A year ago, a certain flower farm in Atok, Benguet caught the interest of many a traveler. Pictures captured at the Northern Blossom Farm started creating a buzz, especially amongst popular traveler groups. As Cordillerans, the idea to travel there never seized us. At least back then. Well, that was until earlier this year when my friends and I wanted to take some time off, to wander mindlessly, to take our mind off from the things that were stressing us.
On a Saturday evening, my friend and I traveled to Baguio to meet up with our other friends. We were supposed to commute but our friend’s boyfriend volunteered to drive our friend’s car. It eliminated the need to think about our commuting arrangements. At around 3:30 AM, when the city was still largely asleep, we departed for Northern Blossom Farm, full of zest and excitement and anticipation.
Relationships in Bloom
In our initial itinerary, we were supposed to climb Mt. Timbak first to catch a sea of clouds then later on proceed to the flower farm. However, my friends changed the itinerary when they saw fabulous pictures of the sunrise taken at the Northern Blossom Farm. It was breathtaking to say the least. A simple search over the internet is enough to validate their claims. So yes, I agreed to the plan.
We reached Atok, Benguet after an hour and a half’s drive from Baguio City. The community is still rousing from its deep slumber. Beyond the darkness, it was the biting cold that made us retreat to the warm confines of the car. While waiting for the flower farm to open, we all took a brief nap. We woke up to the flurry of activities around us as other travelers begun arriving at the farm.
At around 6 AM, the farm officially opened to the public (don’t be deceived by Google which says it is open 24-hours). We lined up first at the registration area to avoid the crowd, which we thankfully did. Ziv and Voltaire were already down at the farms as they went ahead of us even though the establishment wasn’t opened yet. Please note though that they gained the permission of the farm caretakers first before going down.
Roughly three hectares, the flower farm is owned by Melany Ganayan and her husband. It was originally a vegetable farm, just like most of its surrounding farms. The owners then converted it into a flower farm as the owners have a flower shop in Dimasalang, Manila. However, they had no intention of opening the farm to the public. When visitors begun flocking to the place, they decided to fully operate as a flower farm, eventually emerging as a top tourism destination. The rest, they say, is history.
Back to our adventure at the farm. We found Ziv and Voltaire busily immersed in their photography sessions. The sun still hasn’t risen so we took our time looking for an ideal spot to capture the sunrise. We asked our guide for the best spot and he recommended the rose cabbage patch. It is also the most highly recommended spot by travelers who’ve been there before.
At the rose cabbage patch, we found a group of “photographers” who tried foolhardily to monopolize the spot. According to our guide, they were apprehended by the farm’s owner herself for trying to conduct a photoshoot while paying the fee for an ordinary visitor. As a consequence, they were asked to pay the price equivalent to a photoshoot. While we were there silently going by our business, they kept mudslinging, say that they are entitled to the place because they have paid a price steeper than the ordinary travelers did. While they adamantly kept on insisting that they weren’t conducting a photoshoot, the pieces of photography equipment they used say otherwise.
In spite of their condescending attitude and their harsh calls, we simply kept on taking pictures, not minding them. We tried to hide our vexation, never allowing ourselves to stoop down their level, especially that most of them are older than us. After all, they don’t own the place. We left that episode behind and concentrated on the beauty of the sunrise. As always, the sunrise was an object of fascination. The serendipity and the tranquility is invigorating to the exasperated soul.
A Visual Delight
Over the horizon, I can make out the peak of Mt. Pulag. It was hugged by a sea of clouds that were streaming down its slopes. It reminded me of the majestic sea of clouds my friends and I witnessed. I was with the same group of friends then and again, I am elated that I was sharing the same experience with the same tried and tested group of friends.
Our next stop was the sunflower patch. It is fascinating too know that there are different types of sunflowers. Their bright and sunny disposition is a blast of visual sensation. Apart from sunflowers and cabbage roses, a plethora of flora thrived on the slopes of Atok. Such flowers include roses, snapdragons, asters, larkspurs, and alstroemeria. It is interesting to note that most of these flowers were imported from Japan.
It was our luck that our guide is very knowledgeable about the different flowers. He was one of the first guides. The diversity is astounding. Every corner you go in the farm is overflowing with flowers. For photographers, it is simply a haven. For those who are looking for an Instagrammable destination, then Northern Blossom Farms is definitely one of those.
What makes the place all the more special is that it is tucked on the slopes of the Cordilleran mountains. It is surrounded by towering mountains and amazing views which make the commute worth it. While roaming around the farm, I felt as though I was in a foreign country. The place possesses an atmosphere of ethereality that gives it the flair of being somewhere else other than the Philippines. A lot of my friends who saw my pictures also thought so. I can’t blame them because I had the same sensation as well.
We wrapped up our Northern Blossom adventure by sipping a warm cup of the famed Benguet Barako coffee. It may bitter but it is this bitterness that further aroused our spirits. It was bitter-sweet morning, one that is filled with fond memories. An old boss of mine even commented on my pictures how happy she felt when she saw my pictures in the flower fields. I guess beauty of this kind just arouses euphoria. I just have to smile on that thought.
To think that I was nearly not part of this adventure because of some other plans. I am glad my other plan didn’t push through. (But I was the one who suggested Northern Blossom Farm to my friends. Haha).
How to Get There
- Ride a Victory Liner Bus, Genesis Bus or Joy Bus bound for Baguio. Bus fare is around PHP 475.00 and trips are available 24-hours. Travel time is around 4 (deluxe buses) to 6 (ordinary air-conditioned buses) hours.
- In Baguio, go to either Dangwa Bus Terminal or Slaughterhouse (Rising Sun) and take any Bontoc or Sagada bound buses. Ask the driver to drop you off at Sayangan, Atok. The earliest trip is usually around 5 AM. Bus fare is around PHP 75 to PHP 85 while travel time is around one and a half hour to two hours.
- Alight at Sayangan, Atok. Ask for directions to the farm. It is about 5 to 10 minutes walk from the Atok Municipal Hall.
- Before entering the farm, pay a registration fee of PHP 300 per person (effective March 15, 2019). It comes with an unlimited coffee and bread.
- No guide, no entry. Giving the guides tip is optional.
- If you want to catch the sunrise, be there at around 6 to 6:30 AM (November to February), earlier if during the summer season.
- Always bring a jacket. The morning and the afternoon breeze can, at times, literally bite.
- Flying of drones is not allowed. The surrounding areas are ancestral domains.
- Prepare for endless walks.
- Flowers, cacti and succulents are available for sale.
- Leave no trace.