Lunar New Year Parade 2017 in Baguio City

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Baguio City welcomes the Year of the Fire Rooster as the New Year’s Eve parade was held yesterday, January 27, 2017. Personalities as well as local and national brands graced the occasion. Flocks of people witnessed the event and had fun watching (not to mention, got some goodies the parade participants threw at them [which it seems to be a symbol of good luck for the coming year]). We’re sorry for the bracket within the bracket.


Lunar New Year's Eve Parade, Baguio City


Ms. Baguio 2016, Arianne Dia Gallotan

Ms. Baguio 2016, Arianne Dia Gallotan


Baguio City Representative, Cong. Mark Go

Baguio City Representative, Mark Go


I was only limited to where I was but it was a fair good vantage point for me.


Here are the other photos I took during the parade, in no particular order.

Chinese New Year Parade 2017, Baguio City


Lunar New Year Parade 2017, Baguio City


People from Baguio know what this is. We usually see it at 50s Diner.

50s Diner, Baguio City


Wushu Federation Philippines CAR Chapter

Wushu Federation Philippines CAR Chapter


Wushu Parade Exhibition, Baguio City


Messing with her is not on my list.







Right after the parade, I rushed to Session Road. I witnessed the Writings on the Road.



Happy Lunar New Year!


Session Road in Bloom immediately follows after the float parade. It is when Session Road will be closed to vehicles and stalls are put up. This is a great opportunity for business owners all around the Philippines to showcase their local products and services.

The Market Encounter is in Burnham Park along Lake Drive. The only difference between Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter is that the latter can take place earlier.


The crowd at Lower Session Road - Panagbenga 2016

The crowd at Upper Session Road - Panagbenga 2016


Only in the month of February when the three main roads within Baguio’s central business district are closed. Session Road in Bloom on Session Road, Market Encounter on Lake Drive, and one lane along Harrison Road for the Night Market. The Night Market in Harrison Road happens daily, which starts at 9:00 PM.


Car show at a big mall in Baguio City

I got invited by my good friend, Paul to go to the car show. Ian, also a friend of ours, was also with us. With our cameras, we went to the event. Here are my photos.

Yassi Benitez and crew at Panagbenga 2016 Closing Car Show Event







And where there are cars, there are these amazing, pretty ladies. We felt so lucky. Well, who won’t?

Nika Madrid - Panagbenga 2016






Yassi Benitez - Panagbenga 2016


Photo credits to Paul for these images.

Yassi Benitez and the crew with Volts Gabrillo


Nika Madrid with Volts Gabrillo



Jeepito (#TripNiJeepito) Makes an Appearance

Jeepito #TripNiJeepito

Jeepito and Papa Tsuper with Volts Gabrillo

Photo credits to Ian for this image.


Panagbenga 2016 Closing Fireworks Display

Later in the evening, the fireworks display concluded the Panagbenga Festival. I struggled to get a location with good vantage point. This is the make-the-most-of-what-I-have kind of shot.

Fireworks Display - Panagbenga 2016







The Beautiful Faces of Panagbenga Closing

Personally, I associate the Panagbenga Festival with beauty. Here are some shots during the 6th of March.



Nika Madrid - Panagbenga 2016

Maica Palo - Panagbenga 2016






Kris Martin - Panagbenga 2016

Devon Seron - Panagbenga 2016



The float parade is one of the most awaited highlights of the Panagbenga Festival. It is usually held on the last Sunday of February before the Session Road in Bloom starts. Float designers use tons of flowers to decorate their float that attracts the attention of the crowd. Public or private entities can join to have an entry, which not only be used for their advertising but most especially to bring joy to the crowd.


February 28 – Flower Float Parade

Once again, I woke up at around 5:00 AM and went out at 6:00 AM. I was able to ride a jeepney. When I arrived downtown, this is what surprised me.


Now I’m too late to find a good spot now. Nobody is allowed to watch on the overpass. I thought this is the end for me. But as the parade goes near, people stayed on the overpass until nobody can’t go through anymore. Luckily, while I was walking along, I happened to get stuck in an area with a nice view of the parade.



Jeepito made a crowd appearance in Panagbenga 2016. This crowd favorite is arguably the smallest and cutest fully-operational jeepney. It is said that Jeepito originated in Baguio City and has been patented and registered by its owner. Jeepito can carry up to 4 passengers.

