Strawberries may be heart-shaped but these sweet little things are heartless. I walked cautiously in between the rows of strawberries, all the while being reminded of tragic love stories. They are sinful temptations dangling or lying on the ground, taunting you to pick them but at a certain cost. They urge you to come touch and pluck them from their frail branches even when you already have a basketful and you know it is all you can afford. And they deceive you by pretending to be berries — heck, they’re not even real fruits — and you buy anything they want to make you believe because, well, they are pretty.
Nevertheless, an affair with strawberries can be highly rewarding.
Simply, the place is called Strawberry Farm. Cradled in a plain in La Trinidad Valley in Benguet, it is located nearly 30 minutes away from Baguio City, which has become almost synonymous with strawberries.
We were warned by a local blogger that picking strawberries would be a dirty business at the time. It rained heavily the night before and the gaps between plots would have to be soaked and muddy. We considered his recommendation for a split second, but we still ended up spitting “Ah, f*ck it! We’re going!” We had been looking forward to it since our first step on the Baguio soil that weekend. I had been to this place a number of times before, but it has always excited me regardless of the circumstances.
Why go all the trouble of traveling along a non-scenic route to this farm and braving the mud when strawberries are sold at many spots in the city proper? The experience of having to pick the strawberries yourselves, of course. You grab a small basket, traipse in between plots, and spot ripe fruits along the way. You hold a fruit in your hand and you look at it as if you created it. They just taste better if you put an effort harvesting them.
Like all good things in the world, however, there’s a catch. Prices are double at P350 per kilo. Inexperienced pickers can cause a lot of wastage. Besides, many of them succumb to having a taste of these fruits even before they baskets get weighed. Just look at it this way: the additional fee is for the “experience” itself and not the actual products. After all, it’s not every day that we see strawberry plants — at least not in Manila — so experiences like this are more of refreshing opportunities than a hassle. It’s a perfect activity for kids!
Aside from strawberries, the other plots in the area are covered in vegetables — cabbage, lettuce and more — and a few in flowers, which are both abundant in Benguet. If we had the time, we would visit an actual flower farm farther in La Trinidad but we just didn’t have any more. Tragic!
A lane of souvenir stores border one side of the farm. You’ll find anything strawberry here — strawberry wine, strawberry jam, strawberry crinkles. Roaming around the area are vendors of strawberry taho and strawberry ice cream. All that is missing is a boomblaster playing Strawberry Fields Forever and you’ll reach the limit of strawberry encounters you are allowed in a lifetime. And oh, there are also Baguio brooms and sweaters sold at most of the stores. Don’t worry, they’re not strawberry-flavored.
How to get to Strawberry Farm: From Baguio City, the fast and easy way is a cab. But that’s wise only if you are a group of at least 3 because you will be splitting the cost. If budget is a problem, make your way to Baguio City Hall and ride a jeepney bound for La Trinidad. Ask the driver to drop you off at Strawberry Farm. Fare is P12.