Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 05: Savoring Sagada (Day 1)

Da Where: Sagada, Mountain Province
Da When: Nov. 20-22, 2010
Da Who: me, Larry, Ice, Paolo and Joy
Da Trivia: a.k.a. 1st Arvato Training Team Building
Da Quotes for the Day: "If you're not hiking, you're not in Sagada anymore."

They say love is lovelier the second time around. Whoever said this must've fallen in love with Sagada and made sure to come back, like what I did a couple weekends ago. My first was August 2009 with Marvin. This time, I enticed my teammates at work with stories of adventure - gastronomical, physical and emotional. I have an extraordinary team so I thought they deserved more than the run-of-the-mill, typical teambuilding activities. *wink*

Getting off our Friday shifts, we went straight to Victory Liner Cubao and thankfully was able to get into an 23:30MNL bus trip bound for Baguio. The one way regular AC bus fare was at PhP430.00. After hurriedly grabbing the rest house keys from Boss Jovemack who swung by just to hand them, we finally sat and snuggled to sleep as much as we can for the next 6 hours.

Oh we should have selected the de luxe trips - it comes with free snacks, free stewardess and  free toilet! LOL! :D

Six hours and about 2 stops later, we finally made it to Baguio at 05:30 MNL. We then grabbed a cab to catch the first trip out of Dangwa Terminal only to find out the GL Lizardo Lines first bus don't leave until 06:30 MNL so we decided to grab breakfast at a nearby restaurant named Sab'atan. Their house specialty which Ice ordered was rice topped with sunny side-up egg and goes with servings of pork, chicken and beef. Cholesterol overload!

Hypertension for breakfast: Sab'atan Special
 We enjoyed our food so much (I got  a huge bowl of lomi for only Php 45.00!) that the bus conductor had to come around and tell us the bus was leaving. We hurried back and clambered in to our seats. I decided to sit right beside the driver to get the best view. The 6 hour bus ride from Baguio to Sagada is filled with fantastic sceneries, I hated falling asleep. We will pass through Benguet before getting to Mountain Province, which is where Sagada is. Enroute, we passed by Halsema Highway in Atok, Benguet where you can see the marker for Km. 52, the highest point in the Philippine Highway System. We had a quick stop at a local grocery/eatery and can already feel the chill upon getting off the bus. Note that the Lizardo bus we rode were the old-school ones and don't have airconditioning. Not that they need it. We were practically driving through the clouds! :)

Best seat in the house.. errr... bus! :D Some parts of the road still show signs of land and rock slides from the past typhoons but it's generally safe to travel.

All blue skies and fluffy white clouds and refreshing greens for our eyes.

Yes, that's butter displayed on a rack. No need of freezers or refrigerators here. :)

Due to the high altitude, vacuum-packed items like chips looked like their about to burst! :D

Welcome to Mountain Province!
 We knew we were nearing Sagada when we hit a fork in the road - one leading to Bontoc, Mt. Province's capital. The other one leads to Sagada. For 30 minutes, we felt like slices of fruit inside a blender as the driver expertly waved through zigzag, unpaved roads. Thankfully, we arrived unscathed at around 12:00 MNL and was met by Nanay Anding and she led us to Boss Jovemack's place we'll call home for the next 2 days.

Our home in Sagada. :)
  We rested for about an hour and dived straight to our scheduled activities. We had a quick lunch at Yoghurt House at Poblacion Sagada. The meals ranged at PhP 150.00-200.00. The food was still as good as I remember. :)

Then off to the SAGGA (Sagada Genuine Guides Assocation) outpost where we discussed with Kuya Daniel Justo our planned activities and the fees we'd be paying. While I was in Manila, I was in email communication with Gareth Likigan, a SAGGA member who maintained their blogsite ( They were all very helpful and accomodating and can help you choose the best Sagada experience that'll suit you.

As for the folks I'm with, I wanted to give the ultimate experience with limited time and budget that we had so we opted for the Cave Connection (Lumiang-Sumaging) that Saturday afternoon. The 4-5 hour spelunking involves strenous physical activity as you traverse the Lumiang and Sumaging Caves so it's not recommended for those with claustrophobia, easily gets tired or may have heart problems. We entered the caves around 16:00 MNL and was  able to get out almost 21:00 MNL. We were tired and cold and wet but had soooo much fun. At least, I did. Larry, Ice and Paolo were already cursing me to pieces. Haha!

All smiles before our Cave Connection tour. :)

At the Lumiang Burial Grounds. Yes, those are coffins behind us. :D

That's me and Kuya Daniel,at the first rope rappel. Adrenaline rush!

The cave chambers were filled with underground rivers, tiny waterfalls and we were freezing!

That's us crossing chest-deep ice-cold water to get to the other side and then rope-climb up. I remember screaming as soon as the icy water touched my foot. :D

Finally reached King's Curtain! One of the most beautiful rock formations in Sumaguing Cave.
 We finally completed the tour but we were hungry, shivering and exhausted. Good thing a kindred soul named Yunan Reyes offered his van to bring us to Poblacion which is still about  a kilometer away. We found out later on that Yunan offers Sagada tours through his Multiply site ( And he didn't even charge us for the ride! I must say, the people we met in Sagada were truly amazing, kind-hearted individuals.

There are very few establishments open at Sagada past 20:00 MNL as the tourists' curfew is at 21:00 MNL. Good thing Salt & Pepper was still open, just a couple steps away from the SAGGA outpost. We were able to takeout some grilled porkchop meals and delicious chocolate cake for PhP 25.00 a slice. The proprietors were also very friendly and offered smiles as we walked in dripping and muddy. Haha!

We trudged back to the house, ate our dinner and feel asleep in no time. Day 1 in Sagada was really tiring but so much fun.

More on Day 2! :)


  1. bat may helmets kayo dito? ay onga pala, may headlights para ilaw. hehe.

    kakatuwa ng chips that are about to burst! i miss Sagada already!

  2. Ay wala ba kayo helmets? I thought it was a SAGGA spelunking requirement, kasi pwedeng mauntog dun sa mga tunnels where you need to squeeze in. We didn't have headlamps, yung petromax lang nila Kuya. :D

    Haha, onga eh. Sana I'd get to return this April, ka-miss. :) Thanks for dropping by.

  3. the palce reminds me of malaybalay,bukidnon.ganda!

  4. @virgo itinerary - Thanks for dropping by! I'm planning a CDO-Camiguin-Bukidnon trip this October. It'd be great to find a Sagada-like place down south. :)