Discovering A Great Summer In La Trinidad

La Trinidad Hotspring

Unknown to many, even to locals in Baguio, La Trinidad has so much more to offer beyond the stressful traffic, strawberries and vegetables that seem to be the brand La Trinidad has. But an “adventure research” by the Joseph Digest team revealed a different face of La Trinidad and nearby places that could make it a top mountain summer destination in the BLISTT area, not just a place to buy strawberries and whine against the stressful traffic. Here are our top discoveries:

 

  1. STRAWBERRIES
La Trinidad strawberry
Strawberry pickers wake up as early as 5 am to harvest strawberries and avoid the heat of the sun.***

Duh, of course! Don’t just pick it from the market though. Only La Trinidad offers a real garden strawberry picking experience with a fill your own basket bonus. This is a great innovation as a grassroots experiential tourism strategy.  Farmers in their fields can always be approached not just for that selfie on a stick but for you to show your family and friends back in the lowlands that strawberries don’t grow on trees, as lowland visitors often assume. 🙂

  1. CUTFLOWERS
La Trinidad Bahong
These little girls served as tour guides for the Joseph Digest team during their “adventure research.”***

Aside from harvesting strawberries, one can also experience harvesting cut flowers from a real cut flower garden of imported quality mums, roses and other flower varieties at Bahong, La Trinidad, Benguet.

  1. BIKING TRAILS
La Trinidad Bike
The drop off is one of the most challenging tracks in this downhill bike challenge in La Trinidad.***

Biking trails in La Trinidad are one of the best routes a serious rider must consider. Okay, okay, we don’t mean the smog and traffic jam filled La Trinidad highway but their motocross type-hope- my-bones- are- still –intact- tomorrow  biking trails akin to the rugged, unpaved speed biking trails of Austria in the mountains of Salzburg.

With obstacles and ravines along the trails, a rider can only pray and trust his bike it won’t betray him to the steep cliffs that line most of the unpaved trails in a forest near the Benguet Provincial Capitol.

But for those who want a more sedated biking experience in the weekends, the Bineng bike trails, Pacdal-Bekel-Tawang routes can be relaxing. A jolting plunge can also be had when one goes out to the Pines Park exit from Lubas. But this means though that you will have to ride through the highway going home. Better yet, a group ride towards Halsema from Shilan can be therapeutic to the soul. Just make sure you are not following chicken manure delivery trucks en route to the farms in Mountain Trail.

  1. HIKING TRAILS AND ECO-PARKS
La Trinidad Picnic
The Joseph Digest adventure research team take a break in one of La Trinidad’s hills with food gathered from the municipality’s bakeshops, strawberry gardens, stores and from a local pizzeria.***

La Trinidad’s off-the beaten path hiking trails are dime a dozen. Surrounded by hills and mountains that straddle Baguio City to the South and Tublay to the North, La Trinidad’s hiking trails, although unofficially labeled by the local government are worth the discovery for great views of the valley and surrounding areas. These are the Mt. Kalugong Eco Park, Mt.Jumbo, the Longlong Communal Forest and, of course, the alternative La Trinidad road that enters Lubas then exits at Tawang, beyond Camp Dangwa. The Winaca Eco Village is worth the hiking route in Shilan for hikers to experience fresh food and a Cordilleran inspired village environment. Owned by renowned Igorot entrepreneurs Wilson and Narda Capuyan of the world famous Narda’s handwoven crafts, the Winaca Eco Village is a great place for team building and family mountain vacations if a Sagada road trip is deemed too tiring for the family.

  1. Winaca Eco-Cultural Village

La Trinidad WinacaYou might also want to visit Winaca Eco-Cultural Village, a nearby place of discovery when in La Trinidad. Owned by Igorot world class  entrepreneurs Wilson and Narda Capuyan of the famous Narda’s Ikat Handwoven Arts and Crafts, the Winaca Eco-Cultural Village in Tublay, Benguet is a great summer destination for families, students, and yuppies. They also serve fresh vegetables aside from allowing visitors the privilege of watching Ikat weavers at work.

  1. BINANGA WATERFALLS
La Trinidad Falls
Forget about Balili River. Trek out to enjoy the Binanga Waterfalls. It’s worth the knee trembling descent.***

La Trinidad is never known for waterfalls.  The only water element synonymous to it is the Balili River. Waterfalls have always been another municipality’s tourism turf—that of Tuba’s majestic Kennon Road waterfalls. But the Joseph Digest’s adventure research team discovered a beautiful mini bridal veil-like waterfalls in Shilan, La Trinidad.  Ushered in by the community, the team trekked a 15-20 minute mountain pass in Shilan before they got to see the Binanga waterfalls. The trek is steep and the team had to slide down the path to avoid falling over since some of them felt their knees were trembling.  But the falls’ beauty and refreshing waters were worth the knee-trembling descent.

