Sagada, A Back packing adventure to remember

“You Only Live Once” or Y.O.L.O is one of my most important mantra’s in life. Life is too short to waste worrying about “What ifs?” “What will happen?” or “Will it ever pan out in the end?” I’m not saying, you delve into something headfirst without thinking of the repercussions. What I’m trying to point here is that you should “Follow your heart” and “Live the life you always wanted” with of course noting some calculated risks along the way.

I want to be the one, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years from now looking back at my old posts and photos and smiling at all those remarkable memories I left behind and all the things I tried out of my comfort zone (Just like the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”). I want to do a lot of things, to traverse the world as the years progress, I want to read and peruse as much articles as I can, I want to write and chronicle all my “Awesome” and “Exciting” food trips, laugh trips and road trips along the way. So, here I am now making the most out of life by slowly exposing myself to various places and things that I haven’t tried out before. Expand your horizons. Be happy, because life is too short to be anything but happy.

After swimming with the humongous whale sharks in Bicol, snorkeling in Anilao and diving in Batangas. We wanted to do something off course and something new. I saw the wind mills in Ilocos and I was blown away, I also went to the Marcos mansion and rode a camel along the way. Last year, I went river rafting in the 13 kilometer wet and wild rivers of Davao while enjoying the surreal experience in their Eco park where I was able to zip line, ride a horse, take some photos of the indigenous kids who serenaded us with their local songs and tried out their local cuisines especially the not so fragrant Durian. I also went to Disneyland and explored Hong Kong along with their night markets and the fun rides in Ocean Park. Recently, I went to Cebu- Bohol and saw the pristine beaches of Panglao Island, their Tarsier conservatory and their Butterfly garden. Me and my friends also back packed to Caramoan Island (The Survivor Island) where we felt like such “lost souls” due to the lack of signal and technological advancements in the place.

So anyway, I’m going to recount on one of my most memorable ventures from last year in the Montains of Sagada. Sagada evokes a sense of freedom. If you want a respite from the daily hustle and bustle of the Metropolis then this is the place to be. We wanted to go off course and embark on something new so we decided to book ourselves to a tour of the Sagada province. We all met in Trinoma, that fateful night so that we would arrive there early in the morning. We were all jammed into a van, all 10 of us with people we didn’t know, who would later on become our friends).

The 10 hour plus long drive was such a chore, my legs hurt from being stuck for so long at the back of the van and we just got out from the car once in a while for the mandatory stop overs. When we got to the place, we were first greeted by the sunrise over the Kiltepan viewpoint. It was surreal! Worth the very long cramped up journey. Then afterwards, we took some photos with their Indigenous women wearing their Tribal outfits. (However, I just wished that they could have worn some shoes or slippers to protect their bare feet from the cold). The weather up there was freezing! Unlike here in Manila, the temperature there is very low! When you open your mouth, the fog comes out. Cool isn’t it?

We then headed out to our Inn called “Stoneman” to get settled first before we ventured into a slippery, very dimly lit cave for 4-6 hours before we surfaced. The Sumaguing Cave is notably one of  the best known attractions of Sagada. Caving is one of the more exciting and unique experiences that visitors can do here. Sumaguing gets the most people out of all the other caves due to its big chambers and notable limestone rock formations. While going down the dangerous trek, it is best to stick with your tour group and ask for assistance since some of the foot holds are quite slippery due to “bat poop” and the water coming in from the cave. It is also very muddy inside and it is pitch black in the deeper parts of the cave (the guide will be carrying a lamp) and you will be heavily reliant on your guide for directions and the proper foot holds. It could take from two to three hours to finish the entire route. We started about 2pm in the afternoon and resurfaced from the muddy cave around 7pm already in the evening. You have to be quite agile as you venture along the cave since, you have to do some rapelling and you have to be careful with your steps along the way if you want to avoid accidents. Teamwork, agility and and presence of mind will be of utmost importance.

The entrance to the Sumaguing Cave along with other caves like the Lumiang Burial Cave are all downhill from the center of town. It’s a nice 15-20 minute stroll along the road. Good thing, our Inn is just in front of the cave. I went into the cave all made up and fresh looking and when I resurfaced all my make up was gone and I was all muddy. But the experience was worth it!

Me in action, I decided to go barefoot since my slippers would be too slippery for me and might cause me to slip
Me in action, I decided to go barefoot since my slippers would be too slippery for me and might cause me to slip
Krizel in action
Krizel in action
The tour group posing before the long trek down the 4 mountain ranges
The tour group posing before the long trek down the 4 mountain ranges
Down the mountain steep
Down the mountain steep
Almost paradise
Almost paradise
Inside the dimly lit cave
Inside the dimly lit cave
Touching base with the limestone formations
Touching base with the limestone formations
Rappelling my way through some secret passages
Rappelling my way through some secret passages

One of the highlights of our trip was traversing the Bomod-ok Falls. The falls can be reached after trekking through stretches of rice terraces. For those who are used to exercising and jogging the hike will be a piece of cake but for those who aren’t this can be quite a challenge. it took us 3 hours to get to and from the falls. We had to walk along the rice paddies and pass by some villages along the way.  Under the falls, you can swim to your hearts content in the cold, icy waters of the place. However, it is very slippery too! I got myself a sprained ankle in the process! (What a remembrance!) Good thing! Ms. Rowena (Also a nurse) helped me out and bandaged my injured leg. I couldn’t have made the walk back without them my very helpful friends in our group. They even assisted me going back and always lending a helping hand, they even gave me a staff (like Moses in the Bible) to help me navigate. Thanks Tito Nello and Alvin for the assistance.

We then headed off to the Hanging Cofffins and Echo Valley. Echo Valley is accessible through following a clearly marked foot path that leads hikers from St. Mary’s Church (an Episcopalian church in Sagada) through the town cemetery. From various look out points, it would be easy to locate several hanging coffins. The more adventurous ones could traverse down the ravine and look at the Hanging Coffins up close however due to my sprained ankle, we decided not to risk it and just head back.

 

Perhaps, the best high light of our trip was when we had the Bonfire ceremony with the natives while they doled out free drinks and wine to us. They do this every December only so book your tour on a December to partake in the Bonfire. This is surely an event worth remembering for the books. We even pranced around the bonfire after their native dances while we roasted mallows and took photos with their indigenous tribes.

At night, we also had some wine sessions and talks with our new found friends and we bonded over meals served in their local restaurants. Surely, this is one adventure I would never forget. Thank you for making it remarkable. Amma, Rain, Tita Rowena, Tito Nello, Tita Nede, Alvin and Nell. 🙂 Until our next adventure!

 

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