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Favorite finds In Baguio |

Sunday Lifestyle

Favorite finds In Baguio

RENDEZVOUs - Christine Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Favorite finds In Baguio
At the HARVEST Hub launch: (From left) Ria Augousti, Angel Guerrero, Mayor Benjie Magalong, Arlene Magalong, Ambassador Delia Albert, Senator Nancy Binay, Marivic del Pilat, Gladys Vergara, Marie Venus Tan, Anna Lagon.

Once you visit Baguio, you will always vow to return. Here in this favored “City of Pines,” I remember the quote of boxing legend Muhammad Ali when he said, “You don’t count the days, you make the days count.”

For many, Baguio is a sentimental haven where we have gathered priceless memories growing up. Many occasions of our precious youth have been spent here and, today more than ever, we have witnessed an immersion of its progress, culture and heritage into the fabric of our lives.

My dear friend, the indefatigable Marie Venus Tan, espouses a noble advocacy that promotes local talent to be globally competitive. Baguio is the very first city in the Philippines to be accepted and designated into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Establishing the HARVEST Creative Community HUB provides an even more meaningful support for the crafts and folk art artisans of the city and the Cordilleras. HARVEST is an acronym for Heritage and Artisanship Reimagined as a Vehicle for Economic growth Sustainability and Technology.

Mayor Benjie Magalong, with his gracious wife Arlene, said that this is a very good time for investors in the city. What better time to set up new hotels, restaurants, spas, fashion houses, farms and much more? The Mayor intimated to beauteous Mel Martinez, Riza Asa and her son Ashon from Portland that Baguio is clean, green and sustainable. Mayor Magalong envisions Baguio as a Smart City where various types of electronic methods are used to manage the Summer Capital’s assets, resources and to provide even more efficient and effective services to the public.

New attractions in Baguio include the newest, luxurious Hotel Grande located in the verdant Outlook Drive. With spectacular views of the golf course, this posh hotel features several restaurants serving authentic Chinese dimsum with the best shrimp dumpling and asado and bola-bola siopao, Japanese cuisine featuring mouthwatering salmon and more. They even have an internationally trained in-house pastry chef.

Dynamic couple Joanna and Wilson Angheng own other properties in Baguio like Newtown Plaza Hotel, Citylight Hotel and Travelite Hotel; but Hotel Grande is their newest jewel in Baguio. Wilson envisions running his hotel like a cruise ship where everything is just there, thus there is no need to leave. Located on a 1,200-square-meter property that used to be an ancestral home, they have created Hotel Grande, a 90-room hotel with choice cuisine, boasting high-tech mirrors, the most comfortable beds and linens, a heated swimming pool, cozy lounge, al fresco spaces and a convention room. They also have huge elevators and a spacious basement parking lot for 70 cars.

Their giant Christmas tree in the middle of the lobby was created by gracious lady Loly Gomez who founded Philippine Treasures, a 30-year-old company based in Baguio that sells the most spectacular Christmas decorations here and abroad all year round. I felt like I was transported to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole when I visited her huge store near Hotel Grande.

Tita Loly Gomez, the lovely owner of Philippine Treasures, an all-year-round Christmas store.

Another choice place to stay is One V Hotel and Apartel near Burnham Park, where you can enjoy cooking in their spacious suites replete with all the modern amenities. We dined with lovely couple Angie and Michael del Rosario, Divine and Buddy Recio at their Quoted Café and savored their delicious longganisa pizza, tender ribs, french toast and their specialty coffees and brews. Quoted Cafe was conceptualized and is operated by siblings Jessica and David del Rosario.

The del Rosario clan of Baguio also owns the seven-decade-old Sunshine Bakery that serves the best raisin bread in Baguio with plentiful plump raisins that stays moist for a long time. Another favorite is their very soft rolls with cranberry cream cheese, among other goodies. Michael and Angie are both writers of inspirational books, especially for their children, and they believe the greatest treasure is not wealth but love.

Another favorite find in the Atrium Garden, DMCI Homes Outlook Ridge Residences along V. De Los Reyes St. and Outlook Drive is the newly opened Lime and Basil Thai Restaurant Baguio City. Behind the inspiring story of this amazing restaurant are dynamic couples who’ve made each success possible: chefs Sig and Orvin Lara Sayos, and Neri Naig and Chito Miranda. Together with Nica and Edmark Bustos, this is the same illustrious group of restaurateurs who are also behind Lime and Basil in Alfonso, Cavite, Amare restaurants and the newly opened Breakfast and Beyond in Tagaytay.

Dining here made us feel transported to Bangkok in Thailand. Try their dishes like Tod Mun Pla (finely minced pan-fried fish patty served with sweet cucumber relish chili sauce); fragrant fried rice with a hint of turmeric, sautéed with scrambled eggs, cashew nuts, with juicy shrimp or chicken served in a pineapple shell; perfectly seasoned Phad Thai with tofu, shrimp, and sprouts; Yam Som-O (dressed in a hot, sour, salty sweet sauce); pomelo salad with coconut flakes, shrimp, chili flakes, lime juice, peanuts, cilantro. Savor their Pla Mued Tod, crunchy squid fried to perfection served with a tangy syrupy sauce. For that sweet ending, have their sticky rice drizzled with thick coconut milk with sweet yellow mango. Perfectly balanced and blended flavors of Thai cuisine coupled with their friendly and attentive service makes each meal here even more special.

Another reimagined attraction is the Botanical Gardens currently celebrating “Christmas around the world.” This haven has always been a testament to the beauty of nature and man’s innovative spirit.

Driving down the sloping landscape of Kennon Road, I took a lasting look behind at the city of our precious youth. Indeed, once you visit Baguio, you will always return here where you don’t count the days but rather make the days count.

The authentic pineapple rice and other dishes of Lime and Basil Thai Restaurant Baguio City.

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For more information, call Hotel Grande Baguio at 09071895627 or 09927638880; for Lime and Basil Baguio call (0967)2701737; for bread products at Sunshine Supermarket, call 09175064887.

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