwelling places of Benguet’s different tribes. The village features seven Ifugao and two Kalinga huts made of indigenous materials.

Following the trail within the village’s mountainous terrain will lead guests to great views of the surrounding environs. The West Philippine Sea sunset, on a clear day, may be viewed from the area.

Lodging and entrance fees provided in the free Baguio Guide mobile app that’s available for download at the Google Play Store.

12. BenCab Museum

National artist Benedicto Cabrera displays his collection of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture at the BenCab Museum.

Located along Km. 6 Asin Road, Cabrera’s museum also features works of rising contemporary artists.

An interesting albeit mature spot in the museum is the Erotica Gallery. Drawings, paintings, sculpture, and other artworks by various artists with an erotic subject or theme are displayed there.

13. Ifugao Wood Carvers Village

The way to BenCab museum is dotted with woodcarving shops. The area is known as the Ifugao Wood Carvers Village. Beautiful, hand-carved products are sold at low prices in the shops.

14. Lourdes Grotto

Lourdes Grotto

The uphill way to the shrine of the Lady of Lourdes.

A shrine to the Lady of the Lourdes is located close to the BenCab Museum. The Our Lady of the Lourdes Grotto is accessible through the Dominican Hill Road and pilgrims need to climb 252 steps to reach it.

Since it is located on a high elevation, the shrine also offers fantastic views of the mountainsides.

15. The Prayer Mountain and Tourism Center (Dominican Hill)

Diplomat Hotel

Once a monastery, the Diplomat Hotel now lay abandoned and in ruins.

When the Americans were encouraging people to come to Baguio, the councils of the Province of the Dominican Order voted to construct a monastery on a 17-hectare property they had acquired in the city.

The monastery was later turned into the Diplomat Hotel that is now abandoned and in ruins on Dominican Hill. Residents even say it’s haunted.

16. Bell Church

Located on the border of Baguio City and La Trinidad Valley, this cluster of temples called Bell Church features oriental architecture, ornate gateway, dragon ornaments, and Buddha-guarded windows. It sits atop a hill. The priest in the Bell Temple preaches a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity.

Aside from a list of top places to visit, the Baguio Guide mobile app that is offered for free download at the Google Play Store also contains information on Baguio hotels, restaurants, and other key information.

BAGUIO GUIDE

baguio-guide
Get a guide to Baguio City in your phone or tablet by downloading our free Baguio Guide from the Google Play Store or Windows Phone Store. The app is a comprehensive guide to the Philippines’ summer capital, listing things to do and places to stay or go to. It also contains a portable directory of important contact numbers and DOT-accredited establishments.

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Panagbenga Festival pays tribute to beautiful blooms, unites diverse Baguio

Taking inspiration from Pasadena’s “The Rose Parade,” Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival is held not in honor of some saint or legend but pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms. A…

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Taking inspiration from Pasadena’s “The Rose Parade,” Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival is held not in honor of some saint or legend but pays tribute to the city’s beautiful blooms.

A historian and museum curator, Ike Picpican, named the festival Panagbenga, a word in the local Kankanaey dialect that refers to a season of blossoming.

Panagbenga Festival

Panagbenga Festival participants perform the warrior’s dance of the ethnic Ifugao tribe.(Creative Commons photo by Miguel Isidro Photography)

For a city that has been through so much, the Panagbenga takes on a special significance as it also means the blooming of an idea or vision for hope, revival, unity, and growth.

Panagbenga Festival 2015 schedule of activities

Father of Panagbenga

Baguio’s crowd-drawing flower festival was conceptualized in 1995 by a man they now call the Father of Panagbenga, Atty. Damaso Bangaoet Jr.

The city was still reeling from a killer quake that left it in rubbles in 1990. The Panagbenga Festival gave people hope for a brighter future.

A tiger float made of flowers was one of the Grand Float Parade entries during the Panagbenga Festival 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Adel Mendoza)

A tiger float made of flowers was one of the Grand Float Parade entries during the Panagbenga Festival 2010. (Creative Commons photo by Adel Mendoza)

Bangaoet, who was then the head of the John Hay-Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC), presented his idea to the board of directors and it was immediately approved. JPDC allocated funds to help bring it about.

Sunflower emblem

Like its wild sunflower emblem, the Panagbenga Festival continues to blossom year after year.

The people of Baguio and visitors to the summer capital took to the flower-inspired festival as it doesn’t trample on cultural practices or beliefs and divide tribes.

What the celebration does is promote local culture and unite a Baguio of diverse ethnic backgrounds behind a festival it can consider its own.

Bangaoet cooked up the festival to draw more tourists to Baguio on a February, which is considered a lean season for travel.

Festival highlights

The Panagbenga Festival has grown to become one of Baguio’s biggest tourism attractions some 20 years since it was first conceptualized.

