Tuesday, February 14, 2012


*** First published in Animal Scene Magazine issue of January 2011

With its cool atmosphere, it is no wonder that Baguio is the favorite vacation place of Epoy, our pekingese who is an aircon addict. So for the 3rd time, we brought along our dogs for a cooling off vacation to the city of pines.

Aside from eating and drinking implements, we had to make sure that we brought along Epoy’s prescription diet, vitamins and clothes. A day before leaving, we also brought our dogs to the salon for grooming.
Epoy on the seat, Tisoy on the floor of the van

In the rented van, Epoy was beside us on the seat while Tisoy, our mixed spitz, was quite comfortable on the floor with his sleeping mat. We notice that Epoy is a sleeper during trips while Tisoy stays awake all the time as if observing the route.

It’s a good thing our dogs are used to travelling so they can control the call of nature. Halfway in the trip, we stopped by Rod Ongpauco’s Isdaan Restaurant in Tarlac where we ate a delectable breakfast.

After the pictorial with the statues and other displays, we fed our dogs while the kids were feeding the fishes in the big pond. The Isdaan’s spacious parking lot also served as comfort room of Epoy and Tisoy.
Breakfast at the Isdaan resto in Tarlac

After another short stop in La Union, we were on our way up the zigzag portion. This time, we had to put Tisoy on the van’s seat so he could see the scenery, that is to prevent him from feeling nauseous due to the abrupt movements of the van.

Upon arriving in Baguio, a tourist would easily notice the congestion because of the vehicle coding system being enforced. However, congestion means people and people means business.

The cool air is still refreshing like before although the scent of pine tree had become elusive now. The previously green scenery is now dotted with unsightly houses even in the mountainsides. Vendors of all types abound in the main roads.

After unloading our things in the vacation house, off we went to Camp John Hay. Despite the mild shower, we enjoyed the cool air and the clean surroundings. Tisoy and Epoy enjoyed strolling on the grassy areas.
Golfers pose with Tisoy

The kids played a round of mini-golf. Tisoy had been a good mascot by accompanying the players for the whole game of 18 holes. But Epoy, with his small feet, had to stay in the bench under the shade of a tree.

We’re glad that the Brother’s Burger house inside the camp allowed our pets inside to share the french fries. Of course, we brought along dog food and drinking water while we were savoring the broiled burgers.

Sampling the souvenir items in Mine’s View is still the same experience. Or so I thought. There was a St. Bernard dog posing for a pictorial for 20 pesos per shot. A few meters away, there’s a bargain for 25 pesos having 2 St. Bernard dogs as background.

Right beside the Mine’s View deck, there were horses and some Igorots in their native attire, offering poses for photographs at 10 pesos per shot. It’s pathetic to think that the natives themselves are the ones degrading their heritage.
Epoy in a Mine's View store

In all our trips to Baguio, we make it a point to pass by Good Shepherd to buy the authentic strawberry jam and halayang ube. The place also has a good view of the mountains sans the horses and fake Igorots.

Following our tradition of steak dinner, we went to the Sizzling Plate near Legarda because the one in Session Road was always filled up. Our dogs had to stay in the van although we had a take out for their dinner.

At night in the house, the dogs savored the wooden floors while the terrace served as their toilet. Epoy appeared relaxed but Tisoy was showing agitation when he is in the living room.
Warming up by the fireplace with Ninang

On the second night of our stay, when Tisoy showed that he really preferred the bedroom, we surmised that perhaps Tisoy has psychic powers and that he was able to see a ghost of something in the living room.

Although our dogs are used to airconditioning, the Baguio climate is different. So for added protection, aside from the sleeping mat and the clothes, we brought a woolen blanket for Tisoy and Epoy.

Early in the morning, the 2 dogs were restless because of the cold. Ninang had to cuddle both Tisoy and Epoy while I lit the firewood in the fireplace.
A cool stroll in Burnham Park

After breakfast, we held a pictorial in the Mansion. The majesty of the place was ruined by the countless vendors with their baskets of orange and lanzones. Any tourist would be turned off by the pesterings of those vendors.

The same scenario of annoying vendors would be seen in Burnham Park, selling food and souvenir items. Grabbing the opportunity for a short nap in the van, I was awakened by the incessant knocking of an old woman selling pinipig.

Accompanied by our dogs, the kids enjoyed biking. They also went skating and later took a boat ride while Epoy and Tisoy strolled along the grassy paths of the Burnham Park.
Another pictorial by the Mansion

For our last lunch before leaving for home, we were thankful that our pets were allowed inside Dencio’s (in Camp John Hay). Tisoy was very delighted with the crispy fried tilapia while Epoy had his usual prescribed dog food.

Leaving Baguio always gives us the excitement of seeing our home again, of taking a cold shower or simply staying in our airconditioned living room. Mind you, there’s no ghost or anything unusual in our living room.