SAGADA has been the ultimate goal I've set for myself this summer. I've had several summer getaway during summer, but SAGADA was unique. I want to go there alone. Some may think, "gusto ko lang mag #hugot" but no. I wanted to witness the beauty of the place it self. In fact I just wanted to check it out for myself.
It was not an easy trip going to SAGADA but would be all the rush, sweat, late meal, and every penny. One friend of mine asked, "pretty place" I undoubtedly said, "pretty" is an understatement. SAGADA had several activities and spots to offer. And it's beauty is indescribable.
I came to Metro Manila primarily to attend as part of the entourage of my very good brother in Christ Mr. MP last May 15, 2015 #MLBiyahengPagibig051515. But I was booked for a flight back to Cagayan de Oro City on the 18th early morning. Which means that I still have time to go somewhere over the weekend.
I was thinking, can I really do it? I mean SAGADA? First time and alone? But I know "me". I love adventures! Of course, the urge to say YES is greater than the urge to say NO! So, the day just a couple of hours before my brother's wedding, I went to Victory Liner to book my ticket to Baguio. And guess what! Fully booked!
Hmmm, what if I go to BALER, and not SAGADA? But Baler wasn't the priority this time. It's really SAGADA. I think the universe may have heard my whispers in the wind that it urged my friend AM to prod me to pursue my SAGADA plans. I told him, Victory Liner is fully booked, it's not unusual because it's summer and the next available trip is already the following day. He said, NO! It's not just Victory Liner that goes to Baguio, there's still Genesis! I've tried it before, and it was okay, my friend said. I said, let's try.
We did go to check Genesis out. On our way to their Avenida Terminal, Getting a cab nor riding a jeep was already an adventure. Even the jeepneys are full! Seriously? All taxi seems to not care about passengers. Don't we exist here? Hello! Taxi? But no, we didn't get any cab.
Until that destined jeepney going to Avenida, came and we were allowed to enter and take our precious seats! Yes! After around 30-40 minutes of looking for a cab or jeepney. Finally! (Don't sing ariel please!), A jeepney passing just for us! (LOL actually, we just had the opportunity to hop on it first).
As we arrived, we saw there are buses parked in Avenida. And yes, it's Genesis! But they call their bus, Joy Bus? They said it's the same. We asked if I can hop on one of the parked buses. I got a stern "no". All were fully booked except that which would leave by 1:00 AM. Wow! Seriously? Fully booked again? But since there's a chance to have that 1:00 AM bus, we decided to stay. While we were trying to find something to fill our stomach. We left the terminal, thinking that it's still 11:00 or a couple of minutes after 11:00 PM. We went to a nearby Jollibee to feed ourselves. After having our meal, we went back to Genesis' terminal. Guess what? The bus intended for 1:00 AM has already left. Whaaat? Are you kidding me?
We were informed that as soon as all the seats (allowed capacity) are filled, the bus will travel even if it's not yet the scheduled time for the bus. Amazingly, most bus companies going to North has this practice! So never rely on their schedule. Book ahead, ensure your schedule! Be there earlier than your travel time!
I did not give up! Thanks to my very supportive friend Mr. A.M. for pushing me! haha
I was able to travel earlier than 1:00 A.M still, riding the bus, initially intended to travel by 2:00 A.M. because again, it got all filled before the scheduled time.
I arrived in Baguio at around 7:30 A.M., and guess what!? The bus going to Sagada is fully booked again! The next trip to SAGADA is by 11:30 A.M! Wow! Although there is a trip to SAGADA at 9:30 A.M. but the available seats are center seats. The trip is for 6 long hours from Baguio, so don't choose center seats unless you don't have a choice because of the schedule. Before the 9:30A.M. came, we've already left the terminal. Again, because it's full!
We arrived in SAGADA by 3:00 P.M. There are I believe 3 bus stops that Lizardo bus usually makes their stop. Or should I say, their drivers stop. So you can be sure you can have somewhere to buy your food, if you didn't bring anything with you. But I am a light meal eater when on travel, so every bus stop I just usually pee and not really eat. I don't smoke, so I usually just use the time every stop for site and sight-seeing.
Upon arrival in SAGADA there's the Town Hall, but that's not where you register. Go to your left where there is a Municipal Hall, register as a guest. Pay your environmental fee of P35.00. If you haven't booked a travel agency or guide yet. Ask for a guide there. Also, ask for a map! They have one to give to each guest/visitor/tourist.
Because it's already late. I went to find a hotel. I walked couple of meters away from the hall, and all hotels were fully booked!
Another tip: If you haven't booked ahead of time, you have internet, and credit card, use www.agoda.com! They have room for everyone.haha because I was afraid I couldn't find a room for a night, I did browsed through Agoda. Thank God, there's a room available in Masferre for US$36.00. Few clicks, and my booking was confirmed.
