Tag Archives: Banaue

Sagada Madness

Months after the much related and talked about top “hugot” movie of the year, we gave in to the craze. The movie is all about a woman taking attempts on finding out the answer to the question “Where do broken hearts go”.

The plot anchors on the seemingly unrealistic strangers turn travel buddies: made up of a girl who doesn’t want to go home yet and be alone with her thoughts plus a guy who is just willing to come along. Of all places she chose Baguio which later on leads them to Sagada. Then came the momentous climax where she blurted out her heartaches throwing yells from the cliff where they stand. Hoping the sea of clouds stretching to the horizon in front of her would absorb the sorrow and take away her pain all together.

Suddenly lots of people want to travel all the way up to Sagada to do the same thing (or maybe at least see the spot where the scene exactly happened). Being just normal people who at one point or another experience a related heartbreaking experience, my friends and I decided to take this “hugot” trip.

So, is Sagada really the place where “broken hearts go”? If yes, why? Does it transform us? Does it take away the pain? Well, just like in the movie, going places does not actually answer those questions. But it somewhat gives a hint that what’s important is you are not staying on the same ground. That wherever it takes you as long as you’re moving on then maybe, just maybe, you will end up just fine.

Doing the tour with friends rather than a prospect partner does not rip away the Sagada essence. Because who says you always have to find a romantic solution for being heartbroken?

Sometimes, like in that movie, you just need someone who will continue the song you are so choke-up-with-tears to finish. It’s that simple, unpretentious yet ecstatic feeling of having somebody to keep the song going. And who else could have hit those notes the way you started it? That is, not hitting any notes at all.  -Your closest friends I guess.

IMG_3100 “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

So here comes the journey: We are able to book a 3 days/2nights package tour (10 pax) scheduled in May. Our trip also consists of side tours to Baguio, Banawe and Benguet. (See itinerary and budget below.)

Day1

We took our first stop on the municipality of Banawe, province of Ifugao. At the entrance point (an ark with imprints “Welcome to Banaue” stood), we just load off the van and took mandatory selfie and groufie shots.

After the 8-hr night travel, Banaue welcomes its weary visitors.
After the 8-hr night travel, Banaue welcomes its weary visitors.
We made it on time! 6am May 8,2015
We made it on time! 6am May 8,2015

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Next, we head to the famous Banaue Rice terraces. The view is so familiar as it is always depicted on postcards, charts and books since elementary. However, it is still a sight to behold and being just a few meters away from the celebrated stairway of fields is still far amazing and captivating than seeing it on prints.

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We checked-in at Sagada Homestay Inn.

Arrived by 11am just right for Lunch Time
Arrived by 11am just right for Lunch Time
View from our inn
View from our inn

First activity commenced early afternoon after we settled our things and consumed our lunch. First stop is in the Burial Cave.

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We take the Sumaguing-Lumiang cave connection that costs us additional 450php. The cave connection took us 5 hours as we treat every turns a photo opportunity.

One of the higher part of the cave which serves as a platform looking down on a vast arena.
One of the higher part of the cave which serves as a platform looking down on a vast arena.
As expected at 2500 feet underground, it is pitch black. The guide is carrying a lamp and each of us had headlights on.
As expected at 2500 feet underground, the place is pitch black. The guide carried lamp and each of us had headlights on.
This rapel is one good photo op
This rapel is one good photo op
Sumaguing cave boast of its big chambers and notable rock formations.
Sumaguing cave boast of its big chambers and notable rock formations.
At some point, you have to fit on very small holes and irregular entrances to get on the caves multiple chambers
At some point, you have to fit on very small holes and irregular entrances to get on the caves multiple chambers

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Most of the time, the guides serves as human foot holds on this spelunking adventure.
Most of the time, the guides serve as human foot holds on this spelunking adventure.

Before heading back on our inn to rest we stroll around for a food-tripping experience. We tried the lemon pie house as well as the yoghurt house.

Tried Yoghurt House best seller banana, Granola Strawberry preserves. Also tried the famous Sagada Pinikpikan dish
Tried Yoghurt House best seller banana, Granola Strawberry preserves. Also tried the famous Sagada Pinikpikan dish

Day2 Everyone is energized for the next early morning Bomod-Ok trek.

Crossing fields on the way to Bomod-Ok Falls
Crossing fields on the way to Bomod-Ok Falls

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Bomod-Ok falls
Bomod-Ok falls
Water from the falls gives you a freezing feeling you have to stay close to get warm.
Water from the falls gives you a freezing feeling you have to stay close to get warm.

We took the opportunity to have a ride on top of a jeepney on our way back to the jump-off.