Jeepito makes a crowd appearance in Panagbenga 2016

Jeepito the smallest jeepney


At last, the colorful and amazing flower floats came. In no particular order.

Baguio Country Club (BCC) - Float Parade Panagbenga 2016

SM Baguio Mall Float - Panagbenga 2016

7-11 Float - Panagbenga 2016

Zagu Float - Panagbenga 2016

Universal Robina Corporation (URC) Float - Panagbenga 2016

Jollibee Float - Panagbenga 2016

Panagbenga 2016 Float Parade

And with NLEX’s float participating in the parade, so as with some of PBA’s NLEX Road Warriors.

NLEX Road Warriors - Panagbenga 2016


Here’s the float of Lower Dagsian. And who could be the one riding on it? Could it be…

Lower Dagsian Float - Panagbenga 2015


…Yakon Man! That’s the name my co-spectators yelled. He got a loud cheer from the crowd.

Carrot Man parody: Yakon Man


Aside from the floats, there were also celebrities who joined the parade.

Manolo Pedrosa and Maris Racal - Panagbenga 2016

Manolo Pedrosa and Maris Racal, both former Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) housemates, joined Panagbenga 2016.


Jason Francisco and Melai Cantiveros - Panagbenga 2016

Real-life couple Jason Francisco and Melai Cantiveros-Francisco also joined the Panagbenga 2016 float parade.


And the much awaited personalities showed up. Here comes Coco Martin, Maja Salvador, Pepe Herrera, and Xymon “Onyok” Pineda.

Kapamilya Stars - Panagbenga 2016


Xymon "Onyok" Pineda - Panagbenga 2016


Maja Salvador - Panagbenga 2016


Pepe "Benny" Herrera - Panagbenga 2016


Coco Martin - Panagbenga 2016



Panagbenga is a month-long yearly festival held during February in Baguio City. The highlights of this festival is the Street Dancing Parade and the Floral Float Parade, which is usually done on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month. Panagbenga is concluded with Session in Bloom, a trade fair where businesses from all around the Philippines showcase their products and services.

Panagbenga 2016 Baguio City


Panagbenga means season of blooming where blossoming of flowers is believed to be at its peak in February. Flowers, apart from strawberries, brooms, peanut brittle, fruit jams, and the like, are one of the products Baguio City is well-known for. What was believed to have started as a thanksgiving for a bountiful flower harvest is now a grand celebration that attracts local and foreign tourists. But above all, Panagbenga helps to let the new generation, indigenous or alien, rediscover and appreciate Cordillera’s old traditions as well as the culture.

For many years, I’ve always stayed at home during these parade days. I don’t want to get caught in traffic or get trapped in the crowd. But this year, I braved being pushed (and to push when necessary) because I seriously need to watch the parades personally (even just once in my life, I’ve experienced watching it). And in the end, I found it all worth it.


February 27 – Street Dancing Parade

So here I was, woke up at 5:00 AM to prepare myself and leave home by 6:00 AM. I could either jog or ride a cab going downtown. I was lucky to catch a ride. To my surprise, flocks of people are already gathered along the roadside. Now I think I’m too late to find a good spot and I need to look for a place that has a view. I was able to secure myself in an acceptable good spot but simply not the best as it doesn’t offer a good vantage point (especially without a telephoto lens).

Vantage Point at Igorot Garden


Safety and security is one of Baguio City’s top priorities during this event.

Safety and security during Panagbenga 2016


More people flocked the sidewalks in anticipation for the parade.

Panagbenga 2016 spectators


And finally, the parade begins… no, wait!

The Vegetable Transporter


At around 10:00 AM, the parade finally started (at least from where I was at).


Soon the street dancers arrived. Oh, my shots are only as good as my vantage point provides. Here are some of the shots that I got, in no particular order of the performers.


The melodies of drums and lyres from different groups of street dancers filled the air. All the participants performed graciously with their street dancing exhibitions. Despite the scorching heat, they managed to execute their routines very well.

And of course, the parade will never be complete without showcasing Cañao, the traditional and indigenous ceremonial dance of the Cordillerans.



The peaceful town of Kabayan, Benguet is really mystical. We’ve been to the Timbac Burial Caves, the 4 mystical lakes, and Mt. Tabayoc. We were here to see the skulls and bones of the Opdas Burial Cave. This mass burial cave is literally within someone’s backyard. I’m wondering if they ever have felt any supernatural sights and noises.


