I never knew this place exists before I went to study in Baguio. I often hear about it from students going on field trips. Sagada, Mountain Province. They say it’s an amazing place. My blockmates who are from here and those who’ve been there confirms that Sagada is a must-see. They say its like Baguio 50 years back when the city is less populated and has clean air.
I always thought there could be no place as enchanting as the City of Pines. I’ve never been to Tagaytay City and Davao City, which have their fair share of cold climate and beautiful spots, but I thought no place could equal Baguio. In the first place that’s my main reason of choosing UP Baguio.
During our first days in class, our Professor in Advertising mentioned that we’ll be having a field trip to Sagada where we will look into strategies on how to boost tourism in the place. But then this field trip was never pursued.
My chance to see this Sagada could’ve been my History class. The trip was well planned. Everything was already set. Our class, together with the other classes under our Professor, will go on a three-day tour from Baguio to Banaue and Sagada. But it only left me frustrated when storms hit Cordillera and the university didn’t permit us to push through with the trip.
It was my Orienteering class that finally brought me to the paradise up in Mountain Province. It was my last required PE which I took on the summer of 2008. Together with the Outdoor Recreation class, we went to Sagada for a supposedly two-day field trip where we’re going to hold activities that will serve as our final practicum.
Days before the field trip, the weather had been bad. But since we already hired a bus that will take us there and we could no longer withdraw the transaction, our Instructors decided to pursue the trip.
It was raining when we left Baguio. I didn’t know if there’s a storm or if it’s safe to travel amidst the bad weather. I just put in mind that our Instructors know better and that they wouldn’t do anything to put us in danger. We left Baguio City at around 6 a.m.
Heavy rain and thick fog along the way didn’t stop our bus. On the other hand, we immensely enjoyed the views along the way. I didn’t really get to see everything since I was seated at the last center seat and I was whining all throughout the 6-hour travel. Good thing my co-seniors classmates are funny, yes, they’re not only fun-to-be-with, they’re funny in the sense of the word. They made everything light and we were laughing and chatting all the way if not sleeping.
The undeveloped roads in Benguet and Mountain Province is definitely thrilling. The road is single lane and there are no barricades to at least warn travellers that there is a ravine in a certain part. I bet people who are not used to travelling in such places (like Baguio) would really be frightened. The idea of sleeping became very much appealing to me since I have a wild imagination and I tend to think of negative things.
Nonetheless, wherever you set your eyes, there are amazing things! The mountains, the gardens, the rice terraces, the rock formations and the amazing rock layers, the waterfalls, the trees, the fog; everything is a wonderful craft of nature.
We arrived at Sagada at around 1 p.m. We, the Orienteering class stayed at Sagada Inn, near the public market while the Outdoor Recreation class stayed at Rock Valley Inn, located near Sagada Weaving.
The regular rate per person at Sagada Inn is Php200 per night. I think the owner gave us discount since we’re a group. They have a room for 2, for 4 and for 6 pax. One of my closest girl buds in the class decided we get a room for two while our other buddies stayed at the room for 6 and another room for 2.
We were so famished we (the group of senior students) asked our instructors if we could have a late lunch before we do the first activity which is caving. We decided to have a taste of Sagada food at the restaurant at Sagada Inn, where we waited for 2 hours for our food. That’s how it works, you have to pre-order your food if you don’t wanna wait. There are no fastfood chains in Sagada. But the thing that took our food longer time to be cooked is the fact that the ingredients were only bought and prepared when we ordered them. But we can no longer cancel so we just waited and endure our classmate’s piercing stares at us for being the cause of delay. The food was okay though, for at least P70, they give really huge servings.
It was drizzling when we went caving. The Municipality of Sagada strictly implements its rules and regulations for tourists going to the place. Everyone should register first at the Municipal Hall, located near the public market so they will be assigned a guide before going to the cave. Unless you are with someone who is a native of Sagada, you’re free to go without registering.
In our case, for every 6 persons, we were assigned a guide before going to the 15-20 minute jeep ride to Sumaguing Cave. We stopped at a certain spot to view some hanging coffins. It is a tradition in Sagada to hang the the coffins of their dead on the mountainsides while others were buried in caves.
More rules before going inside Sumaguing Cave. We have to abide by these for our own safety as our guides said. Sumaguing is way down a rock mountain. It is deep and dark inside, of course. The first part was the real challenge. You need to pass by slippery rock stairs that’s wet because of the bats that inhabit the cave. Yah, you need to take your slippers off and crawl down if you’re not used to caving.
