Atok to Remember: Visiting Northern Blossom Flower Farm


Seventeen years ago, it was my first time I had set foot in Benguet. I was in sixth grade and it was summer vacation. My family were invited to join my uncle’s family in their trip to visit the place of the late grandfather of one of their nephews. Based on itinerary, we would do a stopover after lunch in Baguio City as they need to meet a relative. Then, we would go to Atok, a municipality of the province, where there would be a reunion of their nephew’s family and spent the night. In the next morning, we were toured in the flower farm that was not yet a tourist destination, traveled to the former Highest Point of the country, the Halsema Highroad Point, explored the residence of nephew’s grandfather where there was the big reunion of his lineage, and where we experienced harvesting potatoes, and hiked to the mummies’ cave where we saw how the people there traditionally buried their dead loved ones inside the wood made of coffin. As I was young before, those are the only things I remember. These were the moments I did not savor as I was dealing with my fear of heights. The view was majestic, but the cliffs made my knees weak. As I grew old, I find it regretting as I wasted that chance.

Since then, I am looking forward to going back there for me to redeem myself. The waiting just ended last week as my friends/ colleagues including my cousin and I traveled there. Even that we had three hours of sleep, we managed to catch up the early morning trip to one of the most visited towns of the province. Our journey started through leaving our transient house in Pacdal at 4:50 AM. We walked for five minutes until we reached the front gate of the church in the area. We waited for a taxi. Luckily, we found a ride for two minutes. One must go to Dangwa Terminal to ride in a public utility van. We reached it at 5:08 AM. We were fortunate as we were able to catch up the early trip giving as an advantage to navigate the place with few people. The fare is two hundred pesos (Php 200). Seven minutes before 5:30, we left the terminal to traverse more than 40 kilometers going to our destination.

It was still dark and there were only few vehicles on the road. I tried not to fall asleep for me to see the view along the way. Thank God that the driver played songs I sang softly such as Olivia Rodrigo’s Traitor, and Until I Found You by Stephen Sanchez. I searched for the lyrics of the songs for me to sing them properly. What I love in public transport is singing along with the music played in the stereo. I can’t stop myself from humming or singing the memorable lines of the songs. I hope my seatmates were not distraught about my way of keeping myself awake. I observed the things on our way as my way of familiarization. I remember that we passed by the Baguio- Bontoc toll where I saw signage stating we had 36 kilometers left. I caught sight of group of adults in front of bonfire. Well, it was cold that time.

The sunrise slowly exposed the cliffs we need to pass by. I was thrilled and nostalgic at the moment. This was the road we traveled a long time ago. There was the increase number of establishments such as restaurants and gasoline stations. Truly, changes do happen through the years. As I marveled about what I see in the driver’s dashboard, I felt nervous. I was sitting in the row behind the driver’s seat. It was like my heart skips a beat every time we meet truck and car, and when our car swerves due to the zigzag.

Seeing greenery along the road was calming. It is nice that there are pine trees standing proud in the cliffs. Looking at them afar seems like they are small, but when we passed them by, they are enormous. Mountainside is covered with green grass that are perfect for picnic or wandering. Several groups of flowers thriving together on our way such as sunflowers are giving us opening salvo vibes. I can’t help but take pictures and record videos of these unspoiled wonders. Well, my seatmates did the same. The scene is so alluring that failure of documenting it with gadgets is a sin.

We reached the Northern Blossom Flower Farm at 6:58 AM. It is located in KM. 50 Halsema Highway, Sayangan, Atok, Benguet. Based on the Google Maps, it will take one hour and 57 minutes to reach the tourist attraction using a car if you will start the trip in Baguio City. We arrived earlier. As the van was entering the parking area, there was a reminiscence of images I remember when I visited the place for the first time. I saw the house where we stayed overnight. We were not able to enter it as the residents there were busy. During our stay there, my cousin and I slept in the corner filled of stuffed toys that served as our beddings. I was able to sleep without blanket if my memory serves me right. Both of us went back but I think I cannot withstand the cold weather. The house where I saw white radishes for the first time is still there. The latest additions in the village are the mini- market set up near the farm owner’s house that sell clothes and plants, and the two-storey building where the registration booth is placed. The said establishment has a lounge area, and transient rooms in the upper floor. There are also restrooms for the guests.

Based on the posted papers, the flower farm is open from Mondays to Sundays at 6 AM to 11:30 AM, and 1 PM to 4:30 PM. Below is the list of entrance fee.