I walked couple of steps from the hall, and yeah! It's Masferre Inn! I asked for my booked room (just a couple of seconds earlier). Then I was ushered to my room where I left my things.
I lost no time to freshen up. Went out, asked for my guide. And off to my first SAGADA adventure!
My first adventure is CAVE Connection. According to the guide the adventures starts with a 40 minutes walk from the town center to the entry point at Lumiang/Burial Cave. Wedged at the entrance are piles of coffins. Deeper into the cave are awesome rock formations to satisfy your eyes and some rock climbing, and crawling for those thirsty for a more challenging physical activity. the exploration usually takes about 4-5 hours, ending at Sumaguing/Big Cave. I took this cave connection and just made it to the end within 1.5 hours only. Quite fast.
Last entrance to the cave: 4:00 P.M.
Dokiw Hanging Coffins viewpoint
Lumiang Burial Cave Entry point
As shared to me by my guide, these are small coffins, not because the people before have heights less than 4 ft. but because these people buried here, are put in the coffin in a fetal position. They believe that when a person dies, he/she goes back to how he/she came into the world, thus the fetal position when placed in a coffin. He also added that the burial in this area was a festive and happy one. The people buried in Lumiang Cave are those who died of old age. There are different places for different categories of death. People celebrate when a person dies out of old age. When he's accumulated several grandchildren and wealth, that's something to celebrate. For them, it means, they've lived their life well.
Inside the cave you'll have several physical activities including rock climbing, crawling and even rappelling.
But it's worth it, as you'll see nature at its best under the cave!
Sumaguing Cave exit point
Rice Terraces view point - this is something I only read about in my geography class. Not knowing, I'd come here at least for once in my life time!
Guide Fee: P800.00 for 2 visitors or less and P400 for each additional visitor.
After the Cave Connection I asked my guide's contact number for another adventure the following day. Mang Lacsim was happy to help and tour me around SAGADA. He suggested we go to Kiltepan Peak for the sunrise early in the morning, then to any of the tourist destinations afterwards.
I went back to Masferre and relaxed! I had a long day of travel and adventure! Thank God, Masferre serves delicious food! It somehow relieved me of the physical exhaustion I've had for the day's activity.
The following day! Mang Lacsim called me at around 4:30 A.M., he's already outside the hotel to fetch me. Yeah! The sunrise! On our way to Kiltepan Peak, where sunrise can be seen magnificently along with the aerial view of the rice terraces and mountain ranges. It's best to go there on summer. However, on the day that I went there, it's very cloudy. And we haven't really witnessed the beauty of sunrise at Kiltepan Peak.
I saw, however, the "kubo" where Angelica Panganiban (That Thing Called Tadhana) shoot the scene with JM De Guzman. The famous #hugot (#whogoat) place!
The movie started the phenomena of #whogoat which also features SAGADA as the best place to relieve one's heartaches and pains with the place's scenic and serene views! As my guide put it, "Jan po sumigaw sigaw si Angelica sir!" (That's where Angelica shouted/screamed sir!). Pointing at the "kubo".
Because it's summer, tourist flocked to SAGADA like ants in a colony. They are just everywhere. Even in Kiltepan Peak. You could barely have a space for yourself. It's hard to take a selfie. Everyone is just every where.
I asked my guide to usher me back to the hotel as I will be having breakfast. I asked him if he already had one, he said he's going to have it too but outside the hotel, I asked him to join me and I'll take care of the bill, he gladly accepted! I had Filipino Style Breakfast with Native Longanisa while he ordered Filipino Style Breakfast with Boneless Fish (Bangus).
After breakfast, it's time to decide where to go! I have a lot to choose from. But very limited time. I asked him which water falls would have lesser people and that it's possible to go there and be back by 10:00A.M. he said it should be Pongas Falls in Anikeleng, Sagada, Mountain Province. I told him to bring me there as I would be going back to Baguio before lunch.
On the way to Pongas falls, are greeneries. It's a refreshing place to be in. You will see different crops, it somehow had me revisit my childhood days, memories in the past when I see almost every day these kinds of view.
These are newly planted cucumber. They just can't stop planting. They plant after every harvest. The guide told me that their guide services are in demand only in the summer, but after the summer they'll all go back to farming. Sagada's local population is mostly comprised of farmers, whose income mainly depend on agriculture.
I also have to stop and take a picture of this great scene! Green leaves of "palay"/rice. With the great mountains on the background!
These are peanuts! Since I've been seeing different crops, I was looking for peanuts, and yes, the guide gladly told me that there are peanuts! Here they are!
Of course, this is the plant/herb that made our family's living possible. I remember back in my childhood days, I will walk for couple of miles to get ready to consume bananas! I can't let it pass. I have to take a picture, as my brain traveled fast back to my childhood days!