  1. ADIVAYAN SWIMMING POOLS
La Trinidad Pool
A refreshing dip in this pool will calm traffic-stressed nerves.***

These private pools on top of a hill in Bineng, La Trinidad is the only one of its kind in the municipality. Called Adivayan Stream Resort, it is a favorite hangout of the young among locals and go to place for church water baptisms. It started out as a family use only pool in 2005 that took advantage of the abundant fresh water supply in the area. But when the neighborhood kids kept coming back to swim, the owners decided to expand the pools for public use with a reasonable entrance fee.

  1. MIXED MARTIAL ARTS AND SPORTS TOURISM
La Trinidad MMA
Budding MMA fighters from the Cordillera slug it out at the yearly La Trinidad MMA fest.***

With the recent opening of the home gym of the internationally known Team Lakay group of Igorot mixed martial arts fighters in La Trinidad, sports tourism in this municipality cannot be far behind. Blessed with more flat, open lands compared to Baguio, the municipality also has two official size football fields. One was already utilized by Team Azkal for training.Team Lakay, the pioneer group of mixed martial arts fighters headlined by known international  Igorot fighters Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Kevin Belingon, Crisanto Pitpitunge, Dave Galera and Rey Docyogen, has made La Trinidad its homebase. With the implementation of the Asian Economic Community (AEC) of which the Philippines is a member, it is expected that MMA enthusiasts from the ASEAN region will troop to the Team Lakay gym for exposure and training. Preparation for this development is key.

  1. HOTSPRING NORTH OF CAMP DANGWA
La Trinidad spring
These are the faces of La Trinidad & Tublay summers that are hidden. It’s worth the discovery. Families and children have a free holiday in this hot spring that straddles La Trinidad and Tublay.***

A hidden hot spring nestled in a valley 30 minutes north of Camp Dangwa in La Trinidad was the highlight of the Joseph Digest team’s La Trinidad adventure research. Also named Asin Hotspring like its counterpart in Tuba, Benguet, this hot spring is located in between La Trinidad and adjoining barangay Tuel in Tublay, Benguet. The hot water drips out of volcanic rocks and flows to a river where the community uses to dip. Cultural belief in hotspring soaking denotes that it may lower blood pressure, improves sleep and joint mobility and helps eliminate toxins.

This La Trinidad-Tublay Asin Hotspring is a great summer option for the family for a therapeutic dip, a warm swim and a good quiet, place to picnic and bond. Unlike resorts, this hot spring is a natural community enclave that doesn’t require entrance fees. This hot spring is as raw as it can get. See it as great camping in the woods.

  1. LILY OF THE VALLEY: La Trinidad’s Pride
La Trinidad Berries
Mulberries from the farm gathered by the Bangsoy kids.***

If one looks beyond the smog and stress of the traffic in La Trinidad, one can discover a beacon of hope and health in one of its premier organic gardens that helped a lot of conventional farmers learn a better way to farm. Lily of the Valley Organic  Farms, owned and tilled by locals Jefferson and Eliza Laruan blazed the trail in organic farming by incorporating an indigenous Japanese technology made of materials naturally found in the farm environment called Mukosako  and marrying it with honest, organic agricultural practices.

Honesty in organic farming is a principle that alleged organic farms have violated in the name of large volume of produce and short term profit. This is the reason why even certifications from organic farming bodies must be verified on the ground in terms of the farmer’s daily agricultural practice. Concerns of fresh animal manure use, dirty water, and un-organic locations of organic farms have cropped up recently among the organic farming community here  and in Batangas. “Because sometimes, they do magic,” Jefferson said, with a tongue-in-cheek smile.

While he teaches farmers the rudiments of sustainable organic farming geared towards a holistic end both for the farmer, his family, environment and the farmer’s customers, he says it is not easy to break through the mold of conventional farming because it takes a change of heart and mindset. “Sometimes it’s frustrating to mentor if these farmers don’t convert to organic farming because they are set in their ways,” he confides.

La Trinidad Salad
Fresh, organic salad prepared by Eliza Laruan in the farm.***

What impressed the Bangsoy family who visited the Lily Of the Valley farm was how wholistic their approach was in organic farming. Run by only six people, the farm’s needs are also sourced out from within its environment. Each living thing in the garden has a purpose. Weeds are allowed to grow in places where they should be so that pests have hosts and won’t attack their crops. Bees are encouraged to build their beehives anywhere in the farm because these help in the natural pollination of the farm’s flora. Dried sticks and twigs are used to distill the Mukosako or wood vinegar which they use as natural fungicide, deodorizer and pesticide. Their farm animals, mainly rabbits and pigs are also nurtured the organic way, evident in the absence of odor in their pens, unlike in traditional animal husbandry.

The Laruan’s farm, dotted with mulberries and wild trees, and planted to herbs and mainly crucifers is also a government recognized organic agriculture farm school where Jefferson teaches farmers through a classroom and application approach. “Everything in my farm is open for inspection. I show everything to farmers who visit,” he added. His generosity is rewarded by customers from Manila who order Lily of the Valley produce only. Locals also prefer buying his produce from all other “organic-labeled” vegetables in the market. Indeed, in farming, as it is in life, there is no substitute for integrity. It pays. *** -Annabelle Bangsoy/Joseph Digest Staff