How to Get Easy Philippine Passport Appointment through the Courtesy Lane

Philippine Passport

Getting Philippine passport quickly is not that easy. The first reason is that getting a good schedule for passport application or renewal is difficult because the quota for each day is easily filled up. The second reason is that the lines to various steps of the passport application or renewal are very long.

One way to bypass the scheduling hassle and the long lines is to apply for passport application or renewal via the Courtesy Lane.

So if you are

1. a regular government employee
2. an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) of a government employee
3. a retired regular government employee
4. a senior citizen
5. a person with disability
6. a solo-parent 
7. a minor child of a solo-parent
8. a pregnant woman
9. a seven-year old minor
10. a parent or minor sibling of the seven-year old minor. 
11. an OFW

...then you are in luck because you can use the Courtesy Lane.

I personally experienced the Courtesy Lane at the DFA Consular Affairs Office in Pasay when I recently renewed my passport. I did not set any appointment but I just went to the DFA Consular Affairs Office in the morning.

Take note that the courtesy lane only accepts passport application in the morning and closes in the afternoon.

The Courtesy Lane is located at the second floor of the DFA Consular Office. Here are the steps for passport application and renewal in the Courtesy Lane at the DFA Consular Office:

Step 1: Checking of Documents

The clerks at the entrance of the Courtesy Lane office will check if you complete documents for passport application or renewal.

The requirements for Philippine passport application are the following:

1. Accomplished Application Form, which is downloadable at the DFA website.
2. Original and photocopy of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Authenticated Birth Certificate on Security Paper.
3. Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Authenticated Marriage Contract on Security Paper or Report of Marriage for married females who are using their spouse's last name. Original and photocopy of Local Civil Registrar Copy of marriage certificate is not clear or cannot be read. If the married female opts to retain maiden name, the marriage contract is not required.
4. Any of the following acceptable IDs with one (1) photocopy. 

The requirements for Philippine passport renewal are the following:

1. Accomplished Application Form, which is downloadable at the DFA website.
2. Current Philippine ePassport or expired Philippine passport with photocopy of data page
3. Original PSA authenticated documents that will support the change of name, such as, Marriage Contract, Annotated Birth Certificate, Annotated Marriage Contract to show annulment/divorce/court ordered instruction, and Death Certificate of Spouse.

You will be given a queue number If your documentary requirements are complete then you can enter the Consular Lane office. 

Step 2: Document Processing

A consular officer will asses your application. This is when you will be asked if you want to expedite your passport application renewal.

Step 3: Data Capture

This is the step where a consular officer will encode your personal information and take your fingerprint and photo. Check carefully if the information that the consular officer encoded is correct because an incorrect information will appear on your passport. 

Step 4: Payment

This is when you will pay the necessary fees fir passport application and renewal. The passport fee is 950 pesos. If you wish to expedite the process then you have to pay 1,200 pesos.

Make sure that you will not lose your receipt because you will use this when claiming your passport. 

Step 5: Passport Pick-up

There is an option to have your new passport delivered to your home or workplace. I, however, opted to just get my new passport in the Consular Affairs Office on the appointed date.

There were no queue and it was quick. I just handed out to the the consular officer my receipt and then I got my passport in less then 10 minutes.

Adding all the time I spent during every step, I can say that I only spent less than 45 minutes transacting with DFA Consular Affairs Office. That was quick and I commend the DFA for this.

- - -

Do you want to know what countries to visit that doesn't need a visa? Read my post 2019 List of No Visa Country for Filipinos

Let's Go to Baguio (Part 11): Our Family Tour Finale in Botanical Garden

Our Baguio Tour Finale in Botanical Garden

We ended our two-day family tour of Baguio City by visiting the greenest and most forested park of the city. This park is none other than the Botanical Garden.

We went to Botanical Garden after our visit to Wright Park and the Mansion House. Going to the garden is easy since we just rode a jeepney to Botanical Garden from Wright park. We only paid the minimum fare.

We were welcomed by these old ladies in their traditional garb.

Baguio Botanical Garden with lola Igorotas

Taking any photo with these lolas has a fee. So, I did not take any selfie with them but just contented myself in taking their photo discreetly.

Other visitors had their selfies taken with the lolas. And the background of the photo is the “Botanical Garden” sign that showcases the various rituals of the Igorot people.

