nowhere else on earth i'd rather be
Sagada Travel Blog› entry 3 of 5 › view all entries
April 5th, 2000 – by: lauro
sagada, is probably the place ive visited more than any places which i had been to. it is about 300 kms. north of manila. it doenst have a direct connection from the capital. from manila to baguio 8-10 hours depending on the traffic (the starting point of trekkers/hikers in the philippine mountains) and another 6-8 hours to sagada and from what i could remember tha fare cost about 130-150 pesos one way, if youre a student or senior citizen you can avail of a discount just show them the id.
i had been saving for this trip - since i had my first job, i came to know about this place through one of my most beloved filipino bands - asin (active in the 70's) - where they travelled in this enclosed area to have inspirations for songwriting.they were banned by the dictatorship in my country because their songs were against the political system, but my father sneaked some LPs and play at home or sometimes he plays with the guitar and sings them to me as a FIVE YEAR OLD KID. hahaha :D
me and my bestest friend planned this for a year, and we decided to hike at the end of march and beginning of april. from manila to baguio the roadtrip was easy - paved and secured roads. (hahahaha SECURED yes) after that from baguio to sagada - we traversed through the halsema highway - the highest highway system in southeast asia - about 1500 - 2000 meters high and only about 4-5 meters wide and at the narrowest point only one vehicle can pass, also direct left or right are ravines and gorges.one mistake from the driver and you can kiss your dreams goodbye (hahaha :D) but i never thought of it - i was mesmerised along the way - carved terraces in the mountains, vegetable terraces, the cordillera mountains, the whiff of pine trees and the endless blue sky and the majestic veiw of the philippines 2nd highest mountain - mt. pulag and on a clear day - ambulaka lake (artificial lake created by damming the rivers in the mountains).
every bus stop is an adventure, specially for foreigners because vendors hagged for items/foods that they want you to buy but you can politely say no, but some are really stubborn and can look daggers in the eyes. after this long and ardous yet adventurous roadtrip, sagada lies at 1000-1500 meters high.it is filled with inns and hostels - cheap ones - 2 dollars till 10 dollars a night! and the food are so international - mostly foods from the alps - because more often germans/swiss/austrians travel frequently here.
sagada is peppered with caves - the longest and deepest is the sumaguing cave, waterfall, hanging coffins (yes they mummified chiefs in the ancient times - last one was i think in the 50's), mountains - the highest mountain in the area is mt. ampakaw - where you can get a pefect view of the valley and the adjacent towns. also with souvenir shops - sagada is famous for weaving and the most famous is the sagada weaving center.
you can trekk the mountains, waterfalls, rice terraces and caves with or withouth a guide. but it is recommended - for this place is still ancient in the psyche of the people - because the society is tribal and was not colonized. there are still some incidents of tribal wars and headhunting. and it would be nice if you befriend a local there, specially the septuagints for they cann tell stories of sagada and beyond.
i'd been to more majestic places such as the alps or maybe in the future in the andes, but sagada will remain forever as the jewel mountain range in my heart.
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