The predecessor to Pretty Little Liars and other modern-day murder mysteries, Twin Peaks is a television series by Mark Frost and David Lynch that ran from 1990 to 1991. The series chronicles the mysterious and unsettling circumstances behind the murder of sixteen-year-old Laura Palmer in an eccentric town in Washington where everyone seems to be hiding the darkest of secrets.
“It’s like I’m having the most beautiful dream and the most terrible nightmare all at once.”
As Stuart Mitcher wrote in “David Lynch: American Dreamers in the Heart of Darkness,” these words spoken by the character Donna Hayward have done more than enough to capture the esoteric beauty of the dream-turned-nightmare world of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Just as Twin Peaks has done for its viewers in the past 24 years, the Philippine’s own Baguio city in Northern Luzon holds the same captivating aesthetic that keeps those with an uncanny appreciation of beauty and mystery coming back for more.
Take a look at these four Baguio destinations that could have come straight out of the Lynchian world of Twin Peaks.
4. Kennon Road / ‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’
‘Welcome to Twin Peaks’
Kennon Road is the gateway to Baguio from La Union known by travelers for its narrow roads that have been holding up since the Baguio earthquake of 1990. With its zigzag pathways and vast mountainous scenery, Kennon Road is reminiscent of the foggy drive leading up to Twin Peaks full of craggy mountains and rows of Douglas firs. I go to Baguio at least four times a year and although I take different routes each trip, Kennon Road has always been something like the opening theme of Twin Peaks for me in how it signals the onset of memories just waiting to be made.
Twin Peaks, Tuba, Benguet
Coincidentally enough, there’s a barangay on Kennon Road called Twin Peaks with a waterfall similar to the one that can be seen near the fictional hotel called The Great Northern.
To get into the mood, feel free to start listening to the Twin Peaks theme by Angelo Badalamenti.
3. The Manor at Camp John Hay / ‘The Great Northern’
The Manor at Camp John Hay is the spitting image of ‘The Great Northern,’ a cavernous hotel owned by wealthy Twin Peaks businessman Benjamin Horne in which several of the show’s most riveting scenes take place. Both share the same exterior of a quaint and homey log cabin with walls that seem to stretch into the farthest corners of their surrounding forests. Inside are the same rooms with wooden walls and cozy fireplaces, with the Manor’s dining areas bearing the same aroma of The Great Northern’s fresh coffee famously enjoyed by Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks. Look closely enough and you can almost see Audrey Horne peeking out from one of the wooden pillars with a mischievous smile on her face.
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Audrey Horne of ‘Twin Peaks’
2. 50’s Diner / ‘Double R Diner’
The 50’s Diner is a restaurant along General Luna Road that, hence its name, could have come straight out of the 1950s with its fluorescent neon lights, jukebox, checkered flooring, and simple menu of coffee, burgers, and milkshakes. Save for the absence of Filipino comfort food, the RR Café or the ‘Double R Diner’ of Twin Peaks shares almost the exact same features of the 50’s Diner where both locals and travelers go in search of an authentic diner experience at a time when drive-thrus and fast food chains have taken over. Although the 50’s Diner doesn’t serve the famous Twin Peaks cherry pie, the nostalgia induced by both the food and the place makes it well worth a visit on your next trip to Baguio.
The 50’s Diner in Baguio
The RR Diner
1. Laperal White House / Laura Palmer’s House
Laura Palmer’s house
The Laperal White House is situated on Leonard Road and believed by many to be haunted by spirits from World War II that lived during the Japanese occupation in the late 1940s. The house is believed to have been occupied by Japanese soldiers and carries with it the same dark past of the house that Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks grew up in towards the end of her troubled childhood and her brutal murder at just sixteen years old.
Baguio vs. Twin Peaks
Looking beyond their outward appearances, Baguio and Twin Peaks share a lot more in common than one might expect. There are many other locations in Baguio like the Laperal White House that both locals and visitors revisit time and time again in search of tangible evidence of Baguio’s haunting past before the more recent years in which it became the Summer Capital loved by people all over the world. Places like The Diplomat Hotel on Dominican Hill and Teacher’s Camp along Leonard Wood Road continue to be of great significance to Baguio’s past before and during World War II, and many still believe that spirits of soldiers and Thomasite teachers from centuries ago still visit them to this day.
These places and their dark histories are part of the many idiosyncrasies that make Baguio city the quaint and poignant place it is today. The world of Twin Peaks is similarly filled with spirits from Native American mythology and portals to parallel universes not governed by any earthly notions of time or space. But more than just the mythical aspects of the series, the terror of Twin Peaks also comes from the lives of many of the characters themselves whose delusional minds and reckless actions often keep them from hiding their darkest secrets and lure them into situations more dangerous than they and even the show’s viewers could ever imagine.
With its second and final season ending abruptly almost 24 years ago, Twin Peaks is considered by many to be obsolete and of little significance in a world where pop culture is already filled with countless murder mysteries. Nevertheless, places like Baguio city are gemstones to people like me in search of the charm and mystery unique to the lost town of Twin Peaks. Although the show is set for a nine-episode return in 2016 in lieu of the famous line “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” nothing can compare to the dark aesthetic and mystique of the original series of the 1990s.
Watching Twin Peaks has enabled me to see Baguio in a different light; but even before knowing about Twin Peaks, I have always seen Baguio as a strangely familiar woodland; alluring yet full of dark secrets. It’s fascinating to see how the beauty and mystique of an idiosyncratic town in a Western TV series from almost two centuries ago can still be fully embodied by a city all the way in Northern Luzon more than 13,500 kilometers away from Washington.
Beauty and terror often go hand in hand. More than anything, the uncanny resemblance between Baguio city and the fictitious town of Twin Peaks has shown me that both beauty and terror can coexist regardless of differences in time, culture, and location – no matter how unique to Twin Peaks this combination might be.
All images in this post were taken by the author unless otherwise stated. The images from the Twin Peaks television show belong to Lynch/Frost Productions, Propaganda Films, Spelling Entertainment, and Twin Peaks Productions. The image from the film Fire Walk With Me belongs to New Line Cinema, CiBy 2000, and Twin Peaks Productions.
The Manor Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay, Ordonio Dr, Baguio, 2600 Benguet, Philippines
50’s Diner Baguio City
92 Upper General Luna Road, Corner Brent Road, Baguio City, Baguio City