Sunday, 29 July 2018

Baguio And The Monsoon Rains

Baguio And The Monsoon Rains

           Hard and drenching. But the monsoon rains did not stop us and by 7 a.m., we were exiting at Pozzorubio in Pangasinan, the farthest tollgate of the TPLEX. Kennon Road was closed and we took the wider Marcos Highway with its steep inclines made harder by thick fog that restricted our visibility. At the Green Valley area, approaching the city proper, traffic was moving at a snail's pace.

           Anticipating a high vehicle density at Legarda Road and Kisad, we decided to drive southeast by way of Military Cut-Off and South Drive. With our hotel check-in time still a few hours away, sight seeing was the order of the day. The horses were wet and out in the rain at Wright Park as there was no run-in shed. The stalls offering ethnic costumes for pictorials were not crowded. Here one could be an Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Isneg, Kalinga or Bontok. Even with intermittent rains, Mansion House had tourists crowding the main gate and taking photos. At the view deck of Mines View Park, thick, low clouds blocked the sight of the mining exploration sites that were active during the time of the Americans.

           At Outlook Drive, which is the enclave of the rich and famous, we stopped to do some routine check up. An eatery by the side of the road beckoned. And we could not resist. For Decades Fusion Restaurant, located on a ridge, has an ambiance no longer easy to find in the City of Pines. With varnished, hardwood tables and chairs, the main dining area provides a good view of tall Benguet Pines. The place exudes the Old Baguio. A fireplace, cage-like dining table, full bar and old-style lighting make the interior a cozy one.

           Decades resto serves good food. A standout is Strawberry Glazed Ribs with Lettuce and Onions. The meat is tender. Another excellent dish is the Beef Shank Steak with Gravy, Baguio Beans and Carrots. Waiting time for food to be served is about 20 minutes. Waiters are extra attentive to customers' needs. At Decades, it is fine dining without being expensive. Next time, you need not drive to downtown Baguio where traffic is horrific most of the time. Simply drive to Decades at Outlook Drive, take a table by the window, place your orders and relax. Let Decades' staff do the rest for you.

- Konted

Decades Fusion Restaurant's main dining area

Good ambiance at Decades

View of Benguet Pines from the dining area. At this time of the year, it is often foggy.

Cage-like dining area

Strawberry Glazed Ribs with Lettuce and Onions

Grilled Pork Belly with Lettuce and Onions

Beef Shank Steak with Gravy, Baguio Beans and Carrots

Salmon with Aligue, Vegetable Salad and Red Rice

Fine dining at Decades

Decades' Full Bar

Too early for a drink?

Another group picture at the bar

Baguio is Konted's 2nd home

At the balcony facing the road

Where to dine al fresco

Baguio flower at Decades' front garden

Foggy Outlook Drive

Decades offers yummy food, fine service and good ambiance. Time to try it.

Monday, 23 July 2018

The Haunted Ruins Of Dominican Hill

The Haunted Ruins Of Dominican Hill

          There is that eerie silence when one steps inside the old structure. The hallways are bare with walls in fading, dirty white. There are spots that look like blood stains. Rain water occasionally drops on the floor, forming puddles. Most windows are rectangular; others have arch-like shape. The inner courtyard, with ornamental plants visible and moss sticking to the walls, has, for its center piece, an old fountain with water gently flowing. And as one makes his way to the upper level through a narrow, old staircase, the creepiness increases.

          Located at the highest point of Dominican Hill, the place used to be a vacation house of the Dominican Fathers during the American Regime. When World War II broke out, civilians took refuge at what seemed to be a safe place. But Japanese troops forcibly occupied it until 1945 when the American Forces bombed the place to begin the liberation of Baguio and the Cordilleras. The area, thickly forested with Benguet Pines, gained prominence in the 70s when psychic healer Tony Agpaoa turned it into what was then popularly known as Diplomat Hotel. But with his untimely death a few years after, it was abandoned and remained idle. The City Government of Baguio now owns the wide area atop Dominican Hill.

          Old folks tell stories of ghost sightings, of wailings presumably from victims of Japanese atrocities, of screeches said to be from the spirit of Japanese soldiers who didn't make it back to their homeland, of moans from Agpaoa's patients who breathed their last at the numerous rooms of the old hotel. These stories all the more make the place mysterious and scary.

          Today, the old haunted house at Dominican Hill is one of Baguio's top tourist attractions. Visitors, from near and far, come in droves to see for themselves what others before them have experienced. Paranormal believers, as well as skeptics, make their own observations to further prove their point. Some photography enthusiasts, using SLR or digicam, have made the 17-hectare city government property their training ground. Admission is free and with ample parking slots.

- Konted

The old structure as seen from the main gate

Left flank of the historic structure at Dominican Hill in Baguio City

Right flank

Inner courtyard

Old fountain with water gently flowing

Two guests waiting for any possible ghost sighting

At the courtyard

View of the courtyard from the 2nd level

There is that eerie feeling of being watched.

Nice view from the top

The Ten Commandments tablet. It is said to be the biggest stone tablet in the world.

Dominican Hill is thickly forested with pine trees.

Beautiful flowers abound in the area

Dominican Hill is a nice place to photo shoot.

Souvenir photo with the haunted ruins in background

Part of the 17 hectare property of the City Government of Baguio

Another souvenir shot

The place is now officially called Heritage and Nature Park.

Houses at Dominican Hill near the haunted ruins

Road leading to what was then known as Diplomat Hotel. It is the highest point of Dominican Hill.