Getting into the Cave

Opdas mass burial cave houses hundreds of skeletal remains dated to be 500 to 1,000 years old. Here we went into the place:

going to opdas mass burial cave


And here’s the spooky welcome marker:


opdas burial cave marker


Just a few steps away, we were able to get to the cave. It wasn’t as scary at all. I whispered a little prayer before going in.

the gate of opdas burial cave


I also noted this info marker.


opdas burial cave informational marker


And here it reads:

This unearthed remains of the living past was carbon-dated by Tokyo University Japan, and was found out to be from five hundred to one thousand years old. Renovated by the Philippine Tourism Authority in 1991.


Skulls and Bones

Strong disclaimer: The photos are for educational purposes only. Photos were taken with verbal permission from the caretaker of the place. In no absolute way these photos were taken to desecrate or disrespect the place.


And here are the bones right in front of my eyes:


opdas mass burial cave - kabayan, benguet


skulls and bones of opdas burial cave - kabayan, benguet


It was suggested that they were the casualties of smallpox outbreak brought about the Spanish colonizers. Others say they may be citizens of lower social class hence they were buried in mass burial caves.


Big thanks to the good caretaker for her permission. Respect.

Our hike to Mount Tabayoc is the main event of our trip to Kabayan, Benguet. Mt. Tabayoc is 2,842 MASL making it the 2nd highest in Luzon and 5th highest in the Philippines. With this reputation, it feels like a privilege to take on this mountain.


mt tabayoc - kabayan, benguet


After our quest to explore the 4 mystical lakes of Kabayan, Benguet, we started our hike at wee hours the following day. The trek can take 4-5 hours to the summit and he are hoping to catch the sunrise there.


So it begins

the path to mt. tabayoc

The path to Mt. Tabayoc
Image taken upon returning to the camp site


Since it was dark when we started, I wasn’t able to take any photos during our ascent. It was also drizzling but we were warned beforehand to expect even moderate to heavy rain. If such happens, we have no choice but to go back.


Armed with flashlights and headlamps, we proceeded. We have to go through dense forest and have to use both hands and feet. The moss makes the trail slippery adding challenge to our task. So far, this is the most enjoyable climb I have. I enjoyed every minute of it. The trail is like no other.


mossy forest of mt. tabayoc
mossy trail of mt. tabayoc

Mossy forest
Image taken upon returning to the camp site


Speaking of rainforest, it is only here that is foggy and drizzling. The weather on the camp site is fine and warm.


At The Summit of Mt. Tabayoc

The sun slowly illuminates the path. Unfortunately, there is no clearing. No blue sky and all foggy view. We got to the view deck at the summit. The rain clouds didn’t dishearten us though from enjoying the joy having reached Mt. Tabayoc summit.


view from the summit of mt. tabayoc


Here are some pictures from the view at the summit:




After some photo shoots, we descended. We went through the same trail. It was a relief when we reached the base. Indeed, the weather is fine here.


mt. tabayoc


Here’s our guide holding exposed carrots. These carrots are no longer good for human consumption.








Leave no trace. Take nothing but pictures.

Did somebody just say mystical lakes? That sounds really good to me. It’s not everyday that I see even one mystical lake. Seeing the four lakes of Kabayan, Benguet is a marvelous treat!



After our trip to Mt. Timbak and the Timbac Burial Caves, we headed to the camp site for Mt. Tabayoc. The ride was excruciatingly long but the scenic view kept my angst at bay.


scenic view of kabayan benguet
arrival at barangay ballay, kabayan, benguet


Finally, we arrived at our destination after three long hours inside the jeep.


lake tabeo camp site - kabayan, benguet


Arrival at the Camp Site

We arrived at our camp site on Barangay Ballay and got ourselves registered at the Ballay Ranger Station. Moments after, Sir Arlan, Mt. Pulag National Park Forest Ranger, gave us a briefing. He also told us what to expect and yes, never forget safety first and leave no trace.


ballay ranger station, kabayan, benguet
briefing at the ranger station, ballay, kabayan, benguet


Lake Tabeo

Afterwards, we all pitched our tents and settled down. It was then we learned that we’re already at the first mystical lake, Lake Tabeo (or sometimes spelled as Tabeyo).


lake tabeo camp site


According to the locals, the lake never dries even during summer. The farmers sometimes get water from the lake for their crops. Farm animals drink from the lake. It replenishes itself by collecting rainwater. The lake also has fish but I doubt if it’s suitable for human consumption.


lake tabeyo - kabayan, benguet
lake tabeo - kabayan, benguet


The entire Lake Tabeo in a frame:


lake tabeo/lake tabeyo - kabayan, benguet


Now I got more excited to see the other lakes!


