After having my blood drawn out and being diagnosed with acute gastritis, I went to Baguio City in a moment’s notice (and at 4 am to boot!).
“Let’s go to Sagada!” I told my friends.
Sagada is a 12-hour drive from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. It is famous for its picturesque view of mountains and rice terraces as well as the Sagadians’ burial customs.
Good thing my friend JB and his friends were as crazy as me. We boarded the bus to Sagada the next day.
We were on the road for six hours – I, covered in a knitted scarf and wearing two shirts, one jacket and two pants, slept all throughout. I would occasionally wake up when it gets too bumpy and to my horror, with a view of the narrow path overlooking cliffs. Mind you, there are numerous accidents reported in the winding Benguet road.
Arriving in Sagada at 9 degrees was a delight. We arrived in time for the town fiesta and went straight to Kanip-aw Lodge where our guide Kuya Oscar was waiting for us. After having a snack at the Lemon Pie House, we headed to the caves.
I initially thought Sagada was the place to go if you’re feeling emo and just want to go to Pluto. And although, stepping into the caves did feel like I’m an alien on another planet, it left me no time to gripe since I was so busy catching my breath as I climbed with ropes and used my ass to go down on rocks. The Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection lasted for four hours (with a lot of whining). At some point, we had to step on our guides – Kuya Oscar and Kuya Andrew’s arms/legs/shoulders in order to cross hurdles.
We were exhausted and shivering from the cold, we slept right away after having our sumptuous dinner. The next day was another adventure for us – we woke up early to welcome the sunrise and did a dayhike to see the magnificent Bomok-od Falls. It was a pleasant trek along rice paddies and a lovely view of the mountainside.
Next stop was Echo valley where you can see rock formations and hanging coffins. Sagadians believe that the higher a body is laid, the closer it gets to heaven. Be wary alongside the cliff though or you might just go to heaven unexpectedly.
We made a bonfire that night as our feet felt like frozen meat already. For our dinner, Kuya Andrew and Lani cooked Etag (smoked pork/Igorot ham) and Pinikpikan, a Sagada signature dish wherein a chicken is beaten and bled to death. They believe that the chicken’s blood will improve the flavour of the soup. Good thing, there was no PETA member around.
Although I’m a beach person who likes to wear swimsuits and pose in front of the camera, my trip to Sagada is one of my favorites so far. It was more than an adventure – it’s an intellectual journey. Sagadians have a strong community and they are very in the loop of current events. You can talk to most people and have a decent conversation – one thing you can’t do in Manila. I initially went there to wallow in self-pity but I went home with a stronger spirit. It truly is an adventure and I’m definitely going back.
My backpacker trip was relatively cheap. I spent only around Php2500 or USD59 for a 3-day/2-night accommodation, fare, tour guide fee, and 3 meals/day.
PS. Check this link if you are looking for Sagada tour guides and lodging:http://sagadagenuineguides.blogspot.com/