There's no entrance fee in Baguio Botanical Garden. 

Schedule of Baguio Botanical Garden

Baguio Botanical Garden is open daily from 6 AM until 6 PM only.

The Garden of Many Names

Burnham Plan of Baguio City
Burnham Plan of Baguio as redrawn in the Baguio City Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The big green space at right is the Botanical Garden. The other big green space in the map is the Burnham Park.

The Baguio Botanical Garden was originally envisioned by Daniel Burnham and was included in the original plan of Baguio City. The patch of greens was named as Botanical Garden during the American Period. Since then, the garden had numerous name changes throughout its history.

In the 1970s, the park was called Baguio City Zoological and Botanical Garden because it hosted animals during that period.

During the reign of the president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the park was renamed as Imelda Park after his wife and first lady Imelda Marcos. After martial law, the park’s name reverted to Botanical Garden. The garden was again renamed as Centennial Park in 2009 as part of the Baguio City's celebration of its centenary.

Some visitors and residents of Baguio also refer to the Botanical Garden as Igorot Village because of the many huts inside the park.

Our Baguio Botanical Garden Experience

Upon entering Botanical Garden, we were welcomed by the scene of big bronze statues of men working together. This artwork harks back to the creation of Baguio as the garden city of the Cordilleras.

The Builders by Ben-Hur Villanueva in Baguio Botanical Garden

The statue was created by Filipino master sculptor Ben-Hur Villanueva and aptly named as “The Builders”. The artwork serves as a remembrance for the early settlers who worked together to build Baguio City. The five statues represent the Igorots, the lowlanders, the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chinese.

Looking down the pond in Baguio Botanical Garden

Our Little Ones, just like what they did in other Baguio's public parks, ran round and round in the Botanical Garden. They were amazed by the greens that surrounded them.

My wife, on the other hand, was amazed of this green tunnel:

Green arch in Baguio Botanical Garden

This is a perfect spot for selfies. 

As part of the city's centenary celebration, the city government of Baguio requested its sister cities to sponsor various sceneries inside the park. The result are various spots in Botanical Park that came from around the world, like this replica of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge in Baguio Botanical Garden

I guess this replica was sponsored by Long Beach (California), which is one of Baguio's sister city in the USA. 

There are other scenes that our children liked in Botanical Garden, such as these swans.

Swans in Baguio Botanical Garden

This is a perfect photo spot for couples.

Our favorite scene in Botanical Garden is the life-size statue of a family of elephants. 

Elephant family in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues are so realistic that my daughter Samantha was so afraid to go near it. 

Almost real elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues were erected in 2017 to commemorate the 70 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Thailand. The landmark was realized through the collaboration between Royal Thai Embassy, City Government of Baguio, Philippine-Thai Cultural Organization, and Siam Cement Group.

Siam Cement Group elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The Thai government commissioned three Thai artists: Somphong Boonthip, Prasan Prasatketkam and Nitithivat Khantharankha; to create the elephant statues.

Thai elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues is the highlight of our visit to Botanical Garden. We allowed our children some time to marvel at this landmark. It gave them a feeling that they are touching real elephants.

Elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

Near the entrance to Baguio Botanical Garden are shops that sell souvenirs, food, and plants. We had a quick look around the place but My Beloved Wife did not buy any. She already got some plants from a shop at Baguio Cathedral.

Souvenirs for Sale in Baguio Botanical Garden

We visited four public parks during our two-day sojourn around Baguio City. I can say that Baguio Botanical Garden is the second best Baguio public park. The top 1, of course, is Burnham Park. The top 3 is Wright Park. The worst is Mines View Park, which is jokingly called "No Mines,  No View" Park.

If you are planning your tour around Baguio, I highly recommend that you include Botanical Garden in your itinerary.

- - -

- - -


Baguio City Land Use Plan by Baguio City Government
Ben-Hur’s Profile in Arko ni Apo

Let's Go to Baguio (Part 10): The Mansion House - City of Pines' Most Historical House

The Mansion House of Baguio City

Dan Brown, in one of his books, described Manila as the gates of hell. The early Americans of early 1900s would agree with this description not because of the city's now abject poverty and high crime rate but because of the unbearable humid heat.

