Fort Del Pilar, Philippine Military Academy
The PMA’s sprawling training institution is found in Loakan, downtown Baguio City. I was busy at work during the day so father and son bonded over tanks, cannons, and the cool summer Baguio breeze. They went on a weekday, so there was no parade. The little boy nevertheless had a lot of fun just exploring the outdoors. The site is open at daytime, 7 days a week.
It isn’t our first time in Baguio City, so we decided to pass by places we’ve never been to before. On our list: two places recently put on the tourism map by a popular soap opera and an indie movie. First up:
Sitio Pungayan aka Sitio La Presa
Sitio La Presa doesn’t exist. It is a fictional place created for ABS CBN’s primetime teleserye, Forevermore. I am a self-confessed Enrique Gil fan, but I’ve never truly followed the soap. Having a 2-year old means regulated screen time at home. Nevertheless, I caught enough from iwantv and YouTube to find this onscreen loveteam cute and we had a bit of time to spare before heading down to Manila, so we decided to make the trip to Tuba, Benguet, to Sitio Pungayan at the top of Mount Kabuyao, and see what the hype is all about.
I am just in awe of what mainstream TV can do. I can imagine how relatively unknown Sitio Pungayan was before Forevermore, and wow, what a bustling site it is now! We went via a private car (a 30-40 minute ride from the city proper), although I heard you can hire a cab or get a jeepney ride from Baguio City to get there. I am busy at the back of the car with my baby so I’m not gonna pretend to know how we got there. And anyway, we used Waze, mostly, and we got there without getting lost, so make the most of the technology.
3 Things you should know before going to Sitio La Presa:
- Bring cash. You will get charged every bit of the way, from a P25 per head environmental fee (Drivers are free. I believe expats get charged double. Forgot to take a photo of the signage.) to the P20 per head entrance fee to Agnes’s house, to water, food, and anything even remotely related to Forevermore or Agnes. Seriously, there was taho ni Agnes, tsinelas ni Agnes, sombrero ni Agnes, and a whole lot of other things! I am sure fans will want souvenir items, so cash is definitely a must have. There are mugs, printed shirts, and ref magnets, all with the words La Presa or photos of the show’s actors on them.
- Wear comfortable footwear and get ready for a hike! Good thing I was ready with our baby carrier, otherwise carrying our 15-kg baby would’ve been even more difficult. But still, I was obviously unprepared for I was wearing sandals, not expecting a long walk down to the house, and a hike going back. I guess it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to go there since we’re newbies to the show, and had no real connection to every minute detail, but the side trip was actually fun and this view was worth it. Wow. Is this near what the Banawe Rice Terraces look like?
- Allot time for both foot and vehicular traffic. Maraming tao, promise.
Next stop: the BenCab Museum.
BenCab, or Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, is a National Artist. Very popular among art experts and collectors, yes, but no doubt even more popular now that his museum forms part of the highest grossing Pinoy Indie film to date, That Thing Called Tadhana.
Inside are several floors of classic and contemporary Filipino art pieces, both by BenCab and other artists, and Cafe Sabel, for when you get famished from walking up and down the stairs.
Naturally, we asked where we can see the actual paintings Mace and Anthony stared at in the film. No luck. They were already sold to an unnamed collector. (I bet it was JLC!)
Note: The BenCab Museum charges a P100 entrance fee per person, P80 for students and senior citizens with valid ID. Operating Hours: T-Su, 9:00 am- 6:00 pm. Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Guided tours available.
Finally, one last photo for the road:
So, who among you have been or are planning to go to these places this summer?
NOTE: All photos are by Kaizer Photography.