There's corn too! Corn has been an alternative to rice for my family. Back when I was a child, we cannot always afford to have "rice"/palay in the table. They're just so expensive. While "corn rice" are way cheaper. So as an alternative, for a rice eater, we will have steamed "corn rice". And they said it's good for health. Maybe, because we remained alive and grew up! haha
Closer look at the almost golden seeds of palay!
I am also not surprised by the presence of sugar cane in the field.
In the middle of the trek, we stopped by at the what the locals call as the "Bad-ay", my guide expertly explained to me what it is. Bad-ay is a the place where the locals (native) specially, back in the old days, convene, discuss, try a case, and socialize. It's also the place where they perform rituals, during planting season and harvest season (both are festive events/rituals). Bad-ay is also the place where the men, back then, sleeps. Because their houses are very small, it can only accommodate the women, and therefore, men choose to sleep outside or in their tribe's "bad-ay". When we visited, it's evident that a ritual has recently been performed. My guide showed me the evidence.
The trek going to Pongas Falls was enjoyable as those above were present, however, it's also challenging as it's a climb! Up to the falls, would be several thousand steps. There are stairways and hanging bridge.
Then when we reached Pongas Falls, there's only me and the guide! My solo experience of Pongas was amazing! You need to climb up to the top to see the majestic beauty of the falls. Up there, is the small pool, where you can get soaked, wet and sun-kissed!
I've not been to a falls where I am alone, or atleast it's just me and the guide. The guide happily watched me be amazed by the beauty of this falls. It's not well marketed yet, not yet well advertised so it's not populated at 9:00 A.M. I was thankful I chose to visit this place over Bomod-ok. Although, when I get back to SAGADA, I'll definitely, visiting Bomod-ok.
I didn't stay longer in Pongas, as much as I'd want to, I need to catch up the bus trip by 11:00 A.M. So after getting all the positive energies of the universe through this falls, I went down with the guide, and head to the hotel.
When we get to the hotel, I paid the agreed price for the guide, and fetched my bag at the hotel, then went directly to the terminal. A few steps from my hotel. In my arrival, bags are already lining up for the bus trip. Indicating that a person has reserved a line for a slot of seat in the bus.
I also took advantage of the waiting time, trying to document the fact, that foreigners (non-filipinos) are also in Sagada, specially this summer, they are all around! (welcome to SAGADA!) of different nationalities. Of course, our favorite neighbors and co-asian Koreans are also here! 🙂 While filipino tourists are also flocking in to SAGADA!
Traveling alone to SAGADA was a rich experience for me! I became more aware of time, direction, and even had the chance to reflect and be thankful of all the things that God and the universe has allowed me to enjoy!
Some more scenes I took to and from SAGADA I'll be sharing below.
I will always treasure this first trip to SAGADA, and I am definitely coming back here!
What I haven't visited or done in SAGADA yet, will be my priority on my next visit. (According to their publish map and travel guide). Use this as a guide for your complete SAGADA trip! Complete guide including trips schedules, fees and transportation, accommodation, etc. When In Sagada, What To Do? How Much for Which?
1. Balangagan Cave Spelunking - Also known as "Marcos Cave", it boasts of fine pure white flowstones and stunning stalactites. Be prepared to climb up its chambers or crawl along tight passages. The rock formations inside the cave are delicate and sensitive. Please avoid touching the rock formations.
Last entrance to the cave: 4:00 P.M.
Guide fee: P650 - 4 visitors or less.
Transport Fee and Schedule: P650
8:00 A.M. - 20 pax
10:00 A.M. - 20 pax
12:00 N.N. - 20 pax
2. Bumayeng Twin Falls - the trek to the falls starts at the drop off point in Barangay Bangaan, and will pass through some rice fields through natural trails/pathways.
Fee: P2,500 - 5 visitors or less (includes guide fee and packed meal).
Hike duration - 3 hours or more, one way
Transportation - P650 two-way.
3. Bomod-ok - 3 hours hike (back and forth) from Bangaan drop off point to the falls, passing through rice paddies and natural trails.
Fees: P500 - 10 visitors or less
Transportation - P650 two way vehicle hire via Aguid P500 two-way vehicle hire via Bangaan.
4. Bokong - one of the favorite picnic areas in central Sagada, it's swimming pool was carved by nature.
Fees: P200 - 10 visitors or less
Transportation: P250 two-way vehicle.
5. Eco-tour 3 hours ofloop hike to Echo Valley Hanging Coffins, Sagada Underground River entrance, St. Mary's Church and Bokong Natural Swimming Pool passing through small river, valley/canyon, rice fields and Sagada Weaving.
Guide fee: P600 - 10 visitors or less.
6. Adventure Trail - 3 hours trek to Echo Valley Hanging Coffins passing through St. Mary's Church, enter the Underground river, forest trails, river crossing, Bokong Swimming Pool.
