Sprout’s First Time in Baguio: Welcoming 2023 at Baguio City

Happy New Year! 2022 has ended, and despite its failures on a national scale, there is still so much to be thankful for on a personal level. For our little family, these include Sprout surviving her first hospitalization in June, Sprout turning one, surviving Covid-19 as a family, and our house getting finally finished.

The three of us, with my side of the family, spent the New Year weekend (December 30 & 31, January 1) in Baguio City. The short vacation was a lovely Christmas gift from mama and papa, since we used to spend most of our Christmases in the last decade in Baguio before the onslaught of the pandemic. We came with my parents, my younger sister and her husband, my brother and his fiancée, and my niece and nephew.

It was a great New Year’s Day.

Despite its flaws, Baguio remains a personal favorite.

I personally don’t like Mines View – with the St. Bernard and the costumes – and it was annoying that the Christmas Village has no proper parking or loading/unloading area, but I still love Baguio.

Camp John Hay is by far my favorite. I have no idea why we didn’t go there before, so it’s a discovery. It’s such a relaxing and balanced place, surrounded by pine trees and greens, parks, and entertainment areas.

Session Road, despite the heavy foot traffic at night, is still romantic, with the red brick walkway lined with storefronts. In the morning, it felt like we were in a Korean drama.

Burnham Park is finally enjoyable, now that I have a child. I used to find it over-the-top and too active for my introverted soul. This was the first time I enjoyed riding the boat and go karts. Seeing Sprout happy… I guess you really change once you have a child.

And finally, the climate. It was not that cold in the New Year, so it was perfect for the kids. But I would’ve still infinitely enjoyed if it were colder. After all, we came in prepared with parkas.

I think the best way to enjoy Baguio is to not stuff the whole vacation with tours of all tourist spots. In our case, we just chose Camp John Hay (with an impromptu stop at Wright Park for the niece and nephew) and BSU Strawberry Farms for the duration of our trip. It was relaxing, papa was not cranky, and the kids and adults had a pleasant time.

Baguio’s traffic was not bad in the New Year.

The last time we went here was in Christmas of 2019 and the traffic then was horrendous. What you could normally drive in five minutes took an hour. I remember thinking we should have just walked, if not for papa, who by then can’t see and properly walk anymore.

To add to that, there was a short video making rounds on the Philippines subreddit last week about a resident ranting about how tourists have made Baguio’s traffic insufferable. We came in expecting the same for our vacation, but to our surprise, no one was there.

Of course, I’m kidding! We were just pleasantly surprised that we didn’t encounter heavy traffic at all. In fact, the longest we had to wait in transit was at an intersection once.

Although maybe part of that was because we decided to mostly walk, since our condominium was at the city center. Even then, we didn’t witness heavy traffic, except the regular stops by stop lights.

Maybe it’s because it’s not Christmas. I have no explanation and I don’t have the energy right now to do research about the New Year’s traffic. I’ll just savor that pleasant memory and remember that for some other time.

The next time we go to Baguio, we will opt for a hotel.

We used to always stay at hotels – mostly Hotel Veniz at Abanao – whenever we were in Baguio. But since we were with three toddlers – ages 4, 3, and 1 – mama decided to get a family suite where we can all stay together. She was eyeing The Manor at Camp John Hay, but we were too late booking.

What we found was Cedar Peak Condominium at Mabini Street, General Luna, a short walk from Session Road. We had Unit 525, which had a living area, a dining area, a kitchen, a shared bathroom, and two bedrooms. Our family, mama and papa had the room with two double beds, while my siblings had the room with the bunk beds. (Our driver stayed at the living room, where there was a futon.)

We had a good time staying there BUT we all agree to opt for hotels next time, when the kids have grown up and don’t need much supervision anymore. First, my parents badly missed the breakfast buffet at the hotels. Second, we can request to make up the unit. And third, getting separate rooms get us separate bathrooms.

But anyway, that next time will probably be three years from now.

Enjoying New Year’s Day, I think I know now why I am not a Christmas person.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I am not a Christmas person, and talking about it with Francis while on the way to Burnham Park, realizing I enjoyed New Years, I think I understand why.

Christmas isn’t the same because we don’t get a two-week vacation. That used to be a highlight of my childhood. In grade school, Christmas meant going back to Nueva Ecija to be with my family. In high school, it meant staying at home, but staying at home with my siblings. In college, like in grade school, Christmas meant going home. Now that I’m working, there are no Christmas breaks anymore.

In contrast, New Year’s Day always signalled going back to school, so I wasn’t really dragging my feet back to my pre-Christmas mode. It meant fresh starts, so I’ve always felt energenic in the New Year.

In New Year, there is no pressure to give gifts. Also, there is no pressure to pretend you’re happy.

Having said that, that’s how we spent our New Year. It was a great start and I pray we continue the feeling for the rest of 2023.

Happy New Year!

Sprout’s 3D2N Baguio Itinerary

Day 1

7:00 am – Departure from San Jose City, Nueva Ecija

9:00 am – Stop at Manaoag Church

1:00 pm – Arrival at Baguio City. Lunch

3:00 pm – Arrival at Cedar Peak Condotel

Get settled and rest

Day 2

10:00 am – Leave for Christmas Village

10:30 am – Christmas Village

12:00 nn – Travel to Camp John Hay

1:00 pm – Lunch at Camp John Hay. Have fun!

4:00 pm – Short stop at Wright Park

4:30 pm – Back to Cedar Peak

Day 3

8:00 am – Burnham Park

11:00 am – Check out

12:00 nn – Drive thru

12:30 pm – Arrival at BSU Strawberry Farms

1:30 pm – Departure from Baguio

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