Bants and I signed-up for a guided tour of the famous caves of Sagada thinking it was a walk in the park, or a ride on a boat as in the case of the underground river of Puerto Princesa. Boy were we wrong! The cave tours required our fit and svelte bodies (no, I’m not being sarcastic, hehehe) to slide down slim holes, climb rocks, and rappel upwards. Pramis. Walang panama si Spiderman. Partida, wala pa kaming sapot nun ah. Hehehe. Our guide, being the gracious host that he was, offered to assist us in rappelling upwards, which is called rope-climbing in proper English. I went first then Bants was next. So this is how it went (paganahin n’yo na lang ang imagination n’yo, di ko nakuhanan ng video eh):
On the left corner, wearing khaki shorts and a black jacket, weighing 226lbs… it’s Bants “Super Lolo” Abantao!
On the right corner, wearing denim pants and a navy blue windbreaker, weighing 145lbs… it’s Kuya “Kaya Ko ‘To” Melchor!
KUYA MELCHOR (Guide): Tulungan ko na kayo, sir. Tapak po kayo sa hita ko tapos sa balikat ko habang hawak ang lubid.
BANTS: Sigurado ka Kuya? Mabigat ako.
KUYA MELCHOR: Sige, sir. Kaya ko po kayo.
BANTS: Sigurado ka ah?
KUYA MELCHOR: Opo.
Tumapak si Bants sa hita ni Kuya, tapos sa balikat n’ya…
KUYA MELCHOR: <grunting> Itapak mo yung paa mo sa kaliwa… Sa kaliwa… <voice trailing off, clearly the last bit of energy he has just left his body>
Kuya Melchor must have been traumatized in that ordeal for he didn’t accompany us back to the tourism office, saying, “Mauna na kayo, Sir. May rerelyebuhan lang ako.” Hehehe. Si Kuya, nagdadahilan pa… Well, at least he didn’t lose his ability to walk. Thank God, he had balls of steel! Hahaha!
Sagada is a town in Mountain Province, north of the Philippines. It’s well known for its caves, falls, yogurt and hanging tombs. It’s landlocked so all you can see are never-ending views of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. The people are friendly and beautiful with features particular to people from the highlands; the food is good and affordable. Their tourism office is efficient and tour guides are not pesky since they’re regulated and have their own associations.
Besides spelunking, Bants and I trekked to the Big Falls or Bomod-ok Falls where we met a flirty Englishman and a shy Korean. We were surprised at the number of people, mostly locals, bathing in the pool beneath the falls since the water was ice cold. Being the water baby that I am, I just had to dip in. Tumayo ang utong ko sa lamig! Brrr…
Of course, the trek down to the falls was easy. Going back up was the hard part. Especially since Bants encountered a minor accident making him utter his proverbial phrase, “She’s trying to kill me.” As if it was my fault… Hahahaha!
When in Sagada, there’s nothing else to do but walk, eat, walk, eat, walk and eat. A few places we visited were the church, the local cemetery, Echo Valley, Sagada Weaving and the Masferre Museum. It’s a nice place to get lost into. There are lots of places to wine and dine as well. Check out:
- Yogurt House – One of the more famous restaurants in Sagada. We recommend yogurt with granola and their chicken curry with yogurt.
- Lemon Pie House – You will encounter this quaint cafe en route to the caves. It is known for its lemon pie, hence, the name. Besides lemon pie, we recommend you try their egg pie and their mountain tea. The place also offers free wi-fi connection.
- Masferre Inn and Cafe – Owned by the relatives of Eduardo Masferre, famous photographer of the rice terraces. It offers Pinoy comfort food and other local fare. Bants and I love having our breakfast here. They serve good portions of entrees and side dishes.
- Strawberry Cafe- We chanced upon this humble eatery on our way to Ganduyan Inn where we were staying. The place serves a mean bowl of chicken mami. Super sarap! I’m also particularly fond of their bacon sandwich. Hindi tinipid sa palaman. Yummy!
12:00AM – ETD, Victory Liner Cubao Station. Board a bus bound for Baguio.
06:30AM – ETA Baguio. Eat breakfast. Some restaurants and fast-food chains along Session Road offer breakfast.
08:30AM – Board cab to Dangwa. Tell driver to drop you off at bus terminal bound for Sagada.
09:00AM – ETD from Baguio.
03:30PM – ETA Sagada. Register at tourism office. Sign-up for tours of your choice. For those on a tight-budget but would still love to experience Sagada’s rugged terrain, try the cave connection tour and the trek to Bomod-ok falls.
04:00PM – Check-in at Ganduyan Inn. Unpack, rest, freshen-up.
04:30PM – Roam around the community. Sip coffee at Masferre Inn and Cafe.
06:00PM – Dinner at Yogurt House
06:00AM – Breakfast. Sample mami and bacon sandwich at the strawberry cafe.
07:00AM – Meet guide for the cave connection tour.
12:00PM – Lunch. Siesta. Rest.
03:00PM – Explore the place on your own. Roam around the church. Visit the community cemetery behind it. Trek to echo valley.
06:00PM – Dinner.
06:00AM – Breakfast.
07:00AM – Meet guide for the Bomod-ok Falls trek. You can opt to rent a van, which we did, since it’s a long way to the jump-off point. If you’re traveling as a couple, like us, you can share with other couples or those who are traveling alone to help shoulder transport costs.
07:30AM – ETA Brgy. Aguid, Sagada. Start trek.
09:00AM – Falls! Swim if you dare!
10:30AM – Start trek back to Brgy. Aguid.
12:00PM – Board van back to Sagada proper.
12.30PM – Lunch. Siesta. Rest.
03:00PM – Walk to Masferre Museum and Sagada Weaving.
06:00PM- Dinner. Pack-up.
05:00AM – Wake-up call.
06:00AM – Breakfast.
07:00AM – Board bus bound for Baguio.
01:30PM – ETA Baguio. You can opt to stay in Baguio or go straight home.
Php3,500 to Php5,000
- Apply sunblock
- Bring jacket, sweater, or poncho
- Bring your camera
- Have coins or change ready if you’ll be commuting or buying stuff from the market
- Never leave your valuables in your hotel room unless you’re certain it’s safe