Adults (Ages 11 to 59): Php 250.00

Seniors/ PWDs: Php 200.00

Kids (Ages 6-10): Php 50.00

Kids (Ages 0-5): Free

Plus 250.00 Guide Fee in a Group

For those who will have photoshoot/ prenups, there is a fee of Php 2,500.00 and Php 250.00 entrance fee per head.

Northern Blossom became famous tourist destination as pictures/ videos of the area went viral in social media sites. As we waited for our guide, I was excited to see what is store for us. Before it became trending, I was able to roam around the area. We gave the chips to our guide and we were briefed about our tour. For those who love photographs, there are staff who can help you in your picture taking.

After two minutes, we entered the place. Our first stop was in the greenhouse with different colors of chrysanthemums and other flowering plants. Then, we took pictures near the vertical garden. This faces the highlands of different municipalities of the province. It was foggy and the sun was starting to be radiant. The white callalily captured my attention. The farm has different levels, so we need to go down. Every level has different plants one can see from flowering to succulents.

We went down and we were welcomed by million flower plants and statice. There is another greenhouse and we decided to go there. We spent most of our minutes there as the flowers are really beautiful. It is evident as we had many selfies and groufies there. What I enjoyed there was treading the spaces of plots and be hidden by the flowers. Unfortunately, I was not able to get the names of the plants, but I think they are larkspurs.

We descended to where pot marigold flowers are planted. The spot made me sing “Yellow” by Coldplay. Even I am a shy person in front of the camera, I took the opportunity to have my photos taken by one of the staff. In fairness, he has the photography skills. He knows how to play with the angle and lighting. I can say that these are my best photos in the place. Removing my jacket paid off. It was shivering as there was breeze, but the cold never bothered anyway.

After that, we went into cabbage rose plots. My friends and I were joking that we will make coleslaw. Actually, I learned that they are really edible. Maybe I will try it next time when I go back there.

We continued strolling in the area and we had our photo sessions in the chrysanthemum plots using a wood bench. There are many colors of the said flower like white, pink, red, and yellow. I took the opportunity to rest my knees. #AdultingIsReal. We made candid shots such as we have found a ‘tea’ on social media.

We went further down and we saw various succulents. There were red roses too. We have reached the “Northern Blossom” cement mark and we were able to ask for low angle shot. Next, we headed to an area dedicated for million flowers. They are purple and each plant has bunch of flowers that I think is how the plant’s name was derived. We asked another staff to take pictures and I am impressed with the results. After not wearing my jacket for almost one hour, I wore it and used in this session. I enjoyed my hood.

Photo by Leizel Cestona

I asked my friends if we can go to the view deck. The million flowers garden is near the exit, so we walked back to the cabbage roses part where the deck is near. This is one of the busiest areas of the farm as people flocked there for photos with panoramic background. We sweetly smiled, and I think I have redeemed myself. My knees were not shaking just like my first time I was in the farm before. 

As we approached the exit, we passed by the sunflowers that are in full bloom. I stopped and took pictures of these. In my vision, they are like the sunflowers of Plants vs Zombies. They made me feel energized. Few steps from this area are the coffee and souvenir shops that are found in the exit. This is the noticeable difference of my visit before. There are now establishments where the visitors can take a rest after the long walk. Cup of hot coffee and mamon bread are up for grabs at the end of the exploration of the three- hectare farm. The mother of my uncle’s nephew was there and she was accommodating to us. She even presented herself to take photos of us savoring the free treats. I am not a mamon fan, but theirs is delicious. Each customer is given a coffee time of thirty minutes. We stayed in the souvenir shop. One can buy various souvenirs there such as t-shirts. There are plants that are sold for fifty pesos.

Before leaving the area, we were able to converse to the owner of the flower farm who is the aunt of my cousin. She is cordial. Even though she was busy that day, she managed to have a pep talk with us. She gifted us a bookmark with the name of the farm and graphics of flower engraved front and back. We left the area before 10:30 PM for us to prepare ourselves in our Christmas Village and Botanical Garden visitation. We rode a public van for two hundred pesos per head fare going back to Baguio.

We had fun in our trip. It was relaxing and fulfilling as my colleagues has crossed it out in their bucket lists, and it was my chance to enjoy anew as I had a dreadful first-time experience due to my fear. It was nostalgic and empowering. Thank you, Northern Blossom Flower Farm for the visual and gastronomic treats. Indeed, it is Atok to Remember--- a referencing to Mandy Moore’s movie, A Walk to Remember. I pray I can go back to this place in every five years. I recommend this to be part of your #TravelGoals this 2023.



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