We picture our journey on the road to be perfect instead we find ourselves lost in a dangerous terrain. We want shortcuts. There is nothing wrong with desiring safety, but to think that each ride is easier and hassle-free may not be true.
Every detour, every road blocked, every pause, and every twists and turns has something to teach us.
At such times it is more important to examine the truth that learning takes forever.
This is true with our experience when we had our family vacation at the City of Pines. We stayed 3 days at Baguio City to explore their panoramic views, fascinating pine trees, and learn about their rich cultural heritage. Baguio is one of the premier tourist destination in the country with its cool climate hence its name, “Summer Capital of the Philippines.”
I APPRECIATE God’s works in our family vacation. It is everywhere and it is marvelous. He simply invites us to look at His works. But as always, God works mysteriously in the background of circumstances, events, and people.
As I look back on each destination and experiences we have encountered to reflect God’s indescribable grace, it is good to remember to “Rejoice evermore… in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16,18 KJV)
i see god as the roaring lion
The Lion’s Head statue at the Kennon Road is the first and most significant landmark of Baguio City. It serves as a warm welcome to the visitors after the curvy and steady climbs on the road. We didn’t have a chance to take a group picture because my son was so afraid of the gigantic statue. When you get a closer look, you’d also feel its strength and power. We have tried to console our little boy and explained that it was only a structure of sculpted rock that doesn’t move around and is lifeless. But my son won’t still go near it so the two of us just stayed inside the car.
If you have a picture in your head of God as a giant lion, you need to keep that thought now.
There’s a reason the Bible talks so much about the fear of the Lord.
“Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4 NIV)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV)
They shall go after the Lord; he will roar like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west; (Hosea 11:10 ESV)
“Fear God. Do what He tells you.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 MSG)
But the appropriate approach to God is in awe and reverence, in humble and submissive worship because “He is higher in anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies.” (Psalm 113:4 MSG)
I SEE GOD’S MAJESTIC CREATION
A great place to start your fine day is to spend time with nature.
There are several recreational parks in Baguio to visit. The view is nothing but spectacular, covered with mountains and great stretches of pine trees. It was such an impressive sight. Baguio fulfilled the promise of the breathtaking view.
The image remind us “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” (Psalm 97:5 NIV)
The hilarious grave at the Cemetery of Negativism at Camp John Hay Park.
The pristine gardens are well maintained and can be a very tranquil place to be.
You can take a nice walk in nature and enjoy a great view of the city. There are plenty of places to stop for eating and drinking. Getting a rental bike and riding along the park in the shade of the trees is also enjoyable especially for the kids.
You can also try to wear the native costume at the Baguio Botanical Garden for a minimal fee of P20 or ¢40 per person.
Just looking at the nature around me made me admire even more this wondrous goodness of God’s creation especially the sight of flowers.
Like a flower we were meant to blossom, not to wither on the vine.
I SEE GOD’s dwelling place
One of the most interesting tourist attractions I have been to is Tam-Awan Village.
I was fascinated by the collection of Ifugao houses in a tradional Cordillera village and different art exhibits. We tried to explore their 10-15 walk-up trail to view the Philippine Sea but thick fog covered the entire area.
Prayer can serve as a “thick fog” that covers our failures and inadequacy. When we do not perceive ourselves in the image of God, prayer acknowledges who we are as the redeemed people of Christ. We do not have to hike to the long trail to communicate with God, the regular place of prayer is in our hearts.
I SEE GOD THROUGH THE FACES OF HEROES
My most favorite tourist attraction here in Baguio is The Philippine Military Academy.
It is the training school of military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This place offers a myriad of possibilities to enjoy their inspiring place like treehouse that serves as a view deck to see the stunning mountaintop views of the Benguet skyline. Visitors are allowed to explore the camp but only to some extent. You can also find vintage military weapons and military aircraft on display.
There are a huge number of gallery at their museum however, I was amazed at the collection of The Philippine Military Academy alumni classes.
It was a humbling experience for being surrounded by the finest and bravest Philippine soldiers who laid down their lives to protect our country. This place is memorable as well to my children as they recognize the important sacrifices made by these remarkable soldiers.
I SEE GOD WHEN I’M SCARED
There are stories about ghosts that is believed to lurk at several haunted places in Baguio like the Laperal House and the abandoned Diplomat Hotel . They are being linked to murderous activities during American colonization. Two of them are made into tourist attraction. I did not went beyond just to satisfy my curiosity. But I’m regretful to see the potential of the estates to go to waste. Instead of casting fear to visitors these places could be transformed into more valuable structure.
This is relatable for many people who fret over the consequences of their past. By surrendering our past, present, and future to Christ, we can rest to the fact that we were created to live abundant lives to accomplish great things in His name.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV)
I SEE GOD AT THE END OF THE ROAD
The best advice I can give to travellers is: DON’T RELY ON ONLINE TRAFFIC AND NAVIGATION APP ALONE. BUY A PHYSICAL MAP. We experienced several GPS signal lost during our trip. We spent an hour navigating the right way to go back to the city.
I was beginning to get annoyed at the computerized voice that keeps on giving us miscalculated directions. Tired, hungry, and scared with the dangerous terrains, it was difficult for me to overlooked the little irritations. I was starting to blame my husband for relying alone on the online navigating app that has failed us many times. It took a while for both of us to realize that our disagreement created an atmosphere of disharmony. When we finally arrived to the city proper, we settled our different opinions and our excitement for the next adventure replaced frustration.
We often find ourselves lost and out of way and we simply don’t know which way is up. When this happens we can be confident that God allows U-Turn. But in order to avoid rerouting on the same wrong path we need to carefully listen and obey God’s direction. Keep leaning on Him for the wisdom and courage to take the high road. We may not be able to discern clearly where it is our God leading us, but we can trust it to a good place. We should also thank God that we don’t live by rules or following maps alone. We begin by daring to believe who God is. That He is the most reliable guide: His voice and His Word.
