TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
Would you buy baked goodies on top of a hill? In Puerto Princesa, this is what most tourists exactly do. Baker’s Hill is a place located on top of a hill where fresh bread and pastries are baked deliciously by a number of bakers who work together. Well if it is that good and worth it, taking the challenge of journeying to be there is accepted to get a taste of their pastry.
Upon being told that I am already at Baker’s hill, I looked at the signage placed on its gate to confirm. At first glance, I initially thought that it is just a small place and buying its famous pastries would be such a breeze so I can easily go back to the hotel and catch my afternoon flight. But my search for that box of pastry has turned out to be a leisurely detouring.
Baker’s Hill facade
Upon entering its gate, I was welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked bread. It enticed me so much that I walked a little more and have seen a bake shop just located on the left side of the gate. Knowing that my purpose is to buy that baked delight to have a taste of it has suddenly replaced by curiosity after seeing what surrounded me. The moment I set my foot in the compound, I felt like I was brought into a different world as if being transported to a dreamy-like garden. Mesmerized, I have wonder to wander around to discover what every corner has to offer. It certainly brings out the child in me again.
While walking on the pathway my eyes were drawn on a noticeable tree with red leaves where a lover’s seat is placed under it. This side of the compound has a feel of being in an old English market town. It is where the souvenir and bake shops are located. Seeing the words ‘sweets’, ‘cookies’ and ‘muffins’ written on the top part of the structure makes me curious what to see inside, however, only the crew and staff can come inside. Should visitors want to see the freshly baked goodies they can go to the front store anyway.
Lover’s seat under a tree with red leaves
Off limits area
Looking across, I was greeted by the iconic fat baker statue that seems to be leading me on a multi-story structure which I presume to be the humble abode of the owner. It is modestly designed yet architectural beautiful. As I entered the beautifully landscaped area I was reminded of an old English palace garden. On one of its side is where ‘Baker’s Hill’ is spelled out with live plants. As I stare at the well-manicured garden I have imagined myself sitting on its bench while reading a book and drinking a coffee. However, I just contained myself looking at it, after seeing a woman taking her time in being photographed on it. Before I leave, I noticed a towering tree and wondered what kind of tree it is for being so tall and having a light green color, eventually, I figured out it’s actually a tree structure made of recycled green plastic bottles. Hence, I have been amazed by the fusion of artistry and resourcefulness employed on this gardenland.
Iconic fat baker’s man statue
As I continued on my trail I have seen a pizza house where visitors can buy brick-oven freshly made pizza should they want to bring it with them. Meanwhile, for those who would like to dine in, they can stay at Baker’s Kitchen Restaurant to have a taste of their other food offerings. From the outside, it looks quaintly designed and has both indoor and al fresco dining area. Being tempted to go inside, I have to resist the urge to eat and have a bite of their delish food. I don’t have the luxury to take so much time here because I have to return as soon as bought that Baked goodies.
Baker’s Kitchen facade
Baker’s Kitchen back
As I continue to ramble I have seen an almost unused washroom for separate sexes. Despite its cleanliness, they are still so considerate on their visitors to post a notice that says “Please buzzer for assistance or if the CR is dirty.’ Regardless that the admission here is free, it is commendable that they are caring enough, making it an epitome of hospitality at its finest. However, you may donate any amount for the cleanliness maintenance should you appreciate their kind gesture.
This place captures the hearts of both the children and young at heart for being a family oriented destination. Located at the back of the restaurant and just across the washroom is where the playground is. Being under the shade of young trees, kids can comfortably glide on the slides, ride on the swings and crawl inside the playhouse. There are heavy wooden tables and chairs around hence making it an ideal place for families and groups of friends to have a picnic and munch on their tasty freshly-baked goodies.
