from March 2005:
found myself up in the city of pines
for a series of meetings
(illicit and otherise),
and gastronomic adventures last weekend;
took the world-class & super comfortable
Victory Liner bus out of their Pasay terminal
at 11pm last Friday nite,
not counting a couple of 15minute stop-overs
in Tarlac and Pangasinan and EDSA's friday night traffic,
the total travel time
from Balintawak in NLEX to Session Road was only 4.5hours.
Arrived in Baguio at 5am sharp.
proceeded directly to my favorite new home up north,
with very cozy homestyle accomodations along South Drive.
Iggy's is also one of the few hotels in Baguio with a Jacuzzi,
and it's installed in a room with a perfect view
of a valley flush with pine trees.
very much like those Aspen "hot tub in the snowy resort" deals!
all the walls are overflowing with the owner's collection of paintings.
there is even one wall dedicated to the career
of the 1st Pinoy Chess Grandmaster, Eugene Torre,
who apparently is a good friend of the owner.
anyways, took a nap first;
upon waking up at 11am, vectored directly to
Baguio's premier Chinese Restaurant, ROSE BOWL
on Harrison Road near Burnham Park for the 1st meal:
LECHON KAWALI with PECHAY TIPS....
perfectly crisp bite sized fried pork belly
on a bed of super fresh veggies cooked in oyster sauce.
plus fragrant YANG CHOW fried rice.
afterwards, needed a walk to clear my head.
walked all the way up... up..... and up Session Road
all the way up to SM Baguio.
for those who will wonder why a lowlander should go to
another SM Mall when there is so much more to enjoy in Baguio,
well, let me tell ya:
SM Baguio is the best damn SM Mall in the country.
Faaaannntassstic views all around!!!
With its architecture influenced by the rice terraces,
each of the levels of the mall lead up to
wide open-air verandahs
where you can really, really enjoy the fresh mountain breezes
while drinking your favorite overpriced coffee:
Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Figaro's, etc, etc., are all here!
at the topmost level of the mall,
with an awesome view of the Baguio Cathedral
and the mountains leading up to Marcos Highway,
X and I chilled out for the next 2hours,
sipping 16-ounce cups of Barako-Arabica from Figaro's
while we pondered our next meal....
hmmmmm. walang magawa. 3pm pa lang.
way tooo early for Happy Hour.
Now Showing sa SM ang Constantine, Hitch, Zebra Stripes,
and The Passion of The Christ.
rolled the dice and despite our misgivings,
entered the very large and yup, fully-airconditioned SM Cinema 4,
and was entertained by Will Smith for the next two hours.
"it's not how many breaths you take in your lifetime that matters....
it's the number of moments that take your breath away"
Whattta killer line!!!
the only three movie theaters in baguio
were the surot-infested, blower-cooled mini-theaters on Session Road.
perhaps the best thing about the whole SM Baguio experience
are the brand-new world-class theaters with plush seats and Dolby Sound!
finally, the uplanders can watch their movies in comfort.
We then decided to grab a bottle of Red and some chocolates
to enjoy in our hotel room.
best place to buy imported stuff?
At John Hay, syempres!!!! the duty free store there
has all the Hershey's you want, and lots of wine and liquor
at rock-bottom prices.
where to eat in John Hay?
there's a Brother's Burger resto,
a Dencio's for sisig,
and the obvious choice: Carlo's Pizzeria!!!
excellent Shakey's-style thin-crust pizza
with a plethora of toppings:
italian sausage, salami, pepperoni, fresh baguio mushrooms,
four kinds of cheese, etc. etc. etc.
Ordered a side of authentic Buffalo Wings with bleu cheese dip.
All washed down with 3 bottles of my beloved SMB Pale Pilsen.
...... and so, by 7pm of Saturday night,
we were ready for bed! Back to Barracks!!!
7am, Sunday morning!
after untangling ourselves from the sheets,
had a long leisurely shower.
Iggy's Inn must have the strongest water pressure in the mountains.
and yup, lots of HOT WATER!!!
where to go for Breakfast on this beautiful Palm Sunday?
well, not really a difficult decision there.