Guide fee: P1,000 for 10 visitors or less.
7. Echo Valley Hanging Coffins - a short hike to the view point and a challenging, slippery walk to have a close-up view of the coffins.
Guide fee: P200 - 10 visitors or less.
8. Camp by the fire - includes a Boodle Fight Dinner at any preferred campsite (Kiltepan Peak or Danum Lake). Arrangements may be done at the Municipal Information Center.
Minimum of 4 for only P1,800.
Inclusions: meals and shuttle back and forth.
9. Lake Danum/Sunset - the lake is a venue of some legendary tales, which includes how Sagada got its name. Drop by the Sagada Stoneware Pottery on the way to the lake.
Leave for Lake Danum at 4:30 P.M. 30 minutes drive from town center.
Transport fee: P550.
10. Mt. Ampacao Traverse - A loop hike from town center to Lake Danum view point then to Mt. Ampacao and down to the village of Demang or Ambasing or vice versa. This will take around 3 hours or so depending on your ability to walk on natural/mountain trails. The Ilocos Range and a hazy outline of the Ilocos coast can be viewed along the way.
Guide fee: P800 - 10 visitors or less.
11. Grassy Land/Marlboro - 2-3 hours of back trekking. It is also a camping site and a sunrise viewpoint. Rice terraces and limestone formation can be seen along the way.
Guide fee: P600 - 10 visitors or less
Shuttle fee: P650
12. Langsayan Danum Traverse - 3 hours hike or more, passing through mossy and pine forest. The area overlooks 2 municipalities and a vast view of mountain ranges, rice terraces.
Guide fee: P1,000 - 3 visitors or less.
13. Mt. Sisipitan - The highest mountain in SAGADA, it is 2,200 meters above sea level. It is an excellent area for a day hike.
Guide fee: P2,000 each.
14. Mt. Polis - is nestled between Mt. Ampacao and the "Grassy Land/Marlboro". It provides a good view of Sagada.
Guide fee: P1,500 - 3 visitors or less.
15. Marlboro Hill - Blue Soil Traverse Trek - 4-5 hours trek passing through rice terraces and limestone formations.
Guide fee: P1,800 for 3 visitors or less.
Transportation fee: P1,350
16. Sagada to Mainit Hotspring rek or travel by jeep to the minicipality of Bontoc to enjoy the natural hot spring in Mainit. A trip to experience the Maligcong Rice Terraces can also be included in the itinerary.
Guide fee: P2,500 each visitor (for trekking)
Additional fee from the hot spring to Maligcong.
REMINDERS FOR CAVING:
- shirt (loose t-shirt), shorts/loose pants
- rubber sandals/flipflops/rubber shoes
- Optional - gloves
No entrance to the cave after 4:00 P.M.
Expect waist deep water in some parts of Sumaguing Cave.
SAGADA PNP 0908 225 8115
Municipal Mayor 0999 991 1800
Municipal Tourism 0999 991 1801
Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center
Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2619 Philippines
Email add: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open: 7:00 in the morning
Close: 6:00 in the evening
SCHEDULE OF REGULAR TRIPS
SAGADA-BAGUIO (GL/LIZARDO BUS)
Bus fare: P220.00 5-6 hours
1st Trip: 5:00 A.M.
2nd Trip: 7:00 A.M.
3rd Trip: 8:00 A.M.
4th Trip: 9:00 A.M.
5th Trip: 10:00 A.M.
6th Trip: 11:30 A.M. Depending on availability of bus
Last trip: 1:00 P.M.
***Trips usually start ahead of schedule if seating capacity is full.
***No booking/reservation. First come, first serve.
Jeepney fare: P45 - 45 minutes.
1st Trip: 6:00 A.M.
2nd Trip: 7:00 A.M.
3rd Trip: 7:30 A.M.
4th Trip: 8:00 A.M.
5th Trip: 8:30 A.M.
6th Trip: 9:00 A.M.
7th Trip: 10:00 A.M.
8th Trip: 11:00 A.M.
9th Trip: 12:00 N.N.
Last trip: 1:00 P.M.
***Trips usually start ahead of schedule if seating capacity is full.
Bus Fare: P150 - 1.5 hours
Morning Trips only
1st Trip: 7:00 A.M.
2nd Trip: 9:00 A.M.
Jeepney Fare: P150 - 1.5 hours
1st Trip: 8:30 A.M.
2nd Trip: 10:00 A.M.
Last trip: 1:00 P.M.
BANAUE - MANILA
Night Trips only 10 hours
Olympus Bus: 7:00 P.M.
INNS/LODGING/RESTHOUSES - There are several of them. I suggest you look for them in Agoda, but if you need their contact numbers. Please feel free to request on the comment below. 🙂