13.6 degrees centigrade according to my watch barometer. We were inside our tent. I could imagine how cold it was outside our tent hearing the unrelenting howl of the wind. It is 2:30 am and we’re at the Camp 2 of Mt Pulag, the highest mountain of Luzon and considered as the third highest in the country. I braced for the chill as I zipped open the tent door. A draft came in as I peeked outside. The sky was clear with stars jubilantly sparkling. The waning moon illuminated the landscape. “We have a clearing!” I gleefully thought. Thank god the weather was on our side and after almost 14 years, I’ll be back at the summit of Mt Pulag.
“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.