A month ago, my friends and I went up north aka Banaue, Sagada and Baguio for a little vacation. Out of all the trips I’d made, it was the one that excited me the most. Why? Because ever since that Tadhana movie, it has always been my dream to see the sunrise in Kiltepan personally. Grabe, you don’t know how happy I am to have finally checked that one off my bucketlist.
Actually, the reason why this blog took so long (I’ve been doing this for days) was because I didn’t had enough photos for this post. It frustrated me so much ‘cause it’s hard for me to find the perfect words for something – I’m not good at explaining, lam n’yo ‘yan – and without photos, it may be hard for you to visualize what I’m saying. Pero kasi sayang naman ‘yung ganda at saya ng experience namin if I won’t blog about it just because of the reason above, ‘di ba?
So.. Here’s a list of the things you can do and places you should go once you’re up North! Enjoy! 😊
1. Visit the famous Banaue Rice Terraces
Our first stop for this trip was the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. We arrived at its view deck pretty early – around 6 to 7 am – and all we could see was nothing but fog so we decided to have our breakfast first and fill our empty tummies after a loooong drive.
After breakfast, we went back to Banaue View Deck and the fog was still thick. As in there’s no sign of living, ganon. Sobrang tagal lumabas ni araw, hindi mawala ‘yung fog. I even thought I won’t be able to see the terraces. We still have a lot of places to go and we were losing time. I almost lost hope.
But as the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” We stayed for a few more minutes and finally!! The fog is clearing up and we could finally see this beautiful wonder of the world.
It was so beautiful. So so beautiful. ‘Yung pakiramdam na parang.. “Grabe, sa libro ko lang ‘to nakikita nung bata ako tapos ngayon.. Eto na. Nasa harap ko na.” Ganun. As in ganung ganun ‘yung pakiramdam namin. Photos doesn’t give much justice how beautiful it is in person so please, if you have the chance to see this wonder personally, grab it.
2. Take a photo with John Lloyd at Bayyo Rice Terraces
Nope, not Popoy. The John Lloyd I’m talking about is an Igorot who will welcome you once you arrive at Bayyo Rice Terraces.
He was so funny and cute. He’d even do poses with you if you want to.
3. Watch and understand how the weaving process works
Sagada Weaving is where you’ll see how most of the Sagada’s souvenir items like bags, wallets, table cloth et al are made. They have been doing this since 1968, making them one of the largest employers in town.
What amazed me while watching them weave is how the employees are so patient in doing these things. Napaka-tyaga. Sobrang tyaga at patient sa trabaho, pa’no pa kaya kapag nagmahal sila.
4. Be brave enough to do spelunking in Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection
As of this day, I can say that this is the most dangerous thing I had done in my whole life. And I’m not even kidding. Activities like these shouldn’t be taken as a joke and if you’re planning to do spelunking, make sure that you are prepared and you know what you’re about to do. Not to be exaggerated but if you can get travel insurance before this, please do so.
We don’t have a lot of photos in here ‘cause when we did it, we brought nothing but ourselves. (Though nag-regret kami kasi we should have brought our GoPro.) So if you have a small camera to bring with you, bring it.
You have two choices when it comes to caving. You can choose the normal caving – a little less difficult than connection which is what we did and costs a little more than the first one. In connection, you will enter Lumiang Cave and get out at Sumaguing Cave. Meaning, it would take longer than the other one, too.
This is the entrance of the cave connection. Once you’re at the bottom, you’ll see coffins around you. Some are located at the upper part of the cave, some are just really walking distance. You can even see some skulls in there, dude! As in legit bungo ng tao gurl!
I won’t get tired of telling you this, but it’s really dangerous and scary. With nothing but light coming from the gas lamp the two tour guides are holding (front and back), it’s completely dark when you start walking. The rocks are slippery, everyone of us actually slipped.. It was just me who won the Most Slipped Award. Hahaha. I don’t know if it’s just my flip flops or wala lang talagang grip ‘yung pagkatao ko. Charot. My leggings had a hole from the slip, e. I even have two noticeable scars from wounds that I got there.