The intense heat in Manila motivated the American invaders to look for a place that can be their new colony’s capital during the summer months. The Americans selected Baguio due to its relatively cool temperature and the presence of an already organized town.

The gate of the Mansion House of Baguio City
The gate of the Mansion House.

William Howard Taft, the first American civil governor of the Philippines, capital of the Philippines, commissioned Daniel Burnham to prepare the plans for Baguio. Part of the plan is the construction of the house for the American governor general. That house is the Mansion House.

The Mansion House of Baguio City

The Mansion House is our next destination after having a relaxing stroll among the pines of Wright Park.

The house is just across the road from the reflecting pool of Wright Park. But before we cross the street, I got curious with the strawberry-flavored taho being sold outside Wright Park.

Strawberry taho of Baguio City
The sweet but not strawberry-licious "strawberry taho" of Baguio.

We were disappointed with the taho. There was not even a hint of strawberry. Maybe I should've opted for the regular taho. Actually, the strawberry ice cream that we bought in Burnham Park is a better strawberry treat than this taho.

Intricate gate of the Mansion House in Baguio

The gate of the Mansion House is big and majestic. Of course, there were so many tourists that it was difficult to have a decent selfie at the gate.

Historical marker of the Mansion House in Baguio

The Mansion House was designed by Architect William E. Parsons in accordance to the City Beautiful Movement, which is the architectural philosophy pioneered by Daniel Burnham. Parson used indigenous materials and local architectural style, thus, the Mansion House originally appeared as a "bahay na bato", which was a usual house of affluent families during the Spanish Period.

The original look of Baguio's Mansion House as bahay na bato
The original Mansion House of Baguio. Notice the wooden second floor, which made the house look like a "bahay na bato". (Source: Presidential Museum and Library

The first floor is made of stone while the second floor is made of wood. Governor General Francis Burton Harrison noted that the rooms were partitioned by sawali walls.

Parson's original design did not last because subsequent governor generals renovated and enlarged the Mansion House. The house was later on damaged during the Second World War.

Photo of Mansion House taken at the reflecting pool of Wright Park
Old photo of the Mansion House taken from the reflecting pool of Wright Park. (Source: Presidential Museum and Library)

From being the official residence the American governor generals, the Mansion House became the official residence of Philippine presidents. Although, presidents do not stay long in this house. Most only visited the house when they attend the graduation ceremony of the cadets in the Philippine Military Academy.

The president who stayed the longest in the Mansion House is President Jose P. Laurel. Who described his three-month stay as somber and miserable.

Laurel and his ministers were moved to Baguio by the Japanese army when Manila fell to the Americans. They felt that they are in a concentration camp. They were heavily guarded by Japanese soldiers and almost have no food nor clean water to drink. They also had to contend with constant bombing.

The Mansion House of Baguio City

There is no entrance fee to the grounds of the Mansion House. Tourists, however, were only allowed in the vicinity of the entrance gate. I believe that tourists will not be allowed to go beyond the gate when the president is in the house. We were lucky then because President Duterte was not in Baguio during our visit.

Tourists at The Mansion House of Baguio City

No one can go up to the Mansion House because the soldiers guarding the house will prevent anyone from doing so. We discovered this when our son Samuel ran toward the restricted area. A soldier accosted us immediately.

Historical Cavite: The Casa Tribunal of Noveleta

Historical Cavite: Casa Tribunal of Noveleta

There is an old house that always arouses my curiosity every time I visited my in-laws in the town of Noveleta. It is not the age of the house nor its Spanish architectural style that makes me wonder but its being out-of-place in the town of chaotic concrete.

Casa Tribunal of Noveleta, Cavite

The house in question is the Casa Tribunal, which is not a house but actually the former municipal hall of Noveleta. This was once the town’s center of authority during the Spanish Period until after the end of the Second World War when the municipal mayor's office was transferred to a new building a few meters away.

Noveleta Town Hall

The municipal government does not know what to do with Casa Tribunal after it vacated its premises. Casa Tribunal became a school then turned into a library and children’s clinic. After being vacant for many years, Casa Tribunal became the provincial library and then become the office of the Kawanihan ng Rentas Internas or the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which also vacated the place eventually.

Obelisk Marker of Noveleta, Cavite

Nowadays, Casa Tribunal is always closed or at least closed whenever I was in town. Thus, I was only able to take photos of its exterior.