As I continue my descent, the shady pathways provided by the trees, allowed me to explore the various areas of the park with ease. It enabled me to enjoy the good sunshine and peaceful atmosphere that the surrounding has to offer. I caught myself enjoying sightseeing and taking lovely snaps in every picturesque corner. In this place, little things were considered enough and have been carefully crafted to provide kitschy details from fiber-glass human-sized statues of cartoon characters to differently designed benches and other ornaments. Also, surrounding the area are colorful floral arrangements and trimmed grasses and shrubs. There are also botanical details such as the flower petals floating on a cauldron, the huge LOVE standee where lovers are normally spotted dating, a contoured flower arrangement artistically designed like a sprinkler watering the plants and other well-manicured flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees.
Sprinkler Flower arrangement
Umbrellas on the garden
Some of the pathways are designed with ceramics leading to explore different corners and nooks. Following the main cemented pathway has led me to the far end of Baker’s Hill where a viewing deck of the city and its coastline is located. However, it is off-limits during my visit, hence I just opted to look around and have spotted an arched pergola with a bench that is silently tucked. Again I imagined myself sitting there and listening to soft music while sipping a cold drink. However, due to time restraint, I don’t have the privilege to loiter a little more.
Pathway leading to arched pergola
Arched pergola benches
Upon reaching the end of the complex, I walked back. Looking at the entire property has made me ponder about the generosity of the owner – the Flores family. They were not originally born in Palawan, and actually owns Tipas Bakery located in Ibayo-Tipas, Taguig City wherein Hopia is their best seller. They have brought their baked goodies here and have started out a simple and small bakery. Situated on a hilltop where bakers cook delicious fresh baked products for visitors to taste hence its name. With their hopia’s plain, flaky crust and simple bean filling both the locals and tourists have loved it ergo the business grew and became successful. They have later developed the compound to become a park with restaurants and souvenir shop. Also, its gardens have been further developed as one of the Flores family is a landscaper. Around the complex you will see the name Shirley Flores mentioned on some corners of the gardens and witness her creatively made landscapes. Clearly, the fusion of the family’s ability to produce baked goods and beautiful gardens is what made Baker’s Hill what it is today.
Baker’s Hill pebbles mosaic
The family shares their enchanting gardenland to tourists for free despite that it may cost them maintaining the cleanliness and tendering the garden complex. Hence visitors must realize to be considerate enough in keeping it in order and clean by not littering in the park. Also, since the mansion of the owner is located inside, their privacy is expected to be respected and avoid going beyond the considerable boundary. The park is already shared to its visitors for free, hence one can opt to explore around it except in off-limits areas.
As I continue walking back I have smelled the sweet aroma of the freshly baked goods that have a persuasive power that pushes me to try the baked goodies. Ergo, I proceeded to the strategically placed bakeshop located on its gate. Inside an assortment of baked products ranging from mamon, crinkles, brownies, choco slice and droplets, tostadong mamon and pianono are all displayed for purchase. However, the bakery’s specialties are the Hopia Ube and Hopia Baboy so I made sure to bring home a box of it. Good thing that I went here on my last day of stay in Puerto Princesa cause I can bring it home freshly made. I haven’t thought that buying baked goodies as a souvenir and spending time here would be longer than I thought. When I have visited it I only have limited time. Should I have plenty of spare time, I would like to stay to see a good view of the horizon from its viewing deck at dusk, and stay to wait for the night when lights transform the whole place into a romantic garden.
However, I have to leave the fantasy garden so I escorted myself to the exit and rode in the van. While sitting on the passenger seat I looked back at its gate and thought of the question “Would you buy baked goodies on top of a hill?” Again, my answer would be definitely. Because it made me discover picturesque sceneries to remember while having able to bring hearty baked goodies.
Should you also want to be captivated with the beauty inside of this mixed commercial-residential compound, you may locate it on an upper-class subdivision in Mitra Road, Barangay Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. And you may come from Tuesday to Sunday.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All expenses were shouldered by the author. All photos are from Kaycie Gayle