the earth cried, for us to experience the heart and beauty of sagada.

Sagada Travel Blog

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ben keeping the fire going!

midnight, the earth was in terrible sadness, the sky hauled us all its tears. from inside the tent, i awoke with fear. we were the only ones wild camping. nobody lives nearby, the scattered villages are far from us. it was dark. the only light illuminating was from my mobile phone when i turned it on. i looked at ben, he seems to be really calm, well of the two of us, i am the worrywart. the rain hasnt stopped since 1 pm yesterday. i swear, i will be a good person from now on in exchange for the rain sto stop, hmmmm i think someone from above knows that im lying because it still didnt stopped! hahahaha. anyway, i went back to sleep, carefully straighting my body around the tent so that i wont touch it to get it damped. i felt comfortable now, as i have warm clothes and a blanket to keep me snugged.

yeah!!!!!!
but i cant sleep well, i was tossing and turning all night till dawn, i was worried, that the ground was so wet and maybe the pegs of the tent wouldnt hold much longer,it also didnt helped as the wild mother and offspring buffalo was roaming around our tent and made thumping noises in the middle of the night! aaarggghhh. i was worried that if lightning striked from nowhere, they would get scared, maul us and stamp us with their hooves!!!!

dawn and sunrise at the top of mt. ampakaw and were fucking above the clouds!
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we set our alarm for 5 am yesterday so we can witness the sunrise. it was raining, but we needed to stretch, there was a bit of light already, but the thick clouds and mists still cover the area, we were so hungry.
the wind and rain knocked our little pot!
after some minutes, the rain began to subside and birds were singing! so ben did the necessary, put out all our wood and started the fire! the pot that we had, had gathered so much rain water - it collapsed! hahaha, but ben still had the water he gathered at the small falls yesterday and that we decided to boil that one instead from the one in the pot! then rain began to pour again! the fire was burning, thank god it was a strong one! otherwise the rain would just wash it away! ben had been working so hard to keep the fire going, i told him if he needed help, but he said he was ok and can do that on his own, i am so proud of my friend ben. he can survive the wild! hahaha. now as ive said earlier, we werent the only ones at the peak of mt, ampakaw but also water buffalos, the area of our tent was littered with buffalo crap! hahahha crap!

eventhough it was raining, we still didnt went inside the tent, we might as well get soaked up! as we were waiting for the water to boil, the other side was so thick with fog and mist but in the valley below was, i dont know how to say, but we were both speechless, it was amazing, magical - the beauty of the earth was in our eyes, as clouds stayed so low in the mountains, the sun was rising, so inspite of raining, we still took some shots, my battery was getting low, so i have to save it for really really nice subjects.
ben on top of the clouds!


then our water boiled, we took out our noodles and ate inside the tent. we were so wet! but we were in good spirits after seeing magnificent views only for our eyes! its just amazing and undescribable - although i had been to sagada so many times, i havent experienced it - thanks to the rain and rain clouds stayed so low! over warm noodles, which by the way the water wasnt EVEN BOILED and ben ate the noodles which was the water was supposed to be drained from the bup, but he ate it anyway ahahahaha - we discussed our situation, as the rain would stop, we would immediately pack up and head down to sagada, well that was about 7 am.

then 8 am came, still the rain was pouring but suddenly the birds sang again and from pouring it went down to drizzling, immediately we collected all our stuff! packed inside the backpacks, collected our trash.
dawn and beautiful with the clouds so low!
then the rain began to stop! but still clouds hover above and below us, we took out kermit's pegs! like a stroke of lightning, everything was prepared! we took a look at the area if we forgot something, we lingered for a some minutes to see if the rain would come agai, but no! so we went downhill as fast as we can! the steep path was slippery but its much easier to go down than up! in no time we were halfway and took again pictures of the beautiful green valley of rice terraces and the dark blue color of mt. amuyao covered in scattered clouds which was so amazing! plus the high peaks of the mt. province range! it was so surreal! it doenst feel like we where in the philippines which is a tropical country known for coconut trees! it was like in another world. after some minutes, we descended into ambasing then through the town of sagada!

then as we entered ambasing community, people - children looked at us! hahaha we were so wet! it looked liked we swam in the mountains insread of cmaping, but all was in good spirits.
sunrise viewed from mt. ampakaw.
i do not regret!



