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Day 1: Meeting Sagada

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Ever since I read James’ post and heard the stories of my friends on the so-called ‘enchanting’ place, I really wanted to organize and see for myself the small town in Mt. Province Philippines, Sagada. It is located on the northern part of Luzon up in a long and winding road after a 12 hour drive from Manila.
Houses in Sagada have a very nice backdrop

This plan is long overdue. It is only now that I have the time and the funds when finally I was able to put color on my drawings. I did crammed on putting up the itinerary – first is because we are at the peak of numerous work and second is I can only do it when I’m in the office and there’s the computer (signal in the apartment is frustratingly low, besides I don’t have computer in the apt). Plan is Sagada-Baguio for a 5days-4nights stay. I was hesitant at first because the weather forecast on the planned dates does not suggest good weather. Pushing through the plan is actually a risk taken, I just prayed that the weather forecast may somehow fail to provide the accurate weather and delay the storm landfall at least until I’m back to Manila. Haha!
I’m travelling with my partner so the expenses are now down to half. I’m actually lucky that he came along because initially I planned to do it solo. After vigorous researching and contacting of the hotels/transient houses where we’ll be staying, all is set foot and ready to go!

I packed my bags and travelled to Sagada straight from the office, yes, imagine myself bringing a large bagpack (the ones used in hiking) and a small shoulder bag into my desk. I also did bought some groceries for our breakfast (cup noodles, bread and sandwich spread) to lessen our expenses. Also, in preparation of the long trip, I bought a neck pillow.
Our travel time to Baguio is actually too early because we arrived at Baguio at 3AM in the morning. We waited for 3 more hours for the earliest trip to Sagada is at 6AM. Tambay muna sa Good Taste restaurant near GL Trans. GL Trans Bus line I must say, is the most efficient bus line to take when going to Sagada because it has buses that are not too old and mostly are roomy. However, I’m still not able to take a long sleep. “Lutang” ika-nga from Manila to Sagada. I wear that groggy face until the first night in Sagada.
Reaching Sagada Town Hall is worthy of celebration! As in, we literally jumped out of the bus and walked our way towards the Tourism Office. Everybody was exhausted on that 6hour trip passing by curves which is unending, no idle moment. My partner even says Aquino is not permitted in this area, because “walang tuwid na daan”. Haha! Our butts and legs are now free from numbness. Oh thank God!

Ticket to the one way street

Going down is easy, but going back to town is difficult because the street is up hill.

Registration in the Tourism Office costs 30 pesos. Guides are also available in the office if you want to start with the different activities. We got ours from SAGGAS office. Going straight down the road is all of Sagada town. Small houses, small restaurants, souvenir shops, this is an aura of a very humble life. I’m starting to like it since everything is accessible in this one way road. But before entering any establishments, we first looked for food and Salt & Pepper is our first encounter.
Food is good, serving is good, price is good, hunger solved!

The crew took a lot of time to serve the food – minus points! But the plate full of rice is worth it.
After the food, we went straight ahead to our accommodation. We chose George Guesthouse because it has private rooms with own CR at a cheap price – Php700 and that 350/head for us. No air condition – you won’t need it. Upon our arrival, there are minor issues because booking George Guesthouse is a little unmanaged, so instead of giving us a 1 bedroom room, they gave us a 2 bedroom room with own CR and cable tv – of course that is an advantage for us but due to unorganized management of their booking it may have caused us to look for other guest houses instead. We’re just lucky it’s off peak season and it’s not weekend. In case you also choose George Guesthouse, make sure they record your reservation – sometimes even if you already called they don’t record it!
Oh shower! We can finally have our oily heads washed up. But hey, it’s damn cold in here so a heater is a must have. Almost all guest houses in Sagada have this or else, you won’t dare taking a bath.  After bath we took a few more rest and we’re ready for our first activity in Sagada – SPELUNKING.
As I remember, our guide says there are 4 caves in Sagada and spelunking in two of them is one of the main attractions here. From town, it is a 20mins walk to the jump off point of Lumiang Cave (big cave) which is the cave that connects to the other cave Sumaguing Cave. This is an extreme activity that requires a physically fit body to pass by small crevices with steep drops on the side. If you are not physically fit and find it hard to lift your own body, then you can always have the guides help you out as with my case in rappelling a hanging rock formation. Yes there are rappelling on the side and passing through stomach-high water. Nevertheless, you should consider your health and ability if you will be doing this activity.
Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures in Lumiang Cave during action.
The big cave entrance where native people bury their loved ones, the higher the location of the wooden casket, the higher the importance or respect for the dead

When you see lots of water, smooth rock formations that looks like it’s made of sand, water basins and running water everywhere, then you are near Sumaguing Cave. Sumaguing Cave is the home of beautiful rock formations with stories attached to them.  There are the so-called king, queen, their baby, some other animals and the curtain which is a waterfall miniature. Just a precaution that there are white stones everywhere which is extremely slippery. I said ‘extremely’ so imagine how many times I’m victimized. Speaking of victimized, I also experienced the touch of bat poops and pee. You’ll know it’s a bat poop when you touch a creamy thingy on rocks and they are everywhere on the way out to Sumaguing exit. The bats nestled on the cave’s big and high ceiling. Even a 5-storey building would fit in there.

Going out Sumaguing is a long trek upwards and the struggle does not stop there, going back to town is a long walk – about an hour. Sumaguing’s cave entrance is way farther than the Lumiang’s cave entrance so we’re very lucky to hitch a truck that happens to pass by the area. It’s like a top load experience because we’re at the back of the truck – such a nice and rugged experience!

The exit - Entrance to Sumaguing Cave

Our body did suffered after - shoulders, legs and back. One should have muscle pain relievers to the rescue. We cleaned up and went out again for dinner. Since it’s already 8 in the evening and the famous open restaurants are far from where we stayed, we chose the Pinikpikan house which is nearer. We tried their famous Pinikpikan soup which is made out of battered-chicken.
Pinikpikan Soup

Pinikpikan House

Honestly I didn’t like the first taste but there’s a tolerable taste after. Even so, we did not enjoy it so we had it eaten by a community dog who sat beside our table. My partner ordered a pork sisig but we knew there’s something missing. Overall, the experience is not fulfilling, maybe our choice of food is not successful this time. On the other side, we met another couple which happens to be one of our co-passengers in the bus to Sagada. We talked and planned to join forces on our tour the next day to cut down on expenses which I call ‘luck’. Though we estimated our expenses for two only, having another two would be a saving. They offered us a drink to Kimchi Bar but we rejected it since we’re already tired and want some rest.
We ended our first day with muscle pains and a dinner failure but we have Energen and snickers to the rescue – yeah! It’s a good thing I bought these stomach babies.

Night enders – bed and blanket. Oh how I love resting my back on a soft bed after a hard day!

PS: Always bring your registration receipt everywhere you go especially during activities. On our way to spelunking we forgot our receipt in our room so we had to go back and retrieve it which is a waste of time and energy.

Until my next post,



Glens is a full time Systems Developer and part time wanderer. On weekends she's mostly at home watching series, anime or anything of her interest. Sometimes, she can be seen backpacking or hiking. But she can ditch that over comfort food and bed weather.

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