Okay, yes. Antoinette Jadaone coined the “that thing called…” phrase and it’s a big hit – across all ages. Why, even my 50-something mother found herself laughing and reacting at the movie’s famous lines. No intent to plagiarize, Madame Jadaone, just quoting. 🙂
Although this blog is slightly inspired by her recent indie turned Star Cinema-produced movie, this blog talks about a heavenly, surreal (suryal), culturally-rich and picturesque place called SAGADA.
The Sagada trip with my friends and mother was entirely unplanned. We were in Baguio for a quick weekend getaway, when, because of that “ayoko na” scene of both Anthony and Mace in the said movie, in Mt. Kiltepan, all of us suddenly just wanted to go there after watching the movie in SM Baguio. The pull was strong. The calling just cannot be ignored.
Sagada is about 5-6 hours away from Baguio City and is nestled in a Valley in the Mountain Province some 5000 feet above sea level.
The buses from Baguio city are non-airconditioned, but believe me, you wouldn’t need the extra cold.
The ride is a little bit uncomfortable given that these are local buses plying the zig-zaggy roads to Sagada, but it should be all worth it.
There is at least one stop from Baguio to Sagada and back, and it’s close to the highest point in the Philippine Highway System, which is in Atok, Benguet – along Halsema Highway, at 7400 feet above sea level.
There is a marker there but the bus didn’t stop, so, right after you leave the bus stop, watch our for it (to the right, cliff-side).
TIP 1: If you are byahilo (get easily dizzy during land trips), don’t sit at the back, nor beside the windows. As it is, the cliffs are so steep and there are a lot of times, that the bus’ tires screech through pavements, less than a foot from the edge of the cliff. So, sleep it out, and pray for a smooth safe ride.
TIP 2: Bring layers of clothes. Mufflers, bonnets and thick socks and mittens are a must-bring.
Those outdoor slippers are also needed if you want to go spelunking on the many caves of Sagada – the Sumaguing being the easiest, and quickest to conquer. (Next time I want to try the cave connection)
TIP 3: Their coffee is a must-try. It’s not as strong as the usual brewed coffee in the metro, but it’s delectable. Easily unforgettable. Their Mountain Tea Milk is also unique, with a hint of ginger and milk in your mouth.
TIP 4: As the locals are very accommodating, courteous and proud of their culture, ask around. Greet them good morning, and never ridicule the practices they have. Like, the hanging coffins – not all are entitled to be “buried” that way.
TIP 5: For GoPro users, make sure you have the KNOG Kudos or any other source of light for better pictures. For those who insist on bringing their non-water proof camera, make sure to place it in a water-proof bag.
TIP 6: Each tourist spot has a corresponding price for a van you’d rent. Some sites need a specific tour guide – for a separate charge. So it’s always best to go in groups, or if you’re solo tripping, join a group like a new friend we met there did (Hi Charisse!). This way, you split the bill, and have more chances of getting photographed rather than all-selfies.
2 days, I say, won’t be enough to explore the entirety of this place. But here’s what we got:
SAMPLE 3-DAY DO-IT-YOURSELF ITINERARY (From Manila):
5:00am Leave Pasay to Baguio (Via Joybus) book seats here: iwantseats.com (coach-bus with 2×1 seats, rest room inside, a stewardess, free snacks and a blanket for use).
Fare: PhP 700 if you reserve online, PhP 685 from the bus terminal itself)
11:00am Arrive in Baguio (it’s best to drop by the Sagada bus terminal to get the tickets – no online reservation here).
1:30pm Leave Baguio for Sagada (last trip is 1:30, before that, 11:00am)
7:00pm Arrive in Sagada (no tricycles to bring you to your place – so after hours of sitting, brace yourself for a little walking if your inn is located inside the town).
We stayed at Shamrock Tavern Inn, which is about half a kilometer of a bitter cold walk from where the bus unloaded. But you can check other accommodations here:
Check-in, change, eat, and sleep early to get up early to catch the sunrise at Kiltepan.
5:00am – Leave for Kiltepan Wait for and watch the sunrise at the peak of Sagada. Be patient though, as the sun does not show all the time. But you can wait for the sky to clear up a little bit and see the bed of clouds as depicted in the movie.
7:00am – Back in Town for breakfast. There are a lot of options where to eat. Don’t forget to order their tea or coffee 🙂
9:00am – Bomod-Ok Falls as a rule of thumb, no beautiful falls can be marvelled at without trekking. Bomod-ok is 45 mins away and a lifetime of wonderful memories (so I heard – we didn’t have the chance to go there). It’s ice-cold too, so think twice if you’re dipping or not.
2:00pm Mt. Ampacao – no guides needed!
5:30pm – Get Ready to Watch the Sunset at Lake Danum – go skinny dipping if you can, but it’s really cold out there. Especially at this time.
7:00pm Dinner, coffee and getting ready to turn the lights off
6:00am – Breakfast
7:00am Go Spelunking try the Lumiang Burial Cave, Sumaguing Cave, Cave Connections, Crystal Cave, among others. Depending on the group, it can take 2 hours to like an entire day. Don’t miss out on Echo Valley – where sounds literally echo through the limestones.
Depending on the amount of time you have, you can take the long caving adventures, and rest in the afternoon and try the Marlboro country in the sundown. If you’re pressed for time and need to go by lunch, try Sumaguing and Lumiang. They’re easier to go around in.
1:00pm Get in the bus heading for Baguio
7:00pm Get Joybus Tickets and Have Dinner at Session Road
8:00pm Leave Baguio for Manila (other trips are 10pm and 1230am)
6 hours later: Back in Manila