Baguio: Tam-Awan Village

I haven’t been to Baguio in more than five years, not since I got married. When I was still single and living with my family, we would spend either our Christmases or New Year’s there but that tradition died down when I left the family house – after all, I was more or less the “organizing” member of the family. But I have always wanted to go back to Baguio for the longest time, if only to experience the almost year-round cold weather. More often than not though, work gets in the way of life plus, the hubby isn’t particularly interested.
So what’s a girl to do? Well, as soon as I heard of the long weekend in August, I immediately booked our Baguio trip and the hubby didn’t have a choice.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating. We got rained on, flooded and drenched during our trip in freezing temperature – right smack in the middle of typhoon Mina’s rampage up in the northern provinces. I guess we were lucky we even made it back to Manila after the usually four-five hour trip turned into a nine-hour ordeal for us.
So foggy
My meticulously planned three-day itinerary was wasted as we had to make several changes to our plans – the rain was relentless and we were totally unprepared. I had come with only skirts and shorts and several sandals; our friends were similarly (un)prepared. And even before our first night ended, all our clothes and shoes were soaked walking in the rain around flooded streets.
The good thing is, not even the storm was enough to keep us from the tourist spots around the city.
Tam-Awan Village
Entrance to Tam-Awan – you have to climb up to reach the village
This village, literally meaning “vantage point”, is located in Pinsao about fifteen minutes by taxi from the city proper. Note though that it is not a real village but a reconstruction of a Cordillera village – a kind of model village for tourist to learn a bit of the local culture. It was started in the late 90’s with three huts from Ifugao. Currently it has around nine or ten huts from the Ifugao and Kalinga tribes. These huts were built without nails and it’s quite amazing that they are sturdy enough to serve several generations of the family. 
The huts are actually available for rent for those who want to be a little adventurous and the rates are quite cheap – it’s roughly PHP500 per person and the price goes down as the number of persons sharing the hut goes up.

These wood carvings line up the stairs
Aside from the huts, Tam-awan also has several galleries devoted to local artists – two huts located on each side of the souvenir shop and the cafeteria itself, where the walls are adorned by large art work. Picture taking is not allowed though and while I did manage to get a couple of shots before I noticed the “no picture taking” sign, I am not posting them out of respect for the artists. 
I found a couple of nice pieces, especially in the cafeteria but the prices are quite steep – they range from Php20,000 t0 Php40,000. 
Once you are done admiring the art, you can get one of the in-house artists to do your sketch as a souvenir. It costs Php100 if you want a solo sketch and Php300 for couples. We had one done and Ipe couldn’t stop admiring it he wanted it framed as soon as we got home. Be prepared to sit still for around 15-30 minutes while the artist does your sketch; ever the impatient one, I couldn’t stop myself from twisting and turning every few seconds that it’s a wonder the artist was able to finish the sketch at all.
Sitting for our sketh
Touring the huts, art galleries and having your sketch done will take you a couple of hours and fortunately, there is a cafe located right in the village which serves Filipino food. I loved the lemongrass tea with honey and their bagnet although I was a bit disappointed with their adobo – it was too soup-y for me and I prefer my adobo with lots of garlic and oil. But the price is really good – their most expensive meal is at Php250 and this already includes your choice of drinks.

Chicken Adobo

Pork Adobo
Tea with Honey; what is that leaf on my tea? Can anyone tell me?
Just one advice though. Bring lots of cash. Tam-Awan accepts credit cards but since it’s perched on a hill aggravated by the stormy weather, it was hard to get a connection. I usually don’t take much with me for fear my bag would get snatched and I had only enough cash to pay for food and the sketch. Bottomline: no shopping for souvenirs in their arts and crafts store. 😦
Up Next: Mines View

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