SM City Baguio (Baguio City, Benguet)

From the hotel, Bernard and Rodel hitched a ride with us to SM City Baguio where they had some business to attend to.  This being our first visit to the mall, we decided to hang around the place.  With a floor area of 107,841 sq. m. (1,160,790 sq. ft.), this enclosed shopping mall, the largest in the Cordillera Region, was opened on November 21, 2003.  Situated on top of Session Road, overlooking historic Burnham Park and opposite Baguio’s City Hall, it sits on an 80,000 sq. m. (860,000 sq. ft.) land once occupied by  Pines Hotel, the grand, old landmark which burned down in 1973 (killing 4 firefighters).  
SM City Baguio
On thing I noticed with this 6-storey (including basement parking) mall is that it doesn’t have an airconditioning system (with Baguio’s cool climate, it doesn’t need one) and makes use of natural lighting (some stores are roofed with translucent white fiber, enabling sunlight to illuminate the interior on a clear sunny day).  Being the biggest mall and one of the biggest buildings in the city, this cruise ship-patterned mall houses more stores (300+ including 15 anchor stores), entertainment centers and shops than any other mall located in the city.
The veranda of the mall
At its veranda, we had a good view of some of the city’s main tourist attractions (Burnham Park & Lake, the City Hall, the Athletic Bowl, Session Road) as well as towering pine trees and beautiful lush gardens.
The mall’s atrium lobby
SM City Baguio: Luneta Hill, Upper Session Rd. cor. Gov. Pack Rd., Baguio City, Benguet. Tel: (074) 619-7838 to 43.

Fresh Catch Isdaan (Gerona, Tarlac)

Jandy and I, together with United Tourist Promotions (makers of EZ Maps) employees Bernard Gonzales and Rodel Vivas, were on our way to Baguio City when nighttime caught up with us in Gerona in Tarlac.  Already hungry, we decided to stop at Fresh Catch Isdaan for dinner.  This open restaurant was one huge koi-filled fishpond with “floating” (actually on stilts) cabanas with tables for diners, all connected by bamboo walkways.  All over the place are huge, eye-catching statues of Buddhas, mermaids, monkeys, dinosaurs and crocodiles; Disney characters; noted Filipinos (Corazon Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Ninoy Aquino, etc.)  as well as Marvel comic characters such as Batman, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.

Fresh Catch Isdaan

Food served here was mostly Filipino, the restaurant being part of the Barrio Fiesta Restaurant Group.  Its signature dishes include chicken tinupig, sisig, adobong pusit, bulalo, manok sa gata, kare-kare, sinampalukan, sizzling tanigue, hototai (mixed vegetable soup), Bicol Express, pinakbet, inihaw na liempo, buko pandan, binagoongang baboy, sinigang na hipon, lumpiang shaghai, fried chicken or porkchop, lechon kawali, among others.  While waiting for our order to arrived, I went about exploring the place.  There were subli dancers as well as roaming singers with guitars serenading guests, all dressed in approapriate Filipiniana attire.  

Koi-filled fishpond
Tacsiyapo Wall

One big surprise was Tacsiyapo Wall, a cool and neat though not original idea which is bound to bring tourists, looking for stress relief, to this place.  Here, you can release your anger by throwing crockery such as cups (PhP15), bowls (PhP18), plates (PhP35), pitchers (PhP100), vases or even a broken TV (PhP2,000) at a wall.   According to the attendant, to get the feel of it, you need to shout “tacsiyapo!” (A Kapampangan word meaning, at best, “shame on you” or, at worst, similar to the Tagalog P…I….).  Before throwing, you can choose at a  selection of targets on the wall such as “Taksil!,” “Sip-sip!,” “Bolero!,” “Bolera!,””Ingitera!,” “Tsismosa!,” etc.  

Fresh Catch Isdaan: MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Salapungan, Gerona, 2302 Tarlac.  Tel: (045) 931-2196.