Anyway, it’s not just walking that you’ll do in there. You’ll go inside reaaally small holes, rapel, swim, and slide to finish that path. Don’t worry if you can’t swim, the water’s just a little higher than the waist deep (I’m 5’3″) and you can just walk through it.
This is only one of the few small holes you have to get through. Listen to your guides! And trust them. Do what they say. If they told you to just put both your legs inside that hole then just slide and put your arms above you, do it; even if you can’t see where you’ll fall into.
Some parts, you even have to step or put your foot on your guide’s legs so you can cross rocks.
It was so cold inside na umuusok ‘yung bibig pati katawan namin (literal) but we can’t even feel it maybe because of what we’re doing.
This was also the adventure when I learned that my legs aren’t meant for walks and hikes and treks like this. Nung patapos na kasi, syempre nasa ilalim ka ng kweba, you have to ascend just to get out of the cave. And it’s not just a normal hike. Rocks and steps and rocks and steps would be the best way to describe it. Once you’ve seen the light after, another steps to ascend to finally get out. My body was so tired; especially my legs.. As in, my legs were seriously shaking that every step, I keep on telling Wel that I can’t do it anymore. And that time, I know I can’t. It was just Wel who pushed me and keep on telling me that it’s just my mind telling me that I can’t do it and I just have to fight it.
And this is us after that adventure! (And me after crying out of happiness.) Tips?
- Don’t bring things that aren’t needed inside. I suggest not to bring SLR cameras ’cause it’s quite big. You can take photos using your phone, GoPro or small cameras. Bring waterproof casings. Pero meron silang tinitinda na waterproof case sa labas for your phone.
- If you can take your sneakers to get wet, wear it. Or wear flip flops that are meant for slippery areas.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Do not wear jeans! Wear shorts or leggings or jogging pants.
- Trust your tour guides and please please be careful.
If you want to read more about it, click here. Wala kasi akong pictures e kaya ‘di ko rin ma-explain ng ayos. He has a lot of photos from the cave just so you know what you’re putting yourself into if you plan on doing it.
5. Trek for 3.4 kilometers and take a dip at Bomod-Ok Fall’s extremely cold water
I just shared how weak my legs are and the following day, I went trekking… Wow diba.
Bomod-Ok Falls is located at the northern part of Sagada and if you’re thinking that this is a short trek, you’re mistaken. Why do you think would they give you a third foot aka the stick?
Going down takes you to see a beautiful part of Sagada. Mountains aren’t bare and rice terraces are what you’ll see most of the time while descending series and series of steps. It will feed your eyes with all these sceneries that even when you’re tired, you can just say that all your pain was worth it.
The trail is easy to navigate with or without a guide but I suggest you get one. There are guides available at the Information Center and you can just share with your group for his rate.
After taking photos from the hanging red bridge, the paddies trail was replaced by rocks and you can already hear the sound of the falls. Smile because you’re almost there!
And voila! They say it’s not the destination that matters but the journey, but hey, this one’s an exemption! Strip yourself and just feel the ice-bucket-challenge water on your skin. You will adapt to the cold eventually. Just be careful because the path to the pool is slippery.
After taking a dip, eat some snacks, drink lots of water, and ready yourself for a trek more tiring than what you did a few hours ago. The steps you descended are the same steps you have to ascend while going back. And if you guessed it right, yes, my legs were shaking again 10 minutes before we arrive at our destination. Another “I can’t do it anymore” was heard by Wel, and another “You can do it, just a few steps more” were given to me.
6. Pause for a moment and appreciate how wonderful your life is at Church of St. Mary The Virgin
St. Mary is a church built by American Anglican missionaries who arrived in Sagada during the early part of the last century. Despite some who converted to the Anglican faith, there are still many Sagadans who continue to practice their pagan beliefs.