sagada proper, a house which is a lemon pie and a lady with sparkling eyes that hints sadness
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walking downhill, we decided to eat proper breakfast in the first cafe/restaurant that were going to see! when we ascended to mt. ampakaw yesterday, the last cafe we saw was called "sagada lemon pie house". as we reached the edge of the town proper sagada lemon pie house came to our view. its a big house with a beautiful garden and located in the ground floor is the cafe itself. we walked into it, the cafe is a bit dark with little light coming from the sun, and in the counter there just small selection of pies, we knocked but no one came, so we decided to sit in one of the tables and waited.
ben at dawn at the peak!
then someone said "good morning" to us, a small lady with only one tooth, jumpy personality, twinkling eyes but with a hint of sadness on them but a dignified dame. we smiled and said good morning back and she asked us what do we want, the pies on the counter seemed inviting, so i asked for of course, the lemon pie! hahaha and ben had the blueberry pie and we both ordered mountain leomon tea! when i was in sagada before, i never saw this cafe and the lady, who introduced herself as katrina, but i call her ma'm as a sign of respect told me that it was only established in 2007.

ma'm katrina or in tagalog language, manang katrina was so friendly, her eyes sparkled everytime she talks (it reminded me of my best friend pablo's mother, señora lucia in cedeira in spain).
the rain stopped and the valley on the otherside opened up!
she asked ben where he came from and ben told her he's half isareli and british and her eyes even more twinkled with delight, because in the beginning, manang katrina was the first generation of guides in sagada! in the 80's! she told us that there were lots of israelis who travelled to sagada before, some were rude to her and making fun of her (which made ben embarassed and angry at the same time) but there were lots of good memories from manang katrina to share as she started singing and dancing "
shalom chaverim" an israeli folk song, and how her eyes glittered with tears of how a beautiful young israeli maiden stayed with her and promised to come back but never did. i was so enganged in the stories of manang katrina! then suddenly ben said that if it's still ok to go to the caves, i asked manang katrina's opinion as she is the expert afterall! because i know that people drowned inside a cave called matangkib years ago from the people of sagada, since then, matangkib cave is closed, because there was also rain and suddenly the underground river overflowed and carried and drowned them.
one last look at the valley from the camping ground!
i was even more suprised when manang katrina said that she was there when the accident happend! she could not forget how her friend was carried away by a strong tide in the underground river. but she told me, the rain this week was not harmful to go down the caves as only the monsoon season is very dangerous. so me and ben planned, as soon as we get back to the inn, eat a huge lunch and proceed to the caves, then manang katrina said, that if ever we need a guide, her daughter will be available! that was so nice of her! so we planned to set off at 1 pm! but first she told us we must register at the tourist information center! hahaha we were already 2 days in sagada but still we havent registered! hahaha haaha. after hearing so many amazing stories from manang katrina, we ordered a second round of pies! ben had the lemon pie because as he tried mine, he fell in love with it! hahaha and i tried the egg pie! after we finished eating we went off said goodbye to manang katrina but we will see her again after a couple of hours.
going down! with the high mountains in the distance!


once we got back to the center of the town at around 10-11 am, we went to the tourist office and registered, and as walked to the inn, the owner was so suprised to see us at our state! hahaa i told her we camped mt. ampakaw and stayed there overnight! she told us that its so cold to be up there! and i said were used to it in the cold weather in europe and we laughed! but i didnt told her that we didnt had a guide, i wont let her freak out! hahaha.

when we got back to our room, we tried to charge our gadgets but there wasnt any plug, so i went down again and asked if we can plug our gadgets in there, then it turned out that they have lockers where guests can charge things! cool! so i charged my phone and camera! while waiting, we showered and the water was so fucking cold! i only stayed like 3 minutes inside the bath! hahaahaha, we decided to eat at yoghurt house again as they serve really huge meals and me and ben can share it! after 40 minutes or so were ready to have lunch!  we went back again to yoghurt house and ordered fried rice with tuna and 2 extra cheese sandwhich for us as snack along the way.
the beautiful valley of sagada with rice terraces!
  we were there until 12-12:30 pm, was boring though so we headed immediately back to the lemon pie house! there, manang katrina was alreay waiting for us! so we had lemon pie as desserts and hot mountain lemon tea to warm ourselves! there was a small kid there, i think that was manang katrina's daughter, but she wasnt a kid! hahah she was only shorter than me! she introduced herself, her christian name is josie but her tribal name is bogan, and i prefer calling her bogan because its such a fucking cool name! we still have like 20 minutes before our schedule, when bogan finally was ready, she was so stylish going into the cave! hahaha its like theres gonna be a party inside the cave that she's all dressed up! hahahah i kept teasing her about it to break the ice! and she laughed heartily! we said goodbye to manang katrina and well be back later!