Stairs of Casa Tribunal in Noveleta, Cavite

It was unfortunate that I was not able to enter Casa Tribunal. The house holds plenty of cultural and historical treasures as seen in this Youtube video

Inside Casa Tribunal of Noveleta, Cavite
Inside Casa Tribunal featuring a painting of the Battle of Calero Bridge. (Source: Noveleta Town Youtube)

Casa Tribunal is the last standing heritage building in the area. All the buildings around it are made of modern concrete. The palenque, the new municipal hall, and even the town's church are of modern architectural style.

Holy Cross Parish Church in Noveleta, Cavite
Holy Cross Parish Church in Noveleta, Cavite.

It is sad that Casa Tribunal is relegated to the side, hidden and ignored by the current residents of Noveleta. Its condition is a far cry to its major place in the history of Cavite. Casa Tribunal is the place where Tagalog revolutionaries tasted one of their major victories.

While Andres Bonifacio and his katipunero battled it out with the Spanish colonial forces in Manila and Bulacan, the CaviteƱos made their move on the 31st day of August 1896. The Tagalog revolutionaries simultaneously attacked the government forces in General Trias (formerly San Francisco de Malabon), Pasong Kalabaw, Kawit, and Noveleta. The attack is now called as the “First Cry of Cavite”.

Historical Marker of Casa Tribunal in Noveleta, Cavite

The katipunero of Sangguniang Magdiwang attacked the government forces stationed in Noveleta. The attack was commanded by Mariano Alvarez, who is the capitan municipal of Noveleta and also the head of the Magdiwang faction. He is also the uncle of Gregoria de Jesus, who is Andres Bonifacio’s wife. Pascual Alvarez, Mariano’s nephew, led the attack in Casa Tribunal, where they killed Capitan Antonio Rebolledo and Tenyente Francisco Naval of the Guardia Civil. They also captured some soldiers of the Guardia Civil.

Cuartel de la Guardia Civil in Noveleta Cavite (1897)
Cuartel de la Guardia Civil occupied by revolutionaries, 1897. (Source: ABC Foto)

Mariano Alvarez is now considered a great hero of Cavite. In fact, the town of GMA is named after him. The Battle of Noveleta is not his first brush with the Spanish authorities. He was earlier placed on the death row after he gave an Spanish infantry officer a dirty water to drink. He was sentenced to death but was released through the intervention of the provincial governor due to the protest of the townsfolk. Later on, he was suspected to be part of the 1872 Cavite Mutiny. The authorities placed him in solitary confinement with his neck and feet chained to the prison walls. He was sent to Manila to be executed but was released.

Mariano Alvarez
Mariano Alvarez (Source: GMA Municipality)

Mariano Alvarez managed to return to the good favors of the government, thus he was able to be elected as capitan municipal of Noveleta. I bet that the Spanish forces in Noveleta were surprised by the attack because they thought that the alcalde is on their side.

Artillery Bombardment during the Battle of Noveleta
Artillery bombardment during the revolution in Noveleta. (Source: Foro Policia)

The katipunero’s victory  was so decisive that Noveleta was free from Spanish control during the whole course of the revolution. The town became the seat of the Magdiwang faction, which stood in opposition to the Magdalo faction of Emilio Aguinaldo. The Game of Thrones level of struggle between these two factions led to the dissolution of Katipunan and the death of its Supremo.

Tribunal ng Noveleta Marker

The current condition of Casa Tribunal just reflects the fact that Noveleta has already forgotten its past. Its history was only recalled from time to time whenever there's a centennial celebration or other big historical commemoration. I guess the current condition of Noveleta’s Casa Tribunal fits its place in history as the seat of the Magdiwang faction. In the course of the revolution, the Magdalo faction obscured the Magdiwang faction. It is quite fitting then that the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, which is the seat of the Magdalo faction, obscured the Casa Tribunal of Noveleta.

Emilio Aguinaldo Waving the Philippine Flag mural in Kawit, Cavite
Emilio Aguinaldo waving the Philippine flag.

Let's Go to Baguio (Part 9): Strolling Right in Wright Park

Our Leisurely Stroll in Wright Park of Baguio City

After buying ube jam and other yummy pasalubong in Good Shepherd Convent, La Familia Ahab journeyed on to another Baguio tourist spot. Which is another park. Which is connected to another American governor general. That tourist spot is the Wright Park.

