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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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November 16, 2018

atok: beauty of northern blossoms


Sunrise over Mt. Pulag
While Atok is probably more known for its vegetable farms (and the cherry trees planted in park which are still several years away from becoming a legit cherry blossoms spectacle), a beautiful flower farm has put in the tourist map just this year.

Surreal photos of cabbage roses in sunrise started appearing in social media (Facebook and Instagram) about year ago. Location was tagged as "Atok", and occasionally "Northern Blossoms" was indicated in the photos.

Not much info can be found about the flower farm, there were no blogs about it back then. It could be in some remote part of Atok, but just like most visitors getting there for the first time, I was surprised it was right smack near the center of the town. Of course few people knew that back then.

As more photos about the place circulated, it seems that every where you point your camera, the place presents you with a  postcard perfect view.  The place was definitely Instagram-friendly. Naturally the photos were flooded with questions: where is it? how to get there? who to contact?

Seasonal flowers in Northern Blossoms
The proprietors tried their best to keep the farm off the radar, and for some time the farm is one of Benguet's best keep secret.  The farm is really a flower farm in the first place, supplying fresh cut flowers (used for various occasions as such weddings) to as far as southern Mindanao, and don't have facilities designed for tourists (i.e. accommodations and food). A local TV show eventually featured the place, sans the actual location. They were even very careful with the drone footages.

But nothing stays a secret for long, especially if it's the Internet we are talking about.  The trickle of visitors turned into throngs, eventually overwhelming the place. For some time the owners would implicitly suggest that visitors do not post much info about the place.

I had been able to visit the place several times this year and was able to experience the proprietors' warm hospitality and see its year round beauty. Here are some of my favorites:

Cabbage roses at sunrise

Northern Blossoms' famous cabbage roses
The colder the weather, the more colorful the cabbage roses are. So its best to visit the farm from Dec-Jan if you want to catch this view.  Note that the farm rotates what they plant as well as the location, so you'll get different vantage points every time.

There are different flower patches that you can include in your shots if the cabbage roses are not available

Pastel Dawn

Snapdragons at sunrise

Aside from the cabbage roses, snapdragons make for beautiful foregrounds as well. Normally these flowers are grown inside greenhouses, but a storm stripped a greenhouse with these flowers of its roof,  exposing rows of snapdragons. This particular patch is perfect during sunrise.

Snapdragons at sunrise

Milky Way season

During the summer months when the sky is usually clear in the evenings, Atok's elevation and location (very minimal light pollution) makes it one of the best places to do astrophotography.

Star trails over Atok
In Northern Blossoms one could see the Milky Way rise over Mt. Pulag at around 1-2AM.

Milky Way over Pulag
There was one night when a friend (fellow photography hobbyist as well) and I stayed up from 10PM up to sunrise just to marvel at the stars :).  Just make sure to dress for cold weather as Atok's night time temperature can "plunge" to 10 degrees Celcius (or sometimes single digit). Thats pretty cold for a tropical country.


Atok is one of the coldest places in the country. In fact during the months of January-February, extreme cold in Atok causes frost which devastates hundreds of vegetable farms.

Milky Way and Snapdragons

Foggy Mood

During the raining months, Atok can get really windy and foggy but this did not seem to deter visitors (including me!).

The wind and the rain can make it tricky to take photos, but if you are patient enough you'd be still be able to take "keepers".

among the Hydrangeas
A lot of the flowers are inside greenhouses so you'd still be able to take of ton of photos without getting wet or cold.

Snapdragons in full bloom
Notes
  • There are accommodations in Northern Blooms but these are very limited. It's best to contact the farm ahead of your visit if you want to stay overnight.  They do not serve food, but the place is a short walk from the center of town where you can get supplies. 
  • There are transient houses in Atok, just drop by their tourism office to get more details. The center of the town is very small,  so its easy to find everything.
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Lantaw
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