The time we were there, I didn’t get to take interior photos of the church ’cause they were having a “Senior Citizen Day” inside. They were so cute I just had to appreciate how cute and happy that scene was that I even forgot to take the camera out of my bag and snap them.
7. Shout your heart out at Echo Valley (and visit Sagada’s famous Hanging Coffins)
This is located at the same place where the church is. You also have to have a guide because going down there was a little bit hard. Just a little bit compared to all the hard adventures I shared with you on this blog.
Before going to the Hanging Coffins, you have to pass a cemetery. You’ll also find tombs for the Veterans of the World War II and the local who died in the latest SAF44 killings was buried there, too.
This place won’t fail you for its amazing views. Once you’re in the Echo Valley, you’re free to shout your heart out! Shout all your rants and hear that sound echoing throughout that place. Just know that you can be heard everywhere so don’t be surprised if someone from the bottom answered you. It happens.
As for Wel and I, we don’t have anything to shout our hearts out since we’re together and happy (hehe), so we just decided to shout sounds of animals or just some silly lines from movies instead.
The trip to the Hanging Coffins was a long way down. I didn’t expected it to be located there. When I see pictures of it, I thought that it was an easy weezy place to go to, ‘yung tipong you’ll be dropped off from your vehicle tapos konting lakad lang ‘yun na, but it’s not. You have to trek.. again.
If you’ll notice, some coffins are small. Like the blue one on the right with the chair on it. It’s not a kid in there but a full grown adult, just that his knees were forced to his chin. It was said that elders believe that placing the body in a fetal position like that symbolizes the start of a new life. It’s the first step in the dead’s journey towards his next life.
8. Experience picking oranges at Sagada’s Orange Farm and watch and learn how Sagada potteries are made.
That is my first and last time seeing an orange grow from a tree. I mean, when do you often see it? I’m only seeing oranges now and then in a grocery store.
You can also visit the Sagada Pottery where they do not just sell finished products but demonstrate pottery making while explaining the whole process, as well. If you want to, you could make your own pot while being guided by the resident potter.
9. Wake up early and go to Kiltepan for its amazing sunrise viewing
The reason why I went to Sagada…
Just a story.. We were supposed to go to Mt. Kiltepan on our second day. Woke up at 4 am ’cause we were about to leave by 5 and it is raining! Still fixed myself ’cause I’m just so excited even though I’m losing hope and ‘yun nga. ‘Twas cancelled.
Our guide told us that day that we’ll be going to Kiltepan on our third and last day, and if it’s still raining, we won’t push through it anymore. Pinagdasal ko talaga ‘to and thank God, the weather was okay when I woke up the following morning. Though the sun didn’t said hi to us, it was still a very unforgettable experience.
10. Make yourself at the top of the country in Benguet and food hoard at Good Shepherd after.
Our last stop was Baguio but we were just there for like three hours only so medyo ‘di nasulit. We promised to go back there next time. On our way going there, we had a stopover in Benguet where the Philippine’s Highest Point is. Nothing much to see except for fog and the sign so parang nagpahinga lang from a 4 to 6 hr drive from Sagada to Baguio.
When we’re Baguio bound already, we took a cab going to Good Shepherd and just bought our pasalubongs. Had our lunch after and can’t pass a chance to taste their famous strawberry taho and ice cream. We went back to meet with our group at Burnham Park after, drove to the known Lion’s Head and head home after.
This trip was another experience that Wel and I had for our book and another memory that I would forever remember in my whole life.
Save money and invest in memories. I know people who just answer, “I’d rather spend it in this thing or that thing,” when asked if they want to travel and I don’t know why they’re choosing things that would lose its value sooner or later than to experience life. Please do not be afraid to travel and meet the world while you’re still young; it’s not as scary as it seems. Always remember that there are still a lot of good people in this world. Make sure you are one of them.
Anyway, to end this post, here’s a photo of Wel and I imitating JM and Angelica’s scene on That Thing Called Tadhana. I hope you enjoyed this blog!
For the video of our 3 day trip, click here.