FUNtastic Philippines went up to Baguio last month to cover this colorful spectacle that grows in popularity year on year.



The parade started from the Panagbenga Park at the John Hay side of South Drive. We had an easy time photographing the floats as they assembled prior to the start of the parade.






We had a feast photographing participants above the floats, those in Igorot attire – – – as I missed the parade the day before.




When the crowd swelled, we contented ourselves with  taking other shots – – anything within our sight.540900_10151447735617570_1871213279_n



At a jampacked intersection, we were being asked by police to move back. But there wasn’t even an inch to move back to. At that point I thought maybe they thought people could fly. Or just banish from the scene.


I took this one last shot near SM on the way to Starbucks. My friend Brenda (who flew in from Davao), her daughter and I thought this was enough. I think I am ready to suggest to the organizers to close this festival to the public. It is utter nonsense to go and watch and be asked to push back where there was just no space. You can have your Panagbenga, and I will enjoy Baguio in the comforts of my John Hay home unbothered by this mad event in the future. Panagbenga, enough.

Choco-late de Batirol, a Baguio landmark


I first went to Choco-late de Batirol ages ago, when it was in a rather obscure location inside John Hay, close to the skating rink. I got so curious then why the place seemed to be so popular even while it is “hidden”.  My attention was called by the very worn-out picnic umbrellas that dot the al fresco cafe, but conceded that they looked very attractively salvaged with paint over them that made me think a high-calibre artist must have done them.  When I ordered my choco-late de batirol, I began to ask about the place. The staff beamed with pride, given the opportunity to brag about the seemingly obscure restaurant/cafe. I was told that  national celebrity figure – – lots and lots of them, have had snacks, lunch or dinner there.

the umbrellas are so attractive

Fast forward to today. Choco-late de Batirol is now in an even better location. Now you can sip your coffee or choco-late in a space that is so wide open- – – with the John Hay golf course as your view. This cafe has moved to what is called Igorot Park. You may forget how the place is called but you won’t miss this cafe as it now sits right at the gate that connects John Hay and the Baguio Country Club.


The most popular order is still bibingka and the traditional blend of choco-late de batirol.

my favorite merienda here

But I have had many snacks, lunches and dinners here that I can vouch for their food quality. In fact I was pleasantly surprised that their dishes compared well with those from the more popular Dencio’s or Gerry’s Grill, although their menu is not as varied. Yet you trade off the food variety with  the shabby chic ambience that Choco-late de Batirol offers, and you will feel that you made the right choice.



I took a photo of the menu, just in case you want to know what else  there is  to enjoy other than bibingka (P105), suman sa lihia (P64) and choco-late de batirol (P80). You may even want your chocolate flavored with almond, strawberry or kahlua (P90-95).


Breakfast (opens at 8:30am)  is P160 if you choose Vigan longaniza, tocino kalabaw, or tocino pork. Plated lunch of rice + caldereta or sisig or talangka costs between P165-185 per person. At other times, I have ordered dishes good for 2-3, like binagoongan, paksiw na lechon, or boneless bangus for P185-290.

Diners can also buy pasalubong items, pretty much like those available in mazapans and other outlets.

I have never had a free meal nor a free drink at Choco-late de Batirol. But I am sharing the pleasant experience so that fellow travelers may also enjoy both the place and the food on this side of Baguio City.

Le Monet Baguio


Claude Monet (photo from wikipedia)

Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting (wikipedia)
Many years back, I went to his house in Giverny, now a major tour destination in France. Easily the most memorable images the visitor will have are the many beautiful spots in his garden. The bridge, the lotus pond, water lilies . . . . The garden was his workshop where he taught other aspiring artists, and has become the subject of presumably thousands of paintings by impressionists, including Monet himself.
Such was the influence of Monet to me that when I saw a construction in John Hay that was to be called Le Monet, I told myself that I will stay at least a night in this new hotel once it opens. And so here I am.Le Monet is next door to the Filling Station, a row of restaurants offering burgers, pizzas, Japanese food, and ice cream, among others.
The lobby gives one a preview of what to expect from the hotel rooms. Not grand. Just nice, clean, and impressive.
The famous Dinelli has moved from the Filling Station to the hotel, and is now its coffee shop.
The lobby cafe has a glass window that opens to the pine trees on the road.
And, quite naturally, there is abundance of art, by the masters no less. National Artists all.

Ang Kiukok

Jose Joya

There are two types of accommodations. De luxe at P5,500 a night, and Junior Suite at P7,000. I would rate the room 4-star, and I dare say my de luxe room is better than the room I used to stay in at The Manor Hotel.

my de luxe room with a forest view, at P5,500 less 30% (off peak)

there’s cable TV at the bathroom

complimentary coffee and tea – – where’s the other cup?

the other cup was at the veranda, as I had coffee

pine trees all around

the view from my room

The Junior Suite

forest view bath tub in a Junior Suite

Room rates include a sumptuous breakfast for 2 at Dinelli. My breakfast consisted of macaroni salad, greek salad, and quail egg salad and tender beef tapa, longaniza, corned beef and tocino. Whew, I thought I ate more than I should !
Le Monet is also the only hotel I have been to in the Philippines where there is television in the toilet, separate from the plasma on the wall in the bedroom.I also loved having my morning coffee at the veranda with a forest of pine trees and a view of the mountains. I missed having a drink at the Malt Room, the hotel’s bar where smoking is allowed.Le Monet has wifi, a spa, and a swimming pool (soon). The horse riding trail, the butterfly sanctuary, the eco trail, and picnic tables are just outside the property.

There is a Le Monet Garden being created at the side and the back of the hotel.

how I wish Giverny would be re-created here

I only wish they would re-create Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. And then the hotel and its garden will truly be a destination.Giverny garden or not, I still love this hotel and will surely recommend to friends and fellow travelers.

Cotton buds, cotton balls, and a safe in the room.
Contact Details:
Le Monet Hotel
Ordonio Drive, Camp John Hay
Loakan Road, Baguio City
Trunk Line : 074 6610208
Manila Sales Office
Telephone 3765059
UPDATE : I received an email from Le Monet announcing the special rate, as follows :

Greetings from the City of Pines and Le Monet Hotel!

We have great news for you, your family, and friends. From
June 15 to October 15, 2012, Le Monet Hotel will offer its “VALUE PLUS

The following are the details of Le Monet Hotel’s Value Plus

*Deluxe accommodation for two (2), for as low as Php3,850
net, inclusive of buffet breakfast
*Free accommodation for children age 12 years and below,
when sharing room and bed with parents
*50% discount for children age 5 to 12 years on buffet
*Free breakfast for children age 4 years and below

Prior reservation is highly recommended, to ensure
availability of rooms!    (end of mail)


What an appropriate name. Here is where you fill up when you are hungry. And the whole complex is connected to the hotel.

al fresco dining or coffee at the veranda of the Filling Station, with direct access from Le Monet Hotel

pizzas, Japanese, and ice cream

the roadside al fresco seating