For the longest time, I have been bugging people to go with me to Sagada. As usual, schedules refused to coordinate. So I was jumping up and down (in my head) when Mona asked if I wanted to with a friend of hers, who was bringing a friend, and so on. Thus, the second trip with virtual strangers for 2012.
We had breakfast at Salt and Pepper. Food in Sagada, as most other bloggers have written, is a bit expensive, but justifiably so. It takes a while before food is served, but the serving sizes are huge (good for one brother or good for two of me huge), and that’s pretty much the standard in all the restaurants there.Then we were shepherded back to our lodge (Sagada Guest House), which had the most awesome and relatively cheap egg drop soup which would serve as our go to food throughout the weekend. Then it was time for a tour of the town proper, including Sagada Weaving, St. Mary’s Church, Echo Valley, and the hanging coffins.
St. Mary’s Church is Anglican, and interestingly, they allow females to serve as priests/pastors. According to one of the guides, it used to be much larger, but was bombed in World War 2, as Japanese troops used it a base camp of sorts.
Before you get to the hanging coffins, you have to pass by a cemetery that looks like your average graveyard. This reflects the influence of Christianity in the region, although some natives still prefer the traditional route.
There’s actually a coffin inside this cave. We couldn’t take a proper picture, though, as the rest of the tour group was behind us.
No worries, here are more coffins. The natives believe that the closer you are to heaven, the easier it will be for your soul to ascend. According to our guide, some of the coffins are shorter, because the dead person is placed in a fetal position, as it is of their belief that one should leave the world as one entered it. In contrast, other coffins are sized ‘regularly’, which the guide attributed to the pervading influence of Christianity.
In the afternoon, we went to trek the Sagada rice terraces. Again, I was not prepared for the physicality it required. So at first, steady lang. Like walking downstairs, except it was a bit muddy and slippery here and there.
Then, it began to rain. Sige, okay lang din. So everyone who wasn’t planning to swim in the falls changed their minds already. Basa na e. And then, shutangina, umuulan na ng yelo. I’m not talking about the soft, wispy snow kind of ice. These were hard, sharp chunks that kept hitting us on the head, nape, arms – masakit. It was funny but painful. Siyempre kulang pa, so lumevel up si Mother Nature with a thunderstorm. The guide kept asking us what we did wrong, as this was the first time in her two years of guiding tourists that this happened.
We just waded in the water by the falls. I didn’t attempt to swim for long as I was getting hypothermic, and the current was getting stronger. The ascending trek was more tiring, although at this point people were just pretty much thankful to be still alive. Partial chos. Dinner at um, I think it was Yoghurt House. Good food, as usual.
As none of us were particularly athletic people, we opted to do the normal cave (Lumiang) adventure, as opposed to the Cave Connection (which I plan to do next time – Yes, I’m coming back! Want to come with?) But Lord, buwis buhay rin pala. The guide we got was an independent, adventurous fellow, and didn’t want to be with the crowd. So, what was supposed to be two hours of walking and a little bit of climbing turned into walking barefoot in guano, lots of climbing, rappelling downwards and sidewards, swimming in water above head level (well, my head at least), squeezing into tight crevices (This one was easy for me. Haha) – the works. Try to look for the mini terraces inside Lumiang Cave. It’s eerily awesome. When we compared notes with the other group who took the Cave Connection, parang mas pinagod kami ni Kuya. Hahaha. Super fun.
The afternoon was supposed to be for touring and souvenir shopping, but it was raining, so we just put gluttony on the itinerary and indulged ourselves at the Lemon Pie House. By the way, if you do plan to take home lemon pies, make sure you reserve beforehand. We almost didn’t get to have any.
Before going back to Manila, we woke up early to see the sunrise at Kiltepan Peak. I think this was one of my favorite moments. Despite the crowd, there was something really peaceful about seeing the sun rise on a bed of clouds. As Steven Tyler would say, beautiful.
Back to the moving postcard. We took a different route back, so that we could see the Banaue Rice Terraces. I think I appreciate the Sagada terraces more, because we were able to see it up close. Nonetheless, the Banaue terraces were also picturesque.
It’s even more incredible when I keep remembering that the natives had no tractors when they constructed the terraces. I’ve heard so many good things about Sagada, and everyone’s right. One trip isn’t enough. : )
P.S. The pictures were taken using Ramona Sosa’s camera, though the photographer may be any one of the five of us.
We booked a tour with Tripinas, which turned out okay, although it could benefit from a little more internal organization. Anyhow, I didn’t really mind the minor mishaps, because Sagada is such a lovely, lovely place that you’d have to be the biggest ass to keep complaining.