“I know what you are doing!” exclaimed an old man I crossed paths on the narrow paved road amidst a vegetable field in Buguias. “I’m taking pictures!” I replied with a smile. “No! You are looking for gold!” he answered with a grin on his face. He walked away slowly as I was a bit surprised by the conversation. What I do know is I have long been fascinated by Buguias that I finally had the chance to stop by this municipality where the marvelous Halsema Highway cuts through.
Clouds have always been a thing of fascination. People climb mountains often to see the play of clouds billow across mountain peaks like waves. Dissipating in a dance from nebulous to nothingness. When I heard about the Mt Ulap Eco-Trail which recently opened last October 2015, I was intrigued. The Eco-trail is also known as the Philex Ridge, named after the huge mining company operating in the area. The highest peak, was named Mt Ulap by an engineer named “Lagman” who marked the summit in February 1, 1939. He described that the mountain is perennially a magnet for clouds (which is “ulap” in tagalog). The trail has long been a playground for trail runners from Baguio and Benguet. Now the local government, particularly the Ampucao Tourism Council opened the trail to the public.
Five years after my first visit to Laperal White House in Baguio City, there was a movie (which I haven’t seen), an iWitness Documentary and thousands of searches referred to my old post. There were even several invites to guest or talk about the house and a number of inquiries from researchers. I guess Filipino love horror stories. Something to scare themselves sometimes. It was only five years after when I got to revisit the place again. Now open to the public as a Bamboo Art Exhibit, visitors can now indulge themselves and unravel the mystery of this famous White House.
It was a case of an unfortunate event that led me to stay in this old family mansion now called the Heritage Mansion Hotel in Baguio City. I had a booking in another hotel but they overbooked the rooms so I was moved here without extra cost in my part. A sort of an upgrade since it the rooms there were a lot more expensive than the one I booked and its much closer to the city center which I liked.
From the outside, it looks like a run down dilapidated structure with an overgrown tree intruding its space at the entrance. Once we got inside, it’s like going through a rabbit hole and we were transported into a surreal otherworld. Almost amorphous and continuing to evolve into who knows what, Ili-likha Artist Village is a patch of creative space in the heart of the highly urbanized Baguio City. They are just a few steps away from the infamous Session Road.
Figuring out Baguio’s transport system can be daunting at first due to its winding and narrow roads. But staying there for four nights, I got a gist of commuting and can go comfortably off town. While not centrally located downtown near Session Road, C Boutique Hotel has its own special charm. Coming from the mountain haven of Sagada, C Boutique Hotel was a quiet transition. It’s away from the bustling city center and closer to the mountain views in which Baguio is known.
The Philippines has celebrated “Todos Los Santos” quite differently from other parts of the world. While it is only recent when candled pumpkins, trick or treats and cute-monstrosity items adorn some houses. But behind those masked commercialism, many Filipinos still observe the traditional practice of visiting departed loved ones during All Saint’s Day. I remember our usual visits to clean up the graves of our relative and also the talks of supernatural, the regular horror segments at Magandang Gabi Bayan and even a time when Mananangal (half-bodied flying female creatures with bat wings) flew over Manila. Those were interesting times, but traveling brought me to discover places which somehow exude the feel and connection to the otherworld. Here are some places from my archive which I think would be nice places to visit during the Halloween Season.