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deep into sumaguing cave, to the underground river and the lagoon
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sumaguing cave is a 40 minute hike from sagada town proper, ive been to the cave 3 times in my life! but still its still quite of an adrenaline and adventure for me as i always feel something new everytime i go inside it! it is unusual considering that i am claustrophobic! going to the cave, i was chatting with bogan, to make her feel comfortable between us and ben, then suddenly a big truck honked at us, it was one of bogan's friend and offered us a ride to the cave! bogan asked us and i said yes! but i told ben to climb at the back! ben was wide eyed! as we rolled over the street of sagada clinging at the back of the truck and people waved to us and i waved to them, ben was a little bit shy at first because, well its his first time after all! lol hahahaha! we arrived at the entrance to sumaguing cave, the largest of all the caves in sagada, it is about like 300 meters deep and in the end, a lagoon in the underground river! we waited for bogan while she was preparing things to bring inside the cave, a man came to us and offered somethign to "smoke" we declined because we dont need artifcial high to be high in sagada! the nature makes us high enough! as soon as bogan was finished we descended down the cave, memories filled me in here, the first time i was in this cave was when i went with my best friend together with japanese tourists! as bogan prepared our light from a primitive lamp they still use in the philippines called petromax which runs through kerosene gas.
my favorite picture of ben in the lemon pie house!


before even heading inside the cavem ben slipped fucking twice! hahahaha i got scared and told him TO BE CAREFUL and not too jumpy! as we got inside the cave, the sound of bats and the running water from the underground river echoed inside. ben had his headlamp on. while i hade my little penlight which was no use inside the dark huge cave. the limestones at the beginning and halfway through the cave are already considered dead, they are not sparkling anymore, perhaps, too many tourists already here and as soon as their hands touches the limestones, it would stop growing. after some acrobatic skills of going down the cave with barehands, no ropes, not a single thing to hold on except for the slipper limestones with running water, and a little help from bogan and ben, we finally reached our destination! the underground lagoon where ben stupidly dove and i screamed because it was shallow! hahahaha it was amazing down there as smoke were coming out from our mouths as we talk!

after ben enjoyed climbing the limestones and swiming in the pool we headed back! as we headed back, bogan and me were comfortable with each other! we even made jokes about the new people coming inside the cave! complete with helmets and cave stuff! hahaha we compared ourseleves to them as we dont have anything fancy but will to have fun! as usual ben was already up and hopping like a jackrabbit! hahahahaha as we got up it was nice to see daylight again! we ate our sandwhich as we got hungry! then we procedeed back again to the lemon pie house! as we moved along, while ben was busy exploring the area, bogan and me had a nice talk about sagada, then and now.
manang katrina and me! and bogan sitting!
some people today dont have any idea of what sagada is all about. its like they went there just to proved tha they have been to sagada, and renting cars and vehicles for a 20-30-40 minute hike. they are missing the point of sagada. it is how you walk, have a hard time getting to the destination and enjoying the beauty of nature that surrounds it, and having a feeling of accomplishment as a person arriving in the destination.

bogan has a surprise for us! she wanted to show more caves so as a bonus she said she'll take us to lumiang cave where it was a burial site before! thank you bogan! but before arriving to lumiang cave, we passed the rice terraces of sagada, where every imaginable hues of green abound! it was so beautiful! the green made a stark contrast to the grey and depressing sky in the hour! in lumiang cave, we went to see the coffins, but we cant go deep, the cave is connected also to the big one, sumaguing, but it is very tricky to go down, bogan asked me if we wanted to go down the cave but i said no, i didnt told ben about that because i am sure he will strangle me! hahaha  we went back again and had a bit of a jam as going back there were alot of people going down to the cave - it was a huge group! more than 50 people! i really wonder how would they cram themselves in the mouth of a cave which wasnt big?!! so it took me sometime to catch up with ben and bogan! then going back to the town proper we met some caucasians asking us to join them in the cave! hahaah but we were already finished and wished them fun inside!
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back at the lemonpie house and a teary goodbye to a place where i call my second home.
amazing! the underground river cascading into the lagoon.