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Before heading to the Echo Valley we already passed by Sagada weaving (closed on that day) and Orange farm (off-season). So we were not able to enjoy both attractions. Next activity is a little trek to the Echo Valley, where we passed by St. Mary’s church and Santo Campo cemetery. A little side story on this; our tour guide encourages us to shout to experience why it was called the “echo valley”. So my friend belted out “Walang forever!” (Forever doesn’t exist!). We are expecting the exact words to bounce back when a simultaneous yell “Wag kang bitter” answered us from the other side of the hill. Then comes the laughter and the exchange of “hugot” remarks such as “maghihiwalay din kayo” among others.

On our way to echo Valley and hanging Coffins
On our way to echo Valley and hanging Coffins

The tour guide lectures a little history about the ancient customs and the practice behind the hanging coffins. At some point, you can actually see the skeletons inside of the wooden casket.

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We stayed a little more to accept the challenge offered on the way back; the rock climb. The activity costs 400php per person worthy of unlimited climb. My companions participated. I declined. (I was not prepared because it was not part of the itinerary and I wore a loose lacy short.) Because of this, we missed the pottery stop.

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 IMG_3208Learned a lot about Sagada and neighbouring province customs from our next stop; the Ganduyan museum. Here we paid a somewhat “mandatory” donation of 25php. The owner explains later on that since the museum was not yet subsidized by the government, their family single-handedly runs the maintenance of the place. So they need some help through donations. The amount we pay anyway is very much worthy of the knowledge the dedicated curator was able to deliver. (Picture taking inside is not allowed.)

By around six o’clock, we’re already back at the inn. After dinner, we stroll around the area and some have already bought Sagada shirts and souvenirs. As we are already leaving the next morning for our side trip to Benguet and Baguio, we decided to orchestrate a little bonfire session. Three questions were to be answered by each one of us. Being with the hype that time, these three questions were all “hugot” queries. Some even got emotional and cried. And finally, by around past 11 pm, we acknowledged the fatigue our body had and reward ourselves with some rest before we leave by 5am the next day.

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Day3

We are so excited heading to Kiltepan viewpoint as we drove before dawn. We are racing with sunrise. Then, as if being mocked by the valleys, we arrived there with no trace of the sun at all. What we saw were equally disappointed groups of tourists. The weather has been cloudy that it blocks anything from the sky. It breaks our already broken heart. (hugot!)

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Then goes the side trips: first on the highest point of Philippines highway system (Atok, Benguet) then to the summer capital Baguio City.

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Atok, Benguet
Atok, Benguet

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And that ends the trip. Is it worth it? Sure it was. We’ve come a very long way because we measure journey by friends rather than miles 🙂

Itinerary: (3d/2n Sagada tour with side trips on Banaue/Benguet/Baguio)

DAY – 0

09:00pm – Assembly (Mc Donalds North Ave. in front of Tri Noma Mall)

09:30pm – ETD to Sagada

DAY – 1

06:00am – ETA Banaue /Breakfast (on pax own acct.)

Banaue Town Banaue Rice Terraces View Point Sagada Town

12:00nn – Check-in / Lunch (On Pax Account)

Lumiang Cave / Burial Cave & Sumaguing Cave, or Caves Connection

06:00pm – Back to hotel / Dinner (On Pax Account)

DAY – 2

07:00am – Wakeup Call/Breakfast (on pax own acct.)

08:00am – Bomod-Ok Falls Trek Swimming (optional)

11:30am – Lunch (On Pax Account)

Orange Farm, Sagada Weaving, Pottery,

Ganduyan Museum St. Mary’s Church,

Campo Santo(Cemetery), Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins

05:00pm – Back to Hotel 06:00pm – Dinner (On Pax Account)

DAY – 3

05:30am – Optional Kiltepan View Point Sunrise Viewing/ Check Out/Breakfast ( on pax own acct.)

08:00am – ETD to Baguio Highest Point (Philippine Highway System) Atok, Benguet

12:30pm – ETA La Trinidad Benguet Lunch (On Pax Account)

Strawberry Farm Souvenir and Pasalubong Hunting

Burnham Park and Swan Lake (Baguio)

Kennon Road View

Point Lion’s Head

03:30pm – ETD to Manila

07:00pm- Dinner (On Pax Account)

09:00pm- ETA Manila

Package Agency: N.E.C tours

Budget:

Package Cost: 2850

Sumaguing-Lumiang Caves: 435

Souvenirs:

Shirt: 150

others: 100

Pasalubong: 500

Foods: 900(est 150php/meal)*

Total: 4935php/person

*We bring our own grocery consisting of breads, cup noodles etc for our breakfasts so I only consider 6 meals instead of 9.

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