Thursday, June 23, 2022

A Talk for Atok

This trip was a spontaneous one. A week before this trip, I was informed that my friends had already booked their flights and tour at Atok, Benguet. It has been ten years since I visited Baguio. From NAIA 3, we went straight to PITX, the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange. It’s a centralized bus terminal with numerous bus networks from Manila to any points within Luzon. We took the first class bus to Baguio City. It has a reclining chair, an entertainment system, and a lavatory. We left PITX at around 10 PM and arrived at Baguio at around two in the morning.

As we meander around the street, we got lost while looking for our hostel but eventually found our way after several minutes.


The following morning, we had a hearty breakfast at Good Taste, Baguio’s famous family restaurant. The food was delicious and very affordable! The van terminal to Atok was just right across from the restaurant. Honestly, I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I guess we’re off to an exciting part.


If you’re traveling to this part of Benguet, better drink your motion sickness tablet. The roads are long and winding. 


First stop, the Spanish Trail. I wasn’t informed that this is a legit day hike, so I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I thought it was just a walk in the park, but I guess we’re about to enter Jurassic Park instead. The towering verdant landscapes were otherwise beautiful. I ain’t complaining at all! 






Midway through our journey, we crossed two man-made tunnels believed to be constructed by the Japanese during the second world war.


According to our guide, the hike should take us 30 mins, but because we did a lot of photo pitstops, plus necessary stops because we quickly ran out of breath, it took us more than an hour to finish the trail.


The next stop is the Lourdes Grotto. There’s a rock formation similar to Lion King’s Pride Rock, and it offers a panoramic view of the mountain ranges.


If you love flowers, Haight’s Place is the place to be.


We also visited the highest highway in the country, the Halsema Highway. It sits roughly 7,400 ft above sea level, and the viewing deck offers a great view. You can even spot Mount Pulag on a clear day!


Dawn was breaking, and it was only 11 degrees. I am not a morning person, but seeing the majestic sunrise was just breathtaking.








We went to the flower garden, a two-minute away from our homestay. The flower garden is located on the sloping landscape and offers a great view of the Cordillera mountain ranges. As the sea of clouds rolled below the slopes, we took time to appreciate the flowers, the vegetation, the cold weather, and the view.


We took a trip back to Baguio City and spent the remaining hours there before embarking on our journey home. There, we ate good food, visited Burnham Park, and enjoyed our moments together.



It’s been ten years since the last time I visited Baguio. So much has changed, and I can’t even remember where to begin. But between ten years ago to now, the timing was perfect. Ten years ago, I was at the crossroads of what to do with my life. During that time, I was determined to take the road less traveled. This time, I’m on the same boat. While the circumstances are a bit different, that butterfly-in-your-tummy feeling, it’s still there. While change is inevitable, there’s no growth inside your comfort zone. I believe that I’m bound for something bigger.


Like the mountain’s rising ground, ever upward into sunny rays, there is a feeling of peace as my feet meet the earthy path.



Not every road untravelled is worthy of the imprint of your soles. Some are best left that way, forgotten and erased by the passage of time. Yet when we find the entrance to new untravelled roads, when the urge to travel them comes from the loving impulse, from the callings of the heart, when they echo the soul in ways that feel like home, I say we travel them together. Let us be explorers on these paths that lead to greater birdsong and the regeneration of nature. Such exploration takes a degree of courage, a pure seed of faith, and a complete determination to do what is right for others. For every soul there is a road not traveled by others, for it is the road that your love and passion will call you to explore, it is the reason you were called into existence. When your soles meet that road, regardless of the challenge, your soul will rise, igniting a fire within.

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