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back there, i had a refreshing drink of hot mountain tea with lemon again! but ben was so agigated and i asked him why? he said he wanted to go back and take more pictures of the rice terraces with his film camera, and i said its ok. i can wait here in the lemon pie house, his eyes lit up and in no time, he dashed like flash!

bogan took a shower which leaves me alone in the lemon pie house, as manang katrina continued to bake pies at their home bakery. when manang katrina was finished, we went outside of the house to continue our conversation, as the conversation was good i need to have smoke! hahaha.

manang katrina reminded me so much of the person i dearly love, my mother.
love this!
i was curious about the lemon pie house, since it was new. i asked manang katrina so many questions, but being careful not to be too interrogating, but manang katrina answered me heartily. she was a first generation guide in sagada, as she told me earlier, then when she retired and to be able to cope with the income of her growing children, she sold pies in the plaza of sagada, which frustrated me because how could i possibly miss that?! she told me all her hardships she encountered in life, and i had misty eyes buht the family struggled to build up the lemon pie house and i said to manang katrina  that i am very very very proud of her. then she asked me about myself etc. and i told her my story and i dont have any family in the philippines anymore, and when i told her my mother died last year, she was almost crying.
my favorite picture! i got it right!
manang katrina hugged me, as she hugged me, with her wrinkled but strong arms, i felt the arms of my mother in her. i found a second mother in sagada, as i found a second mother in cedeira, spain.


when ben came back, bogan was already dressed and dried! hahaha, we paid her 800 pesos for the guiding (12 euros) but we gave her a thousand because the rest was hers because she earned it for the good time we had!

but still it wasnt goodbye! as we still hang out at the porch of the family, laughing and talking ang making jokes! then suddenly bogan went away and when she came back, she held a tray with beautiful ceramic pots filled with rice wine which the family makes themselves! we cheered as we drank the rice wine!

finally, it was getting dark and i am cold because i was still wet from inside the cave, we said goobye and hugged each other, i saw bogan's face fell with dissapointment as she was having a nice time with us! but we promised someday that we will be back again.
me and bogan! ^_^


you see, this is what sagada is all about. the people makes sagada a special place. for sure the nature is unmatchable in any other places in the philippines. but the heart and beauty of sagada lies in a pie, in the small cafe owned by a grand toothless dame, with eyes that sparkle and a laughter that can make one's heart melt. with her, i found a second mother. a caring mother who would do anything for her children.

manang katrina, i promise i will be back.

now i know why the sky shed all it's tears last night, because it wanted us to discover a new place in sagada. if it didnt rained last night and we didnt get stucked in the tent for 17 hours, we wouldnt had found and discovered this place with a beating heart.

it rained in sagada, the tears of heaven was not of sorrow but of joy that i am back in sagada, i am back and never felt so much alive.
me and ben inside the cave!


excerpt from the hymn of sagada:

"Beyond those troubled hills of the north
Lies my hope all laden with pine
Amidst the soft and silken touch
Of morning mist I lay my pr'yer b'fore thy shrine

My pr'yers to Thee my love dressed in green,
My paradise unforeseen
My thanks to Thee who spawned my love
Sagada, Sagada will always be mine


