Based on online tests I am an ambivert; a person who is both introverted and extroverted. There are times when I want to shut the world and just be on my own; no phones, no Internet, zero interaction with people. Then one day I’d wake up ready to go out, wanting to see my friends and be the life of the party. I like being an ambivert because I get the best of both worlds. I can easily shift from being an introvert to extrovert and vice versa depending on the situation. But sometimes I fail, like when I went to Baguio recently for a sponsored trip by Azalea Hotels and Residences. I went on a group tour with other bloggers, it was a chance to socialize, to widen my network. Given this, you’d think I’d be in my extrovert mood but nope. In fact, we spent the whole day touring Baguio City with me acting like I was doing solo travel.
It didn’t help that I shared a ride with the kids. Not kid kids, but millennials, young people in their 20s who are fashion bloggers. The bloggers of my age, on the other hand, were called “mellonnials,” based on the name of one of the bloggers, Melo. Anyway, I was hardly communicative when I was with the millennials not because I was being snooty but because they seem to be speaking in a language different from mine.
In 2011 I had a fashion blog yet there I was, inside the van with a bunch of fashion bloggers and I wasn’t talking. They spoke of their common friends, places they went to, makeup, and clothes; things that used to matter a lot to me but not anymore. So I felt like a grandma completely baffled about the ways of the young. So in a true grandma fashion, I took a nap. Every time I’d ride in that freaking van I’d take a nap. But don’t judge me, I only had one hour of sleep okay.
When I opened my eyes we were already in a temple. I was slightly confused because I heard our first stop is the Diplomat Hotel. As soon as we entered the premises, everyone had their cameras ready, not to photograph the place but to do a fashion shoot. I was like, seriously, they were doing OOTD photo shoot? Then I told myself, What do you expect? They’re fashion bloggers remember?
So while my companions were busy shooting Instagram-worthy photos, I took some photographs of the place. It’s a Chinese temple with beautiful and intricate arches, water lilies, dragon sculptures, and a pagoda. During our visit, there were some kids busy doing some exercises, which I figured were part of their training. What I’m not sure of is the type of martial arts for which they were being trained for.
You’ve seen that sappy film That Thing Called Tadhana where two strangers who met on a plane, then decided that it’s not creepy to launch a Cordillera trip with someone you just met? Yeah that movie, well one of the places they went to is BenCab Museum.
So we went there but I wasn’t as lucky as Angelica Panganiban’s character to have a JM de Guzman of my own. We were given a choice to join one of the staff to walk us through the gallery or to go off on our own. It was a chance for some interaction but I explored alone instead and appreciated the artwork in my own pace.
The BenCab Museum is home to the art collection of the Philippine National Artist, Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab). Each floor has rooms where the artworks are exhibited. There’s the Bencab Gallery, Erotica Gallery, Cordillera Gallery, Print Gallery, Patio Salvador, Graffiti Wall, Gallery Indigo, Maestro Gallery, Larawan Hall, Philippine Contemporary Art Gallery, Sepia Gallery, Bulol Installation, and Edison T. Coseteng Patio.
I remember when I was having that tattoo session with Sarah Gaugler, she asked how did I find her movie, Diplomat Hotel. You know the feeling when you don’t want to hurt someone but at the same time, you don’t want to lie? That’s what I felt, so I didn’t say anything and let my friend do the talking. To cut the story short, I love Sarah Gaugler, I hate the movie. Nonetheless, I wanted to visit the Diplomat Hotel myself so I was quite excited when I learned that it’s part of our itinerary.
The Diplomat Hotel sits atop the Dominican Hill. People are drawn to this tourist spot not only for its beauty but also for its reputation of being haunted. It’s a 17-hectare property that has seen so much history. It used to be a vacation house of the Dominicans, a school called Collegio del Santissimo Rosario in 1915, a sanctuary for the refugees during World War II, and a 33-bedroom hotel in 1973 where the faith-healing sessions of Tony Agpaoa were held.
It is now believed to be a haunted place. Locals claim that they could hear strange noises in the middle of the night like the banging of doors or windows, clattering of dishes, or horrifying screams. Given this fact, you’d think I would take the opportunity to finally go with my companions? Nope. I braved roaming its rooms and halls on my own. I’d be lying if I tell you I didn’t imagine facing some unknown entity along the way, but I guess it wasn’t enough to deter me. I was more fascinated than spooked because the hotel is made eerily beautiful by the decay that it’s suffering.
I thought about the people who used to walk through these empty halls, those who slept in the now-empty rooms, and those who cowered in fear of the Japanese during the war. I was free to inspect its crook and cranny, free to visualize its history, which wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t alone.
I tried to read a book in our next stop, Arcas Yard despite the hopelessness of finishing it. Arcas Yard used to be just a library and a museum, but the owners decided to integrate a café because most people who visited there were looking for food. It has many interesting art pieces, mostly of traditional artifacts from the Cordillera region.
They served us their bestseller, camote pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Never heard of such a pie before but god it was lip-smacking good. The taste and texture reminded me of my favorite Filipino snack, nilupak. Some of my companions didn’t finish their pie; not me. I was into it like I haven’t eaten yet. Even the milk tea that went with it was so good the only thing that stopped me from finishing it is the thought that I’ve had enough sugar for the day.
Camp John Hay
The next day I went with the mellonnials after realizing I shouldn’t be hanging out with the millennials. I’ve also bonded with my roommate, Trisha of P.S. I’m On My Way the previous night so I finally had someone to talk to. We went to Camp John Hay and though I’d been there when I was a kid, my memory is all rusty that it felt like I was seeing it for the first time. But I can still recall the pet cemetery and I wanted to see it again but apparently, it was far from our stop.
Tree Top Adventure
Normally, I’d go for an adventure even when it scares me because my curiosity is bigger than my fear. This time, my laziness is bigger than my curiosity so while the kids were excited to try the treetop adventure, I was excited to go back to Azalea and sleep in my room. Signs of old age? Maybe.
Anyway, for your information, the treetop adventure can be found at the Nature Park in Camp John Hay where you can try the following adventures:
- Canopy and Funicular (PHP 350 – USD 7.49)
- Superman Ride (zipline) (PHP 300 – USD 6.42)
- Tree Top Adventure (PHP 150 – USD 3.21)
- Trekking and Skywalk (PHP 100 – USD 2.14)
- Silver Surfer Ride (PHP 200 – USD 4.28)
There are disadvantages when you’re not interacting with people when you travel, the first being, you have no one to take your picture. In fact, most of my photos were selfies or taken with a timer. But being alone can also be beautiful. I enjoyed the chance to be alone with my thoughts. I was not distracted and fully in the moment to appreciate the places that we went to. This is not to say that I encourage anyone to be antisocial, but if you are shy, it doesn’t mean your experience would be less awesome than those with companions.
I’ve lost count of the times I’d been to Baguio but I was happy to discover that there are still many things that I haven’t explored yet. It’s nice to know I still have reasons to come back and if I have to do it alone, I don’t mind at all.