Junior Pulag

In order to reach the remaining lakes, taking on Junior Pulag is a challenge I have to take. That’s at least what was on my mind. We went through the mossy forest and had our share of skids and bumps. The thought of being tortured turned to bliss when we reached the top.





Here’s Charlie of Kings and Queens of Wander. Read about his version here.



Others say that Junior Pulag got its name because of the obvious changes in temperature and air pressure, which is similar to that of Mt. Pulag. All I had was gasping for air and sweaty shirt.


hiking towards junior grassland
junior grassland area on junior pulag


From the Junior Grassland point on Junior Pulag, you can already see the 2nd lake, Lake Incolos. Wait, it doesn’t look like a lake, though.


lake incolos seen from junior pulag


Lake Incolos

I could say that Lake Incolos (how Ibalois call it) or Incoloh (for Kalanguyas) is fascinating and unique. Dirt, moss, and grass cover the lake water underneath. Step on it and you will slowly sink. You can even see the water seeping in.


lake incolos/lake incoloh


water underneath lake incolos


Taking a photo on the lake is a risky business. The ground can only hold so much weight. But for the sake of a group picture, these guys are will to go all in.



We went around the lake to go to the next lake, Latep-ngapos.



Beware of the quicksand!


forest quicksand, kabayan, benguet


Lake Latep-ngapos

Speaking of mystical lakes, Lake Latep-ngapos (Ibalois) or Latep-ngapoh (Kalanguyas) lived up to its reputation. The fog and drizzles adds an enchanting beauty of the place along with the driftwood and its clear water.


lake latep-ngapoh, kabayan, benguet

lake latep-ngapos, kabayan, benguet

The next lake is not so far away. After some picture taking sessions, we left for Lake Ambulalakaw.


Lake Ambulalakaw

Lake Ambulalakaw or Ambulalacao (sometimes plainly Bulalacao) is the 4th lake visited thus completing our quest for these mystical lakes. The water is so serene and clear. Unfortunately, the rain clouds seem to be chasing us.


lake ambulalakaw/ambulalacao, kabayan, benguet


So what made this lake extra special? It is regarded as the cleanest in-land lake. The locals preserve it that swimming or any form of similar activity is prohibited.


lake ambulalakaw in kabayan, benguet



We headed back to the road to catch our ride. This wrapped up our trip to these mystical lakes. Back to the camp site we go.


Kabayan, Benguet, as welcoming as the town’s name, could have more unexplored places to go to.


welcome marker timbac burial sites


It took us no longer than 30 minutes from Mt. Timbak to the drop off site of Timbac Burial Caves. We got us a guide to show the way around. Likewise, it is also their function to keep the caves secured and undefiled. There were reported incidents of looting and vandalism and that is why each visitor must be registered.


registration for timbac burial caves visitors


Going to the Burial Caves

We followed the concrete stairs on our way down. The perimeter is fenced to protect the caves from possible animal attacks as well as to deter intruders. We were reminded to avoid shouting or make loud noises.




We walked for around 15 minutes before reaching the first cave. It was a scenic route and any random shot can capture a nice photo. This is a completely random shot which I though might be useful as a breadcrumb should I get lost.



Our guide whispered a prayer before unlocking the gates of the cave. She reiterated that taking photos of the mummies are prohibited. I welcomed the idea and only took photos outside the cave, which is somehow allowed.




Viewing the Coffins and the Mummies

We took turns in entering the caves and viewing what’s inside them. I thought that these are indeed gems that must be protected. The locals, Ibalois, have high regards to their elders and one way of showing their respect and love is through performing their traditional burial rites. The main reason why these mummies are called Kabayan Fire Mummies is because the corpse is set over a fire to dry the body. I can say that these mummies were well preserved and had withstood the test of time.




This is a one-of-a-kind experience and definitely worth remembering.


