“Anything Goes!” This was the theme of our road trip. And true enough, the 45 hours following our departure from my house was filled with the most random of events imaginable! Begining with this sunrise in Tarlac City.

baguio sunrise


We got lucky again. This time Mazda Philippines loaned us a gorgeous Mazda CX-7 2010 to test out. We tossed a coin and it was decided that we zoom north.

Way before Boracay became a household name for summer and weekend getaways, there was Baguio City. It is situated ±1500m above sea level and known for its cooler temperature compared to the rest of the country. It is about 250km north of Manila and takes between 5 hours drive via SCTEC and the famous Kennon Road.

Baguio is known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. It was the favorite (and as a kid, seems like the only) destination of family vacation and friends excursion. People pack the city specially during holy week and Christmas holiday, so that’s why way before backpacking was popular in the Philippines, they already have a lot of guest houses and hostels in the 70’s. For many years, it was the most famous tourist spot in the Philippines. Until the tragedy of the 1990 earthquake that devastated the whole city.

Today Baguio City is back on its feet. But it has gotten overcrowded, dirty, and traffic jam is a fact of life. Life is bustling, that’s for sure. The temparature is still cool though. I was afraid the climate change has caught up there.

Baguio City Country Club for brunch


Eco trailing at Tan-Awan Village

baguio tan-awan village

Strawberry picking at Trinidad Valley

baguio la trinidad stawberry

I have no photos but between above and below activities, we found ourselves joining the motorcade campaign of Baguio city mayor hopeful Mark Go. He incidentally is the father of one of our dive buddy. Unfortunately he came to a far 2nd place in the race.

A bit of culture at Ben Cab Museum

Baguio Ben Cab Museum

After what we thought was a fully packed yet balanced day in Baguio City, we decided to head down to La Union. Zara’s family owns a rest house in San Juan, and we decided to spend the night there and hit the beach tomorrow. Maybe even do a bit of surfing.

There was a sign.

It says alternate route via Circumferential Road. The road less traveled, off the beaten track, alternative always sounds good. The sky is still white and La Union takes 1.5hours from Baguio. We decided to go for it.

And we were rewarded with the most scenic view as we ride into the sunset…

wanderlass travels to Baguio

The sky got dark and we realized it’s been more than 1.5hours and we don’t look anywhere near La Union. We also noticed the road got a little bit rough. Actually a lot! At times, it doesn’t even look like there is road ahead!

And then a road block! This is after about half an hour of steep and really rough downhill ride.

It’s a joke! The road is closed because they were concreting this morning. But it’s absolutely unimaginable to go back! The road is narrow (one lane narrow) and we’ve been traveling for 2 hours already. The sky is black and there were no street light/lamps. Actually the few and scattered houses we saw along the way doesn’t seem to have electricity.

What boggles me is how the hell did the responsible person decide to concrete this particular 20m portion when there were kilometers and kilometers of unpaved roads before and after this part? H.O.W?

We came out of the car, jumped on the concrete a few, and decided it’s cured! Let’s drive through it and continue. But oops! a group of men showed themselves and inquired what we were doing. We relayed our predicament and offered our solution. They wouldn’t let us! These guys are the contractors and said that they need to allow proper concrete curing or they will not get paid. They proposed the car to pass through the side of the road, wall of the mountain, the non-road. They said that the mayor did the same this morning. Fine! Let’s see what Mazda CX-7 is made of! hahaha!

mazda cx7

And it passed the test! And we move along.

And we’re happy that we finally hit the ground. But somehow found ourselves in the middle of a big flat land, no road, no light, no houses. We don’t know which direction to go. We saw tire tracks but they all lead to the river…

We came out of the car again and surveyed the river. It’s shallow but bottom is soft. Do we dare cross the car? What if it sank? Or got stuck in the soft bottom and we couldn’t pull it out? But all the tire tracks went this way…

We had the headlight on and decided to take a moment and wait for inpiration. Maybe a car will pass by here, and we can ask for direction. Then we saw 2 lights at the other side of the river coming our way. It might be a motocycle for the headlight seem small. Then as it came nearer, we realized it’s not a bike but 2 men with flashlights. They came over to see if we needed help, awwwww… so we were assured that the car can cross the river and they gave us direction to La Union.

mazda cx7

The following day is less eventful. We basically just lie on the beach. We periodically came out to take our meal at the resorts then went back to our mission to lounge. It was frightfully 39 degrees! Luckily we were able to charm our way to squat under one of the surf board rental shed.

la union san juan

surfer in la union san juan

We ended up not surfing because of the exhausting heat, except for Lu-ann who tried it for the first time despite growing up stone’s throw away from Siargao.

she eventually stood up, but i fell back to sleep already

la union san juan surfing

la union san juan surfing

The final verdict: Mazda CX-7
is one super smooth ride! It was pretty inside and out. It looks like a stylish sedan. It was spacious with sufficient leg room and very easy to drive. If I’m in the market for an SUV, I would definitely consider it. It was stable during the rough mountain terrain. It glided smoothly during the river crossing. And the airconditioner put the 39 degrees temparature outside to shame!