Information about Wright Park of Baguio City

Wright Park was named after Luke Edward Wright, who was the governor general of the Philippines from 1904 to 1906.

The park is very accessible to tourists. We reached Wright Park from Good Shepherd Convent by riding a jeep. We disembarked just across this stairway:

Stairway to Wright Park of Baguio City

It was another very high climb! This reminded me of another stairway to Baguio Cathedral that we climbed the previous day. 

Up we go! My Beloved Wife, my firstborn son Samuel, and me climbed to the top. My youngest child Samantha had it easy because I carried her all way.

Going up to Wright Park of Baguio City

The view was underwhelming when we reached the top of the stairs. What we saw is a relatively empty space made of concrete. This is not a good reward after that long and exhausting climb.

The kids' reaction was different. They viewed the open space as a good place to run. As for me, I found a bench to rest.

Promenade of Wright Park of Baguio City

Wright Park is popular for the Riding Circle, where visitors can ride a horse for a fee. Too bad that we didn't know about that. We could've let our children experience riding a horse. 

I was almost disappointed with Wright Park until I saw the "Pool of Pines".

Pool of Pines in Wright Park of Baguio City

The rectangular shallow pool is lined up with pine trees on both sides. At the end is the white-colored The Mansion. The place is quite scenic.

We had very good photos at Wright Park. Me and my wife also had a good rest while sitting on the bench and enjoying the cool shade provided by the pine trees.

Pine trees in Wright Park of Baguio City

Our little ones, on the other hand, enjoyed running in the pine tree forest.

Little Ahab running under the pines in Wright Park of Baguio City


2019 List of No Visa Country for Filipinos

Philippine Passport

How far can a Philippine passport bring us? This is the question that Filipino Sojourners like me asked when I received my passport. Some of our kababayan OFWs use the Philippine passport as key to a better future. For others, the Philippine passport is the key to tourist destinations outside of the country.

According to Henley Passport Index, the Philippine passport can only bring us to 67 countries and territories without applying for a visa at the embassy or consular offices. Passport issued by other countries can take their nationals to more destinations. The Japanese passport, which is the top 1 on the list,  can bring its holder to 189 countries visa-free. It just show that many countries wanted the Japanese people as visitors. The Philippine passport, on the other hand, is ranked 73rd  out of 104 ranks.

67 countries and territories that offer visa free entry to Filipinos is still good news. So pick up your travel bucket list and write the names of countries and territories included in the 2019 List of No-Visa-Entry Countries for Filipinos:


1. Brunei
2. Cambodia
3. Indonesia
4. Laos
5. Malaysia
6. Myanmar 
7. Singapore
9. Vietnam


1. Hong Kong
2. Kyrgyzstan (Visa on Arrival) 
3. Macao
4. Maldives (Visa on Arrival)
5. Mongolia
6. Nepal (Visa on Arrival)
7. Sri Lanka (Visa on Arrival)
8. Taiwan
9. Tajikistan (Visa on Arrival)
10. Timor Leste (Visa on Arrival)


1. Benin (Visa on Arrival)
2. Cape Verde Islands (Visa on Arrival)
3. Comores Islands (Visa on Arrival)
4. Cote d'Ivoire
5. Djibouti (Visa on Arrival)
6. Gambia
7. Guinea-Bissau (Visa on Arrival)
8. Kenya (Visa on Arrival)
9. Madagascar (Visa on Arrival)
10. Malawi (Visa on Arrival)
11. Mauritania (Visa on Arrival)
12. Mauritius (Visa on Arrival)
13. Morocco
14. Mozambique (Visa on Arrival)
15. Rwanda 
16. Senegal
17. Seychelles (Visa on Arrival)
18. Somalia (Visa on Arrival)
19. Tanzania (Visa on Arrival)
20. Togo (Visa on Arrival)
21. Uganda (Visa on Arrival)


1. Cook Islands
2. Fiji
3. Marshall Islands (Visa on Arrival)
4. Micronesia
5. Niue
6. Palau Islands (Visa on Arrival)
7. Papua New Guinea (Visa on Arrival)
8. Samoa (Visa on Arrival)
9. Tuvalu (Visa on Arrival)
10. Vanuatu


1. Dominica
2. Haiti
3. St. Lucia (Visa on Arrival)
4. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
5. Trinidad and Tobago (Visa on Arrival)


1. Bolivia
2. Brazil
3. Colombia
4. Costa Rica 
5. Ecuador
6. Nicaragua (Visa on Arrival)
7. Peru
8. Suriname

Middle East

1. Armenia (Visa on Arrival)
2. Iran (Visa on Arrival)
3. Israel
4. Palestinian Territory

The 2019 List of No-Visa-Entry Countries for Filipinos was referred to the Henley Passport Index.