I was one of the frontliners because I have the tendency to be impatient and wants to be the one to see the thing first. We were I think 30 so we created a long queue of silhouette with yellow lights in between, from the opening down to where the first guide is.
After passing by the bat area, here now comes the little falls and pools inside the cave. The cold water is refreshing after that tiring and dirty hike. Tourist guides will give you ample time to take a dip and lots of photos before exploring more about Sumaguing. Way down baby. There are a lot more beautiful pools inside.
I remember the part where we need to cross a hole where the water is not clear and you need to grip on a rope to get to the next rock. I didn’t want to cross thinking there might be snakes under (what an imagination). I had to let 3 of my classmates go first because I was so afraid. But then I had to do it. I was almost submerged underwater. Thanks to the rope and to my ever supportive classmate who helped me. There are also holes where you need to crawl to get to the next spot.
There are lots of things to discover inside the cave. The cave has seashell fossils preserved in its walls. There were little live crabs in the water. The rock formations are one of a kind and the stalagmites and stalactites are so white (this observation may be lame because I’ve only been to caves in Cagayan).
Make sure to enjoy the water and everything inside because when you leave, everything will be reversed. I mean you’ll pass by that bat area again which will surely make you dirty and there’ll be no more pool to clean yourself. :)
It was near dark when we got out of the cave so we all went to our respective Inns to clean ourselves and later preceded to Rocky Valley Inn for a bountiful dinner.
Our group (seniors) planned to have a drinking spree at Sagada Inn but our Instructors did not allow us for the reason that curfew in Sagada is 8 p.m. Probably the same reason why we noticed some people are already drinking in the daylight, hehe. And really, when the clock struck 8, the bell at the Municipal Hall rang to tell people it is curfew time and everyone should inside their houses already.
Night in Sagada is way colder than in Baguio; the air fresher and the environment more peaceful. There are no streetlights making the surrounding very dark but my pals and I remain awake until midnight exchanging stories and munching on our baon (chips and cookies) in our on-the-spot pajama party. We didn’t have the slightest idea that something not nice will happen the next day.
We woke up to a bad weather. We were supposed to go to Bomod-ok Falls (Big Falls) but due to heavy rain in the morning, our Instructors decided to make the activity optional. Those who wanted to go could go, our Instructors would accompany them but those who prefer to stay could just stay in our Inns or go around the place.
Most of us seniors preferred to just stay (what do you expect mga tamad eh). We spend the day going around the place, to the church, to the souvenir shops and anywhere our feet lead us. We discovered a cozy snack place called Lemon Pie House where we stayed for a while.
Later that afternoon, when the others arrived from Bomod-ok, the weather worsened. We later learned that Mountain Province is under the storm signal number 2 and that we couldn’t go home any sooner. I felt a bit mad to our Instructors. In the first place why did we even pursue the trip if they knew there is a storm coming? So we were stranded in a beautiful place that we couldn’t fully enjoy because of the rain.
We spent the night playing Mafia and hoped that the weather would calm down the next day.
But it didn’t. According to the news, trips going to and from Sagada are all cancelled due to landslides along the way. Sagada has been isolated. We were now stranded. The telecom signals became weak and we couldn’t find any Internet shop in the place. Whine as much as we want but we couldn’t do anything except to just wait for the weather to calm down. Rain fell all day and we had no choice but to just stay inside the Inn.
In the morning while we were killing the time chatting, 2 of our pals secretly went to Yoghurt House. They didn’t tell us since they know some of us had to cut down on expenses because we had to pay for one more night at the Inn. Nonetheless, they say the Yoghurt in the place is far different from that of the commercialized ones. We spent the whole day chitchatting, eating, playing and more photo ops.
We were forced to wake up extra early the next morning amidst the cold cold weather. The weather seemed fair already. Those who woke up way earlier had the chance to take a bath but most of us just brushed our teeth, took our stuff and off to find a happy place in the bus.
The other class must have been very early for they occupied all the front seats and what was left for us were the center and back seats. De Javu but what could we do. Perhaps they were instructed to wake up really early.
Along the way, we had to stop for some times due to barriers caused by landslides. The roads are evident of the storm. But just like when we are going up, we enjoyed the scenes spared by the storm while going down to Baguio. Thank God we reached the city safe and sound.
Despite the fact that we had been stranded, I must say that our field trip is not traumatic neither boring. Thanks to my funny pals. We were even bonded due to the storm.
The next time I go to Sagada, I’ll make sure there is no weather disturbance to fully enjoy the place. Bomod-ok Falls and other Sagada pride, I’ll see you next time.
* Photos from John Evangelista Jr. and Melisen Taquiqui.