On a Side Note

I am not a botanist but does this plant belong to Monophyllaea sp? What’s its name? It is a one-leaf plant that grow beside the trees. Kindly comment or push an email should you want to help me out.


one-leaf plant, Monophyllaea sp. (?)


Mt. Tabayoc, here we come!

Mount Timbak (or Mount Singakalsa) is one of Atok, Benguet’s most frequented tourist destinations. It has an elevation of 2,717 meters above sea level making it the 3rd highest peak in Luzon. Hiking Mt. Timbak takes only less than a day and no permits, fees or guides are necessary. Keeping the place tidy and avoiding to step on the crops when going up are highly appreciated.


After our stopover at the Highest Point, Mt. Timbak is our next destination.


Sidetrip: Mt. Timbak

Mt Timbak (Singakalsa), Atok, Benguet


Going to Mt. Timbak summit only takes roughly 15 minutes since our ride did most of the climbing. The path going to where we jumped off is paved for the produce delivery vehicles to pass through. A large portion of Mt. Timbak has been converted to terrace farms where locals grow vegetables and flowers.


mt timbak hiking


Hence, our hike to the summit begins.


Pursuing Mt. Timbak Summit

If the thrill of climbing is what you seek, then Mt. Timbak might not be for you. However, if you love the view of mountain ranges as I do, then you won’t miss going on this mountain.


Going through the trail is like going through the Stations of the Cross. The three crosses on top resembles the scene of crucifixion on Mt. Calvary. It also signals that you are, at least, near the summit.




These are the other man-made structures on the mountaintop:


Statues of Jesus and Mary
The Annunciation
Statue of the Risen Christ


The Picturesque View from the Summit

Reaching the top and seeing the view makes the experience rewarding for me. My companions have became too busy taking selfies and groupies while some of us just enjoy taking pictures of the view. Garden farms surround the trail which for me adds beauty to the path.









The Highest Point can be seen from the summit. It is visible on a clear sunny morning. Here I used my 75-300mm lens.


highest point of the philippine highway system seen from mt timbak summit


This is my most favorite photo. It has Mts. Tabayoc, Al-al, and Pulag, respectively, in the frame. The summit of Mt. Timbak is believed to mark the boundary of the municipalities of Atok and Kabayan, Benguet.


Tabayoc, Al-al, and Pulag seen from Mt. Timbak summit


Next stop, Timbak Burial Caves to see the Kabayan Fire Mummies and learn how ancient Ibalois venerate their departed loved ones.

I enjoy stopovers, especially if I’m on a long trip. It couldn’t get any better if you’re on the Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System at daybreak. Whenever you pass by Halsema Highway, then you won’t miss this point.

As a part of our hiking event in Mt. Timbak and Mt. Tabayoc, we had our stopover here at Highest Point, in Atok, Benguet. It has an elevation of 7,400 ft above sea level.


Highest Point Philippine Highway System, Halsema Highway, Atok, Benguet


While On the Road

Quite frankly, I couldn’t get a good sleep while in the jeep. Aside from the undeniable coldness, the coffee I had earlier have kicked in since we departed from Baguio past 3 in the morning. My eyes are shut but my mind is wide awake. Finally tired of pretending to be asleep, I took my light-capturing contraption and took my first glimpse of the sunrise.


Sunrise on Halsema Highway


The Stopover (around 6AM)

It didn’t took that long until we finally reach Highest Point. It wasn’t my first time setting my foot in this place but it is my first time to catch the sunrise here. The feeling is totally exhilarating!


This is the view deck located in the area. We were lucky because it was a clear sunny morning.


Highest Point Philippine Highway System View Deck - Atok, Benguet
Highest Point Philippine Highway System View Deck - Atok, Benguet


Our time for this stopover is limited so we only took as many photos as we can. We have to get to Mt. Timbak by 7AM. Hence, here were my shots:






And here is when I thought that my phone camera takes better pictures than my DSLR:





Here you’ll see a view of the mountain ranges, vegetable garden farms, and beautiful cloud formations (especially in the morning).

Break’s over. Off to Mt. Timbak.


Same Place, Different Time

Using a private transport, going here from Baguio is just around 1hr15mins to 1hr30mins trip. It was cloudy when we went there and we can barely see anything. And yes, the cold breeze goes through my thin jacket.







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