Baguio City: DIY Solo Trip + That Thing Called Tadhana Tour

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I never had this kind of courage until I boarded a flight to Luzon as a first time solo traveler. There are obviously a lot of uncertainties but the moment I got there, everything fell into place automatically. The feeling was liberating plus I got to enjoy what my heart wanted and I didn’t give a damn about what the world would say.

After the said trip, I got a lot of questions about my thought process in traveling alone since this is kind of an unusual thing for me to do and how I prepared myself for this. Some were even questioning how I managed to make everything seem easy with lots of unforgettable memories.

I am probably not in the position to discuss but I believe I am qualified to share my story.

Days before my flight, I was already searching across the internet looking for an ideal itinerary to follow like the must visit places, food to try, and things to do. In fact, I modified some information so it would suit my liking. Since I am a bit tech savvy and wanted assurance that I won’t get lost, I saved an offline version of Baguio’s map via the Google Maps app.

In regard to the clothes I wore, I wanted my trip to be light and easy. I actually had a big luggage with me from Davao to Clark but I left it at a friend’s house in Tarlac so I can just bring a backpack in Baguio. During the whole trip, I brought two (2) pants, four (4) tops, one (1) jacket, five (5) undies and four (4) pairs of socks only. I did not think much of what to wear because I didn’t want to stress myself over a certain style that I want to project.

Despite the readiness I implemented on myself, I ended up not following my list and just went out and went free. I realized that while it’s good to have your own itinerary it is more okay if you don’t have any. And the great thing about not having a file ready schedule and company is that the idea of being liberated and not being forced to go to a certain spot when you don’t feel like it.

The fun part of it is that you don’t know what the next day will bring and after some time you get to stop and think about it. There were instances that I only observed the flow of the people; where they were heading and then just followed them; and when I look back, I realize that it had led me to the right places. In fact, I was able to visit the famed Session Road and Baguio’s Night Market because of that simple decision.

There were times when things didn’t go my way, hence I just had to take full responsibility for my decision and learned from it. Besides, it was my first time. So if the magic of being bold and free no longer worked, at least I had my back up plan to support me.

During my first day, since Burnham Park was the nearest tourist spot to the house I rented which was literally only a 3 to 5 minute walk away, I decided to roam around.  And after minutes of strolling, it started to rain and I got stuck. That was the time when I had to decide to think of other ways to spend the rest of Day 1.

Day 1: That Thing Called Tadhana Tour

Despite the heavy rain in Baguio, I still got to experience this beautiful destination. But what is one to do on a gloomy afternoon in Baguio?

Well, while I was waiting for the rain to settle down or at least for it to become bearable, I felt an urge to look for the place where a famous movie was shot in Baguio and attempted to relive the experience – then I came across Antoinette Jadaone's That Thing Called Tadhana starring Angelica Panganiban (Mace) and JM De Guzman (Anthony).

I was not soul-searching nor was I on a whim to recover from a broken heart, I just want to replicate their spontaneous trip to Baguio. Visiting the key locations in the film like the Cafe by the Ruins, Session Road, Bohemian Café, and BenCab Museum.

So basically Day 1 was spent visiting the sites from the movie that took place in Baguio except for BenCab Museum since it is on the other side of the city but still I was able to visit the next day.

Cafe by the Ruins

There are two branches of Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio City but I visited the Shuntug branch since it was nearest to my place, just a stone's throw away. Cafe by the Ruins is one of the famous restos in Baguio and this was where the characters had breakfast with coffee while discussing Mace’s short story.

Since I visited the place at night time and I was a bit hungry, instead of ordering an all-day breakfast meal, I ordered their bestselling Pinikpikan which is a chicken soup dish from the mountains of Cordillera with etag (Salted Pork) and ginger; then paired with famous Rizal’s Tsokolate-e, a hot carabao milk beverage blended with chocolate. That’s quite a pretty heavy meal.

Cafe by the Ruins may be a bit pricey but truly worth the try.

Session Road

Another frame from the film was shot on Session Road that went to deliver a throbbing realization about love and life that is so profound but silently executed before Mace and Anthony headed back to Manila. It was one of my favourite heart-breaking scenes as the two characters were set to part ways soon.

In spite of how dramatic it was presented in the film, in reality the place actually depicts the vibrant life of the locals. Both strips of the Session Road offer some chill out action of beautiful night lights, street performers, and a bunch of food stops.

Bohemian Café

Walking along Session Road, I spotted another film location right at the corner of Lower Assumption Road that features live acoustic bands and local musicians. This was where Mace and Anthony had a nightcap after a relaxing massage at North Haven Spa.

Bohemian Café gained popularity as a hip go-to place during weekend nights. Despite the cold weather, I ordered three (3) below zero beers, then posed for a photo at the famous road railing right in front of the bar to relive that deep and painful conversation between the characters.

BenCab Museum

On the good side of it, it is so nice to know how a certain movie could influence the youth of today and even after three (3) years of being shown in cinemas, BenCab Museum is still receiving a massive of turnout of tourists visiting the place. And then there was me, fidgeting like crazy because of too much excitement even though I knew that the painting in the film was no longer on display.

But with my overacting aside, I was enthralled with all the contemporary, abstract, and modern artworks. Enchanted even at how stunning the paintings were and mesmerized by the abundance of tribal artifacts they were able to preserve through time.

Apart from the delicate works of art and old authentic Baguio experience they housed, the location offers a wonderful view from the art center overlooking the exquisitely landscaped garden. 

One thing I also realized during my solo travel was the struggle of taking a photo of oneself with no one to click the capture button. So I had to request random strangers to spare me a few seconds of their time to snap me a photo or two. That was pretty awkward actually and challenging at the same time.

So that’s it for my Day 1 in Baguio. Thank you for reading. I’ll be posting my Day 2 soon. Cheers!

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