Travel along Halsema Highway towards the province of Benguet, the last leg of our journey. At Kilometer 50 in Bayangan, we stop and gaze at the rows upon rows of terraces planted with vegetables. From our lofty height of 7,400 feet, the view is as stunning as the rice terraces of Banaue. The striking
contrast of colors - robust green and furrowed brown earth, is a sight worthy of an artist’s canvas. Notice the cable cars, a simple tram system that is used to transport the vegetables from the terraces below and on to the highway, another product of the Igorots’ resourcefulness.
Beyond the vegetable fields is La Trinidad, the capital town of the province. If Benguet is known as the ‘Salad Bowl of the Philippines’, La Trinidad is the ‘Strawberry Fields of the Philippines.’ It is here where a farm located just minutes away from Baguio City provides its visitors with the experience of harvesting their own berries for a fee, and a strawberry festival is being held annually.
Travel past La Trinidad, until we enter Baguio City, the only city of Benguet. Baguio was first developed by the Americans as their ‘rest and recreation’ city in the 1900s. Because of its scenic location and healthy climate, it has long since become the country’s ‘Summer Capital’. A tour of this city showcases many of its parks and gardens that are abundant with flowers and pine trees, and pleasant hiking trails. Drive by Camp John Hay, a former U.S. military recreation camp which also features a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, Wright Park, which has a riding field where one can rent a horse and ride around a track or follow specific trails, the Mansion House which is the summer residence of the President of the Philippines, and Mines View Park where you can enjoy a fine view of the surrounding hills. Roll on towards the city proper, catch a glimpse of the Baguio Cathedral that sits atop Mount of Mary Hill, and go past Burnham Park which has an orchidarium, a boating lake, a parade ground, and several kiosks and restaurants.
Finally, cap the day’s tour with a visit to the Public Market, one of the most colorful marketplaces in the country. This is where the mountain people come to buy and sell. There are sections selling meat, fish, fruit and fresh vegetables; other sections offer rice, fresh tobacco, food preserves, shoes and clothes. You will also find native handicrafts, textiles, bag, brooms, blankets and woodcarving.
Proceed to EL CIELITO INN (or similar). Check in and overnight.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
El Cielito Inn or similar