I SEE GOD THROUGH THE LITTLE JOYS IN LIFE
My family LOVES to eat. So we’re all excited to try the best cuisines of Baguio. One of the best comfort food you can find in Baguio is the strawberry-flavored soya pudding. They are being sold in the streets but I assure you that it’s 100% clean and well-prepared.
We also got to taste the best-selling pizza in Volante. Their prices are very affordable which costs us P400+ for 14 inch pizza or less than $10. I recommend their top 3 pizza flavors- Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza, Pizza Merengo, and Kenny George Pizza. You should also try their pesto pasta for P70+ or less than $2 per serving plate.
We have also tried the Baguio’s Bulalo along the Outlook Drive. Bulalo is Baguio’s special main dish made by beef’s shanks and beef’s bone marrow. The delicious beef broth is perfect for the cold breeze of Baguio. It costs P70 or $1.38 per serving.
The best cream puff I’ve ever tasted is from Mhaan’s Kitchen Camp at Philippine Military Academy. They also have chocolate flavor but cream is my favorite. It is freshly baked and only cost P25 or ¢49 each. I can’t help but took home another box of this pastry for our sweet tooth.
The Baguio’s Public Market is haven for frugal shoppers like me. Their homegrown vegetables are very much fresh and crisp even after we spent 5 hours on the way home. I bought the best-selling Benguet coffee beans for my husband and fresh-picked strawberries. Unfortunately strawberries were a bit pricey this time of the year. The vendors suggested that it’s best to go during summertime for strawberry picking at the farm.
I SEE GOD THROUGH AN EXCELLENT SERVICE
Where to stay at Baguio won’t be a problem because the city has a wide range of accommodation from premier hotel to transient houses.
My family stayed at GM APARTEL for 3 days and 2 nights. Their extra effort to make my family vacation a memorable event brought joy to us for their job well done.
This lovely apartel is set right in the Scout Barrio along Loakan Road. It is fairly close to all the local attractions especially to Camp John Hay with lovely restaurants. The apartel is less than a 10 minute drive to get you to the city proper so it’s very convenient to find somewhere to eat each day. There are many fine restaurants in every corner of Baguio that you can try. They have a nice parking garage with a 24/7 CCTV Camera all over the place which makes you feel safe like in an exclusive hotel accommodation.
The room is spacious, modern and clean. Their furniture are high standard. They have a cable TV and free Wi-Fi access. I also liked that all rooms are installed with door and window screen. They have a fantastic set of basic kitchen appliances in case the guest opt to cook their own food. (Ref, electric kettle, electric stove, and kitchen utensils as requested.) The beds are comfortable, linens are clean and smells good. They even provided us extra bed even we don’t asked them to.
Being a meticulous mom, I won’t miss to check the tiniest detail of cleanliness. Squeaky clean bathroom is a must to me.
My kids LOVE the water heater so their bath time in a cold climate was still enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about the water system.
The balcony at the upper floors is a bonus where you can spend a quiet time while enjoying the view.
GM APARTEL exceeded my expectation for a Studio room at a fraction of price. Upon arrival, Sir Lyndon was nothing but the kindest, most welcoming person that could have been. He was extremely sweet and helped us with anything. He is also very prompt to answer my text.
The homey atmosphere is not a matter of lavish decorations like hotel type curtains or draperies and breathtaking chandeliers. It emanates from the thoughts and graciousness of the people who assist us. Feelings of warmth and welcome can be created only by people who are courteous, generous, and mild-mannered. Our wonderful experience at GM Apartel and the smallest expression of their kindness that make the biggest impressions on us.
Our hearts were heavy when we left the place. But before we go we made sure to leave a word of appreciation to Sir Lyndon, Bong, Anne, and Belle for their hospitality. We will definitely go back there in another time.
During our brief stay, I vowed to build a network of friends not just a colleagues.
As we bid our farewells, I remember some quote that says, “Never dismiss an act of loving kindness as being too small or inconsequential. God will magnify even our smallest deeds to reveal His love to others.”
I SEE GOD through THE SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS
I was pleased with the courtesy of the local residents of Baguio. The local drivers didn’t give us an impression that they rule the place. We were hardly felt intimidation especially when we drive slower than usual. I could honestly say that they are more patient than the drivers in our city where they honk their toys until you backed off.
I also had a nice experience at the public market. I asked the lady vendor where to buy the cheapest vegetables. She gladly pointed us towards the drop-off point of the vegetables for sale at a cheaper price. I did not expect her honesty and candor because she’s also selling her own vegetables. Out of courtesy, I bought Baguio beans and Potatoes from her. She said that I don’t need to do that and it’s no big deal.
I SEE THE HAND OF THE LORD IS UPON ME
At the last day of our trip, I had a little accident. I slipped at a wet floor and the left side of my body hit the concrete floor. Both of my knees and belly are still sore but generally I’m feeling alright. PRAISED GOD for His protection!
To bring some light of that accident, my husband made fun of my bulging “baby fats” that became as “shock absorber or air bag” when I hit the floor. Isn’t he adorable? I wanna pinch his cheeks so hard when I heard that.
In any joyful moment there are risks, mistakes, and bloopers. That’s part of a beautiful mess- when we accepted it joyfully there slowly emerges love and grace.
I SEE THAT COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS TODAY STARTS WITH OUR FAMILY
I thank God for giving our family a very memorable vacation. Our bonding time together made us remember how short our time is. Do not let our lives to be filled with busyness where we often fail to take the time to pause and celebrate God’s everyday gifts to us- our family. How we take care and bring happiness to one another are the gifts we can offer to God.