Fifteen years after my first visit to the Summer Capital of the Philippines (I was 3 or 4), my family decided to go up, for the first time in 15 long years.
Based on my parents’ reactions on the sights and spots, it has gotten bad. I don’t remember anything from my first visit, but after going to Mines View Park (MVP), I get their point. It seemed less like Baguio and more like a tiangge in Quezon City. Everywhere, and I’m not exaggerating, there are stalls selling souvenirs. One or two stalls is fine, but there are probably a hundred of them. Selling the same stuff. Annoying.
Add to that the multitude of people walking around you from all directions. It’s chaotic. It’s hard to take a photo without strangers’ heads in the background. The number of people is a good sign that people are visiting the place, but the sheer number of souvenir stalls made the place more cramped than it should’ve been.
My dad said that after seeing MVP, he’d already made up his mind: we wouldn’t be going to the other popular spots in Baguio like Burnham Park. It was going to be as messed up, he said.
SM Baguio was the same thing. It didn’t look like a mall because of the amount of people shuffling in and out. What came to mind was an MTR station in Hong Kong during rush hour. And we all know how those go: stampede-like. I’ve never seen a mall with that many people (with the exception of Alabang Town Center when Jabbawockeez had a show there 2 or 3 years ago).
Camp John Hay still looks good. And I use the word “still” even though it’s really my first time, because my parents say that, yes, the place has been pretty much well-maintained through the years. The trees look good, looking like the ones from forest chase scenes from horror flicks. There weren’t that many people. And I don’t think I saw a single souvenir stall up there, the ones which littered MVP.
The best part about our Baguio trip was the weather. It’s the kind of weather I’d like to live in, where nights go down below 15-degrees Celsius. And the Monopoly Deal nights I had with my family. It was also the first time I ingested some alcohol into my system for 3 straight nights. And the first time I tasted the San Miguel Alcoholic Malt Beverage I always hear King DJ Logan and Marf and Cleo advertise on-air on the Disenchanted Kingdom.
Much like my conclusion when we went to Macau, I would like to say that Baguio is overrated now as far as tourist spots are concerned. Too little space for loads and loads of people. I wish their city government can transform Baguio to be one big Camp John Hay.