Eight hours of winding roads. If not the best trip I have ever had, this one was the most spiritual experience I have had traveling. The mountains of Luzon have the most amazing sceneries and greeneries to offer.
Many have proclaimed that they have visited Sagada before its heyday – which makes them cooler than the rest. Okay, okay, we get you! I have to be honest that what really got me to go to this nearer-to-the-stars place was the movie That Thing Called Tadhana in 2015. Does going to a place as an after-movie-effect make you uncool? That was the movie’s goal, right? Not only did I support local movies, but also contributed to Philippine tourism!
I loved this trip because for one, my friends flew all the way from my province to Manila just to spend time with me! Who does that nowadays when everyone is so busy and it is just so easy to make distance an excuse? Two, Baguio is such a far cry from Sagada. Now that I have been to both, I can say that Sagada has an indescribable magic, albeit being in the same region. Three, It gave me the opportunity to digress a bit from my close affinity with beaches.
Endowed with variety, which I, together with most travel lovers, look for in a holiday itinerary, the Mountain Province of the Philippines undressed itself with a mixture of multiple elements while we were riding on top of a monster truck most of the time.
We started the gamut of activities with caving at the Sumaguing. Most, if not all tourists that come home from here, would agree that the best advice one could give to those planning to do caving is not to do the long way. There is a tour A and B, tour 1 and 2, call it whatever, but just do the shorter of the two! We had no regrets doing the short but sweet caving route after we heard a lot of complaints from fellow Sagadadventurers. They shared about how they wasted their time not seeing anything worth for near-death experiences doing the spelunking and rope-climbing. Not to mention that they had to walk on through double the bat poop! Because we finished earlier than the rest, we had time to explore quaint cozy homey food places!
Triple 8 Travels and Tours was a great agency! I recommend booking a guided tour for this trip because you eliminate the hassle of commuting in the area. There is no public transportation there, and it saves a lot of time if you just go along with the drivers and the moment you wake up, voila!
Sea of Clouds VS Sea of Fans
I could not have been more excited for the sunrise watching so much so that it was my first official sunrise on top of high altitude! Initially disappointed was this poor boy because the Marlboro Hills time slot preceded Mount Kiltepan which was what I saved all my memory for, ugh! Turns out – this was the best idea ever! Guys, for you to avoid ten barangays (groups) that make Kiltepan a dense traffic worship area for Taylor Swift fans, skip the early rise to Kiltepan and go there a little after seven in the morning, please.
The sea of clouds was impeccable! Another tip for you is to go there during summer. I know I keep repeating to avoid high peak season or super peak seasons, but March to April are the best months to go just to avoid cloudy mornings. A cloudy morning won’t give you the “sea of clouds” experience! If not summer, but if you are confident that it is going to be a sunny week, then go!
All the Way Down
It was such a super exhausting walk to Bomod-ok Falls! By the way, it was not hard to notice that most tourist spots in Sagada are on a downhill path.
Learning about the burial rituals, I had a glimpse of how it evolved over the years in the country. Entering a contemporary cemetery then deeper and deeper down to the Echo Valley where you can see the Hanging Coffins, I am happy to find out that the old way of burying their people can still be practiced up to this day. Always a remiss, culture preservation is not a thing in the Philippines. I connected the movie Tadhana, where the protagonist had to scream her lungs out, to Echo Valley which was supposed to be a site where you can hear a reverb of echoes. The scene should have been done there to make more sense, maybe? Not only to put the tradition on the national scene, but also for youth awareness. This is where they talked about how Americans planted pine trees in the area, so thanks to them, we have pine trees.
As much as I would like to make this short, it is apparently true that I fell in love with the place. Allow me to be a bit poetic in this entry – These places; they never leave, only people do. I will come back for you!
For the main reason that it defined my 2016, I have been spamming my followers’ Instagram feed all-year round with posts from the mountains. In a word, Sagada is my clarity. The adventure I submerged into was quintessential bliss. After being through a lot of emotional baggage at that point in time, it felt like being closer to a certain heaven which allowed me to release the weight and just be lifted. Clarity by Zedd has been associated to Boracay parties circa 2012, but I made it a top track for my Sagada 2016 as to deviate from the overused and over-replayed (not a word) Tadhana by Up Dharma Down. I am so so elated, elevated, ecstatic-to-return grateful.
Why are you my clarity, Sagada? It was because the feeling that beaches gave me, when I never thought you could not do at all, you surpassed. Sagada exceeded my already huge expectation. Sagada is officially my beach mountain…