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Baguio as melting pot of flavors

There was a time when Cordilleran cuisine was unheard of in mainstream restaurants, saying the food selection of the highlands was too bland and gory to highlight with the staple pinikpikan and blood sausages not appetizing.


Today, the Summer Capital has become a food haven of sorts from the fusion of Cordilleran provinces which champions a gastronomic experience like no other, with flavors of Apayao, Ifugao, the Mountain Province, Benguet and Kalinga coming together to from the makings of a unique cuisine. Department of Tourism regional director Venus Tan has spearheaded efforts to put the Cordilleran cuisine into the limelight. “These are exciting times for Cordillera Gastronomy. Still in its experimental stages vis à vis other regional cuisine who have gone far in their acceptance both here and abroad.

We nonetheless are confident that the next trendy cuisine will be Cordilleran,” said Tan. Tan added the Baguio is gaining ground on putting premium to Cordillera cuisine. “Efforts are paying off slowly a noticeable appreciation of traditional cuisine and traditional ingredients like the pinikpikan and the etag have gained acceptance by local chefs, gourmet magazines and gastronomy enthusiasts,” Tan continued.

“All these as a result of DOT CAR's initiative to bring top restaurant chefs from Manila and Baguio to study and experience firsthand how traditional dishes are prepared and cooked directly in the areas where these dishes originated.” Tan said the next step to bring all these chefs back and do hands on interactive demonstration cooking of techniques and presentations of stylized dishes without totally deviating from the traditional integrity of Cordillera cuisine.

For the academe, University of the Cordilleras took on the challenge to infuse local cuisine into the mainstream packaged in the Locavore Loca festival which is tagged to be a journey to the flavors of the region dubbed “Taste your way around the Cordilleras.”

A locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. The school event was inspired by community markets which goes beyond the usual weekend market favorites, featuring casual snacks to heirloom recipes. The UC CHTM Locavore Loca Festival has engaged students to learn and apply what are the tools required in running such event like the basic planning, organizing and managing.

“The students were challenged with the dishes, not veering away from tradition, they were able to innovate, introducing now a new gastronomic panorama of what the Cordillera has to offer,” Professor Charlene Macalalag said. During the festival food ranged from braised beef shanks with pinuneg, finished in savory chocolate sauce, kiniing pork braised with peppered strawberry reduction over dirty mashed potatoes, a confit of pinikpikan with tomato fondue over pandesal crostini, sinursur-style river tilapia with a kamote fritter and kiniing pork marinated tomatoes. Dean Laarni Andam of the University of the Cordilleras College of Hospitality And Tourism Management said the local cuisine is a manifestation of the preservation of culture.

Andam said local cuisine needs no enhancement but what the industry can do is to take inspiration from the cooking methods, ingredients and flavors to create a dish which will be in homage to the native dishes. The UC - CHTM plans to hold the locavore local annually.

By Maria Elena Catajan @sunstaronline


Baguio Tourist Attractions

Marker of the Philippine Commission's First Session in Baguio

This is the site of the building where the members of the Philippine Commission met from April 22 to June 11, 1904 and officially initiated the use of Baguio as the Philippine Summer Capital. The Commission was composed of Governor General Luke Wright, president, and Commissioners Henry Ide, Dean C. Worcester, T Padre Tavera, Benito Legarda, Jose de Luzuriaga, James Smith and Cameron Forbes.

Kennon Road and its Builder

Tourist-Spots-in-BaguioNamed after Col. Lyman W. Kennon, who was the final builder of the famous Benguet road, with the help of the industrious Cordillerans and foreign workers. Kennon road is the shortest and the most scenic highway linking Baguio and the lowlands. The lion's head can be found along the way. Final construction of this road was finished in 1903. Col. L. Kennon first ascended to Baguio in 1905. Of the original workers, the Igorots and Japanese were admired for their trustworthiness and willingness to work. Kennon was closed to traffic after the July 16, 1990 earthquake. It is now open to light vehicles only.