lauro says:
maraming salamat ha.. marix..
Posted on: Oct 23, 2009
marix_sublime says:
ganda ng entry na ito lauro :) thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Oct 22, 2009
lauro says:
ahahahahah ahaha you dirtly little fake chinese boy! ahahahahha
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
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ben keeping the fire going!
ben keeping the fire going!
yeah!!!!!!
yeah!!!!!!
the wind and rain knocked our litt…
the wind and rain knocked our lit…
ben on top of the clouds!
ben on top of the clouds!
dawn and beautiful with the clouds…
dawn and beautiful with the cloud…
sunrise viewed from mt. ampakaw.
sunrise viewed from mt. ampakaw.
ben at dawn at the peak!
ben at dawn at the peak!
the rain stopped and the valley on…
the rain stopped and the valley o…
one last look at the valley from t…
one last look at the valley from …
going down! with the high mountain…
going down! with the high mountai…
the beautiful valley of sagada wit…
the beautiful valley of sagada wi…
my favorite picture of ben in the …
my favorite picture of ben in the…
manang katrina and me! and bogan s…
manang katrina and me! and bogan …
amazing! the underground river cas…
amazing! the underground river ca…
love this!
love this!
my favorite picture! i got it righ…
my favorite picture! i got it rig…
me and bogan! ^_^
me and bogan! ^_^
me and ben inside the cave!
me and ben inside the cave!
my family in sagada.
my family in sagada.
river running through the rice fie…
river running through the rice fi…
ben just woke up! hahaha
ben just woke up! hahaha
sunrise!
sunrise!
light creeps into the mountains!
light creeps into the mountains!
hahahaha!
hahahaha!
daybreak!
daybreak!
early morningggg yawwwwwnssss
early morningggg yawwwwwnssss
just an amazing feeling going down…
just an amazing feeling going dow…
sunlight breaking the clouds!
sunlight breaking the clouds!
that was beautiful!
that was beautiful!
i was wet!
i was wet!
packing up!!!
packing up!!!
i hate ben thats it.
i hate ben thats it.
ben mesmerised!
ben mesmerised!
rain subsiding!
rain subsiding!
the valley opening up!
the valley opening up!
just purely amazing.
just purely amazing.
halfway down!
halfway down!
mt. amuyao!
mt. amuyao!
the valley below from halfway!
the valley below from halfway!
it looked so surreal.
it looked so surreal.
purely purely a work of god.
purely purely a work of god.
mt. amuyao!
mt. amuyao!
the muddy path!
the muddy path!
back at ambasing!
back at ambasing!
the lemon pie!!!!
the lemon pie!!!!
me enjoying my hot mountain lemon …
me enjoying my hot mountain lemon…
the lemon pie house interior.
the lemon pie house interior.
iconic! me and an ice tea! hahaha
iconic! me and an ice tea! hahaha
the sweet sagada lemon pie house.
the sweet sagada lemon pie house.
i will be back!
i will be back!
hahah ben was happy!!!
hahah ben was happy!!!
a cat on the porch!
a cat on the porch!
art!
art!
manang katrina and ben!
manang katrina and ben!
ben and bogan!
ben and bogan!
we got a lift from a nice man in s…
we got a lift from a nice man in …
mt. ampakaw!
mt. ampakaw!
i dont know what ben was doing but…
i dont know what ben was doing bu…
the entrance to sumaguing cave!
the entrance to sumaguing cave!
are we excited?!! DEFINITELY!
are we excited?!! DEFINITELY!
bogan preparing some things!
bogan preparing some things!
sagada!
sagada!
bogan with a group of other guides!
bogan with a group of other guides!
ben at the entrance to sumaguing c…
ben at the entrance to sumaguing …
look ben!
look ben!
ben fucking slipped! hahaha
ben fucking slipped! hahaha
bogan preparing our light!
bogan preparing our light!
it takes time.
it takes time.
the last daylight were going to se…
the last daylight were going to s…
the massive entrance!
the massive entrance!
bogan having a hard time.
bogan having a hard time.
our light was fixed!
our light was fixed!
going in!
going in!
ben and bogan discussing something…
ben and bogan discussing somethin…
bens headlight but bogans primit…
ben's headlight but bogan's primi…
deep in the cave!
deep in the cave!
titty twitter? ^_^
titty twitter? ^_^
bogan!
bogan!
the underground river!
the underground river!
inside the slippery cave!
inside the slippery cave!
water falling from the limestone r…
water falling from the limestone …
ben!
ben!
love this ghostly maneuvers lol ha…
love this ghostly maneuvers lol h…
bogan and ben!
bogan and ben!
deep in the cave.
deep in the cave.
so many lagoons inside the cave!
so many lagoons inside the cave!
small waterfalls pouring in small …
small waterfalls pouring in small…
scary ben! lol
scary ben! lol
me having a hard time to climb dow…
me having a hard time to climb do…
me and bogan!
me and bogan!
ben dove into the lagoon!
ben dove into the lagoon!
every imaginable hue of green.
every imaginable hue of green.
the rice terraces of sagada.
the rice terraces of sagada.
a small river or irrigation? runs …
a small river or irrigation? runs…
terraces!
terraces!
more terraces!
more terraces!
beautiful green!
beautiful green!
me and ben! ^_^
me and ben! ^_^
:P
:P
amazing, just amazing.
amazing, just amazing.
to lumiang cave.
to lumiang cave.
the burial site at lumiang cave.
the burial site at lumiang cave.
the deep entrance to lumiang cave …
the deep entrance to lumiang cave…
burial caves!
burial caves!
deep and eerie entrance of lumiang…
deep and eerie entrance of lumian…
enough cabbages to last you and me…
enough cabbages to last you and m…
bogan said that the stones were ki…
bogan said that the stones were k…
the rice wine!!!
the rice wine!!!
our last night in sagada and we we…
our last night in sagada and we w…
were we camped last night! lol and…
were we camped last night! lol an…
coffins anyone?! hahaha
coffins anyone?! hahaha
:P
:P
as usual ben was wandering around …
as usual ben was wandering around…
Sagada Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
the lemon pie house
located in the outskirts of the town of sagada, there is a very peculiar cafe that's all painted yellow. i havent seen this when i was in sagada few y… read entire review
Sagada
photo by: lauro