Family Baguio Adventure, Day 1: Session Road and BenCab Museum

I can't believe I missed my Friday post again, and this is the second time in just two weeks!!! Unbelievable! My system has been glitchy for the past three days that I can't get my photo editing done and can't finish this feature on time, supposedly for Family Friday. :( Anyhow, I'm excited to tell you about our recent Baguio adventure. The girl's term break during the end of September allowed us to head over to this cool city up north. Our last visit was New Year of 2008 when the girl was about to turn one. She doesn't remember anything about that family trip so she said this will be like her first time to Baguio and she was the most excited. This is part one of our "first" family getaway to the city of pines.

With a 3-days-2-nights stay, we planned an itinerary to cover the usual sights plus a few new recommended destinations for the family. I recently featured my Baguio finds here, which also mentioned the establishments I'm featuring now.

Travel time from our house to Baguio city proper is approximately four hours with two stop-overs via NLEX and TPLEX. What a huge improvement from the 5-to-6-hour road trip we had to endure when going to Baguio over the past 3 decades. We passed along the zigzag Kennon Road until we reached our destination on Session Road around noon. We saw the controversial SM mall there, and just like here in Manila, it also creates some traffic within the vicinity.

Siyempre, I took lots of pictures, and the girl too... so here's a photo essay of our first day in Baguio. =)

As suggested by friends, I planned for us to have lunch at the famed Hillstation on Upper Session Rd. but parking space was already full. We just drove up to the next building and dined at Hawaiian BBQ where Pamana restaurant was also housed.

We went down the Igorot Steps leading to the resto and took some souvenir shots with the Igorot installations. Check out the boys. Parang may head massage or kinu-kutohan si J ng manang, hahahaha!

After lunch, we walked a few steps down to check out Mt. Cloud Bookshop and took a peek at Hillstation.  The quaint bookshop sells mementos, local books and souvenirs. More details in my previous post. The girl was flower-spotting along the sidewalk -- she was just fascinated by the variety of colorful blooms everywhere she turned.

We booked two nights at Hotel Elizabeth located along Gibraltar street. What's nice about this hotel is the location -- very near Wright Park and Ketchup Community, and just a few minutes drive from Good Shepherd. These will be featured in the next installment.

We checked in on a Thursday so there were only a few other guests. It was a holiday the next day so they were fully booked for the rest of the weekend. The girl went gaga over the gardens around the hotel with rows and rows of beautiful flowers. She kept on borrowing my camera and daddy's cellphone to take snapshots. I posted some of her photos on IG, hashtag #TheGardenByM.

Actually, we were not really planning a trip. Since it was the girl's term break and a holiday weekend was coming, I just thought of Baguio. Of course, the kids looked forward to revisiting the summer capital. I initially had a hard time finding a hotel for us so I asked around for other suggestions. My friend, Cai, mentioned Hotel Elizabeth, among others, and luckily they were offering a promo for the Executive Suite. I quickly booked our dates.

The one-bedroom unit with spacious living and dining areas, master bathroom with tub, a sofa bed, and a second bathroom. The size was just perfect for us and we didn't find the need for an extra bed since the kids agreed to share the sofa bed. However, the king bed was hard, and springy, not comfy at all. Same with the sofa bed where the inner half was stiff too.

We did not expect a hotel bed to be like this so the following day, I told the manager and receptionists about our sleepless night and asked why the bed was stiff. They said it's their standard mattress, but I was pleased with how they responded to my concerns. A housekeeping team was sent to our suite and they immediately arranged for a foam mattress to be laid on top, with fresh sheets and extra pillows. Our second night was so much more comfortable for J and I. No more backaches, hehehe! Their food, however, leaves much to be desired. Though we did enjoy the pancakes for breakfast. =)

Before we left Manila, the girl learned that one of her best buddies will be in Baguio with her family as well. We then planned to meet up with them at the BenCab Museum on our first day, which made the girls more excited. It was a 30-minute drive from our hotel to the museum located on Asin Road.