One of the highlights of the month-long celebration is the Floral Parade, which happens on a seven-kilometer stretch of street and involves groups of dancers garbed in flowery costumes performing the Bendian dance.

The biggest draw of the Panagbenga Festival, however, is the Grand Float Parade. During this event, Baguio highlights its artistry in the flower float creations that glide through the streets.

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Baguio, city with cool climes and fabulous views

Baguio City’s cool climate and wide vistas make it popular with local and foreign visitors, especially during days when the temperature in low lying areas climb up to over 30 degrees C….

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Baguio City’s cool climate and wide vistas make it popular with local and foreign visitors, especially during days when the temperature in low lying areas climb up to over 30 degrees C.

In hot, tropical Philippines, the city’s cooler than average temperature is a novelty and earned it the title of “summer capital” begining in 1903.

Baguio, which lies on a plateau 5,000 feet above sea level , is also blessed with sweeping views of the Cordillera mountain range in northern Luzon.

Baguio City Hall

Constructed in 1949-1950, the Baguio City Hall replaced a previous structure built in 1910 during the term of E.W. Reynolds, first city mayor. It was destroyed during World War II in 1945.

A mountainous terrain provides Baguio with natural tourist attractions like forests and watersheds as well as scenic mountain ranges.

One thing closely associated with Baguio is the Pinus Insularis (Benguet Pine), and the abundance of these trees in the area earned it the “City of Pines” label. Baguio is part of the Province of Benguet.

Beginnings

From its beginnings as a vast grassland, a grazing area for hundreds of herds of cattle, Baguio has transformed into an urban center with a technology hub, high-end hotels, and retail facilities for top imported and local brands.

City of Pines

Aside from the summer capital, Baguio is also called the “City of Pines” due to the abundance of these trees in the area.

In Spanish records, the very first mention of Baguio identify it as one of 31 rancherias, a minor rancheria of 20 houses, established by Spanish Commandante Guillermo D. Galvey in the late 19th century.

Baguio was a minor rancheria of the Commandancia put up by Galvey in a valley in Benguet in 1864. He named it La Trinidad after his wife, Trinidad de Galvey, Baguio City records showed.

The city’s early name was Kafagway and this later became Baguio, from the native word “Bag-iw” meaning moss.

When the Americans took over from the Spaniards, they established the first provincial government in Benguet and appointed a Canadian journalist, Hubert Phelps Whitmarsh, as governor.

American city

In Baguio, among the very first things one notices are the foreign names, American in particular, of parks, streets, and other sites. Other memorabilias of that era include American colonial buildings and 50’s-themed diners within the city center.

Lion's Head, Kennon Road

You know you’re near Baguio City when you pass by the Lion’s Head along Kennon Road. This monument is sculpted from natural rock formation, according to a marker put up by the Lion’s Club of Baguio.

This is because the Americans, when they first took possession of the Philippines after the Spanish-American war, put a premium on Baguio’s development because of its refreshing climate.

It was a renowned American architect, Daniel H. Burnham, who prepared the urban design for Baguio in the early 1900s, said its City Tourism Office. Burnham was tasked to create an urban plan for the city by William Cameron Forbes, who was appointed to the Philippine Commission in 1904. This plan was presented to then Secretary of War William Howard Taft who immediately approved it.

Baguio was declared the country’s “Summer Capital” on June 1, 1903 by the Philippine Commission. The declaration allowed the Americans to set aside funds for the construction of basic infrastructure in the city and undertake improvements to the Benguet Road.

The road, renamed Kennon Road after the engineer (Col. Lyman W. Kennon) who was instrumental in its completion, was started in 1901 and completed in 1905.

With the Philippine Commission further adopting Act 1963 in 1909 that transformed it into a chartered city, Baguio by 1913 had the amenities of a typical 20th century American city.

Tourism mecca

After it was reduced to rubble during World War II, there was tremendous effort to rebuild the city based on the Burnham plan. This was laid to waste during the killer earthquake of 1990.

Baguio’s spirit of community allowed it to reclaim its position as the country’s summer capital and position itself as the tourism mecca of the north.

As an urban center and the only city in the Cordillera, Baguio has also become the gateway to the Cordilleras and other wonders in Northern Luzon.

The city’s population is pegged at 318,676 based on the 2010 census. It has a very high literacy rate of 98 percent, according to the tourism office.

Baguio’s socio-cultural scene is enriched by a variety of ethno-linguistic groups that include the Ibalois, considered the original settlers, together with other Cordilleran groups such as the Bontocs, Kalingas, Ifugaos, and Kankanais and together they comprise about 10 percent of the population.

Tourism continues to flourish in the city, which now hosts state of the art telecommunication facilities, a wide range of accommodation types, and various transport services including air travel, bus lines, and other public utility vehicles.

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