CAFE' by the RUINS wins by a knockout!!!!
and so, off to the Ruins at 9am.
perfect timing! the breakfast crowd had thinned out,
and the lunchtime crowd had yet to pull themselves out off bed.
we get there, and find the place practically all to ourselves.....
ahhhh, the serenity!
the smell of longaniza frying!!!
the smell of freshly-ground baguio coffeee brewing!!!!
the waiter promptly brings a cup of Ruins Coffee.....
freshly brewed cappuccino with a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinammon.
armed with the thick encyclopedia-like sunday editions
of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star,
we embark on a 2-hour brunch.
chilly morning breezes blew in from the sawali-covered
walls of the ruins, as we perused the menu.
a baguio bounty salad?
biscuits with fresh goat's milk kesong puti?
strawberry pancakes drizzled with honey?
i end up ordering what i always do:
Longanizang Baguio na Hubad style
(dinurog na longganiza, in other words.....
very meaty and almost crunchy--- not fatty at all),
with Red Mountain Rice na ginawang Sinangag (lots of garlic),
a side of 3 slices of crisp Bacon
(just to maintain the cholesterol intake),
and two eggs, one sunny side up, and one scrambled!!!
the perfect fry-up breakfast!!!
all that, chased down with fresh ginger tea
(a.k.a. salabat!!!) sweetened by golden honey.
eat slowly... it's a sunday morning brunch, after all.
included in the price of the meal?
a dessert bowl of the freshest fruits in season...
papaya, pineapple, melon, honeydew, orange slices,
and this being baguio, lots and lots of strawberries!
I decided to pour honey on the mixture of fruits.
oh shoot. i had to go to one my meetings.
in the cab, heard this congressman Live from Las Vegas on Bombo Radyo,
on his cellphone,
delivering the sad news that
a bloody Pacman had lost to the sneaky headbutting Morales.
St. Joseph's church right beside Wright Park is full.
The priest gave an excellent sermon;
he somehow managed to compare Manny Pacquiao
to the beaten-up Pinoy nation
and how we should have the Christ-like strength
to all rise up despite all the adversities we face.
Maybe the best homily i've heard in the past 5years or so.6pm.
7hours since the bacchanalian feast at Ruins.
Sun setting on this Palm Sunday,
the sky is ablaze with a crazy kaleidoscope
of deep reds, dramatic yellows, and blood orange rays.
No idea where "Mother's"
it used to be near Hotel Nevada,
which crumbled to the ground in the 1990 earthquake.
Mother's is the hole-in-the-wall carinderia
which was beloved by the Hizon cousins for the tasty bistek & BBQ chicken.
it was a tradition for us in the '80s,
when we all discovered the joys of
puberty, alcohol, and nicotine
as we spent at least two weeks of each summer up north.
Near the old entrance to John Hay,
the road leading to Loakan airport and the PMA,
was where Mother's used to be.
I almost feel orphaned, since Mother's is nowhere to be found.
hmmmmm. i seem to have read somewhere that there was a bistro
put up near here by a retired flight attendant from PAL.
We wander on down the road, and Voila! (thanks to www.mymanila.net for the great pic!)
those are the two words i would use to describe
this restaurant perched on a cliff,
with a bungee-jump inducing view of the hillside below.
massive polished wooden beams
complete the european ambience of the interiors'
20-foot high ceilings.
with continental retro bric-a-brac lining the shelves as accents.
obviously, the training and experience of the owners,
from the world's friendliest (if not promptest) airline
has been passed on to their waiters and waitresses.
and the Food.....
i started off with an SMB Pale to complement their top-selling appetizer:home-smoked BAGNET
apparently, this is the only Ilocano Bistro in the world!
gaddem....... chicharon na liempo!!!
fried to perfection almost like chicharon bulaklak,
as only a true anak-ti-batac can.
yup, this pulutan will definitely take you
one step closer to Heaven if you have it everyday.
for the main course,
we ordered chicken fillets battered in almond slivers,
dipped in lemon butter sauce.
the crust was perfection, parang Sosyal na ChickenJoy,
and the chicken practically melted in my mouth.
we just had to have the brocolli with prawns, cooked Thai style.
...... with every bite,
we involuntarily made "mmmmmm!!!" sounds,
as the brocolli heads absorbed all the Thai sauces,
and all the flavors and freshness exploding our tastebuds!
and to cap a perfect meal?
no gelatin extenders, mind you.
these ex-flight attendants knew their stuff.
just a thick crumbled graham cracker crust,
philadelphia cream cheese,
and a topping of peaches and cherries.
I need to go back up.