Thursday, March 31, 2016

There are many blogs about Sagada, I don't want to be different, just want to share my experience. I have a friend who is a descendant of a family from Sagada, so they have stories from way back, of how Sagada looked like. I tell you, most locals don't want changes in the way of life there, it's almost modern. Too busy as they say, the relaxation they get from going back from their hometown is tarnished by modernization. It doesn't mean they don't like tourists, they do like when people know something about their culture but the thing is people don't adjust to Sagada's way of life, its the other way around.

Sagada adjusts to tourists, two years ago the path from echo valley is grass and earth, you can even jump at the side of the mountain. Now there is a cemented path with bars so the tourists won't fall, and many other hotels that popped up for the convenience of tourists. But really why did you go there in the first place? 

1. To relax
2. To commune with nature
3. Get away from everything
4. Take time to meditate on life 
And not to find hotels with wifi, have a comfortable room to stay and indulge on food just like what you do in your other travels which contradicts your point of going there.

So what to do in Sagada? It's my second time to go there, before I tried caving in Sumaguing and went to Lake Danum, I also went to Echo valley just to shout hahaha, and Kiltepan to watch the sunrise. I went back to Kiltepan this year which is full of people! it's like there are 500 people there just to see the sunrise. It's funny when they say what so special about it, folks! if you go there with the other 500 people, I don't think you would know what special about it. Because before we are only 8 people looking at that sunrise when no one is talking and making noise, and the valley below Kiltepan is covered with clouds which is literally you are above the clouds and waiting for the sun to shine. And it made me feel thankful to witness another day of my life beginning because of that.

Sunrise at Kiltepan

Sagada's church is my favorite spot, I don't know why the air is much cooler and blows much harder there than any other place. Feeling the cold weather and talking to my friends who are with me, creates memories. Going down a large grass field made us laugh because we don't know which path to take, because we might fall down or slide downwards. Like we are kids, and laughing again because basically we have to climb up which is much harder.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

Locals say you haven't been to Sagada if you did not try caving in Sumaguing (P500 with guide). That's why they have a T-shirt saying I survived Sagada. Tip - If you are there please try this, you traveled almost 12 hours just to get there and you will go Pabebe! oh my gosh please spare me! It's too beautiful to miss, you can actually touch and walk on the rock formations in the cave unlike in Palawan that you just boat all through out. The fulfillment of going down a dark cave, the adrenaline rush and your will to go on because you don't want to be left alone there.

Sumaguing Cave

One unexpected thing I did is the Echo Adventure (P1000), because I booked for Echo tours (P600) only because it is said that its 3 hours trekking, well it end up we did the Adventure one because of misunderstanding. We started at 6pm almost dusk but it's still bright during that time, so we went towards the Hanging coffins, another cave and the Underground River which leads to Bokong falls. I am so tired that time due to early morning spelunking and side trip to Banaue which I drove and then we are at an adventure that made me too weak and too tired to move on. It might be easy for me if I'm relaxed and not hungry that makes it even worse because by the end of the trek I am shaking of hunger. My friend said that its the first time she trekked at night, and I said sarcastically who isn't?! And then we laughed it off. For me it would be nice if we did it when the sun is up, we will appreciate the beauty of Sagada more, since we passed by rice fields and climbed up from river to the bridge.

The food in Sagada usually caters international menu, because apparently their usual visitors before are foreigners. They also have vegetarian restaurants, french cuisine and yoghurts (these costs 120-200/meal depends on the restaurants). So what are the local menus? I've tasted almost all unique food in Mountain Province since I have a friend whose family cooks it when I visit them.

1. Pinikpikan - It is like Chicken Tinola but the chicken is prepared in a different manner, it also has Etag, it's like bacon but prepared traditionally. In the town center there are small restaurants at the basement of a building (I forgot the name but it's beside the tourist center) which sells 1 serving for 100 pesos.

2. Pork with Black beans - literally thats it (P90 with rice)

3. Sinigang na Baboy - yes it is not uniquely theirs but their manner of cooking with tomatoes as the main ingredient for its sourness which makes it taste so fresh. (P90 with rice)

4. Lemon Pie - this is the only place I've tasted this kind of Pie (I don't know in other countries) (P35/slice)

We traveled on a budget so we brought food while travelling to lessen expensive eating in restaurants. I always tell my friends that the only thing that can make your budget blow up is due to excessive eating while travelling hahaha! Also try to find local eateries that can make you save money and try their local cuisines.

You can also bring these during your travels not only in Sagada 
1. blanket
2. towels
3. drinking water (very important!)
4. chips, crackers or bread
5. cooler with ice (for your cold beverages)
With these you can save on add-ons because sometimes they charge for extras.

There are a lot of blogs that can give you a backpackers price but with me it is meant for people who bring their own cars and a small group (3-5 person). I prefer bringing one because of comfort and it saves time. When I visited this holy week, we are only three when we traveled in Sagada. So you may think it's expensive but i'll give you a break down. Note Bataan to Baguio has the same Km as Manila to Baguio.

Bataan-Baguio Gas (P35/L)                              1000
(Honda City 1.5 AT)
SCTEX TPLEX Toll                                           1000
(vice versa)
Gas Top up Baguio-Sagada (P44/L)                 1100
Baguio-Bontoc Toll                                                30
(vice versa)
George Guesthouse Hotel                                2000
(for 3 pax - P1000/night)
Tours (Sumaguing and Echo Adv)                    1500
Gas Top up Sagada-Baguio                                700
Gas Top up Baguio-Bataan                                 700
Total                                                                   8030

All in all we spent P8030 divided by 3 persons, it costs P2677/person. We have a budget of 3000 per person before we left Bataan, we still have P900 excess for food while we are together. But we brought P2000/person extra for incidentals (food and souvenirs). So I think P5000 per person is more than enough to spend a trip in Sagada on a private vehicle with your friends. 

Go up and experience Sagada, so you can check off one of your travel bucket list. Try the adventures and it will make your long trip worthwhile.

And as the local says: While in Sagada...Take nothing but pictures... Leave nothing but footprints... Kill nothing but time.

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