Tag Archive: Sagada

It was a long weekend. And since I’ve long wished to visit Sagada, my niece arranged everything for this trip. Deprived of many winks, I wasn’t in the best of moods when we made our breakfast stop.



Me: Chow King? Chow King for breakfast?
Driver: The group in the 2nd van wants a Chinese breakfast.
Me: Hmmmm. I’m walking to the corner where there’s a Jollibee. (*not smiling*)


Me: Coffee and Hamdesal for me. Where are the newspapers?
Jollibee Girl: *no reaction*
Me: Bakit ayaw mo sumagot? (Why won’t you answer?) *grumpy now*




Niece takes over, and I move to take a seat and a table for us. As it turned out, no hamdesal for me. The girl at the counter took my order as another breakfast rice meal. Hungry, I had no energy to insist on my first order. *looking defeated*


Mood Changer: First Sight of Banaue Rice Terraces



Banaue Rice Terraces





Me (in SUMAGUING Cave): Paano katagal ito? (How long will this take?)
Cave Guide: 1 1/2 hours. Pero sa inyo, baka 2 1/2 hours. (In your case, maybe 2 1/2 hours)

Mood Changer (looking at companions): Will you take my photos, please?




Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave. DAW. :))





Venue: Log Cabin (arrived 1 hour early for 7pm buffet dinner)


Me: I’m an hour early for my dinner reservation. Can I sit by the bar while sipping a glass of wine?
Wait Staff (Girl): No wine by the glass. You must order 1 bottle.


—- The wait staff (Boy) squeezed himself behind the bar and snagged his shirt.—–

Wait Staff (Boy): OMG. (Some expletives…. then makes out like he’s about to cry)
Me (*feeling sorry*): Sayang. It’s a nice shirt, but you can stitch it up.
Wait Staff (Boy): It’s Chanel. Very expensive. (Slips out, comes back in a new shirt)
Me: That’s another nice shirt.
Wait Staff (Boy): It’s another Chanel.






Wait Staff (Boy): Your dinner table is outside. You can sit by the bonfire meanwhile.
Me: I want a table inside. Too cold outside.




Wait Staff (Girl): I got you a table inside. Follow me. (They set up a table INSIDE 1 of the rooms)
Me: It’s a small table. We’re 7 pax.
Wait Staff (Girl): Nothing I can do. You made late reservations.
Me: That’s odd. We were told days before of our confirmed reservations.
Wait Staff (Girl): Well, I don’t handle reservations here. Blah Blah Blah



Later……… A group of 4 complaining ladies were also brought inside the room. Guess what, they had ANOTHER table set up good for 4, while 7 of us squeezed ourselves around a table good for 5.

Mood Changer: I stuffed my plate with food from the buffet. (The spread was a disappointment, but that’s another story. I got mostly veggies as they “rationed” the carving. When we went for seconds, there was none left. They offer you PANCIT instead )





They set up a SMALL table good for 5 pax (we were 7) INSIDE one of the bedrooms. When we said the table’s too small, they ho-hummed us. Later, they set up ANOTHER table for 4 complaining ladies. So there was ANOTHER table!





On the short hike up to Kiltepan Peak to view the sunrise, the place was a-buzz with youngsters oozing with morning energy as compared to my “low-batt” state. As mentioned in my earlier blog, a lady fiscal went berserk so early in the morn. Confronting a driver who allegedly told her to move to the side of the dirt road, she went a-cussing and a-cursing. Not exactly the kind of language welcomed by early-risers out to enjoy a Kiltepan Sunrise.


Me: Who is that angry lady?
One Youngster: Tita (Aunt)….. Must be AMALAYER.
Me: Who?
Another Youngster: Not AMALAYER. Sounds like AMA-FISCAL.


Then, the sky brightened as the sun peeps out. There was thunderous applause, enough to drown out the monologue started by AMA-FISCAL..


Mood Changer: Laughter. That’s enough, no videotaping allowed. We laughed, we clapped, we enjoyed our Kiltepan Sunrise.




Crowd waiting for Kiltepan Sunrise


I’m a liar. AMALAYER. Of late, this has been a not so private joke among Filipinos especially those from the city traversed by MRT and LRT. The videotaped monologue from this young lady nearly screaming at the top of her lungs versus a lady guard caught the attention of not a few urbanites. Perhaps she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe she’s going through something. Definitely the guy who videotaped the scene shouldn’t have. Well, that’s my take on the matter. But that is not to condone all that verbal abuse. as what happened here in Kiltepan Peak.





Thank you Rex for this lovely photo!


Even Siri didn’t fail. Methinks. I can still feel the breeze.



