Sunday, 13 December 2015

Traversing Kennon Road On A Friday Morning

Traversing Kennon Road On A Friday Morning

         By 8:30 a.m., we were at Camp One in Saitan, Rosario, La Union. Driving a Toyota Vios, I pulled off to the side of the national road that leads to Baguio City. I was counting the numerous toll fees paid from the entrance at Mindanao Avenue to the ultimate exit point in Urdaneta, Pangasinan: Mindanao Ave Toll Booth - P45; NLEX Dao Exit - P173; SCTEX Exit-P104; Tarlac-Pangasinan Expressway(Urdaneta Exit) -P216; Grand Total - P538. Multiply this by 2 as you will pay the same amount on your way back.

         At exactly 8:45 a.m., when the sun was shining bright and with its rays bouncing off the welcome landmark of Benguet Province, we began our assault of Kennon Road. There were not too many vehicles that Friday morning. One portion of the road, before reaching Twin Peaks, was wet as water was cascading down the wall of the mountain that was too close to the road. Clearly seen were safety barriers and warning signages at every dangerous cliff and bend.

         At Camp 6, it was all too quiet at what used to be mining sites of Black Mountain Inc. and Benguet Exploration as these two companies had ceased operations many years back. Houses of ex-miners have remained close to the road or near the mountain slope. About 500 meters away, vehicles were making a brief stopover at the area near the famed Lion's Head. Visitors were taking souvenir shots.

         Right after the Lion's Head, I shifted to low gear as I was about to negotiate a very steep ascent which was followed by a narrow, sharp curve. Normally, drivers of vehicles on the way down give way to those going up. I was given the same road courtesy. It turned out to be smooth and easy and in 10 minutes we were entering Baguio City. I pulled over again near the viewing deck, looked at the stunning view of the zigzag road, walked down the concrete stairs and made a hand salute in front of the bust of Colonel Lyman Kennon, the man credited for building Kennon Road through persistence and determination.

- Konted

The territory of Benguet Province starts here.
Kennon Road toll booth. Only light vehicles are allowed to use Kennon Road. Cars are charged P15 each. Distance of  Kennon Road from Camp One to Camp Eight is 34 kilometers.

First of several steel bridges on the way up to Baguio City

Water cascading mainly during the rainy season

Road is too close to the rocky portion of the mountain.

Kennon Road follows the course or flow of the enchanted Bued River.

Vehicles bound for the lowlands.

Do not ignore warning signs. It took several years to build Kennon Road. Many lives were lost.

Another steel bridge along Kennon Road

An overloaded jeepney on the way up to the city

Houses built on mountain slopes

The Lion's Head at Camp Six. 
View of Kennon Road from the  top

The bust of Colonel Lyman Kennon dubbed as the builder of what used to be called Benguet Road.

Distance of Baguio City from Manila is 250 kilometers. Km 250 marker is near Baguio City Hall.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Baguio City RevisitedI

Baguio City Revisited

        There were lights. And they were lights beaming from the headlamps of vehicles passing through Session Road. I was looking for neon signs of cafes, bars and restos I used to frequent in the old days. They were hangouts where one could play darts, listen to folk songs and drink a few bottles of San Miguel. Unfortunately, most of them had closed shop with fast food chains taking over. It was past 9 pm and most parts of Session Road were dimly lit. 

         The next day, I was haggling with the boatman at the man-made lagoon at Burnham Park. Burnham Park is now enclosed in steel fences. He was saying that rental fee for a flat top boat was P150 per 1/2 hour. He would do the rowing. Chewing bethel nut, he spit it out and then presented another option: Pay only P100 and ride the boat as long as you want but passengers will row. I picked the first proposal.

         Several hours later, we were at Mines View Park. This is located northeast of Baguio City with a view of the old mining quarries of Itogon. But the place has become too commercialized. On the way to the gazebo at the ridge of the park, noticeable were vendors selling food items, stalls selling souvenir knick knacks and booths offering plants and flowers. Handlers of two white horses with pink manes and pink tails were making money as visitors mounted their horses for souvenir shots. A few meters away were two St. Bernard dogs with the owners being enterprising as well. With a festive atmosphere like that, it was anything goes at Mines View Park. Anya ti kayat mo, manong?

- Konted

The Main Gate at the north section of Burnham Park facing Baguio City Hall

The Rose Garden at Burnham Park

At the Rose Garden

Daisy Marguerite Flowers 

Bust of architect Daniel Burnham who was tasked by the Americans to prepare a master plan for the development of Baguio City. The park was named after him.

The man-made lagoon at Burnham Park

The Lagoon is 8 ft. deep.
Burnham Park is the most popular park in Baguio City.

The rectangular pond at Wright Park facing The Mansion
The Mansion is just across Wright Park. It is the official residence of  the President of the Philippines in Baguio City.

Horses ar the Riding Circle at Wright Park

Young girl mounts a white horse with pink mane for a souvenir shot at Wright Park.

The gazebo at The Ridge overlooking the mining quarries of Itogon

Another white horse with pink mane and pink tail at Mines View Park. You can ride the horse for a souvenir shot for P20.

White horses with pink manes and pink tails? Only in Baguio City.

Visitors can pose with this St.Bernard dog for a fee.

Sweet Strawberries at Mines View Park
The Everlasting


Other flowers being sold at Mines View Park

Brooms for sale at Mines View Park. 

Sweet corn

Strawberry Taho

Key chains and other knick knacks

Sweaters, t-shirts,blankets, etc.
Senior highlanders in huddle at the nearby Imelda Park. You can pose with them for a fee.

At Baguio City Public Market

At Baguio City Public Market

Strawberries at Baguio City Public Market


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Craving For Bulalo

Craving For Bulalo

         Our craving for Bulalo was strong that day. Hunger plus intense desire for that Filipino dish made it a top priority that precise moment. Tender beef shanks, still clinging to the big bone, occupied a great portion of the big bowl of beef broth which was served piping hot. Wild onion leaves, cut into small portions, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper made it all the more tempting. And noticeable was a stick placed on top of the bowl used to take out the marrow.

        Serving the best Bulalo in the Philippines is Aviles Restaurant located near the foothills of the famed Mount Makiling. As you turn left at the farthest end of South Luzon Expressway, Aviles Resto is at the left side of the national road as you approach the town proper of Calamba, Laguna. Ask any bystander or trike driver, for sure he knows the exact location. Aviles has become as popular as Jose Rizal's birthplace in Calamba.

        As we were slurping the broth, which was really hot that it could burn your tongue, tawilis, skewered onto pointed bamboo sticks, were served. Tawilis is a small freshwater sardine that can be harvested only in Taal Lake in Batangas. With steaming rice and hot beef broth, the goodness of Taal's rare fish is enhanced. From time to time, pieces of beef shanks were dipped in soy sauce with kalamansi. And trying a bit of bone marrow was an experience in itself. It was a hearty meal and so good that everyone was talking about it as we continued to make the loop around Laguna de Bay.

- Konted

Aviles Resto's  Bulalo


Bulalo and Tawilis make a good pair.

Aviles Resto in Calamba, Laguna

Tawilis can be found only at Taal Lake in Batangas.