I didn’t intend to go to Sagada when I was thinking about places to go for my vacation leave trip. I was thinking of Baguio then Vigan. But when I was already searching the Internet for more information, I think I stumbled upon a blog wherein their itinerary included getting a tattoo from Wang-od and I think a side trip to Baguio.
So I carved it on the rock, whatever happens I’ll get a tattoo from Wang-od. And so when I searched for itineraries on blogs, people usually have Sagada side trip after or before going to Wang-od.
The thing is, I had Baguio-Banaue-Sagada-Kalinga-Vigan-Tagaytay-Enchanted Kingdom to choose from, at first trying to fit it into 10 days, crossing out this one, putting it back on the itinerary, lengthening my stay here, cutting it again a few days, switching the place before this but putting it back again after this place. I never thought making an itinerary for solo backpacking is that difficult.
Okay. So after my day tour of Escolta-Binondo courtesy of my friend Kat, I went off to Codalines terminal. From Gilmore Station, I took the taxi to Codalines because I’m afraid I don’t know what jeepney to take. Since the taxi driver wasn’t familiar with the terminal, I just told him it’s near St. Luke’s. Good thing he drove past the hospital and found Shakey’s. I remembered reading from a blog that it’s somewhere near a Shakey’s branch.
In between Trinity University of Asia and Shakey’s there’s a small road and you just have to walk straight. I found the terminal and I showed my voucher (because I bought my ticket online) for the 9PM trip. But then they had a few seats for the 8PM trip so I had the earlier trip.
[I chose Codalines because I don’t want to hassle with the transfers and this was a trip from Quezon City straight to Sagada. I bought my ticket online through Biyaheroes.com. It’s P720 + P72 website service fee.]
When people asked me about the trip, I had nothing against it. I chose the back seat and I had the back seats all to myself! They had warm blankets and I had slept like I would at home in my bed lying flat. It also had 4-5 bus stops including a stop at Banaue early in the morning.
I arrived at Sagada town proper around 9 AM. My original plan was to couchsurf but he told me that his house was near Bomod-ok Falls (the big falls) which was 30 minutes away from the town proper. He advised that if I want to go to Kiltepan the next day, it’s better to stay at the town proper.
I had to admit I was a little bit lost when I got off the bus. I really didn’t know what to do. So I went to the Tourist Information Office and asked for… well I don’t know what to ask really. I just thought of going there first.
It turned out to be a must because every tourist should be registered there and to pay for the environmental fee (P35). At first I wanted to approach groups but my shyness took over because they’re mostly couples or family or barkada groups. So I just decided to look for a guesthouse.
The thing is, I only went to one guesthouse. I found the Sagada Guesthouse and when I found out they had one room for P300 per night, I just went with it because I expected P500 or P600 from what I have seen in the hotel booking websites.
And then, a girl in red from the reception overheard that I was alone and so she asked me if I want to go with them cave spelunking and I thought since I didn’t have a plan anyway and here’s a group I can go with, I said yes.
And looking back to my supposed plan of saying less no, I was glad I said yes because I found new friends.
So literally, after a very long trip, I just left my stuff in the room, took a bath, took a few minutes rest and went down for breakfast. Maybe it’s the thought of the cave spelunking that I got excited about that I forgot being tired, haha!
So the girl in red, Pepper, asked me to have brunch with them first before going caving. And so at the dining table, I got to know that Pepper was the granddaughter of the owner of the guesthouse and I met her visitors, her boyfriend Jeo and his friend Renz.
[Fun fact: I didn’t get to couchsurf but turned out Pepper was also in Couchsurfing and she hosted a couchsurfer in Baguio who had also asked me to host him and his friend here in Iloilo but cancelled because of change of plans.]
At around 10 AM, we first started with Balangaan Cave which was a 2-hour exploration. I actually didn’t have any expectation at all so when we went climbing rocks without much of holes to hold on to, rappelling without safety gears, going through small holes, swimming in the cold, COLD water, I was blown away. I LOVED IT!
And when our guide told us that the Lumiang Burial Grounds out to Sumaguing cave was another 4-hours, I felt hyped up. More adventure but yeah, I’m not really sure if I have the endurance for another 4 hours.
Honestly, I never thought I’d have the endurance for that since I’m not really a fit person. But, I only felt exhaustion when I climbed up the stairs on the exit to Sumaguing Cave.
That night, we just hang out. For dinner, we had pinikpikan which was a Sagada specialty, chicken mixed with some etag which was Sagada’s homestyle ham (smoked and cured). Pepper taught us that we could mix Bugnay wine to our pinikpikan. I tried it and it was tasty. It was a very cold night and the guys drank Bugnay wine while Pepper and I drank hot choco.
I waited for a text from the tourist office or the tour guide for the Kiltepan peak the next morning but I didn’t receive any text.
The next day was a Sunday so we woke up and had breakfast and we’re off to the church to hear the mass. Then we went to tour the school, had lunch and I fixed my stuff because I will be off couchsurfing. They decided to go with me to Bomod-ok falls. But that was already 3PM when we went to ride the jeepney and they told us we can’t go to the falls because it’s only until 4PM that tourists can go to the falls. So we just went back to the guesthouse and since I already checked out, Pepper offered their room because they have one vacant bed.
We went around town and brought some French crepes which costs around P80 to P120. I bought honey lemon flavor and Pepper and Jeo bought Nutella and white chocolate.
Since we didn’t push through with the Bomod-ok falls, we pushed for Kiltepan sunrise the next day. We woke up at 4AM and we took the van to Kiltepan peak.
We were lucky to have a good spot because we’re early but not lucky enough to see a good sunrise. It had been a rainy day before and the sun only peaked and hid behind the mountains again. But it’s okay. The fog was great and the view was breathtaking. And I also love how the people around are reacting to the somehow shy Mr. Sun.
Then we had breakfast and since there was a basketball game that morning and the guys had been to Calvary already, Pepper and I toured the Calvary. And then, she gave me a tour of the town, some old buildings with history, and to their hospital which was very amazing! I love how their hospital was quite like some mountain cabin or lodging house we see in American movies. It doesn’t feel like a hospital at all.
When we went there, there was a tourist who got hospitalized because he slipped at the pregnant woman part of the Sumaguing cave. So to tourists, be careful during cave connection, watch your step and take careful steps and most of all, listen to your tour guides.
At around 10AM, I took off to Bontoc, toploaded actually.
When I went back to work, they asked me about how was Sagada. One of my co-workers didn’t quite like the place, I don’t know why but I completely disagreed. I love Sagada and I would definitely go back there and maybe even spend a month or something.
They asked me if may hugot daw ako, kung bakit sa Sagada ko talaga naisip pumunta, if I had been through a heartbreak. Kasalanan ‘to ng That Thing Called Tadhana why a lot think Sagada is where the broken hearts go. My heart is very intact, thank you.
And I think one of the things I loved about Sagada is I think it has the artistic vibe. I just love the balance of tradition and modernization in this place. If the long trip is holding you back, don’t let it be the reason to miss this breathtaking place.