Mini Vacation

Our trip to Baguio brought firsts.  
It was our first time to go with Iya and I was all set to let her enjoy.   When we got there we immediately went to our favorite restaurant, Forest House.  To be honest, I am perfectly fine with this being the highlight of my trip because this is why I wanted to go for the longest time.  I am content to just eat dessert and bask in the ambiance.  My brother kept on posting pictures of his food last summer and I kept seeing it in my instagram feed.  I said to myself if he posts another one without me I would turn to a darker shade of green with envy!
Iya and I shared the herb chicken pilaf and as usual I was not able to take a picture.  It was delicious for a healthy meal.  I have always loved the taste of chicken with rosemary.  For dessert I ordered Strawberry Heston and brewed coffee.  It was my first time to try my brother’s favorite and it reminded me of speculoos cookie butter.  It’s made of fresh strawberries with cream mixed with nutmeg and cinnamon.  I also tasted their chocolate cake that is a mix between mousse and dense chiffon.  It truly tastes like heaven!

Photo opportunity with the cozy lobby.

I did not have time to take pictures of what we ordered, except dessert, but I did have time to take pictures of the interiors.  A perfect example of where my priorities lie.
That afternoon we took a nap in the hotel.  It was our first time to try Microtel.  It was ok; the rooms are modern and clean.  It has a bay window so more extra space.  Iya drew her favorites as always.  The house she gave to my cousin as a wedding gift.

That night, we went to Nanay’s favorite place — SM! and we ate in Tatay and Henry’s favorite restaurant — Shabu shabu! I swear we went all the way just to go there.  
The following day was reserved for my mom’s god daughter’s wedding in La Trinidad.  It was our first time to attend a wedding from the north.  It’s really the real reason why we were there.  The bride and I last saw each other when we were still in gradeschool and we were fortunate to see her get married!  From what I remember, the groom is pure Igorot so it was interesting to see the wedding interspersed with local traditions. The program, since they are Christians, was similar to the traditional church wedding but the ladies wore their traditional weaved costume.  After the wedding we were talking in the car about the groom saying he initially wanted to save up big time before getting married.  We were indifferent because that’s what every groom says anyways.  When we got to the reception area, which was a school gymnasium, we were shocked to see the number of people present.  There were people occupying the bleachers! We were wondering if there is a show?! But no, they are all guests. And that’s not all, there is a morning and an afternoon set so what we saw was only fifty percent of the attendees.  The wedding reception was a whole day thing. So we looked at each other and said “Tama nga.. Kailangan nga magipon.”

Wedding pictures.  The head shots were courtesy of Iya.

Dance pictures and the bleachers

I then remembered what I read about Ifugao/ Igorot weddings that celebrations are always a community event.  The family as a core unit is not just your immediate family but your community. Therefore in weddings, you are marrying to be part of and with the whole community.  There were dancing at the beginning of the reception as a sign of welcome, and another one at the end of the meal to say thank you.  I was disappointed though because we did not get to see men in their “bahag”.. (what? traditional dance di ba?).
We were supposed to have our first time to pick strawberries which was just across the reception area, but it was off season.  It’s ok though, we have another reason to go back this year.  So that afternoon Iya played with Gabriel, Henry’s boss’s kid.  We strolled in The Manor in John Hay, which was also a first because this was not yet built the last time we went.  The following day, all of us tried horseback riding! It was scary for someone who’s not comfortable with horses.  I kept on imagining falling off than staying on.   Iya, on the other hand, was asking to ride a carriage instead of a horse.  

The Manor garden/ courtyard.  The U-shaped building houses the units.

Our white princess horse

I felt “bitin” while we were going down.  I wanted the trip longer because we were not able to go to the trails, to Burnham park, to watching live jazz bands, and to walk along session road among other things.  It was raining every afternoon.  But up until the end of the trip, we still got a first when we drove through a thick fog.  I swear zero visibility.  Henry had to have someone in front so he could follow the tail lights.  Luckily we also have our maps so we were aware of the twists and turns. I told Iya “we are inside a cloud that’s why everything is so white.”

Fog at the side.  It was worse when viewed in front.
Baguio has always been one of my favorite places and gave me good memories when I was a teenager.  It reminds me of family outings and Tatay’s marathon days; of friends and activities in school; of getting a sweet letter from a crush; of being introduced to someone new and all the insecurities that went along with it.  Now it has added another thing — rediscovery with our new family.


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