After that backbreaking overnighter ride to Sagada and that very torturous (but rewarding) spelunking episode at SUMAGUING Cave on the very day of arrival, we pulled ourselves out of bed at 4:30 am to be up and ready for the Kiltepan Sunrise. Still sleepy on the van ride, we missed the bend, backed up and drove on dirt road all the way to where many vans and cars were already parked. We knew there was quite a crowd before us judging by the noise of early morning chatter as we sniffed the morning air.




The Crowd @Kiltepan Peak.


Pleasure in Tranquility!



But wait. It wasn’t just senseless morning chatter we were hearing. Someone was cursing and cussing. So early in the morning!



Foolish woman I am. Should have reminded myself to bend like the grass, to welcome whichever way the wind blows, to simply observe, perhaps with a grin that couldn’t be wiped off my face, to accept but without conforming. But I couldn’t help remarking (just to my companions)  that early risers like us don’t deserve this eardrum-stinging “AMALAYER” language directed at one of the drivers from this lady fiscal. How can this lady even brag she’s a lady fiscal with the power to put her adversary behind bars? Tsk. Tsk. One couldn’t help eavesdropping. One and all were all hostages to this drama. The unwanted scenario quickened my pulse; blood surging through my face. Creating reddish splotches. Unbidden. Good thing it was still dark. I felt I’d rather put my head on the chopping block than listen to all the cussing.




Another lovely shot, Rex.


Why do i get a feeling some vampire lurks behind those pine trees? Photo Credits: Rex.



I wondered apprehensively and waited patiently for what’s to happen next. I have to commend the crowd of youngsters for restraining themselves, suffering like me throughout that offensive monologue. And then the sky slightly opened up. And the crowd cheered! The lady fiscal mercifully shut up. As the sun rises, the moon fades. Coffee mugs a-ready and we were all set for some peace and quiet. Finally. And beauty. Nature never fails.




Caught. By. Rex.


Shaky Hands. Moon Fading.



I sniffed as the drama ended. Looked behind me as I caught the last image of a fading moon. Before me, the sun threatened to brighten a day which didn’t start very well. I inched closer for a shot. No DLSR nor my trusted G12 with me. Just Siri, my iPhone cam.


The better shots displayed above were taken by my young friend Rex of Spaceman T-Rex. Thank you, Rex.


Mevlana Rumi: Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.


It was a long, backbreaking, butt-busting ride. Half a day on the road with half of Manila packed in vans, cars, jeeps and buses weaving through the winding roads to Banaue and Sagada. Obviously, the long weekend lured many city people to check out the mountain air and remote villages in Mountain Province. The van we hired for our group of 7 pax was actually very comfortable. BUT, it was a very lonnnnnggg ride. Traffic along zigzag routes kept us glued to our seats, munching junk snacks whenever we wake up from brief naps.




Topload! (I wouldn’t dare…) Photo Credits: Peter


Love this photo of Manong and his wooden bike. Sagada 2012. (Peter, you do have an eye for great photos like this one!)



By the time we found this old man in his local “Igorot” costume with his wooden bike, we had the sun shining on us. As well on the Banaue Rice Terraces. Having tinkered with my camera on the long ride, I messed up and couldn’t put the cam to its original settings. Too much light, good only for zoomed-in and close up shots. What did I do? And we just got here! Thank God I was traveling with 2 photography nuts. Many of the shots here were taken by Peter and my niece Sarah. A few i took, using my iPhone cam. Thank you, Peter and Sarah. Thank you, Siri!




Banaue Rice Terraces. How about waking up from a long, butt-busting van ride to a vista such as this? Photo Credits: Peter


Lovely View of the Rice Terraces @ Banaue.



By the time we reached Sagada Homestay, we were all feeling like old men and old hags. Dropped our bags, napped for an hour or so, before checking out the hanging coffins and the “punishing” SUMAGUING Caves. Lunch was in Masferre’s while dinner was in this hip joint called Kimchi Cafe and Bar. A tiny eccentric place that easily transforms into a charming folk house as soon as the sun sets. This is where you find good, artistic use for bottle caps 🙂




Masferre’s for Lunch. But what we really wanted to do was lie down and sleep!


Dinner at Kimchi Cafe and Bar. Look at how they used bottle caps to decorate the place. Perfect with bottles of beer and music by Bob Marley!