It was a very foggy late afternoon. The surprise of the day was we saw the master himself, Ben Cab (Benedicto Cabrera), when he arrived at the museum as we were about to exit. Super sayang nga he went straight to the office so we were not able to have a photo opp with him.

Anyway, take a look inside this contemporary, modern-industrial designed museum with nine galleries that houses many interesting art pieces from National Artist Ben Cabrera, as well as from several notable artists and masters. From the back, the three-level building overlooks a beautiful pond and garden that adds to the unique charm of this artistic destination.

The first sculpture that greeted us was this brightly-colored psychedelic ram and a bulul sculpture on the landing as we went down the stairs.  There were lots of bulul sightings all the over the museum, heehee.

From the Erotica Gallery, I was caught by surprise upon entering with the girl. 

I didn't know what to answer when she asked what these two were doing!!! LOLs! =)
There were several other "love positions" on display so we didn't stay long in this gallery.

And this...
"Lily for Georgia" sculpture by Julie Lluch

What do you see? =)

The museum showcased diverse and awe-inspiring Filipino works of art. Please excuse my lack of description for each piece as I was not able to take note of the titles and info. I'll just share anecdotes and "expert" comments from my curious girl. :D

Here are some of the arresting pieces that caught our eyes. Time for some art appreciation...enjoy the virtual tour!  =)

I wonder who Sonia is...

"Fruit Vendor" by Bencab

The wall of bululs.
(bulul: carved figure of Ifugao guardian and rice god)

"Mommy, this looks scary... and bald!"
"Why's this one laughing?"

"What a weird-looking cat."

Me: It's called the Picasso Cat (also by Julie Lluch)

"Is this 3D?"

Untitled mixed media by Charlie Go

"Look, there's a clown sticker... and a turtle! There's also a Mickey Mouse down there. It's so funny."
Can you spot them? =)

"Bulol Dreams & The Magic Kingdom" by William Gaudinez

"After Heirnomymus Bosch" by Froilan Calayag

"It looks like a messed up guitar."

"Baby Sandata 2" by Lirio Sandoval

"It looks weird."
Me: No, it's cool, look it's made with carved rubber!

"Faking Me" rubber but by Leonard Aguinaldo

The dad of her friend spotted a drawing in this installation that looks like Fin from Adventure Time. Can you see it? =)

"Tarai-dor" by Kawayan de Guia

I love this large contemporary wall art by Bencab. 

The pond with the native gazebo was just gorgeous and serene. You can see the thick fog over the hills and forest, it felt like it was crawling towards us.  We found kois and a duck swimming.

At the lower ground floor, visitors can dine at quirky and colorful Café Sabel, obviously named after the master's famed muse. We didn't get to try their food but I learned that they serve fresh food with veggies sourced from their farm, as well as their signature brewed coffee.

On our way up, we passed by the patio with this huge wall of tiles.

"32 Variations on Sabel" glaze on Mariwasa Tiles

The boy didn't feel like touring the museum so J stayed with him in the car nalang...haaay! It was just me and the girl, and we paid P100 each for entrance fee. Good thing we were there with friends. I wished we went an hour earlier so we could stay longer and have snacks at the café. Here's the visitor's guide for your reference.

More details and info about BenCab Museum here: www.bencabmuseum.org

This was a different kind of museum tour for us, mainly because of the location.  There's so much more to see there. Do have favorites from what I shared here? =)

There's also a souvenir shop by the entrance of the museum, and some of the items there I already featured in my previous post. Check out my Mom-Finds from Baguio.

Side story: 
While we drove up to Asin road, our car made this loud squeaking sound that made us all nervous. It was a long drive home and we didn't want to get stranded here. While we were inside the museum, the boys went to a nearby talyer and it turned out that the brake pads were worn out na! Halatang hindi maintained ang kotse. So first agenda was to get the car checked in the morning.

We got back to our hotel with just enough time to rest and take a shower before dinner. We also asked the hotel to book us a car rental so we can use it the next day to drive us around. Everyone just wanted to relax and so we ordered room service.

The cool evening air was so refreshing and we all went to bed early on our first night in Baguio.

Stay tuned for Day 2, next Friday. =)


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