Diplomat Hotel on Dominican Hill

diplomatIn May 1911, the councils of the Province of the Dominican Order voted to construct a vacation house in Baguio on a 17-hectare property they had acquired when the American authorities were encouraging people to come here. Actual work started in 1913 under Fr. Roque Ruano and the building was inaugurated on May 23, 1925. To take advantage of the tax exemptions a school called Collegio del Santissimo Rosario was opened in June 1915 but due to the very small enrollment the school closed in 1917, reverting the building to the original vacation house. During WWII refugees first occupied it. Later the Japanese Army Liberation Forces had to bomb out the refugees from the buildings. The five hits left very extensive damage and for a time it was left unrepaired. Reconstruction was started in 1947 and completed in 1948 with most of its pre-war grandeur and beauty restored. In 1973, Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired ownership, remodeled the interior into a 33-bedroom hotel with modern facilities, but retained the unique and distinct personality of the Dominican Hill. In the 80's the hotel ceased operations due to the death of one of its majority stockholders. Plans are underway to develop this historical religious landmark into a tourist resort.

Philippine Military Academy

PMAThe Philippine Commission promulgated Act No. 175, which became the basis for the creation of the Philippine Constabulary in August 8, 1905. The school for the officers of the constabulary was first located in Sta. Lucia Barracks in Manila. Later in 1908, it was relocated in Baguio on the site known as Constabulary Hill later renamed Camp Henry T. Allen, in honor of the first chief of the Philippine Constabulary. With the passage of the Jones Law, the school was later changed to "Academy for Officers of the Philippine Constabulary" with a two-year curriculum. In 1908, the course was raised to collegiate level and later lengthened to three years with class 1938 as having the last graduates of that course. When the commonwealth government was established in 1935, the Philippine Military Academy was created in place of the Philippine Constabulary Academy. Under the National Defense Act, the PMA was authorized to maintain cadet strength of 350. Because of increased population, the academy transferred to Teachers Camp in June 1936 where it remained until WWII broke out. After the war the PMA headquarters was temporarily relocated at Camp Murphy and later at Alabang, while Camp Allen was being rehabilitated. Since May 1950 the Philippine Military Academy has found its permanent home at Fort del Pilar, Loakan, Baguio City.

The Mansion

The-Mansion-Baguio-CityThis imposing and majestic mansion has a long list of Filipino Presidents and American governor-generals. It has elegantly structured building and guesthouse. Its gate is patterned after that of London's Buckingham Palace. The Mansion has also been the site of several international conferences and a working office of the President of the Philippines during his visits to the City.

Camp John Hay

camp-john-hay-amphitheaterThis former American recreational facility is currently undergoing development as a world class resort. As of March 27, 1999, the golf course was completed and is now open, The skating rink, picnic area, and the mini golf course at the Scout Hill area are likewise open.

Asin Hot Spring

Located 16 kilometers northwest of Baguio, the resort's main feature is a swimming pool surrounded by thermal springs, lush vegetation and several hanging bridges. It is an ideal respite. This is now eyed to be redeveloped into a tourism resort along with the adjoining tourist attractions of Tuba and Baguio.

Bell Church

The-Bell-Church-of-Baguio-CityThis cluster of temples is located on the border of Baguio City and Trinidad Valley. Its exotic oriental architecture, pagodas roof, ornate gateway, dragon ornaments and Buddha - guarded windows gaze from atop a hill. The Bell Temple priest practices a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. One may even try having his fortune told.

Burnham Park

Burnham-Park-BaguioIt is the oldest of all Baguio parks. One can unwind from the tension of the day-to-day bustle by biking, skating or simply reflecting on the day's experiences amid a soothing garden backdrop of colorful flowers. It is thickly wooded and is a great place to have picnics and concerts. There are tennis and basketball courts, a football field, athletic oval and an orchidarium.

Mines View Park

Mines-View-Park-Baguio-CityAppropriately named for its breathtaking view of Benguet's mountain ranges where gold, silver and other ores were once quarried. There are souvenir shops around the park offering such items as woodcarvings, woven cloth, ashtrays, shell products and other curio items.

Wright Park

It is sometimes mistakenly called "Ride Park" by some that identify this pine tree park reserve for kiddy horse rides. A long stairway leads to the "Pool of the Pines", a 100 meter long pool of water lined on both sides by the famous Baguio towering pine.