After SUMAGUING Cave, I was completely wasted. Got out of the cave at 7pm and found my niece asking nearly everyone coming out if they’ve seen me with my guide James. Sarah has been here before and it was she who had so much faith I can do this spelunking expedition. She regrets now she didn’t catch on video the first words off my mouth as I climbed out of the cave :-0



The long, hot shower was very soothing. As I cleaned my feet and legs of mud, I realized why I kept slipping on the climb up. Too wasted to wash my own muddied clothes, I gave them away. No Internet, no TV as I didn’t need any prodding to hit the sack. As I closed my eyes, I must have fallen asleep just as my back touched the bed. I woke up at 2am just as my niece got in. I barely heard all the banter among tourists around a bonfire just outside the Homestay. I sensed the fun, the drunkenness, even the coquettish laughter from women speaking English with varied accents. It would have been fun to eavesdrop but my body and all my senses were longing to get back to sleep. SUMAGUING Cave does that to you.




Don’t I look LOST? Sumaguing Cave. Thank you Peter, for this shot.


Hanging Coffins. And we did ask. The natives used ladders to put and hang these wooden boxes bearing their dead. If you look closely, you’d find a skull and some bones on top of one of the boxes. Photo Credits: Peter



Knocked out good and completely re-energized for the Kiltepan sunrise, I even managed to make my coffee before stepping out of the Sagada Homestay. While some went for more “punishment” via the Bomod-ok Falls, others checked out the terraced rice paddies, more hanging coffins and rock gardens. You looking at me? You guessed right. No falls for me. Having stubbed my big toe inside the cave, I’m not doing any more trekking to explore natural waterfalls in Sagada.




NO, I’m not following the leader. Terraced rice paddies in Sagada.


Fresh mountain air. Great mountain view. Sagada.


Sagada. Mountain Province. Philippines.

Here’s one for the books. No, I wouldn’t call it spelunking. Not even caving per se. In my book, it’s pure and simple curiosity and blind courage that found me at the mouth of SUMAGUING Cave in Sagada one late afternoon and mindlessly saying “yes” to this adventure. After all, so many of my young blogger-friends have blogged about it. So, I was naturally curious. AND ….. adequately challenged. 😊





The Descent.


Directional Sign to Sumaguing Cave



I’ve been to many caves and had my fill of stalagmites and stalactites. You can say I didn’t have much by way of expectations. My only concern is to get out of it before nightfall as it was already 4pm when we began our descent. James, our guide, looked nonchalant seeing there’s a not-so-young adventurer in his group of 5 pax. I looked around and concluded I must be among the oldest, if not THE oldest, with the curious lot of caving enthusiasts that late afternoon.




Interior Shot. Traffic Inside the Sumaguing Cave! Sagada.


That headlamp was a brilliant (pun intended) idea!



The cave was packed with youngsters who shared the same not-so-brilliant idea with us to spend the long weekend in Sagada. The crowd meant long waits as the group of descending first-timers wait for a line making way to climb up and out of the cave. The extended waits made me rethink my intentions. And as I pondered, I knew this was more a challenge rather than a sightseeing adventure. One look at our guide James competently balancing a lamp between his thigh and left hand while offering his right hand to me, and I knew I just had to get this over and done with.




More Traffic Down Below, Inside the Sumaguing Cave.


Getting All Muddied Up Inside Sagada’s Sumaguing Cave



I was ready. With a headlight and gloves, I made my way down. The initial descent was over slippery rocks. I felt more confident when we did away with footwear, gripped our soles over rocks around pools of water, and slowly, carefully dipped our toes, then our entire legs in cold waters. All the while, I refrained from asking James how much further we should go let I lose heart. I knew the options were quite limited. James had to go with the group and should I choose not to continue, it’s either I go with another group climbing out or I wait for our team. Besides, I was actually growing confident myself, even excited!




No Way To Go But Barefoot Inside Sumaguing Cave


A Natural Beauty @ Sumaguing Cave



This rock cavern gave me a most memorable souvenir when I stubbed my big toe as I nearly slipped climbing up. It was nearly 7pm by the time we got out of the cave. But that was not really the exciting part. Nor was climbing up a rope. From the cave bottom, our guide James positioned himself in a way where he can actually pull us up with one hand through huge rocks a la Jackie Chan. I grabbed his hand, made big strides up and over the rocks but couldn’t pull myself over! Knowing James couldn’t hold my full weight, I didn’t waste more seconds. One hand held by James, I straddled my left leg over the rock and……… ROLLED! Oh yes, even James wasn’t sure what I was doing! But….. I made it.




Yee Haw! I made it!


Now, Where’s the rest of my group? (Lost Inside Sumaguing Cave)



ROCK AND ROLL, indeed! Surely, that made my day. Aching calf, thigh muscles and sore shoulders, the pain remained long after my uber-dirty, muddied clothes were washed and dried. Oh my, what was I thinking then???




Close Up Shot. Inside Sumaguing Cave.


Cold waters inside the Sumaging Cave


Cold. Slippery. At times, Slimy.