Henley Passport Index ranks world passport according to the number of destinations that their holders can enter without a prior visa or visa issued by embassies and consular offices. 

Filipinos can enter countries and territories listed above without applying for visa in their embassies or consular offices in Manila. It is notable that countries and territories in Europe, North America, and first world countries are not included in the list. In short, we Filipinos need to apply for visa to enter those countries. 

The countries and territories listed above are not that bad. Israel, for example, is part of many travel bucket list of Filipinos because many of our kababayan wanted to visit the places associated with our lord Jesus Christ. I, for one, want to go to Israel and do a sort of pilgrimage to the holy sites in that country.


Let's Go to Baguio (Part 8): Buying Our Favorite Good Shepherd's Ube Jam

Buying Ube Jam in Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio

My most favorite pasalubong from Baguio is none other than the famous Good Shepherd Ube Jam. The delectable and sweet ube jam is always my request to anyone who care to ask me what pasalubong I want to have from the City the Pines. It is sweet and creamy that I can almost finish a jar in one sitting.

Ergo, when we visited Baguio City, we made sure that to spare time to visit the source of ube jam yummy goodness: Good Shepherd's Convent Baguio.

Gate of Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio

How to Go to Good Shepherd's Convent

Commuting to Good Shepherd’s Convent from Burnham Park is quite easy. Just ride a jeep going to Mines View Park at the terminal located near Harrison Street corner Mabini Street. The jeepney terminal is located in front of Danes Bakery.

Good Shepherd's Convent is around 500 meters away from the entrance gate of Mines View Park. We went to the convent after our lunch at Cinco Antonios Bistro. The convent is above the hill so it was a walk against gravity. Good thing that our little ones were able to recharge during lunch break so they managed to walk to the convent.

Our Experience at Good Shepherd's Convent of Baguio

Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio

We were welcomed by St. Joseph upon entry through the gate of Good Shepherd's Convent. He is a model worker, thus, he is a perfect patron for the hardworking people of Good Shepherd's pasalubong factory.

St. Joseph in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

It was still an uphill climb from the gate. Good thing that trees and vegetation within the convent area so we walked under the shade.

Walking to the Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio

At the end of the road is the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Jesus in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

The Good Shepherd’s Convent is not the original structure in the area. The site was given by the Baguio City government as gift of gratitude to the American Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, who was considered as the Father of Baguio because Kennon and Naguilian Roads, Burnham Park, Mansion House,  Baguio Country Club, and other city projects were finished during his term.

History marker of the Top Side in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

The governor-general named the place “Top Side”. He later sold it to Elsie and Samuel Gaches when his term as governor general ended in 1913. The Gaches were the owner of the Heacock's Department Store, which was a prestigious department store in Escolta.

History of Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

The  Good Shepherd Sisters, officially known as the Religious of the Good Shepherd, was established in France by Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier in 1835. Their pastoral work is focused on the care and education of girls and young women in difficulty.

The Good Shepherd Sisters went to the Philippines from Burma in 1913 in response to the invitation Bishop Joseph Petrelli of the newly formed Diocese of Lipa. The sisters established St. Bridget Academy in Batangas City.

Old gate of Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio
Old gate of the Good Shepherd's Convent in Baguio (source: RGS website)

The Good Shepherd Sisters first went to Baguio to escape the summer heat. They stayed in the convent of other religious sisters. The sisters wanted their own vacation house in Baguio so in 1948 the Sisters Mary Dominica Long, Holy Name Hamilton, and Evarista Mullaney toured the city until they came upon a half-open gate with a fading "FOR SALE" sign. They discovered the abandoned house of the Gaches that was damaged by bombs during the War. Despite these, the sisters still bought the place where they built their convent and a chapel. They also built a cottage for visitors.

