Four years ago, pre That Thing Called Tadhana, was the tranquil Sagada I enjoyed with good friends over cups of coffee, guitar jams around the bonfire and spelunking while covered in bat poo.
They say the getting-there part is half the journey and I believe that. Before we arrived in Sagada we just had to get the classic pinoy breakfast at this cozy restaurant somewhere in Banaue with a nice view of the famous rice terraces! If that doesn’t make your day after a fairly long drive from Manila I don’t know what will.
The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2,000-year-old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Back then it wasn’t considered a ‘Wonder of the World’ yet but I wasn’t surprised it made the cut, it’s so amazing to think that these are all largely done by hand. Fast forward to Sagada, after some treacherous cliff-side u-turns, rocky and bumpy roads and more wonderful view of the mountain tops touching the clouds and the province of Bontoc which is said to be the historical capital of the Cordillera region, we find ourselves in a two-storey house all to ourselves. It felt so homey, with a brick fireplace and wooden floor boards (not creaking by the way for that would be too creepy) and of course, this view when you stare outside the doorway:
Of course after we dropped our things off we we’re ecstatic to eat local food seeing it was lunch time already and we we’re sooooo hungry. Yay food! Our tour guide, Rson (Parana Tours) recommended Salt & Pepper to fill us up before our five-hour spelunking adventure begins! So being the obedient girl that I am I stuffed myself up like crazy.
Then came the five-hour spelunking in Sumaging Cave! (these next photos have been taken from my friends’ camera roll since I was too lazy to bring a DSLR with me inside a cave). It was also a good thing that I didn’t bring a camera with me because after our first descent I felt so anxious I was about to pass out! the idea of going through a cave is exciting and all but the thought of once we go down there’s no way to go but into the five-hour darkness. What if I do pass out? I think I can’t breathe…my knees are all wobbly…is it just me?…why do you look fine!…okay I wanna go back up…but I can’t go back up anymore! *fast breathing* I think I’m turning pale… Good thing one of our local guides had a Gatorade with him (I felt bad for drinking it though lol) then I slapped myself back and said stop being a worry wart!
This was my first time spelunking and though I had a pre-spelunking jitter, the rest was as they say, history! These were one of those times when I’m glad to be petite since I can easily pass through the tight openings inside the cave hah!. As obvious as it is, I’m gonna say it nevertheless that this ain’t the activity for claustrophobics. We walked, climbed, slid, swung, swam, crawled with only four oil lamps lighting the way. It seemed really cold inside since you get that steam?mist?fog? from your mouth while talking (the Philippines is a tropical country so we don’t get that alot and when this time we did I was like a child seein the snow for the first time) but it really isn’t because then we would be shivering and we weren’t. After five hours of looking at the incredible rock formations and shadow puppetting we we’re finally at the end: it was a steep climb with no ropes on and the only thing you can grope at are the protruding rocks, and since we only had four oil lamps and there were more than ten of us I had to either do it real slowly or just feel my way up which at times I did. At this time I was wondering, shouldn’t there be bats inside a cave? and just as if the universe answered me then and there, (No, we were not attacked by real bats thank God) my hand landed on something soft and slimy which obviously is not a rock but was actually bat poo! just so you know, it doesn’t smell but better poo than actual bats, right? right? (no).
The next day was more hiking and walking to see the Bomod-ok Falls.
And yes, more eating. We had breakfast at Lemon Pie House. I loved how diners in Sagada are so cozy! wooden floors and tables and pillows to sit on the floor.
There’s a lot to see in Sagada, it’s just a shame that we weren’t able to see the sunrise because we woke up late. Next time definitely! nevertheless we didn’t run out of stunning places to see in Mountain Province.