The old convent of Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio
The old convent of Good Shepherd Sisters in Baguio. (Source: RGS website)

The Good Shepherd's Convent has wide space for vehicle parking. It also has a viewing deck that have a good view of the old mines, which is similar to the Observation Deck in Mines View Park but less crowded.

View of the Cordillera mountains from Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio

The viewing deck is adorned with beautiful flowers. Actually, the whole place is adorned with plants, trees, and flowers.

Sunflowers in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

At the viewing deck is the image of Good Shepherd's Sisters patron: Our Lady of the Good Shepherd.

Our Lady of the Good Shepherd in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

Ube jam and other yummy pasalubong are not the only items for sale at the convent. The sisters are also sell organic arts and crafts.

Arts and Crafts Store of Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

After our short tour around the grounds of Good Shepherd's Convent, we returned to the store and patiently waited for our turn to buy my favorite Good Shepherd ube jam. The line is quite long and the parking lot is filled with cars of tourists who wanted to bring home yummy pasalubong from Baguio.

Long line of buyers of pasalubong at Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

The business success of Good Shepherd Sisters was actually born out of necessity. In 1952, the Sisters established an orphanage that serve as home for around 120 orphan girls of the Cordilleras. Unfortunately,  they don't have enough money so the Sisters were forced to beg and the orphans were often fed unsold and rotten veggies.

The Sisters knew that they cannot go on begging forever so they started a business and the Mountain Maid brand is born.

Mountain Maid Training Center in Good Shepherd Convent Baguio

The Sisters first product is the strawberry jam, which they sold at Mines View Park. The reason why they chose strawberry jam is because of the “divine inspiration” of Sister Mary Carmel Medalla who remembered the strawberry jam recipe that she learned during her novitiate training in Los Angeles, USA. The Sisters and the orphans helped in perfecting the strawberry jam recipe. Mother Mary John of the Cross Kroner, the mother superior during that time, also provided a recipe that she learned while growing up in a strawberry farm in USA.

The strawberry jam became a hit to the tourists because they can bring home strawberries, which are easily bruised during transport and have short shelf lives. The Good Shepherd's new enterprise provided fund not only for the orphanage but also for the nunnery.

Good Shepherd Ube Jam

My favorite Good Shepherd Ube Jam was also created by a nun. In 1976, Sister Fidelis Atienza created the recipe of ube jam in an attempt to copy the original Baguio ube halaya Tantamco. Sister Mary Assumption Ocampo perfected Sister Atienza's recipe and the result is the best ube jam in the city. In an article in Yummy says that Good Shepherd ube jam is so delicious because they only use fresh ube (purple yam) sourced directly from farmers, Alaska milk, Anchor butter, and no food coloring or preservatives.

Good Shepherd Baguio Products

Strawberry jam and ube jam were not the only products being produced by Good Shepherd's Convent in Baguio. Their other products are mango jam, orange-lemon marmalade, orange marmalade, pickled sayote.

Good Shepherd Baguio Products

Aside from jams, they also sell cookies and biscuits like chocolate crinkles, alfajor, angel cookies, snowballs, lengua de gato, and choco chips oatmeal. They also have peanut-based products such as peanut butter, peanut brittle, toasted peanuts, and peanut adobo.

Customers buying Good Shepherd Baguio Products

My Beloved Wife waited in line and after 30 minutes we finally got my favorite ube jam. She also bought ube jam and peanut brittle, which are the pasalubong for our loved ones.


Read more about our adventures in Baguio City:

Let's Go to Baguio (Part 1): The Family Adventure Begins
Let's Go to Baguio (Part 5): Picking Strawberries in La Trinidad, Benguet
Let's Go to Baguio (Part 6): Underwhelming Experience in Mines View Park
Let's Go to Baguio (Part 7): A Savory Lunch of Baguio Bulalo at Cinco Antonios Bistro
Let's Go to Baguio (Part 8): Buying Our Favorite Good Shepherd's Ube Jam



RGS Baguio History and Journey from Charity to Social Enterprise in Religious of the Good Shepherd website.

The Success Story of Mountain Maid: Nuns Sell Baguio 'Pasalubong' Help Cordillera Youth in Business News Philippines

Do You Know What Makes Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam Delicious? in Yummy

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and St. Bridget College in Wikipedia